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posted by LaminatorX on Friday February 21 2014, @10:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the Nations-Spying-on-Authors dept.

fleg writes:

"The Guardian is reporting that while the author of The Snowden Files was writing it, paragraphs started self-deleting."

From the article:

By September the book was going well - 30,000 words done. A Christmas deadline loomed. I was writing a chapter on the NSA's close, and largely hidden, relationship with Silicon Valley. I wrote that Snowden's revelations had damaged US tech companies and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping.

[ED Note: Some of author's claims are of course unverifiable, but his insiders view of the early days of the story are interesting even so.]

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State of the Site: 02/23/2014 108 comments
Well, we've survived our first week as a functional website, and have yet to go belly up because of it. The speed and growth of our community is staggering to say the least, and we are working hard to get this site fully operational. I'm pleased to announce that a development VM is now available for public consumption, and if you're interested in site development, one should join us in #dev on irc.soylentnews.org. Beyond that though, I've got a few points to address on and updated statistics to share ...
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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by bobintetley on Friday February 21 2014, @10:33AM

    by bobintetley (1273) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:33AM (#4205)

    Couldn't make it all the way through the article, the smell of sensationalist bullshit was just too strong.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by iNaya on Friday February 21 2014, @11:07AM

      by iNaya (176) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:07AM (#4221)

      Imagine what the book he's writing will be like!

      He's willing to believe the NSA et al would hack into his office program, and delete paragraphs while he writes, he's willing to believe anything.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TWiTfan on Friday February 21 2014, @01:43PM

        by TWiTfan (2428) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:43PM (#4283)

        Considering the extensive nature of the Snowden leaks, can you blame anyone for being paranoid?

        Before the Snowden leaks, if someone had claimed that the NSA was archiving every phone call, email, and browser history in the entire U.S., they would have been called a paranoid tin-foil hatter too.

        --
        If real life were like D&D, my Charisma score would be a negative number
        • (Score: 1) by demonlapin on Friday February 21 2014, @10:45PM

          by demonlapin (925) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:45PM (#4584) Journal
          If you're that paranoid, unplug the Ethernet cable.
          • (Score: 0) by killal -9 bash on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:07AM

            by killal -9 bash (2751) on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:07AM (#4643)

            If unplugging makes you safe, why are NSA buildings encased in EM blocking or absorbing materials?

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mojo chan on Friday February 21 2014, @03:30PM

        by mojo chan (266) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:30PM (#4360)

        It makes a lot of sense actually. Obviously anyone with those files is going to be a target of spying and hacking attempts. If you read TFA he claims that was not the only incident of this kind, and that he has been very obviously followed in real life too.

        It's a standard intimidation tactic. We own your computer, we know where you are and are monitoring you at all times. You are a high value target to us, worth putting guys on to follow. It wouldn't work unless he noticed.

        --
        const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
        • (Score: 1) by dingo on Friday February 21 2014, @08:02PM

          by dingo (1579) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:02PM (#4509)

          It's in government agencies' best interest to have you believe they're all powerfull, is it not?
          How much hard, physical proof is there NSA actually did all the stuff people and/or other countries claim they've been doing?

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by clone141166 on Friday February 21 2014, @11:13AM

      by clone141166 (59) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:13AM (#4226)

      "By September the book was going poorly - 30,000 words done, but few of them made any sense. A Christmas deadline loomed. I was creating wild, overblown accusations in a chapter on the NSA's close, and largely unsubstantiated, relationship with Santa Claus. I wrote that Snowden's revelations had damaged the tin foil hat industry and their bottom line. Something odd happened. The paragraph I had just written began to self-delete. The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text. I watched my words vanish. When I tried to close my OpenOffice file the keyboard began flashing and bleeping. The computer lost power, the lights went dark, a low humming noise filled the room and a strange coppery taste permeated the air. With a terrifying hiss-snap, a portal opened. From the pool of suspended, shimmering light emerged Al Gore, creator of the internet. His words penetrated the very fabric of the space-time continuum, "Luke, it is time to learn the ways of the force. You will go to the Dagobah system, there you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me."

      [Remainder of this story is behind paywall]

      • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:56AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:56AM (#4252)

        [Remainder of this story is behind paywall]

        Spoiler alert; it involves mycleanpc and a 64GB hosts file.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @04:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @04:15PM (#4395)

        haha, love it!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:14PM (#4349)

      Agreed. He sounds like a fraud.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @04:50PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @04:50PM (#4414) Homepage Journal

      cold_fiord? Is that you? I didn't find it the least bit sensationalist, nor full of bulshit (granted, I only skimmed). I'm not the least bit surprised that his computer was hacked.

      --
      Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @10:33AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @10:33AM (#4206)

    First ghost!

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by me on Friday February 21 2014, @10:36AM

    by me (1944) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:36AM (#4207)

    Sometimes the keys on my keyboard get stuck when I press them. Could it have happened with his delete key?????????????????

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by SGT CAPSLOCK on Friday February 21 2014, @11:21AM

      by SGT CAPSLOCK (118) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:21AM (#4234) Journal

      I think the TAB key got stuck down. In his brain.

      It must've auto-completed a hallucination!

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by baldrick on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:16AM

        by baldrick (352) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:16AM (#4722)

        that would be the ACID TAB key

        --
        ... I obey the Laws of Physics ...
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:34AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:34AM (#4241)

      nah he wacks off too often and when the shit gets into your keyboard it starts trying to delete whatever bullshit you're trying to write and replace it with midget porn stories

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by mrdavis on Friday February 21 2014, @02:38PM

      by mrdavis (729) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:38PM (#4319)

      When his computer began to lag because of the constant input from a stuck backspace key, OpenOffice would not close even after repeatedly mashing the keyboard with his fist in frustration. Then for some strange reason the keyboard broke... Or no, it had to be someone at the NSA, instead of just destroying his work and safely removing what they perceived as a threat, hacked his computer with a VNC client to delete things one character at a time.

      Based on the stories I've been reading, I think Soylent News pulled over a disproportionate number of the conspiracy crowd. Given the circumstances that's not surprising.

      • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday February 21 2014, @04:00PM

        by hemocyanin (186) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:00PM (#4387) Journal

        From this thread, it looks more like we've pulled in a disproportionate number of the Cold Fjord crowd.

        • (Score: 1) by velex on Friday February 21 2014, @11:47PM

          by velex (2068) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:47PM (#4610) Journal

          Maybe, maybe not. I think the thing that set off my bullshit detector was the description of a laptop keyboard "flashing and beeping."

          I'm sure a lot of us here have done or do end-user support. You have to really work on your listening skills and imagination, but you also have to be aware that a lot of people primarily use magical thinking (contagious magic/sympathetic magic) when using computers. There's also a good deal of anthropomorphizing and assignment of agency or intention to things that a computer does. There are a lot of end users who are more comfortable assigning intention to the symptoms of a bug rather than formulating a test case. Also, granted, this sounds too much like something out of a movie scene where a hacker is being l337 and writing a Visual Basic GUI to track someone's IP address with 5 monitors that can only display green on black.

          So, I suppose the thing I have about the "flashing and beeping" is that it's not a very helpful description of what probably really happened. Were the caps/num/scroll-lock indicators flashing? Is it one of those illuminated keyboards, and was that light flashing? Was nothing flashing and the unexpected beeping merely caused him to imagine it? (Sure, never say and end user is lying, but some end users have a tenuous grasp on reality and overactive imaginations.) Was backspace stuck down, and was the beeping happening because the OS was getting too many keypresses?

          I don't think I'd discount that some TLA could have installed spyware (VNC or something more sophisticated), but I think I'd tend to agree with other comments that if a TLA was really interested in removing information from his book, they would have done it in a better way. Perhaps it was intimidation, but I'll just leave this XKCD [xkcd.com] here.

          • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:59AM

            by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:59AM (#4733) Journal

            Yeah -- after I read the article and he said that he was working offline, I became quite a bit more skeptical. For this to happen while offline sounds like he forgot about a bluetooth keyboard his cat was sleeping on.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by DECbot on Friday February 21 2014, @06:10PM

        by DECbot (832) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:10PM (#4440) Journal

        You know, I think NSA hacked my PC once.... and then I realized that I had rested my coffee cup on the HOME/END/PAGE UP/PAGE DOWN INSERT/DELETE keys and in my fit of terror, knocked the coffee up over, splashing coffee across the entire keyboard. Once dowsed in coffee, it started flashing and my pc beeped continuously until I unplugged it. That coffee saved my ass from the NSA--who bribed the keyboard manufacturers to put back doors in their products. That's why I now use a homemade key-er and I tap out Morris code to a homemade Morris code to ASCII translator I created from an Excel macro.

        But I'm starting to think my mouse might be hacked too. It always moves on its own when the subway train passes overhead. That's when it's communicating back to its masters.

        --
        cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by neagix on Friday February 21 2014, @07:18PM

        by neagix (25) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:18PM (#4480)
        I also thought the same: there are much more effective ways to hack somebody's work. I would call it a prank, or a made-up story after watching too many movies [tumblr.com]
    • (Score: 1) by rufty on Friday February 21 2014, @05:25PM

      by rufty (381) on Friday February 21 2014, @05:25PM (#4428)

      That was my first thought on reading it.

    • (Score: 1) by edIII on Friday February 21 2014, @09:14PM

      by edIII (791) on Friday February 21 2014, @09:14PM (#4550)

      That happens a LOT to me. I bet he is using a wireless keyboard.

      For some reason it's very easy for the input to slow down by 99% for a second or two, and then all of the sudden start typing out everything stored in the buffer.

      On my wireless keyboard it's the E key. It will put out 40 of those bastards in a row sometime.

      He mentioned the mouse. I bet he is using Windows. If his system is having problems everything can slow down, but all of those inputs, mouse events, and clicks are stored.

      He was just spazzing out on his system, it came back, and started to do *everything* he asked it to do while spazzing out :)

      --
      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:48PM (#4612)

      Yes. This happened to me right before the fucking NSA broke the cupholder on my laptop. Assholes.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by clone141166 on Friday February 21 2014, @10:37AM

    by clone141166 (59) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:37AM (#4208)

    Paragraphs deleting themselves, keyboard "flashing and beeping"... this is why you should never drink beverages near your computer!

    • (Score: 1) by TWiTfan on Friday February 21 2014, @01:47PM

      by TWiTfan (2428) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:47PM (#4284)

      Yeah, the idea that the NSA could take over someone's computer is crazy!

      Just like it was crazy a year ago to think that the NSA was archiving everyone's phone calls, emails, and browser history.

      --
      If real life were like D&D, my Charisma score would be a negative number
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by dilbert on Friday February 21 2014, @02:20PM

        by dilbert (444) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:20PM (#4306)
        It's not the thought that the NSA could hack his computer that's crazy...it's that they would do it over terminal services and manually delete a paragraph while the user was typing.

        *IF* the NSA cared about what he was writing, and they took the time to crack into his computer (plausible, but unlikely), there are so many other ways to prevent the information from being published without alerting the user. They could just delete the entire file, they could corrupt system files so his computer would crash, etc.

        This guy wants free advertising among the ignorant masses who have no idea about how computers work so he's making stuff up. (I'm not trying to argue that there isn't a real threat of being hacked while working on the Snowden story, just that the attack wouldn't look like this).

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by SMI on Friday February 21 2014, @04:28PM

          by SMI (333) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:28PM (#4404)

          "*IF* the NSA cared about what he was writing, and they took the time to crack into his computer (plausible, but unlikely), there are so many other ways to prevent the information from being published without alerting the user."

          Perhaps alerting the user was the whole point. They'll let him publish, but they want him to put the TLAs in a certain light, and the easiest and most effective way to do that was to make that point very obvious to him. Considering some of the other stunts they've pulled in regard to the fallout of the revelations, there isn't much that I wouldn't put past them, especially at that time. I can say for a fact that the terminal hijacking which is described is *entirely* possible...

          • (Score: 1) by jonh on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:13AM

            by jonh (733) on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:13AM (#4619) Homepage

            Maybe the NSA did delete his paragraphs while he was watching -- with the expectation that he'd go public with these ridiculous-sounding revelations, and damage his reputation in the process. An espionage double-counter-bluff?

            (Or maybe I just made that all up? I don't know who to trust any more...)

            • (Score: 1) by Richard Nixon on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:48AM

              by Richard Nixon (2750) on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:48AM (#4637)

              Your idea is much more sound than the guy above you. Attempting to discredit the free press is a tricky business...

          • (Score: 1) by Richard Nixon on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:46AM

            by Richard Nixon (2750) on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:46AM (#4634)

            Even for me, this is a little much.

        • (Score: 1) by tsqr on Friday February 21 2014, @11:39PM

          by tsqr (1663) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:39PM (#4607)

          It's not the thought that the NSA could hack his computer that's crazy...

          Actually, it IS pretty crazy, given the circumstances. From the paragraph in TFA preceding his description of the "hack": "Still, back at my home in Hertfordshire I took a few precautions. I worked offline." So, apparently NSA has figured out a way to remotely hack a computer that's offline.

          • (Score: 1) by tibman on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:09AM

            by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:09AM (#4616)

            Jumping air-gaps via speaker/microphone is an actual thing now. Pretty creepy and awesome : )

            --
            SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
        • (Score: 0, Redundant) by killal -9 bash on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:22AM

          by killal -9 bash (2751) on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:22AM (#4648)

          How hard would it be to use electronic warfare technology to transmit a bunch of backspace key signals into the antenna (i.e. the cable) that connects his keyboard to his computer?

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:01PM (#4291)

      I suppose it all depends exactly what is in your beverage of choice. Absinthe in this case maybe?

    • (Score: 1) by Skittles on Friday February 21 2014, @02:41PM

      by Skittles (1651) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:41PM (#4324)

      My thought exactly, this has nothing to do with that entire bottle of coke he poured into the laptop last week, I'm sure of it.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Friday February 21 2014, @10:38AM

    by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:38AM (#4209)
    I've heard of clicky keyboards, but a bleepy keyboard is news to me. This story wins the PT Barnum Believability Prize, I tell ya.
    --
    Soylent is the best disinfectant.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by SGT CAPSLOCK on Friday February 21 2014, @11:15AM

      by SGT CAPSLOCK (118) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:15AM (#4230) Journal

      There's a reason that the "PC Speaker" driver is categorized as an input device in the Linux kernel, you know! Real keyboards have speakers.

      Random reference: http://lkml.org/lkml/2006/10/24/44 [lkml.org]

      • (Score: 2) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Friday February 21 2014, @11:39AM

        by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:39AM (#4243)
        Does that apply to laptop keyboards [www.taz.de]?

        "Ueber seine Erfahrungen mit dem britischen Geheimdienst erzaehlt David Leigh erst spaeter beim Bier. "Wenn Luke auf seinem Laptop tippt, dann bewegt sich der Mauszeiger manchmal ganz von allein. Dann ist klar, der GCHQ liest mit". David Leigh zwinkert in Richtung Luke Harding. Die beiden wissen, was es heisst, einen kontrollwuetigen Geheimdienst wie das Government Communications Headquarter herauszufordern." [converted to all-Latin characters due to Soylent's problems with UTF-8...]

        Also, thanks for pointing that out. You learn something new everyday :)

        --
        Soylent is the best disinfectant.
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:57PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @02:57PM (#4336)

          [converted to all-Latin characters due to Soylent's problems with UTF-8...]

          Better convert them to HTML entities. SoylentNews handles those correctly. Proof:

          "Über seine Erfahrungen mit dem britischen Geheimdienst erzählt David Leigh erst später beim Bier. "Wenn Luke auf seinem Laptop tippt, dann bewegt sich der Mauszeiger manchmal ganz von allein. Dann ist klar, der GCHQ liest mit". David Leigh zwinkert in Richtung Luke Harding. Die beiden wissen, was es heißt, einen kontrollwütigen Geheimdienst wie das Government Communications Headquarter herauszufordern."

          But yes, I hope Soylent UTF-8 will work soon.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by toygeek on Friday February 21 2014, @10:52AM

    by toygeek (28) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:52AM (#4215) Homepage

    Didn't read TFA. My BS'o'Meter pegged just reading the summary.

    --
    There is no Sig. Okay, maybe a short one. http://miscdotgeek.com
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by dilbert on Friday February 21 2014, @03:52PM

      by dilbert (444) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:52PM (#4376)
      Are you implying that you read TFA when your BS'o'Meter doesn't go off?

      I don't think that's allowed here.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by SlackStone on Friday February 21 2014, @06:03PM

      by SlackStone (815) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:03PM (#4438) Homepage

      Seriously, if I were writing a book on Snowden and the NSA, I'd use some paper just in case. The summary flagged my BS meter too.

    • (Score: 1) by Beukenbosje on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:48AM

      by Beukenbosje (697) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:48AM (#4730)

      I do what I've mostly done over the last 15 years: I read the comments first. If they're any good, I *MIGHT* RTFA..

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Friday February 21 2014, @10:58AM

    by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:58AM (#4216)
    In an interview with the Financial Times [ft.com], Greenwald said the following about Luke Harding and his new book:

    Greenwald's more abrasive side surfaces when the subject turns to a Guardian book, The Snowden Files, by Luke Harding, published in early February. "It is a bullshit book," he says. "They are purporting to tell the inside story of Edward Snowden but it is written by someone who has never met or even spoken to Edward Snowden. Luke came here and talked to me for half a day without [my] realising that he was trying to get me to write his book for him. I cut the interview off when I realised what he was up to."

    --
    Soylent is the best disinfectant.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by combatserver on Friday February 21 2014, @11:25AM

      by combatserver (38) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:25AM (#4238)

      I'm a little confused why this was mentioned in the article you linked to...

      "It is after 3pm on a Friday when I walk into Bar do Beto, an old-fashioned Ipanema restaurant, but the place is full of diners enjoying a long, languid lunch..."

      For an opening line, it seemed a little meandering, but then I saw this one...

      "...Shawn came to Rio to put on a performance for him. "Incredibly riveting and thought-provoking," Greenwald says of the play, which was performed in a theatre rented for the occasion. Afterwards, Greenwald brought cast and crew to Bar do Beto to thank them."

      By now, I'm thinking to myself, "What the fuck is he going on about?". Then I get to the bottom of the article...

      "Bar do Beto
      51 Rua Farme de Amoedo, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
      Bread and cover charge R$26.90
      Squid rings and prawn x2 R$93.80
      Guarana Zero x4 R$22.00
      Diet Coke R$5.50
      Coffee R$5.00
      Total (including service) R$171.58 (£43.00)"

      You're welcome.

      (Did I really just see a restaurant advert disguised as an Edward Snowden news article? Was it just me, or do I need help?)

      --
      I hope I can change this later...
      • (Score: 1) by bucc5062 on Friday February 21 2014, @12:04PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Friday February 21 2014, @12:04PM (#4253)
        $93 for squid and prawns? for two people...disgusting. $5.50 for a diet Coke? If that is an advertisement it works against them (at least for the unwashed masses yearning to read). These people live in some kind of dream world, going to hotels that charge $26 for bread and talking spy talk. If the FT picked up the tab, no wonder newspapers are going out of business.
        --
        The more things change, the more they look the same
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by girlwhowaspluggedout on Friday February 21 2014, @12:13PM

          by girlwhowaspluggedout (1223) on Friday February 21 2014, @12:13PM (#4258)
          The prices are in R$, i.e. Brazilian reals. At the moment, 1BRL = 0.42USD. Whether that's still excessive for a Brazilian restaurant is another question :)
          --
          Soylent is the best disinfectant.
          • (Score: 1) by bucc5062 on Friday February 21 2014, @12:28PM

            by bucc5062 (699) on Friday February 21 2014, @12:28PM (#4263)

            d'oh! Wondered what the R meant. That was my American showing. Thanks for the info and it does make it seem less elite.

            --
            The more things change, the more they look the same
            • (Score: 2, Informative) by cesarb on Friday February 21 2014, @01:09PM

              by cesarb (1224) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:09PM (#4273) Journal

              Well, that restaurant is near the Ipanema beach (you can find it on OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org]), so it would make sense for it to be somewhat expensive.

              That beverage does seem to be on the expensive side. Beverages tend to be more expensive on restaurants, but look at its price on a supermarket [paodeacucar.com.br]: R$ 2,19 for the Guaraná Zero.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by No Respect on Friday February 21 2014, @11:06AM

    by No Respect (991) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:06AM (#4220)

    If it's regarding No Such Agency and it's not by James Bamford then it's probably bullshit.

  • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:09AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @11:09AM (#4224)

    Yeah, that sounds like a description of your average hollywood movie trying to portray hacking just with less terminals, countdowns and the stereotypical turbonerd hacking at 12 keyboards at once.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by RamiK on Friday February 21 2014, @11:11AM

    by RamiK (1813) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:11AM (#4225)

    This is a VERY common occurrence in some of my work-from-home clients. Their work/private computer has VNC\RDP installed/configured by the IT staff and run at start-up. The passwords are never throttled, often the same across corporate clients, firewall is disabled, no one is there to read the logs and old client versions are not updated even when a critical vulnerability was made known available and a new client was issues.

    But the worse is when a retainer IT consultant-firm/service-provider rolls their own clients. These guys NEVER update their clients since that means a recompile and QA, often by a third party developer. And they are servicing large institutions, corporations holding sensitive data...

    --
    compiling...
  • (Score: 4, Funny) by cockroach on Friday February 21 2014, @11:23AM

    by cockroach (2266) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:23AM (#4235)

    ... about every third time I plug my USB to serial adapter. So far I've always thought that the OS occasionally detects the adapter as a mouse. I had no idea the NSA was hiding in there...

    Also, I lol'd at the bleeping keyboard.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Common Joe on Friday February 21 2014, @01:04PM

      by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @01:04PM (#4271) Journal

      ... about every third time I plug my USB to serial adapter. So far I've always thought that the OS occasionally detects the adapter as a mouse. I had no idea the NSA was hiding in there...

      You were joking, but just to set the record straight: the NSA does have that capability. In a recent talk by Jacob Appelbaum, he claims they have the capabilities to record keystrokes without software. (How's that for a mind blower?) Click here [dailytech.com] for a pretty detailed view of the talk. If you want to know about the USB technology that I'm specifically referring to, load up that page and do a find on the word "ANGRYNEIGHBOR". Go to the second instance and it brings you right to slide he was referencing.

      It takes a bit of effort for the NSA to pull off, but it is interesting reading and a bit hair raising. (I just skimmed the article because I actually watched the video it is talking about all the way through. It looks like it does a good job representing the video I watched.)

      A word of warning: if you read that article in full, you better put on that tin foil hat if you want to sleep well tonight. ;)

      With all that said, the original article where words were being deleted letter by letter sounds like a stuck key or perhaps what RamiK [soylentnews.org] was referring to. The whole deleting letter by letter does not sound like the NSA at all. I'm going to call BS on this.

      • (Score: 1) by cockroach on Friday February 21 2014, @02:19PM

        by cockroach (2266) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:19PM (#4304)

        You were joking, but just to set the record straight: the NSA does have that capability.

        Oh, thanks for that rather scary link. Joke's on me, I guess...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:01PM (#4339)

        In a recent talk by Jacob Appelbaum, he claims they have the capabilities to record keystrokes without software. (How's that for a mind blower?)

        Oh, that's easy. Just point an old-fashioned analogue video camera to the keyboard, and save the video on VHS tape. See? No software involved.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Common Joe on Friday February 21 2014, @03:51PM

          by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @03:51PM (#4375) Journal

          Too bad you're AC. You obviously didn't look at my link. No cameras involved. No software involved. It is totally invisible unless you pull apart your USB plug and know what you're looking for. Finally, it transmits what you type into your keyboard so they can pick it up and they don't have to be next door. The link I provide / video I saw is one of the most enlightening things I've seen about NSA capabilities. If you think you know what they do because you can just pull an idea out of your butt, you're probably wrong. They are way more sophisticated and this article goes into gruesome details. If you're concerned about keeping a secure computer, I promise this will give you nightmares. Want another example? How about intercepts of computer hardware when you buy something from Amazon or Newegg? Yup. I'm not saying they do it for everything that is bought, but it can be done. Hey, AC, go read that article before you pull another idea out your butt.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MachineShedFred on Friday February 21 2014, @04:13PM

        by MachineShedFred (1656) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:13PM (#4392)

        I guess I'd like to know why the NSA would go through all the trouble to delete it letter by letter, instead of just crashing the word processor, and then writing zeros over the file.

        Why get rid of a paragraph in RAM when you can blow the whole book off the disk, easier?

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @05:04PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @05:04PM (#4419) Homepage Journal

          I don't know, but if I were writing a book about the NSA and my computer did that, I'd freak out. I'm not sure everyone would have had the courage to finish the book faced with domething like that.

          --
          Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by dmc on Friday February 21 2014, @08:09PM

        by dmc (188) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:09PM (#4516)

        Click here for a pretty detailed view of the talk. If you want to know about the USB technology that I'm specifically referring to, load up that page and do a find on the word "ANGRYNEIGHBOR". Go to the second instance and it brings you right to slide he was referencing.

        Here are my favorite links for that kind of info-

        http://cryptome.org/2014/01/nsa-codenames.htm [cryptome.org]

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/catalog- reveals-nsa-has-back-doors-for-numerous-devices-a- 940994.html [spiegel.de]

        http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/12/nsa-hacki ng-catalogue/ [wired.com]

    • (Score: 1) by willyg on Friday February 21 2014, @07:42PM

      by willyg (1845) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:42PM (#4496) Homepage

      Sorry, but this brought back a memory from a bad 1980s movie - Perfect - in which one of the characters deletes a story by backspacing over an expose article on a portable word processor (I believe was a portable TRS-100 or some such beast).

      Seriously, a plot device that's over 30 years old, and you expect us to buy that???

      Try selling major urban bridges - I hear there's much more money in that!

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089798 [imdb.com] for those of you with too much time on their hands. I can't be bothered to track down the scene, and I can't stand to watch it again.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Friday February 21 2014, @11:56AM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Friday February 21 2014, @11:56AM (#4251)
    Cleaners were banned. Soon the room grew unkempt. Discarded sandwich packets and dirty coffee cups piled up.

    How hard is it to clean now and then. Is there some cool factor to pointing out that "hey guys, we're slobs". I wonder if the cleaned themselves or did they enjoy the stench of sweaty humans living out some Suspense novelists wet dream. On one hand I am grateful to Edward and the Guardian for shining the light on some ugly activities by the NSA (and our Congress). Of course, people got to make a buck and Greenwald is slurping, nay gulping from the trough.

    This article was Clancy on a bad day. I think he would have deleted most of it and started over. Hell, even if that happened to me^H^H^H^H^H, wait, what just happ...@#$h#
    --
    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 1) by LaminatorX on Friday February 21 2014, @12:17PM

      by LaminatorX (14) <{laminatorx} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday February 21 2014, @12:17PM (#4259)

      Now I really wish I'd let the ED Note trail off mid sentence.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Open4D on Friday February 21 2014, @02:46PM

      by Open4D (371) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:46PM (#4330) Journal

      Of course, people got to make a buck and Greenwald is slurping, nay gulping from the trough.

      Well, Greenwald is presumably doing okay out of the whole affair [theguardian.com], but in this case I would say it's this "Snowden Files" book by Luke Harding that is probably most guilty of sensationalism / bandwagon-jumping / fast-buck-making. And TFA doesn't pretend to be anything other than a plug for the book.

  • (Score: 1, Redundant) by lajos on Friday February 21 2014, @01:23PM

    by lajos (528) on Friday February 21 2014, @01:23PM (#4275)

    This is complete bullshit.

    Maybe I should start blaming the bugs I commit in code on the NSA. Although, since I use source control and backups, it would be harder to prove.

    • (Score: 1) by d on Friday February 21 2014, @02:46PM

      by d (523) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:46PM (#4328)

      I wonder if the data could get somehow recovered from the hard drive...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Open4D on Friday February 21 2014, @03:02PM

      by Open4D (371) on Friday February 21 2014, @03:02PM (#4341) Journal

      Maybe I should start blaming the bugs I commit in code on the NSA. Although, since I use source control and backups, it would be harder to prove.

      But the NSA would change your source repository's internal data structures, and your backups. So the lack of any evidence should actually be taken as cast iron proof that the NSA is to blame for your bugs! If your manager doesn't buy it, just let me know ...

      .
      Seriously though, the NSA does have the means and the desire to crack journalists' computers. It's just that these details provided by Luke Harding are unrealistic, and I'm not convinced his "Snowden Files" book really counts as journalism.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by r00t on Friday February 21 2014, @02:26PM

    by r00t (1349) on Friday February 21 2014, @02:26PM (#4312)

    The facts are mostly all anecdotal and construed together but the absence of cold, hard proof doesn't mean everything here is purely coincidence. Consider the following:

    * GCHQ smashes Guardian computer equipment[1]
    * Verizon digging up lines outside Guardian's office
    * intruder breaks into home and steals laptop
    * safe in motel room would "no longer work"
    * Random stranger guy cozies up for pics, beers, dinner etc.
    * cell phone having odd technical glitches
    * Document deletions tended to occur when disparaging NSA.
    * keyboard flashing and "bleeping"

    Aside from a few, these events by themselves are not unique or uncommon. Put them all together and a different story seems to emerge. Yep, spilled anything on a keyboard will pretty much buckfeta the thing but considering the other points of interest here, it sounds quite likely that there was a remote connection of some kind vying for keyboard focus.

    [1] http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2290006/g chq-agents-smashed-laptops-at-the-guardian [theinquirer.net]

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:15PM (#4351)

      But there's a good reason to suspect it was not the NSA or GHCQ deleting his text: They would not have done it that way. I'm sure if they wanted to destroy his text, they would instead have chosen a less suspicious way. For example they could have caused his computer to simply crash, and when he rebooted, he'd find out that apparently the crash corrupted the file (or maybe even the complete hard disk) to the point that it could no longer be recovered.

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Friday February 21 2014, @06:45PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Friday February 21 2014, @06:45PM (#4452) Homepage Journal

        IF the intent was to destroy the text then yes, they would not have done it that way. OTOH if they wanted him to freak out and stop writing...

        --
        Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.
        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by dmc on Friday February 21 2014, @08:13PM

          by dmc (188) on Friday February 21 2014, @08:13PM (#4519)

          IF the intent was to destroy the text then yes, they would not have done it that way. OTOH if they wanted him to freak out and stop writing...

          Even better from their ratfucking perspective than getting him to freak out and stop writing might be to get him to freak out and write so freakily that he discredits himself. Remember that episode of the X-Files where they spiked Moulder's apartment tap-water with LSD? :)

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21 2014, @03:58PM (#4385)

      was it a wireless keyboard?

      I have had those flip out for no reason at all. Usually some cheap part in the radio. One guy I worked with the mouse would start randomly moving around and clicking things.

    • (Score: 1) by wikkiwikki on Friday February 21 2014, @04:26PM

      by wikkiwikki (1316) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:26PM (#4403)

      Its not paranoia if they are really after you!!!

      • (Score: 1) by neagix on Friday February 21 2014, @10:27PM

        by neagix (25) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:27PM (#4578)

        Undiscriminated paranoia will not help you if they are all after you. Cold blood and no panic, that will help you.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by NewMexicoArt on Friday February 21 2014, @04:57PM

      by NewMexicoArt (1369) on Friday February 21 2014, @04:57PM (#4417)

      When I read the article my moderator points disappeared. Then my computer rebooted Exactly when the nurse bumped it.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by J.J. Dane on Friday February 21 2014, @06:22PM

    by J.J. Dane (402) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:22PM (#4445)

    Most likely somebody on the Guardian IT staff, recognizing a complete computer illiterate decided to run teamviewer on his laptop and mess with his head, as we all have from time to time...

    Well, that or cheese in the keyboard.

    Seriously though, pieces like this shouldn't make it past the editors.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by sootman on Friday February 21 2014, @06:59PM

    by sootman (2137) on Friday February 21 2014, @06:59PM (#4462)
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by krishnoid on Friday February 21 2014, @07:33PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Friday February 21 2014, @07:33PM (#4491)

    The cursor moved rapidly from the left, gobbling text.

    The Left is responsible for so much evil in this country.

  • (Score: 1) by Blackmoore on Friday February 21 2014, @10:03PM

    by Blackmoore (57) on Friday February 21 2014, @10:03PM (#4571) Journal

    So rather than wait till his back was turned, and delete the entire file - you get the guys computer to do strange things, and have him freak out. The author looks like a total nut-job, and the article/book never get to print.. hmm