Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer

Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013 @ 8:51 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013 @ 8:51 AM

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As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

The earlier disclosures of RSA's entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.

RSA, now a subsidiary of computer storage giant EMC Corp, urged customers to stop using the NSA formula after the Snowden disclosures revealed its weakness.

RSA and EMC declined to answer questions for this story, but RSA said in a statement: "RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any back doors in our products. Decisions about the features and functionality of RSA products are our own."

The NSA declined to comment.

The RSA deal shows one way the NSA carried out what Snowden's documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools. NSA documents released in recent months called for using "commercial relationships" to advance that goal, but did not name any security companies as collaborators.

The NSA came under attack this week in a landmark report from a White House panel appointed to review U.S. surveillance policy. The panel noted that "encryption is an essential basis for trust on the Internet," and called for a halt to any NSA efforts to undermine it.

Most of the dozen current and former RSA employees interviewed said that the company erred in agreeing to such a contract, and many cited RSA's corporate evolution away from pure cryptography products as one of the reasons it occurred.

But several said that RSA also was misled by government officials, who portrayed the formula as a secure technological advance.

"They did not show their true hand," one person briefed on the deal said of the NSA, asserting that government officials did not let on that they knew how to break the encryption.

Priscilla Presley parts ways with Church of Scientology, reports say

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 8:06 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Dream Foundation)
Jesse Grant
File photo. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Dream Foundation)(Jesse Grant)

Priscilla Presley has quit the Church of Scientology, 40 years after she joined, according to the Daily Mail.

“I’ve had enough. I’m done,” Presley reportedly said.

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Presley — who initially joined the church after the death of her husband, Elvis — allegedly told friends she was leaving.

The church’s membership includes a long list of Hollywood celebrities, including John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

“Priscilla reached out to John Travolta after Elvis died in 1977, and that’s how she ended up in the church,” the source said. “She has been in it ever since, and she raised her daughter, Lisa Marie, in it.”

Lisa Marie Presley left the church in 2014, which apparently made remaining with the church a difficult task for her mother.

“They are very close as a family, and leaving the church has been a family decision,” the source claims.

In recent years, several celebs have ditched the church, including Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman, who are both ex-wives of Tom Cruise, still a member himself. The testimonies and interviews of former member Leah Remini; one of the stars of the popular sitcom, “King of Queens,” appear to be impacting the church.

Halloween display of nude, disfigured hanging dolls ‘disgusting,’ neighbors say

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 4:46 PM

An eerie  hanging doll display pictured here in Mexico is a tourist attraction, but a similar display at a home in Plymouth, Mich., prompted police complaints. The display was removed.
Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
An eerie  hanging doll display pictured here in Mexico is a tourist attraction, but a similar display at a home in Plymouth, Mich., prompted police complaints. The display was removed.(Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Residents in a neighborhood in Plymouth, Michigan, said they were shocked and a little disturbed by a Halloween display they said crossed the line.

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The display featured nude and disfigured dolls bound and hanging from a tree with tape over their  eyes and in various other places.

It was just one of the many displays in a yard full of ghoulish decorations, including gravestones and skulls.

"I think they're cute when they're spooky, but I don't like hers," neighbor Marilyn Yoe told WXYZ.

 

"My grandkids say why would you hang babies in a tree? That's no Halloween."

Yoe wasn’t alone. Other neighbors complained, too.

"I think it's disgusting," KC Gibson said. 

"You see all the ghosts and jack-o'-lanterns on people's porches and then dolls representing little kids being hung from a tree, and that's not what Halloween is about," Gibson told WXYZ.

Plymouth police received multiple calls about the disturbing display, but said the hanging dolls weren’t breaking any laws.

Yoe said that while she didn’t like the display, her neighbors have the right to display anything they want in their yard.

>> Related: Homeowner creates amazing Halloween light show, synced with ‘Feel It Still’

WXYZ reported the family that lives in the house is on vacation, but another relative has since removed the dolls.

Possible serial killer on loose; Florida police link 3 separate murders

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 3:03 PM

A  Tampa police officer sits in his patrol car at an abandoned building. Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a possible serial killer, who has already left three people dead over the past 11 days. 
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
A  Tampa police officer sits in his patrol car at an abandoned building. Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a possible serial killer, who has already left three people dead over the past 11 days. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A possible serial killer is on the loose in a Florida community. 

Three people have been murdered in a Tampa neighborhood over the past 11 days, the victims did not know one another, but police have now linked the killings, according to news reports. 

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The latest victim, 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa, got on the wrong bus after work Thursday night and ended up in Seminole Heights, a southeast Tampa neighborhood,  where he was shot and killed.

“He took the wrong bus to this neighborhood; he should not have been to this neighborhood ... he was going to another bus stop and he did not make it,” Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a press conference.

The other two victims — Benjamin E. Mitchell, 22, and Monica C. Hoffa, 32, — also were shot and killed nearby just days earlier. 

Victims of a possible Tampa, Fla., serial killer include, Monica Caridad Hoffa, left, Anthony Naiboa, center, and Benjamin Edward Mitchell.(Tampa Bay Crime Stoppers)

“This is very frustrating,” Dugan said. “I go from frustration to anger (over) these unsolved homicides, and now we have someone terrorizing the neighborhood. It’s just difficult to see this happening,” he said.

Tampa police have released video of a person walking in the area where Mitchell was murdered and are warning people not to walk alone at night. 

CBS News reported that on Friday night residents of the neighborhood took to the streets marching and chanting: "Whose streets? Our streets!"

A $25,000 reward is offered for tips leading to an arrest in the case. 

Family finds crawling worms in Costco chicken at dinner table

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 12:18 PM

A worm crawling on a boy’s finger. A family in Canada found worms in their cooked chicken breast dinner from Cosco. The retailer apologized and refunded their money.
Steven Gottlieb/Corbis via Getty Images
A worm crawling on a boy’s finger. A family in Canada found worms in their cooked chicken breast dinner from Cosco. The retailer apologized and refunded their money.(Steven Gottlieb/Corbis via Getty Images)

A Canadian family made a nauseating discovery while eating a chicken dinner last Thursday.

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The Mo family of Point Cook, Victoria were stunned to discover worms crawling in their cooked chicken.

Leon Mo said he bought the $6 chicken breast from Costco while shopping with his wife.

Mo told the Herald Sun that his daughter refused to eat the food because she told him “there’s worms.”

He says that when he looked in the package, there were two more worms.

After the skin-crawling discovery, he took the chicken back to the store where they gave him a full refund and filed a report. They also called him the next day to check and see how he was feeling.

Mo noted that the chicken wasn’t yet expired, and says that though he trusts big brand stores, “People need to seriously check the quality.”

>> Related: At a San Antonio Popeyes, this woman got a side of screwworms with her spicy chicken

He and his wife, who was then nine months pregnant, both ate some of the meat, but he says they weren’t sick from the food.