Former VP Speaks at Southland, Comments on Edward Snowden



This morning the Southland Conference in Nashville, TN kicked off with a bang. Former Vice President Al Gore joined Pando CEO Sarah Lacey on stage, starting the morning right with local Belle Meade bourbon.

Lacey opened the interview with what I assume is Al Gore’s favorite question:

“So, did you invent the Internet?”

It didn’t take too long, though, to start talking politics. When asked about the NSA, the former Vice President got fired up.

“You don’t find a needle in a haystack by bringin’ in more hay!” he said, moving to the end of seat to emphasize his point.

He also pointed out that as scary as government surveillance is, corporate surveillance is even scarier. He called out Google in particular, which is interesting considering his position as a senior adviser to the search giant.

“What about Edward Snowden?” Lacey asked. “Hero or traitor?”

After a little hemming and hawing about it not being that binary, the former politician finally said it:

“On the spectrum of traitor to hero, I would put him more on the hero side.”

He went on to talk about how Snowden broke laws to reveal what he did, but the actions he exposed were so much worse that they justified the civil disobedience.

There’s a ton more to come at Southland. Follow us on Twitter to keep up with all goings on in Nashville.


8 Thought-Provoking Quotes From the Surveillance vs. Privacy Debate

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Will a New NSA Chief Lead to Real Reform?

EEHeadline National Security Agency Seal

From the Wall Street Journal

President Barack Obama plans to nominate the Navy’s cybersecurity chief to become the next director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the U.S. NibzNotes2Cyber Command.

Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, currently the commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, will be named to the post, said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday. If confirmed by the Senate, he will succeed Gen. Keith Alexander, who has held the NSA post since 2005.

“This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Adm. Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama’s reforms,” Mr. Hagel said.

Mr. Hagel also said that a civilian official, Rick Ledgett, would become deputy director of the NSA. Mr. Ledgett currently serves as chief of the NSA response unit handling the fallout from the leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Mr. Ledgett’s appointment doesn’t require Senate confirmation.




New Hampshire Startup Aims To Block Snoops, But Can’t Block NSA

SnoopWall,New Hampshire Startup, Cyber Snooping, Prism, NSA

Ever since former Edward Snowden blew the whistle on Prism, anyone and everyone has been thinking about their privacy and snooping. A Nashua startup called SnoopWall aims to protect people from snooping on their smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately cyber-security expert and founder of SnoopWall, Gary Miliefsky, says it can’t protect you from the NSA.

But say you have a jealous lover, or ex-lover, or maybe your company or coworkers are spying on your phone and tablet. Then you’re in luck. SnoopWall protects phones and tablets by blocking prying eyes from different hardware ports.

Miliefsky explains “They [NSA] own access to the towers, the routers, to backdoors. We’re not going to stop the good guys; we’re going to stop the bad guys.”

Normal snoopers, without the backing and technology of the NSA, often use a tactic called “port scanning”. This digital eavesdropping tactic scans open ports for things like webcams, microphones, and GPS systems. When these ports are left open, potential snoops can get in and do a variety of things like watch what your camera sees, or listen to your conversations through the phone or tablet’s microphone. They can also keep track of your whereabouts by tapping into your GPS.

SnoopWall has three levels of security to protect users from would-be eavesdroppers. At one level all ports are blocked or shut down. The second mode is a phone-only mode, and the third is a kid mode which allows kids to play local games and use local apps but shuts down data.

The Nashua Telegraph reports that SnoopWall is bootstrapping and working to raise a very small seed round of $10,000 via Kickstarter. Miliefsky is looking to use the Kickstarter network to drive interest and get people talking about it, which is far more valuable then the $10,000.

“Kickstarter, with six million viewers a day, could not only fund the continuation of the development to a finished release, but create a viral community of friends,” Miliefsky told the Nashua Telegraph. “These people, when they give 5 dollars, they’re not going to give up on you – they tweet and blog to their friends about it.”

Miliefsky is no stranger to startups. He is part of the “Angel Breakfast Club,” a group of angel investors that get together for breakfast in the New Hampshire town. It was there that he got involved with a startup called Pony Express and realized that there was a hole in port security. Milefsky’s background is in cyber security.


Check out SnoopWall on Kickstarter here.


Rawporter Road Show: Biometrics Associates Encrypted Bluetooth Technologies

At the government technology show, formerly called FOSE, in Washington DC we got a chance to talk with Biometrics Associates. This company has developed some very cool encrypted Bluetooth technologies that are implemented in military and government uses.

Their first product is a card reader that, when attached to a smartphone, allows apps that use Biometrics Associates SDK to be unlocked. The only way to unlock these apps is with the right key card and the right credentials on the keycard. Biometrics Associates offers an SDK where developers can build any kind of protected app.

App uses already in use or in development include email protection apps, phone unlocking apps, tactical planning apps and even apps that are used to protect plans for military equipment. Their technology is approved by the United States Department of Defense and NSA to ensure that it meets the top-secret clearance needed at such a high level.

The other technology they offer is a secure BlueTooth headset.  As you’ll learn in the video the secured Bluetooth headset uses its own pairing mechanism so that the default 0000 and 1234 codes don’t work to pair the phone with the headset. In addition once locked to the phone it creates a shield that won’t allow any kind of Bluetooth interruption, penetration or eaves dropping.

The headsets were built to NSA specification so that even the highest level agent in any branch of government can talk securely via Bluetooth headset to another party.

 “Today’s CAC user needs secure access to mobile applications”, noted Scott Johnson, BAL Executive Vice President and COO, “but sensitive information – both data and voice – must be protected from multiple points of attack. Imagine a doctor in a DoD hospital making his or her rounds with an Android tablet. This doctor needs CAC authenticated access to the hospital medical records database but also needs to be able to dictate notes into the patient’s record over an encrypted Bluetooth link. We are proud to provide products to make this a reality.”

Sound interesting, watch the video.