NSA Trojan Firmware Widespread, U.S. International Tech Reputation May Suffer. Tech Privacy has Been a Myth.

Submitted by Mark O’Byrne  –  GoldCore

New NSA spying scandal emerges, highlighting the scale of cyber wars

– Agency can access hard-drives made by major U.S. producers

– Computers in over 30 countries, including NATO allies, were hacked

– Iran and Russia were main targets

– Revelations may impact technology sector in the U.S. as institutions around the world seek alternatives

Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based cyber security firm whose report into international hacking was previewed by the New York Times Yesterday, has exposed that the NSA has had the capacity to snoop on most U.S.-made computers since 2001.

The report claims that the NSA attained access to “firmware” code from all the major Western computer manufacturers – which runs every time a computer is switched on – and figured out how to lodge malicious software in the code.

The terminology may be foreign to you but imagine if you will what your world would be like if the digital records of your wealth and property titles simply vanished or became corrupted. Imagine the screen just going dark. It sounds alarmist but that is exactly the sum total of the high stakes games now being played out by the world’s superpowers – you and I are the pawns.

The global economy is thoroughly integrated and processes and knowhow are increasingly delivered on distributed architecture made up of lattices of public and private networks. This approach has wonderful benefits and can deliver scale and flexibility and speed in equal measure. But therein lies the risk, the physical spying infrastructure with engineered back doors must remain hidden in order to be effective and useful to the spies who placed them there. What the intelligence community has done has created the mother of all “single point of failures” and the potential for calamity and social disintegration is almost too great to countenance. They assume that with adequate controls these systems can be kept safe and used effectively. They said the same about nuclear procurement and weaponised viruses. Continue reading

The Daily Debt Rattle

Submitted by Raúl Ilargi Meijer  –  The Automatic Earth

How Central Banks Have Lost Control Of The World (Telegraph)
Draghi QE Plan Seen Challenged by Hoarders Amassing Bonds (Bloomberg)
Athens Rejects ‘Unacceptable’ Eurozone Demands (Guardian)
Greece Rejects Eurozone’s ‘Absurd’ Offer As Time Runs Out On Talks (Telegraph)
Greece Defies Creditors, Seeking Credit But No Bailout (Reuters)
Brussels’ Blunt Bargaining Presents Austerity As Greece’s Only Option (Guardian)
Greek Brussels Defiance Means Hope at Home Tinged With Anxiety (Bloomberg)
Greek Talks With Euro-Area Finance Ministers Break Up (Bloomberg)
How a Liquidity Squeeze Could Push Greece Out of the Euro (Bloomberg)
UK Chancellor George Osborne Says It’s Crunch Time For The Eurozone
No Time for Games in Europe (Yanis Varoufakis)
Varoufakis: ‘Austerity Has Done Nothing to Solve Greece’s Problems’ (Spiegel)
Germany’s Schaeuble “Very Sceptical” About Greek Debt Talks (Reuters)
Chinese Home Prices Fall For Ninth Month (BBC)
China New Home Prices Drop At Record Pace (CNBC)
Russian Researchers Expose Breakthrough US Spying Program (Reuters)
EU Places New Sanctions On Ukrainians, Russians (CNBC)
Putin Heads Off a US-Russia War (Margolis)
France Should Recognize Crimea As Part Of Russia – Le Pen (RT)
How Many More Wars? (Ron Paul)

Much more here: Debt Rattle February 17 2015 – TheAutomaticEarth.com

Greece: What Happened Today, And What Happens Next

Submitted by Tyler Durden  –  ZeroHedge

After today’s second in one week Eurogroup fiasco, things for Greece are getting perilously close to the endgame. Either that, or Yanis Varoufakis, who earlier said he is “not bluffing”, is conducting a master class in just that. So for all those confused what happened earlier, and more importantly, what may happen next, here is Deutsche Bank’s George Saravelos with a handy summary of the next steps.

From Deutsche Bank

Greece Update – Again no decision, but options are clear

Today’s second Eurogroup meeting on Greece was cut short, again concluding in deadlock. The atmosphere remains tense, but through all the multiple and conflicting headlines, the subsequent Eurogroup press conference provides us with a clear framework on how the Greek crisis will progress over the next few days and weeks.

First, Eurogroup chair Dijsselbloem has formally confirmed that Europe’s preferred path forward is a Greek request to legally extend the current program that expires on February 28th. Such a request needs to materialize by the end of the week, to give time to six national parliaments (inclusive of the Netherlands, Germany and Finland) to pass this extension through into legislation. Failing this deadline Dijsselbloem confirmed that the only option that would then be left to Greece would be a request for a fresh 3rd ESM program. All in all, the starting point therefore remains the same as the one we had outlined a few weeks ago: semantics aside, Greece can choose to either extend the program or apply for a new one.

Second, it is now also clear that either program extension, or a potential new program will require specific conditions. Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem specified three conditions, which are also apparent in the leaked Eurogroup draft statement that was rejected by the Greek side: a commitment to fulfill financial obligations (ie. repay debt), a commitment to not take unilateral actions (ie. to not reverse prior program policy) while negotiations are under way, and a commitment to conclude the program, or – implicitly in the case of a new program – to maintain the broad principles of current policies. In return, Greece will be granted “flexibility”, potentially around both the fiscal path and the mix of structural reforms being implemented.

Third, the binding dates for Greece have now also become apparent. Program conclusion on February 28th is not the point of “no return”, but instead the soonest of when Greek banks are no longer able to access additional ELA at the ECB window OR when the Greek government runs out of financing. The latter would make the government incapable of meeting ongoing commitments to the IMF and other obligations, in turn rendering GGB-based collateral inadmissible to the ECBs ELA that would then be suspended. Continue reading