Our government has been building spy-access into the Windows Operating System since the late 1990’s

phonebill

In researching the stunning pervasiveness of spying by the government (it’s much more wide spread than you’ve heard even now), we ran across the fact that the FBI wants software programmers to install a backdoor in all software.

Digging a little further, we found a 1999 article by leading European computer publication Heise which noted that the NSA had already built a backdoor into all Windows software:

A careless mistake by Microsoft programmers has revealed that special access codes prepared by the US National Security Agency have been secretly built into Windows. The NSA access system is built into every version of the Windows operating system now in use, except early releases of Windows 95 (and its predecessors)…

“The first discovery of the new NSA access system was made two years ago by British researcher Dr Nicko van Someren [an expert in computer security]. But it was only a few weeks ago when a second researcher rediscovered the access system. With it, he found the evidence linking it to NSA…

“According to Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym, the result of having the secret key inside your Windows operating system “is that it is tremendously easier for the NSA to load unauthorized security services on all copies of Microsoft Windows, and once these security services are loaded, they can effectively compromise your entire operating system“. The NSA key is contained inside all versions of Windows from Windows 95 OSR2 onwards…”

We have repeatedly pointed out that widespread spying on Americans began prior to 9/11.

Barry Ritholtz picked this up from Washington’s Blog and as part of his journey as a recovering Republican – he’s republished this at his own blog.

There certainly aren’t any longtime geeks who are surprised to read details of Microsoft putting in backdoors for the NSA.

When will Republicans modernize? Kickbacks are so old-fashioned


Campaign Troika: Gov. Susana Martinez, Heather Wilson, Sen. Marco Rubio

Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson collected nearly half a million dollars in questionable payments from four federally funded nuclear labs after she left office, the Energy Department’s inspector general says in a new report.

Wilson failed to provide documentation for the work she did to earn $20,000 a month from the Los Alamos and Sandia national labs in New Mexico from January 2009 to March 2011, the report said. Officials at the Nevada Test Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee acknowledged there “were no deliverables” associated with $30,000 the two labs paid Wilson. And Sandia and Los Alamos appear to have asked Wilson to help them secure more work for the labs, an apparent violation of her contract, the report said.

In total, nearly $450,000 in questionable payments were identified, the bulk from Los Alamos and Sandia.

The contractors that run the labs billed the payments to the government, “even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed,” the report said. The payments were fully reimbursed by the government

The report called Wilson’s agreements with the labs unusual and in some cases “highly irregular.” And it said the agreements and the lab operators failed to include or enforce “even minimum” invoicing standards required under federal regulations.

Wilson, a Republican who represented New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, collected much of the money in between two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate. She was defeated last year by Democrat Martin Heinrich during a campaign that highlighted her connections to Los Alamos and Sandia. The labs conduct classified research on nuclear weapons…

During the 2012 Senate campaign, the AP sought copies of Wilson’s contracts with the labs after she disclosed income from Los Alamos, Sandia and Oak Ridge. And all three labs called the documents confidential.

Well – we’re not supposed to question anything the government and their security monkeys say is “confidential”. Right?

Meanwhile, stealing from the American people – whether it’s to pay for shiny nuclear weapons or the latest gear to snoop on our online conversations – is always the favorite hustle for the military-industrial mafia.

North Sea cod stocks back on the road to sustainability

North Sea cod stocks are on the road to sustainability, according to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) research.

The body, which certifies whether fish are caught through good practice, says it is too soon to tell exactly when the North Sea fishery will meet its mark.

But a spokesman said on current trends, it would be ready for certification within years rather than decades.

Stocks would still be in recovery then, James Simpson said, but they would have passed an acceptable level.

MSC certification is determined by the state of the stocks, the environmental impact of the fishery, and if there is a management system in place to maintain sustainability if circumstances change.

The latter two were already in place, Mr Simpson said…

The recovery was thanks to strict catch limits aided by a massive public campaign for sustainable fish, he said.

Barrie Deas, the chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, which represents fisherman in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, told Radio 4’s Today programme it was a “dramatic turnaround”.

“I think a major part of it is there are fewer vessels out there. There have been big decommissioning schemes.

There’s also been a change in the mindset in the industry. We work very closely with the scientists now.”

The article adds in some blather of worries about overfishing alternative species. Any journalist who just discovered that possibility knows nothing about fishing – or consumers. Dealing with that additional problem was always pretty much inevitable.

Glowing polymer detects explosives


William Dichtel and Deepti Gopalakrishnan

Detecting bombs in places such as airports could be getting easier, thanks to a new fluorescing polymer. While you might expect the material to glow in the presence of explosives, they actually cause it to stop glowing.

The polymer was developed at Cornell University by chemist William Dichtel and his graduate student, Deepti Gopalakrishnan.

Ordinarily, its random cross-linked structure lets it absorb light, transport the energy through itself, and ultimately release that energy back out as light. Should the energy meet up with even a single molecule of explosive as it moves through the polymer, however, it will be released as heat instead of light. This causes the polymer to promptly cease fluorescing.

It is now hoped that the polymer could be incorporated into low-cost hand-held sensors, which could be used with or instead of bomb-sniffing dogs.

This is definitely better than using X-Rays to peer beneath my underwear.