This article appeared in ComputerWorld Blog on January 8. Posted here without comments on the authenticity of information:
…. begin CW Blog Post:
Previously a group of Indian hackers called The Lords of Dharmaraja had posted documents that were pillaged during the hack of an Indian military network. That Pastebin post was removed, but can be viewed via Google cache.
More of the story continues to be unveiled such as when Slashdot reported:
The memo suggests that, “in exchange for the Indian market presence” mobile device manufacturers, including RIM, Nokia, and Apple (collectively defined in the document as “RINOA”) have agreed to provide backdoor access on their devices. The Indian government then “utilized backdoors provided by RINOA” to intercept internal emails of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a U.S. government body with a mandate to monitor, investigate and report to Congress on ‘the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship’ between the U.S. and China.
Here’s the really interesting parts numbered 3 and 4:
Although security and privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian tweeted about a possible “intercept backdoor” that Apple has provided to governments, (as seen in paragraphs 3 and 4 above), there were additional interesting insights found while reviewing other @csoghoian tweets. One said, “Instead of worrying about hackers getting access to 5+ year old Norton code we should worry about what NSA/US Military does with recent code.” In another, Soghoian tweeted,
—- end of Computer World Article
Could it be true that Nokia, RIM and Apple opened up to Government interception?
It is no longer directives only to ISPs and Telecom companies. The lawful or not-yet-lawful pressure to open up for “lawful intercept” is now extended to Phone Hardware Manufactures, Computer Hardware Manufactures, possibly even Chip Manufacturers and other component Manufacturers. Perhaps even hard disk manufacturers. Governments in some or many countries are probably exploring or implementing methods to build in secret doors to own capabilities to intercept communication of any kind.
I am concerned, not because Government of India is alleged to have intercepted US China Economic and Security Review Commission as ALLEGED and MAGNIFIED in this article (You spy on us, we spy on you, is a game that Governments play all the time)
What concerns me is the fact that there is an allegation of phone and computer hardware companies in addition to telecoms and ISPs forced to compromise on the integrity of their products and services “in exchange for market presence” in one or two billion-population geographic regions, quite possibly also in billion dollar geo-regions. This is happening, as reported, now for inter-governmental intercepts, but it would soon lead to wider compromises resulting in the intrusion of user’s private space. (Or, is it already happening?) Governments (not only India as magnified in the Computer World article) pressure companies, even ones that are global and very large and make them open secret doors for surveillance of computers, phones, and all communication.
There are clear signs of this happening in a phone or computer you ‘own’ or on the cloud which hovers all above you.
I have always suspected that this has been happening from the time a Global Software Company in the US was harassed on anti-trust charges ten years ago. Even that probably had some thing to do with untold pressures on the company to open back doors in their operating system. (Perhaps. I don’t know. Don’t know at all. All that I am saying is entirely based on what occurs in my mind. I have not read or heard anything that supports this theory.)
Is the pressure on companies such as Nokia so overwhelming? (If what is said in the article is true)
Naveen Lakshman, an IPv6 professional and a member of Internet Society India Chennai was the first among our Chapter Members to react to this news shared on facebook: He agrees “Yes they arm twisted against RIM….now all vendors are forced to cooperate with Govt’s … plans of spying”
Chapter Members are invited to share their comments on this by email or as comments on this blog.
(I have edited the above post after publishing a better written article in CircleID on this topic)
– Sivasubramanian M