Essays Tagged "Guardian"

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Data Protection Laws Are Shining a Needed Light on a Secretive Industry

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • June 1, 2018

When Marc Zuckerberg testified before both the House and the Senate last month, it became immediately obvious that few US lawmakers had any appetite to regulate the pervasive surveillance taking place on the internet.

Right now, the only way we can force these companies to take our privacy more seriously is through the market. But the market is broken. First, none of us do business directly with these data brokers. Equifax might have lost my personal data in 2017, but I can’t fire them because I’m not their customer or even their user. I could complain to the companies I do business with who sell my data to Equifax, but I don’t know who they are. Markets require voluntary exchange to work properly. If consumers don’t even know where these data brokers are getting their data from and what they’re doing with it, they can’t make intelligent buying choices…

American Elections Are Too Easy to Hack. We Must Take Action Now

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • April 18, 2018

Elections serve two purposes. The first, and obvious, purpose is to accurately choose the winner. But the second is equally important: to convince the loser. To the extent that an election system is not transparently and auditably accurate, it fails in that second purpose. Our election systems are failing, and we need to fix them.

Today, we conduct our elections on computers. Our registration lists are in computer databases. We vote on computerized voting machines. And our tabulation and reporting is done on computers. We do this for a lot of good reasons, but a side effect is that elections now have all the insecurities inherent in computers. The only way to reliably protect elections from both malice and accident is to use something that is not hackable or unreliable at scale; the best way to do that is to back up as much of the system as possible with paper…

Snoops May Soon Be Able to Buy Your Browsing History. Thank the US Congress

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • March 30, 2017

Think about all of the websites you visit every day. Now imagine if the likes of Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon collected all of your browsing history and sold it on to the highest bidder. That’s what will probably happen if Congress has its way.

This week, lawmakers voted to allow internet service providers to violate your privacy for their own profit. Not only have they voted to repeal a rule that protects your privacy, they are also trying to make it illegal for the Federal Communications Commission to enact other rules to protect your privacy online…

Candidates Won't Hesitate to Use Manipulative Advertising to Score Votes

Advertising in the 2016 election is going to be highly personalized, targeting voters’ personal information to sway their decisions

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • February 4, 2016

This presidential election, prepare to be manipulated.

In politics, as in the marketplace, you are the consumer. But you only have one vote to “spend” per election, and in November you’ll almost always only have two possible candidates on which to spend it.

In every election, both of those candidates are going to pull every trick in the surveillance-driven, highly personalized internet advertising world to get you to vote for them. Or, if they think you’ll vote for the other candidate, to stay home and not vote.

In 2012, Barack Obama deftly used both social media and his own database of supporters to outmaneuver Mitt Romney, …

How We Sold Our Souls—and More—to the Internet Giants

From TVs that listen in on us to a doll that records your child’s questions, data collection has become both dangerously intrusive and highly profitable. Is it time for governments to act to curb online surveillance?

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • May 17, 2015

Portuguese translation

Last year, when my refrigerator broke, the repair man replaced the computer that controls it. I realised that I had been thinking about the refrigerator backwards: it’s not a refrigerator with a computer, it’s a computer that keeps food cold. Just like that, everything is turning into a computer. Your phone is a computer that makes calls. Your car is a computer with wheels and an engine. Your oven is a computer that cooks lasagne. Your camera is a computer that takes pictures. Even our pets and livestock are now regularly chipped; my cat could be considered a computer that sleeps in the sun all day…

NSA Robots are "Collecting" Your Data, Too, and They're Getting Away With It

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • February 27, 2014

Increasingly, we are watched not by people but by algorithms. Amazon and Netflix track the books we buy and the movies we stream, and suggest other books and movies based on our habits. Google and Facebook watch what we do and what we say, and show us advertisements based on our behavior. Google even modifies our web search results based on our previous behavior. Smartphone navigation apps watch us as we drive, and update suggested route information based on traffic congestion. And the National Security Agency, of course, monitors our phone calls, emails and locations, then uses that information to try to identify terrorists…

NSA and GCHQ target Tor Network That Protects Anonymity of Web Users

  • James Ball, Bruce Schneier, and Glenn Greenwald
  • The Guardian
  • October 4, 2013

The National Security Agency has made repeated attempts to develop attacks against people using Tor, a popular tool designed to protect online anonymity, despite the fact the software is primarily funded and promoted by the US government itself.

Top-secret NSA documents, disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that the agency’s current successes against Tor rely on identifying users and then attacking vulnerable software on their computers. One technique developed by the agency targeted the Firefox web browser used with Tor, giving the agency full control over targets’ computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all online activity…

Attacking Tor: How the NSA Targets Users' Online Anonymity

Secret servers and a privileged position on the internet's backbone used to identify users and attack target computers

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • October 4, 2013

The online anonymity network Tor is a high-priority target for the National Security Agency. The work of attacking Tor is done by the NSA‘s application vulnerabilities branch, which is part of the systems intelligence directorate, or SID. The majority of NSA employees work in SID, which is tasked with collecting data from communications systems around the world.

According to a top-secret NSA presentation provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, one successful technique the NSA has developed involves exploiting the Tor browser bundle, a collection of programs designed to make it easy for people to install and use the software. The trick identified Tor users on the …

Why the NSA's Attacks on the Internet Must Be Made Public

By reporting on the agency's actions, the vulnerabilities in our computer systems can be fixed. It's the only way to force change

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • October 4, 2013

Today, the Guardian is reporting on how the NSA targets Tor users, along with details of how it uses centrally placed servers on the internet to attack individual computers. This builds on a Brazilian news story from last week that, in part, shows that the NSA is impersonating Google servers to users; a German story on how the NSA is hacking into smartphones; and a Guardian story from two weeks ago on how the NSA is deliberately weakening common security algorithms, protocols, and products.

The common thread among these stories is that the NSA is …

NSA Surveillance: a Guide to Staying Secure

The NSA has huge capabilities – and if it wants in to your computer, it's in. With that in mind, here are five ways to stay safe

  • Bruce Schneier
  • The Guardian
  • September 6, 2013

Now that we have enough details about how the NSA eavesdrops on the internet, including today’s disclosures of the NSA’s deliberate weakening of cryptographic systems, we can finally start to figure out how to protect ourselves.

For the past two weeks, I have been working with the Guardian on NSA stories, and have read hundreds of top-secret NSA documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. I wasn’t part of today’s story—it was in process well before I showed up—but everything I read confirms what the Guardian is reporting.

At this point, I feel I can provide some advice for keeping secure against such an adversary…

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.