‘Defending the Core’ of the Network: Canadian vs. American Approaches

U.S. Cyber Command recently conducted on Fort Meade its first exercise in collaboration with cyber subject-matter experts from across the National Security Agency, National Guard, Department of Homeland Security and FBI.In our recent report, “The Governance of Telecommunications Surveillance: How Opaque and Unaccountable Practices and Policies Threaten Canadians,” we discussed how the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) developed and deployed a sensor network within domestic and foreign telecommunications networks. While our report highlighted some of the concerns linked to this EONBLUE sensor network, including the dangers of secretly extending government surveillance capacity without any public debate about the extensions, as well as how EONBLUE or other CSE programs programs collect information about Canadians’ communications, we did not engage in a comparison of how Canada and its closest allies monitor domestic network traffic. This post briefly describes the EONBLUE sensor program, what may be equivalent domestic programs in the United States, and the questions that emerge from contrasting what we know about the Canadian and American sensor networks.

What is EONBLUE?

EONBLUE was developed and deployed by the CSE. The CSE is Canada’s premier signals intelligence agency. The EONBLUE sensor network “is a passive SIGINT system that was used to collect ‘full-take’ data, as well as conduct signature and anomaly based detections on network traffic.” Prior Snowden documents showcased plans to integrate EONBLUE into government networks; the network has already been integrated into private companies’  networks. Figure one outlines the different ‘shades of blue’, or variations of the EONBLUE sensors:


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Counterfeit and Security

One of those batteries is fake. Can you tell which?

Over the past few weeks more and more attention has been drawn to fake computer hardware that was sold to varying interests around the world. While fakes aren’t new (AMD, Intel, and a variety of other hardware companies have processes in place to avoid repeats of past counterfeiting), what seems to be new is the kind of hardware being ‘faked’.

Networking Hardware

The FBI investigated claims that the government had purchased counterfeit Cisco hardware that may have potentially held, well, God knows what. As is noted by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher;

Counterfeit network hardware entering the marketplace raises significant public safety concerns and must be stopped . . . It is critically important that network administrators in the private sector and government perform due diligence in order to prevent counterfeit hardware from being installed on their networks.

While it’s of concern that government data may be being directed/inspected by unknown groups, I don’t really want to talk about that. Instead, what I think this shows is that when deploying new networking tools that it is essential that some kind of authentication process occurs – rather than just purchase from trusted vendors and call it a day, those purchases must be tested. Moreover, while the FBI was able to conduct an operation that resulted in convictions and fines, it raises the specter that other groups with less capital to invest in internal investigations may similarly be threatened, and their data and customers as well.

Reading, Reviewing, and Recording

I want to toss up a few links that I’ve found particularly interesting/helpful over the past couple of months. I’ll begin with a way to read, move to a review of the newest tool for electronic education, and conclude with an article concerning the commercialization of the core platforms electronic resources are accessed from.

Reading 102

We’ve all heard of data-mining; the FBI has been doing it, the NSA has been caught doing it, and corporations are well known for it. Citizens are getting increasingly upset that their personal information is scaped together without their consent, and for good reasons.

What if those citizens used data-mining principles to prepare and filter their reading? Donal Latumahina has eight processes that you can use to get the most out of the books that you’re reading, processes that are guided by the objective to get the greatest possible amount of useful information from the text. It’s amazing what happens when you objectively structure your reading, rather than just letting yourself be carried along by it.

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