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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bullrun And Edgehill @ Secret Decryption Programs

1.    Most of the techies who have relied always on their favourite encryption methods to have privacy in store should be in for a shock like me if they have not heard of BULLRUN and EDGEHILL @ Secret Decryption Programs.Below I produce an unedited extract from the Snowden talk at TED last week.He was asked a question by Chris Anderson,the curator of TED and what followed is produced below :

Chris Anderson : Come here, because I want to ask you about this particular revelation. Come and take a look at this. I mean, this is a story which I think for a lot of the techies in this room is the single most shocking thing that they have heard in the last few months. It’s about a program called “Bullrun.” Can you explain what that is?
Snowden : So Bullrun, and this is again where we’ve got to thank the NSA for their candor, this is a program named after a Civil War battle. The British counterpart is called Edgehill, which is a U.K. civil war battle. And the reason that I believe they’re named this way is because they target our own infrastructure. They’re programs through which the NSA intentionally misleads corporate partners. They tell corporate partners that these are safe standards. They say hey, we need to work with you to secure your systems, but in reality, they’re giving bad advice to these companies that makes them degrade the security of their services. They’re building in backdoors that not only the NSA can exploit, but anyone else who has time and money to research and find it can then use to let themselves in to the world’s communications. And this is really dangerous, because if we lose a single standard, if we lose the trust of something like SSL, which was specifically targeted by the Bullrun program, we will live a less safe world overall. We won’t be able to access our banks and we won’t be able to access commerce without worrying about people monitoring those communications or subverting them for their own ends.

2.   It was always suspected for long but now the newly leaked documents by Edward Snowden, the NSA and GCHQ are said to have defeated most of the online encryption used by internet users and the likes of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and even banks.Few important things about these two programs are bought below :

- Bullrun Is the Most Expensive Program Leaked by Snowden.The funding allocated for Bullrun in top-secret budgets dwarfs the money set aside for programs like PRISM and XKeyscore. PRISM operates on about $20 million a year, according to Snowden, while Bullrun cost $254.9 million in 2013 alone. Since 2011, Bullrun has cost more than $800 million.

- Bullrun Began 10 Years Ago

- A majority of the funding for Bullrun goes toward actively engaging tech companies in their product design. The NSA covertly influenced tech companies to insert vulnerabilities into commercial products that would allow the NSA access without consumers’ knowledge. 

- NSA and GCHQ View Encryption as a Threat(That's....incredible....)

- Edgehill started with the initial goal of decrypting the programs used by three major Internet companies, which were unnamed in Snowden’s leak, and 30 Virtual Private Networks.

- GCHQ hopes that by 2015 Edgehill will have decrypted 15 major Internet companies and 300 VPNs.

- NSA Covertly Influenced International Encryption Standards.

3.  Besides BULLRUN/EDGEHILL,the NSA and GCHQ have a number of programs for gathering different types of internet metadata few of which mentioned in Luke Harding's Book are :
Prism - Secret access to the servers of Google, Facebook and others.

Boundless informant - Mapping of all secret data to specific countries.

Upstream - Catch as much of the global internet traffic as it passes across the United States

Stellar Wind - liaison with US internet and telephone companies to provide metadata information.


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