Monday, September 21, 2015

Uber Hires Former NSA Employee/Hacker

Charlie Miller, a security researcher for Twitter and ex-NSA computer hacker, and Chris Valaseck, a vehicle security expert, made news recently when they demonstrated for Wired their ability to remotely hack into a Jeep Cherokee while it was being operated, potentially killing the driver of the vehicle. Fortune magazine is reporting the duo have been hired to work in a research lab for the popular car ride service, Uber. WhoWhatWhy explains their concerns about this development:
Nonetheless, we note with interest this development: A former NSA employee has now joined the staff at Uber, the rapidly expanding — some might say exploding — provider of ride shares.
Perhaps the word “exploding” should be used advisedly: This ex-NSA fellow, Charlie Miller, made a name for himself recently when he and another man — Chris Valasek who, like Miller, also just joined Uber — demonstrated that they could mount a remote hack on an automobile, essentially take it over and, potentially, kill the driver.
At WhoWhatWhy, we’ve been especially interested in the potential threat from car hackers because of the mysterious death of journalist Michael Hastings, whose Mercedes suddenly sped up, left a straightaway, mounted a curb, plunged into a tree, and exploded, sending the engine flying a long distance, something engines aren’t known to do.
We have no idea how Uber plans to use Miller’s talents. Presumably the company has no particular reason to fear that the cars of its “independent” drivers would be hacked — though perhaps such a concern was indeed the reason for these hires.
In any case, one could certainly imagine how Miller’s former employers might like to know more about where we all travel and who we are with.
At NSA, Miller was a “global network exploitation specialist.” defines network exploitation as “a technique through which computer networks are used to infiltrate target computers’ networks to extract and gather intelligence data….”
Interestingly, a major investor in Uber is the William Morris Endeavor talent agency based in Beverly Hills whose CEO is Ari Emanuel, brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It has been estimated the talent agency's original investment of between $5 and $10 million in Uber has grown by 60 times from its original value.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The questions surrounding the precise nature of the “accident” that killed Hastings are given more weight by the fact that the journalist had made enemies within both the FBI and the CIA.

“Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him,” the official Wikileaks Twitter account announced yesterday.

Hastings “had the Central Intelligence Agency in his sights” and was set to release an article exposing the agency, according to L.A. Weekly.

The Obama administration and the Justice Department have openly claimed the authority to assassinate American citizens anywhere in the world if they are deemed a national security threat. A number of American citizens have already been killed as a result of this policy. Is it really that crazy to suggest that Michael Hastings was merely the latest victim of this doctrine?

The New York Daily News highlights the fact that Hastings had received multiple death threats before his demise.

Following his role in bringing down Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Hastings was told by a McChrystal staffer, “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write.”

“Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me,” said Hastings.

Hastings was renowned for being “only interested in writing stories someone didn’t want him to write — often his subjects,” according to Buzzflash editor Ben Smith, adding, “He knew that there are certain truths that nobody has an interest in speaking, ones that will make you both your subjects and their enemies uncomfortable. They’re stories that don’t get told because nobody in power has much of an interest in telling them.”

The fact that Hastings had made a plethora of enemies as a result of his hard-hitting investigative journalism has prompted a deluge of online comment speculating that the writer’s “car crash” was no accident.

“Hastings’ wreck might make sense on the freeway, but I doubt he’d be dumb enough to go 100 mph on Highland. He’s not some dumb college kid,” said one commenter on a local news site.

“A warning to other journalists to not dig too deep,” another Reddit user wrote. “Stick with the party line if you want a long, happy life.”

If this was an isolated incident then there wouldn’t be so many questions swirling about Hastings’ death. However, he’s certainly not the first individual to go up against the military-industrial complex and wind up in a coffin.