Internet censors have a new strategy in their bid to block applications and websites: pressuring the large cloud providers that host them. These providers have concerns that are much broader than the targets of censorship efforts, so they have the choice of either standing up to the censors or capitulating in order to maximize their business. Today’s internet largely reflects the dominance of a handful of companies behind the cloud services, search engines and mobile platforms that underpin the technology landscape.
Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist, called a “security guru” by the Economist. He is the New York Times best-selling author of 14 books — including ”Click Here to Kill Everybody”—as well as hundreds of articles, essays and academic papers.
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Earlier this month, researchers disclosed vulnerabilities in a large number of encrypted email clients: specifically, those that use OpenPGP and S/MIME, including Thunderbird and AppleMail.
I wrote about the Spectre and Meltdown attacks for CNN and my blog. The piece begins:
This is bad, but expect it more and more. Several trends are converging in a way that makes our current system of patching security vulnerabilities harder to implement.
We recently published a paper on the rediscovery of software vulnerabilities. This was the final version of a paper that had been in the works since September, peer-reviewed by the WEIS community during the winter, and then circulated for additional revision in early March. Since publication, two mistakes have come to light.
Software and computer systems are a standard target of intelligence collection in an age where everything from your phone to your sneakers has been turned into a connected computing device. A modern government intelligence organization must maintain access to some software vulnerabilities into order to target these devices. However, the WannaCry ransomware and NotPetya attacks have called attention to the perennial flipside of this issue—the same vulnerabilities that the U.S. government uses to conduct this targeting can also be exploited by malicious actors if they go unpatched.
There's something going on inside the intelligence communities in at least two countries, and we have no idea what it is.
Consider these three data points. One: someone, probably a country's intelligence organization, is dumping massive amounts of cyberattack tools belonging to the NSA onto the Internet. Two: someone else, or maybe the same someone, is doing the same thing to the CIA.
Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don't know who is doing this, but it feels like a large a large nation state. China and Russia would be my first guesses.