I propose a "Denial of usefullness" attack on the NSA

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Simply put - if many thousands of people would generate gibberish files
    and send them around the web via posting, e-mail and so on it would
    generate a flood of information for the NSA to "work on" fruitlessly.

    I'd suggest that files be sized 2 - 100 MB and onion encrypted to three
    or more layers.

    Don't bother saving any of the keys unless you want to recover the files
    to test (which generates even more traffic for the NSA to work on).

    The contents could be just random numbers, or useless videos, or
    compilations of news articles about the NSA.

    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013
    #1
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  2. Alan Browne

    Howard Guest

    Or ... put a load of 'hot' key words in our email signatures .... !!!???
     
    Howard, Sep 7, 2013
    #2
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  3. Alan Browne

    JF Mezei Guest

    NSA will simply request additional budgets to purchase more servers and
    disks to give its data centres the additional horsepower to process the
    increased flow of "interesting" data.

    The big winners in this are the computer and disk drive companies who
    sell thousands of servers to the NSA.

    And this is where other countries may not have those capabilities: if
    their spy agency isn't given the budgets to build those huge data
    centres, then they can't collect and analyse traffic to the same extend
    as their rich cousin the NSA does.
     
    JF Mezei, Sep 7, 2013
    #3
  4. Aren't we all doing this already?

    This is, depending on your point of view, either the tragedy or the
    saving grace of NSA spying. They have huge heaps of information, and
    they don't have good algorithms to sort through it and find potential
    threats.
     
    Doug Anderson, Sep 7, 2013
    #4
  5. Already in process, and his been since the interwebs started.

    I am against this, as should be all US taxpayers. Reasons: obvious.

    So, go do this for your country.
     
    John McWilliams, Sep 7, 2013
    #5
  6. Alan Browne

    JF Mezei Guest

    It takes time and debugging.

    There was an indident a few years ago where a canadian was denied entry
    into the USA because some of his tweets had been caught by "systems" and
    flagged him as being supporter of terrorists.

    That incident probably prompted the NSA to fine tune the automation to
    consider more context around a post (or perhaps understand the meaning
    of ":)" in a tweet)


    Similarly, in the early day of the "no fly" database, a lot of people
    got erroneously added/flagged and this has since been fined tuned and
    the horror stories are not as frequent anymore.


    here is a problem: if the population protests by generating flags such
    as plutonium, radiological, uranium, explosive, dirty bomb, sarin,
    anthrax sent to democrats by Bush, fissile, detonaror etc, then the NSA
    will adjust its filters to bypass what it thinks are protest messages,
    and this may make it easier for real terrorists to pass undetected.

    The end result is that you have folks like the Boston bombers who will
    pass undetected and perform a terrorist act on US soil. The reaction
    will undoubtedly be a government that promises to increase surveillance
    to be able to catch and prevent more such events.

    On the other hand, if the NSA does manage to catch terrorists before
    they act, it will justify their 1984ish surveillance of everyone's bowel
    movements.

    They say torture doesn't work, but the US still tortured people at least
    until 2009. So even if there are studies that show that invasive NSA
    spying doesn't prevent terrorism, the USA will likely continue invasive
    spying, just because it can.
     
    JF Mezei, Sep 7, 2013
    #6
  7. (snip)
    I think there are a lot of problems here, and I don't think the one
    you list immediately above is a problem.

    For it to be a problem, terrorists would have to be emailing/tweeting
    etc. using words like plutonium, uranium, explosive, dirty bomb,
    sarin, etc. My suspicion is that most terrorists dumb enough not to
    be a _little_ more circumspect don't pose a serious threat.

    To me, the two real problems are:

    (1) Given the high amount of traffic on data networks and the very
    low percentage of the population that is _actually_ potential
    terrorists, any scheme that identifies possible terrorists is
    going to identify far more non-terrorists.

    The obvious ramifications of this include wasting a huge amount of
    effort tracking people who are not potential terrorists, and
    infringing on the rights of a huge number of people who are not
    potential terrorists. See your examples which I snipped.

    (2) Given the high amount of traffic on data networks, I don't believe
    the NSA or anyone else has good algorithms for identifying data
    that is of concern, unless they have _already_ identified
    suspects, and are analyzing traffic from those suspects.

    In other words, I think there is currently too much data and too
    little analytical skill to find patterns by simply trying to
    analyze all data.
    You write this as if there was some clear data trail in the Tsarnaev's
    twitter feed or someplace else that should have allowed the NSA to
    identify them before they struck. I've seen no reports of this.
    Ugh. Can I just say that although some of my best friends are NSA
    agents, I don't think so.

    (1) NSA is so broken that low level sysadmins with little security
    clearance have access to a truly terrifying amount of top secret
    information. Whether you think in principle the government should
    be allowed to do what NSA does or not, you have to see that the
    NSA apparently handles sensitive information so badly that _they_
    shouldn't be allowed to get at information more sensitive than our
    shoe sizes.

    (2) Now imagine we are in some world where the NSA is a well-managed
    agency capable of keeping sensitive and secret information in
    appropriate hands and out of inappropriate ones. Even then, I've
    heard no evidence that the NSA (or anyone else) has algorithms to
    do the data mining needed to search for the microscopic pneedles
    of security dangers amidst the planet sized heaps of data that is
    every _days_ traffic on the internet and other data networks.

    So really, the chance the NSA justifying the surveillance state by
    eliminating a previously unknown but real threat that was discovered
    through data mining? I would be staggered if anyone could produce
    real evidence of such a thing.
    I actually think people slightly misunderstand the real reason the NSA
    does this. Suppose through some other tip (for example from an
    informant or some other information source) the NSA disovers that JF
    Mezel is likely to be working on some security threat to the US. Then
    they might be able to get a court order to tap your phone (and email I
    suppose and so on) _after_ they make this discovery. Of course it
    could be too late - maybe you are done sending incriminatory
    information around.

    But now they are in a better situation. They can look at your _old_
    phone records and email and so on, and discover the incriminating
    steps you have already taken, rather than waiting for new ones.

    This actually makes sense, and if we trusted the NSA's competence and
    trusted the government to have the _ability_ to spy on us, but not to
    use it unless it was truly justified, then maybe it would seem OK.
     
    Doug Anderson, Sep 7, 2013
    #7
  8. Alan Browne

    D.F. Manno Guest

    It was tried on June 12:

    <http://trollthensa.com/>

    There was no reported effect.
     
    D.F. Manno, Sep 7, 2013
    #8
  9. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest


    Yes! In the container e-mails put things like "I hate it when Obama
    bombs" and so on. (3 keywords per sentence).



    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013
    #9
  10. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    I assume they've got loads of programmers and analysts to continuously
    improve their algorithms - but they do have to drill into the messages
    as well.


    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013
    #10
  11. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Ah yes, save a little money, give up a little liberty. What would
    Franklin say?


    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013
    #11
  12. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Maybe if we had actually heard about it first ... the NSA, OTOH, would
    have that script programmed in no time for rejection.

    The thing is not to make them look at plain text - that's too easy.
    Make them spend CPU time on decryption.


    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 7, 2013
    #12
  13. Alan Browne

    RSH Guest

    Many users already do that. It's called usenet.

    Many other users already do that. It's called facebook.

    And many other users already do that. It's called Twitter.
     
    RSH, Sep 8, 2013
    #13
  14. Alan Browne

    xfile Guest

    I actually think people slightly misunderstand the real reason the NSA
    That's what I learned too.

    I can personally relate to the situation which is similar to building a
    company's knowledge base or as what I have been doing religiously over
    the years for my own digital junkyard in which I have collections of
    different kinds of reports (paid and free) that I *think* might be
    useful in the future.

    I'm still doing it even don't use them often but once a while when I
    needed to quickly understand certain things, I found it worth the efforts.

    *If* that's how the NSA is using it, I don't think it's a problem.

    Also, I would like to give them some credits for they may not be able to
    disclose to public for all potential treats stopped. But still, I think
    we won't know the whole picture of what they are really doing with all
    these information.
     
    xfile, Sep 8, 2013
    #14
  15. Alan Browne

    Paul Sture Guest

    Even if they did have those algorithms, the results might be ignored due
    to lack of cooperation between the relevant authorities or sections
    thereof..

    Think interservice rivalry and petty / not so petty fiefdoms within
    organisations and districts.
     
    Paul Sture, Sep 8, 2013
    #15
  16. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest


    Small volume plain text is a piffle compared to files of 2 - 100MB
    encrypted several times.


    --
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,
    illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media,
    which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible
    to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
    -Unknown
     
    Alan Browne, Sep 8, 2013
    #16
  17. Alan Browne

    Mxsmanic Guest

    The NSA is already drowning in traffic. There is no way to keep up with
    everything, nor is there any way to store it all. The best it can do is scan
    and look for interesting things, and archive things that _might_ be
    interesting at some point (but it can't be too broad about it).

    The NSA is people and computers, not magic.
     
    Mxsmanic, Sep 8, 2013
    #17
  18. Alan Browne

    Rod Speed Guest

    But if they do see a significant volume of heavily encrypted stuff,
    there is no way to work out what might have something that matters
    in it without decrypting it to see if it has. That might well force the
    NSA to piss significant resources against the wall to no useful purpose
    what so ever.

    The only thing they can really attempt to do is to use traffic analysis
    of other stuff to see which is the heavily encrypted that might be
    more than a deliberate attempt to waste their resources.

    The only real potential problem with that approach would be if
    the terrorists never do move anything using very heavy encryption.
    The NSA would then know that it can't be anything that matters.
     
    Rod Speed, Sep 8, 2013
    #18
  19. Alan Browne

    Howard Guest

    How on earth would they know ???
     
    Howard, Sep 9, 2013
    #19
  20. Alan Browne

    D.F. Manno Guest

    Thus the word "reported."
     
    D.F. Manno, Sep 9, 2013
    #20
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