Bad enough the NSA is scooping up our cybertrash and the Titans of Tech are cashing in on the data farms we once called “personal life.” Now The New York Times reports:

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say.

Putinesque payback? Unlikely.

The hacking ring is based in a small city in south central Russia, the region flanked by Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The group includes fewer than a dozen men in their 20s who know one another personally — not just virtually.

Can’t somebody find these guys a job?

Maybe Keith “Haystack” Alexander, who sold this country the pipe dream of mass surveillance and is now raking in the profits of fear and incompetence in the private sector. A modest man, he refuses to confirm his World Record Revolving Door fees of a million a month. “That number was inflated from the beginning,” he said.

Of course, why would any self-respecting Russian hacker want to work for Haystack? Especially after Alexander’s old gang at the NSA got wiped out by a team of American techies in a friendly game of cyberwar.

For those who tend to worry about the fate of their identities in small town Russia, the Times has some tips on re-thinking your password(s).

Also on the Eastern Front, the Russian government has granted Edward Snowden three more years to finish reading “Crime and Punishment.” (Next he goes to France “In Search of Lost Time.”)

As we continue to pay for Alexander’s Golden Panopticon, two new reports are out on related costs.

The first, by New America Foundation, attempts to quantify and categorize the costs of the NSA surveillance programs since June 2013 to U.S. business, American foreign policy and security on the internet.

The second, by Human Rights Watch, looks at the impact these programs have had on the operation of an independent press and fundamental legal guarantees such as the right to counsel.

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Mark Rabine has lived in the Mission for over 40 years. "What a long strange trip it's been." He has maintained our Covid tracker through most of the pandemic, taking some breaks with his search for the Mission's best fried-chicken sandwich and now its best noodles. When the Warriors make the playoffs, he writes up his take on the games.

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