Homeland Security Asks Travelers for Facebook and LinkedIn Accounts – Jeff John Roberts Updated: Dec 23, 2016 9:54 AM PST

Customs Agents On The New York And Canada Border

Starting this week, the federal government began asking some travelers to the U.S. to supply details about their social media accounts. As you can see below, Uncle Sam now wants visitors to disclose their presence on popular services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in what appears to be a long shot attempt to screen for terrorists.

The collection of social media data, which was first proposed by Homeland Security this summer, does not apply to U.S. citizens. Instead, it is for now aimed at foreigners from 32 countries who apply to arrive in the U.S. under the “visa waiver program”—an online tool that lets short-term visitors skip the formal process of applying for a visa.

Here is a screenshot from the online application that shows a list of social networks in the drop-down menu:


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“Science fiction cyber-war is here”: Alex Gibney on “Zero Days” and Stuxnet, the secret weapon that got away – ANDREW O’HEHIR WEDNESDAY, JUL 13, 2016 04:00 PM PDT

Salon talks to Oscar-winner Alex Gibney about his new film “Zero Days” and a new era of war

"Science fiction cyber-war is here": Alex Gibney on "Zero Days" and Stuxnet, the secret weapon that got away

Former Homeland Security cybersecurity chief Sean McGurk testifying to Congress about the Stuxnet virus, from “Zero Days.” (Credit: Magnolia Pictures)

Alex Gibney has made documentaries about Enron and the Church of Scientology and pioneering gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Abramoff, the über-lobbyist who corrupted American politics more than any other individual. (That film went almost unnoticed by the larger world, which tells you something. It isn’t something good.) Most notably, Gibney won an Oscar for blowing the whistle on the Bush administration’s torture policies with the devastating exposé “Taxi to the Dark Side,” one of those “Inconvenient Truth” moments when a documentary can shift public opinion and shape policy.

But none of Gibney’s movies since that one, and perhaps none at all, have explored a secret as deeply buried or as important as the one he explores in “Zero Days,” which just opened in New York and Los Angeles with wider national release to follow. As he explains it now, Gibney set out to make a “small film” investigating a strange news story that many of us noticed around 2010 and rapidly forgot about again. (Quite likely because it was too troubling, and too difficult to under`rstand.) That was the discovery of an anomalous piece of computer malware that data engineers dubbed Stuxnet, which was far more sophisticated than those used in ordinary cyber-crime attacks and had shown up in computer systems all over the world.

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If You Go Near the Super Bowl, You Will Be Surveilled Hard – APRIL GLASER. 01.31.16. 7:00 AM

Super Bowl 50 will be big in every way. A hundred million people will watch the game on TV. Over the next ten days, 1 million people are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for the festivities. And, according to the FBI, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are working together to coordinate surveillance and security at what is the biggest national security event of the year.

The Department of Homeland Security, the agency coordinating the Herculean effort, classifies every Super Bowl as a special event assignment rating (SEAR) 1 event, with the exception of the 2002 Super Bowl, which got the highest ranking because it followed the September 11 terror attacks—an assignment usually reserved for only the Presidential Inauguration. A who’s-who of agencies, ranging from the DEA and TSA to the US Secret Service to state and local law enforcement and even the Coast Guard has spent more than two years planning for the event.

All of which means that if you’re attending the game, or just happen to be in the general vicinity of the myriad events leading up to the Super Bowl, you will be watched. Closely. The festivities started Saturday and run through February 7, when the Carolina Panthers meet the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Here’s a sampling of the technology Big Brother can use to surveil you during the Super Bowl in the Bay Area.

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Homeland Security chair: ‘Biggest threat today’ is terrorists using encryption – By Cory Bennett – 11/22/15 11:39 AM EST

Just because there is no “credible evidence” of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) plot against the U.S. doesn’t mean the extremist group isn’t planning one, said House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Sunday.

“I think the biggest threat today is the idea that terrorists can communicate in dark space,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” referencing the myriad encrypted communications platforms that are widely available. “We can’t see what they’re saying.”

McCaul acknowledged that the phrase “credible evidence” is “an old term of art.”

“I think you need to factor in that analysis that there may be plots under way,” he added, “that we just quite frankly can’t see.”

The issue of encrypted communications has been thrust into the spotlight following the recent terror attacks in Paris that killed around 130 people.

Officials have said it’s likely the ISIS followers behind the deadly strikes likely arranged their strategy via some type of encrypted communication, although no direct evidence has been presented to back up these suspicions.

“I think there’s strong indicators that they did,” McCaul said.

Encryption makes it more difficult for investigators to monitor digital data, including emails, certain types of text messages and social media exchanges.

“And that’s precisely why nothing was picked up,” McCaul said.

“The only rationale,” he added, “is that they were using these dark platforms and dark spaces to communicate, that even if we have a court order we can’t see.”

The Paris attacks have spurred a renewed debate on Capitol Hill about government access to digital data and encrypted communications.

Some lawmakers have even called for legislation that could require tech companies to give investigators guaranteed access to customer data.


Security News This Week: US Homeland Security Is Vulnerable to Hacks, Too – YAEL GRAUER. 19.15. 09.0 AM

Adobe-Flash-Featured2Getty Images

It’s been quite an eventful week for hacks.  A lockscreen bypass attack for Android phones was detected, meaning it’s time to switch to a PIN or pattern unlock. And just because you’re on an iPhone doesn’t mean you’re exempt from phone hacking; you’ll want to turn off the Bluetooth-enabled Airdrop file sharing feature—unless you like malicious apps, that is. In a victory for privacy advocates, a small New Hampshire library did not succumb to bullying from Homeland Security and instead reinstated its Tor node after a board meeting. Oh, and a new crypto tool to anonymize surveys has come out. And, of course, a maker kid was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school when his teacher thought it was a bomb. He’s now Silicon Valley’s newest hero.

But that’s not all. Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted, and stay safe out there!

Facebook Will Start Targeting Ads Based on Your Shares and Likes Next Month

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably assumed that Facebook’s ad targeting algorithms are already using your “Like” and “Share” data to serve you targeted ads. Actually, that’s starting next month. Up ‘til now, the social media conglomerate has simply been logging the data and won’t begin using it to fine-tune ads until October. While there is a privacy setting allowing users to opt out of seeing targeted ads based on their online activity, the information is still being logged, so you can’t exactly opt out of having your web browsing tracked across multiple sites and browsing habits funneled into Facebook’s ad targeting system.

Obama Administration Faces Growing Support of Widespread Encryption

White House officials have apparently given up on legislation to address the rise of encryption, and may go so far as to publicly reject a law forcing companies to unlock customer communication devices under a court order, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post as well as comments from anonymous senior officials. The hope is that supporting encryption would repair trust in the government as well as U.S. tech companies. However, the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, thinks public opinion could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or a crime where strong encryption hinders law enforcement, and the government could always try to opportunistically backdoor encryption when that time comes.

The Department of Homeland Security Is Vulnerable to Hacking, Audit Finds

The Department of Homeland Security may be in charge of protecting government security, but its own information systems are vulnerable to hacking, according to an audit. Vulnerabilities on internal systems used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service to report investigation statistics, case tracking, and information sharing were found. The report by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department stated that the vulnerabilities found “may allow unauthorized individuals to gain access to sensitive data.” Although it found some progress with coordination between agencies, the audit recommended department-wide training and strategic planning in response to a cyber attack.

ISIS Hackers Reported to Have Accessed Top Secret British Government Emails

A GCHQ investigation revealed that ISIS hackers intercepted top secret emails from the British government, according to Mirror</em>. Little information was revealed, except that ISIS apparently targeted information held by several of David Cameron’s most senior ministers, including Home Secretary Theresa May, possibly discovering events where government figures or British Royal Family members were expected to be in attendance.<em>Mirror</em> further reported that a ringleader of the alleged plot was killed by a drone strike.

Federal Court Lifts National Security Letter Gag Order 11 Years Later

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