HIL Seminar: Nicholas Weaver, "Reflecting on Internet Surveillance and Control"
Six years ago Edward Snowden leaked a massive trove of internal NSA documents detailing the operation of the US government’s electronic surveillance system. The overall systems described a wide-ranging approach of remarkably banal systems: primarily a combination of repurposed network intrusion detection, big data, malicious code, bribery, a veritable army of lawyers, and more money than god. Overall the systems are abusive but remarkably not generally abused. They are also mostly buildable with relatively low effort by others. In fact, building a hobby “NSA inna box” was remarkably instructive at understanding both how the systems work and the remarkably low barrier to entry.
But what lessons have we learned over the past 6 years? How dark have the bulk systems gone? And do we really understand the implications that the United States is actually the best behaved major actor in this space?
Note: I will follow the lawfare-blog policy on classified material: I will talk about classified programs revealed in the Snowden documents and other sources but I won’t include any images of leaked materials.
About the speaker:
Nicholas Weaver received a B.A. in Astrophysics and Computer Science in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2003 from the University of California at Berkeley. Although his dissertation was on novel FPGA architectures, he also was highly interested in Computer Security, including postulating the possibility of very fast computer worms in 2001.
In 2003, he joined ICSI, first as a postdoc and then as a staff researcher. His primary research focus is on network security, notably worms, botnets, and other internet-scale attacks, and network measurement. Other areas have included both hardware acceleration and software parallelization of network intrusion detection, internet surveillance and censorship, defenses for DNS resolvers, and tools for detecting ISP-introduced manipulations of a user's network connection. He is also a lecturer in the CS department at UC Berkeley.