There is another round of revaluations from the Snowden leak. The power to shock has somewhat been reduced, which isn’t to say that the information isn’t scary, just that it’s more focused in terms of it’s potential to be invasive on ordinary people.
The good news: this leak shows a number of tools that the NSA / GCHQ can use to target individuals. The qualification is that it’s extremely bad news if you’re one of the targeted individuals
The bad news: the degree to which individuals can be targeted using the described tools is immense. If a five eyes agency determines that you are a threat your best bet would probably be to never touch a computer or a mobile device again. For the rest of your life. It really is that bad.
The other bad news is for silicon valley / the american tech industry. The degree to which they are implicated in these exploits is … questionable. At the very least they are culpable for having written software / firmware which is easily exploited, and done very little to address the problems. At the worst they are complicit in the whole scheme. Their future is probably determined by what leaks next. It seems likely to me that this will result in the end (or the severe tarnishing / diminishing) of several well known brands from the pantheon of old silicon valley names.
Has Cisco, for example, been knowingly leaving backdoors for the NSA, or has their hiring / contracting process become so lax that they are easily exploitable by agents? If that is the case, can they assure anyone that the only infiltration has been from the NSA?
This is the material that i’d have released up front. It shows the kind of activities that you’d expect a five eyes agency to be involved in. Sure it’s scope is terrifying, and of course they are pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable given the homegrown nature of the online business, but it is by it’s nature relatively targeted. The dragnet surveillance that came out first should concern people far more…
Unfortunately this story isn’t interesting to the general public, especially in the five eyes nations. The governments outside the five eyes are acting pissed, but making behind the scenes efforts to get themselves an inside loop on the data being gathered. Unless there is a change in the “i’ve done nothing wrong, and have nothing to hide” attitude, we are locked into the fast track to techno-authoritarianism.
Happy new year!
ps. if you are interested in how the hacker community is reacting to this (they are the ones most likely to be affected by these revelations) you should watch Jacob Applebaum’s talk at 30c3.