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Archive for the ‘Defence’ Category

Mobile App Users Beware!

Wow! What a cool idea! Wait….. no its not. Unless your the NSA.  Check this out and then delete these apps from your smart phone. Shhh. They may be listening!

-DF

Snooping: It’s not a crime, it’s a feature

New apps hijack the microphone in your cell phone to listen in on your life

Mike Elgan

April 16, 2011 (Computerworld)

Cellphone users say they want more privacy, and app makers are listening.

No, they’re not listening to user requests. They’re literally listening to the sounds in your office, kitchen, living room and bedroom.

A new class of smartphone app has emerged that uses the microphone built into your phone as a covert listening device — a “bug,” in common parlance.

But according to app makers, it’s not a bug. It’s a feature!

The apps use ambient sounds to figure out what you’re paying attention to. It’s the next best thing to reading your mind.

Your phone is listening

The issue was brought to the world’s attention recently on a podcast called This Week in Tech. Host Leo Laporte and his panel shocked listeners by unmasking three popular apps that activate your phone’s microphone to collect sound patterns from inside your home, meeting, office or wherever you are.

The apps are Color, Shopkick and IntoNow, all of which activate the microphones in users’ iPhone or Android devices in order to gather contextual information that provides some benefit to the user.

Color uses your iPhone’s or Android phone’s microphone to detect when people are in the same room. The data on ambient noise is combined with color and lighting information from the camera to figure out who’s inside, who’s outside, who’s in one room, and who’s in another, so the app can auto-generate spontaneous temporary social networks of people who are sharing the same experience.

Shopkick works on both iPhone and Android devices. One feature of the app is to reward users for simply walking into participating stores, which include Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Sports Authority, Crate & Barrel and many others. Users don’t have to press any button. Shopkick listens through your cellphone for inaudible sounds generated in the stores by a special device.

IntoNow is an iOS app that allows social networking during TV shows. The app listens with your iPhone or iPad to identify what you’re watching. The company claims 2.6 million “broadcast airings” (TV shows or segments) in its database. A similar app created for fans of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy uses your iPad’s microphone to identify exactly where you are in the show, so it can display content relevant to specific scenes.

While IntoNow is based on the company’s own SoundPrint technology, the Grey’s Anatomy app is built on Nielsen’s Media-Sync platform.

Obviously, the idea that app companies are eavesdropping on private moments creeps everybody out. But all these apps try to get around user revulsion by recording not actual sounds, but sound patterns, which are then uploaded to a server as data and compared with the patterns of other sounds.

Color compares sounds between users to figure out which users are listening to the same thing. Shopkick compares sounds to its database of unique inaudible patterns that identify each store. The SoundPrint- and Media-Sync-based apps compare sound patterns to their database of patterns mapped from all known TV shows.

Who else is listening?

Apps that listen have been around for years. One type of app uses your phone’s microphone to identify music. Apps like Shazam and SoundHound can “name that tune” in a few seconds by simply “listening” to whatever song is playing in the room.

A class of alarm clock apps uses your phone’s microphone to listen to you sleep. One example is the HappyWakeUp app. If you’re sleeping like a log, the app avoids waking you. When HappyWakeUp hears you tossing and turning near the scheduled time, it wakes you up with an alarm.

Of course, the use of your microphone with these apps is well understood by users, because that’s the main purpose of the app.

The new apps are often sneakier about it. The vast majority of people who use the Color app, for example, have no idea that their microphones are being activated to gather sounds.

Welcome to the future.

Coming soon: A lot more apps that listen

What you need to know about marketing and advertising is that data is king. Marketers can never get enough, because the more they know about you and your lifestyle, the more effective their marketing and the more valuable and expensive their advertising.

That’s why marketers love cellphones, which are viewed as universal sensors for conducting highly granular, real-time market research.

Of course, lots of apps transmit all kinds of private data back to the app maker. Some send back each phone’s Unique Device Identification (UDI), the number assigned to each mobile phone, which can be used to positively identify it. Other apps tell the servers the phone’s location. Many apps actually snoop around on your phone, gathering up personal information, such as gender, age and ZIP code, and zapping it back to the company over your phone’s data connection.

Most app makers disclose much of what they gather, including audio data, but they often do so either on their websites or buried somewhere in the legal mumbo jumbo.

It turns out that, thanks to sophisticated pattern-recognition software, harvested sounds from your home, office or environment can be transformed into marketing demographic gold.

You should know that any data that can be gathered, will be gathered. Since the new microphone-hijacking apps are still around, we now know that listening in on users is OK. So, what’s possible with current technology?

By listening in on your phone, capturing “patterns,” then sending that data back to servers, marketers can determine the following:

  • Your gender, and the gender of people you talk to.
  • Your approximate age, and the ages of the people you talk to.
  • What time you go to bed, and what time you wake up.
  • What you watch on TV and listen to on the radio.
  • How much of your time you spend alone, and how much with others.
  • Whether you live in a big city or a small town.
  • What form of transportation you use to get to work.

All this data and more, plus the UDI on your phone, could enable advertising companies to send you very narrowly targeted advertising for products and services that you’re likely to want.

The future of marketing is contextual. And listening in on your life will enable marketers to deeply understand not only who and where you are, but also what you’re paying attention to.

How do you feel about cellphone apps listening in on your life? If you’d like to tell me, I’m listening, too.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter, Mike’s List.

Written by David Frederick

April 18, 2011 at 2:15 PM

The State of the Future

This is kind of a big read, but extremely relevant, interesting and somewhat comprehensive. The one area that the report does not really cover or take into consideration is the direct impact of local, regional, state, government and sovereign debt, deficits and spending and their impact on Countries ability to positively impact or negatively contribute to the articulated challenges. Check it out if you dare!

– DF

The state of the future
July 14, 2010 by Jerome C. Glenn

As noted in our 2010 State of the Future (the 14th annual report from the Millennium Project, just published), the world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.

If current trends in population growth, resource depletion, climate change, terrorism, organized crime, and disease continue and converge over the next 50 to 100 years, it is easy to imagine an unstable world with catastrophic results. However, if current trends in self-organization via future Internets, transnational cooperation, materials science, alternative energy, cognitive science, inter-religious dialogues, synthetic biology, and nanotechnology continue and converge over the next 50 to 100 years, it is easy to imagine a world that works for all.

Fewer children are dying, more children are going to school, people are living longer, the world powers are at peace, and the US and Russia have signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. Yet the numbers of malnourished children in Africa and Asia are increasing; education is poorly preparing the next generation for a more knowledge-oriented future; aging populations will overburden the financial capability to provide retirement benefits and health care without new policies; and the sophistication and diversity of terrorism continues to proliferate. The 2010 Peace Index in the report shows that while the risk of war is declining in most areas of the world, violent crime has increased.

Our study has found eight specific problem areas where things are getting worse: Global Surface Temperature Anomalies, People Voting in Elections (% population of voting age for 15 largest countries), Unemployment (% of total labor force), Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total), Levels of Corruption (15 largest countries), People killed or injured in terrorist attacks (number), and Refugee population by country or territory of asylum.

To Read more of this article click here

To purchase the report, click here

Nanoparticles could pose threat to humans: scientists

I recently came across this article on PHYSORG.com and found it actually compelling. Why is the strange? Well for one, I am a big believer in nano-technology and the future it holds. My team is also working on a nano project around the reduction of thermal challenges in high performance processors. So I am totally cool with nano-tech (pun intended! 😉 )

But why I thought this subject was interesting was because it reminded me of the issues with food safety i.e. irradiation, antibiotics, nut allergies (not the allergy where your allergic to crazy people, but peanuts,etc.) You see, the key point here is this and nicely articulated by Susanne Stark, of the Consumer Information Association. She recently told a seminar in the Austrian city of Salzburg that companies should be forced to indicate on labels whether a product contains the tiny particles. “There are more questions than answers on the effects of nanoparticles” on human health, the chemist said.

Cosmetic and food products should indicate whether their products contain nanoparticles by 2012, she said. Why, because more and more consumer goods are including nano technology. From foods, to cosmetics, to pants! I even have a pair of those pants that are designed to be wrinkle free. Yes, they work pretty well.

But while we are spending all this time on developing very cool stuff, who is looking at the impact on humans i.e. when used in cosmetics, are they biodegradable or do they simply absorb into the skin? Then what? If used in food, how do they absorb or pass through? Or do they stay in your body? Then what? How does the human body process a foreign object like that? Will it cause cancer or other diseases? Do the nano particles stay embedded with the food so when the food breaks down and pass through your body, do they go along? How does the body’s digestive system handle these things? What effect if any do they have on major organs like your liver and kidney’s and the brain?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of nano tech. But who is asking the post development/implementation questions? Safety, efficacy?
Nano tech is revolutionizing almost everything we do and make. They can make fabric resistant to stains, improve the taste of food and help drug research, but nanoparticles could also pose a danger to human health at worst and best, we simply dont know what effect they have…. yet.

Its also not easy to figure out the impact. You see, nanoparticles, measure no more than 100 nanometres. Thats really really really small. 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanoparticles can enter the body through the mouth and nose, the digestive system or the skin, and spread inside the body through blood vessels, said Hans Peter Hutter, a doctor specialized in environmental hygiene in Vienna. “These tiny particles could without a doubt go all the way to the placenta,” he said. But he warned that little was known about their behavior inside human tissue.

With nano tech already being used in numerous products, from medical bandages to golf clubs and paints, Edinburgh University Professor Anthony Seaton, one of Britain’s leading environmental health experts, says concerns that tiny particles from the products might cause respiratory, cardiac and immune problems had not been properly assessed. Speaking with a newspaper ahead of a presentation he gave Tuesday at the Nanoparticles for European Industry conference in London, Seaton said that recommended nano testing “simply hasn’t happened.”

A recent report from a U.S. science watchdog suggested there are already 200 products containing nanoparticles on the marketplace, with hundreds more to be introduced during the coming year.n Nano critics point to asbestos — a nanoparticle already linked with cancer — and the high rate of heart failure in dense pollution areas, as early warnings of nanoparticles’ potential hazards when inhaled.

So what does this mean. Well, in my opinion, we have an incredible opportunity to improve the world through nana technology. No question. I love it and believe in it use across a broad spectrum of applications but, what I think may be needed is some strong research into the post development/implementation impacts of such technology. We simply need to know, what effects this technology will have post use.

Its simply a matter of intellectual honesty, responsibility and good science. If for no other reason, wouldn’t it make sense to see what happens after consumption and usage? This way you could “tweak” the secret sauce to be even better OR make adjustments to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety. Again, good, solid, practical science and product development practices. I am all for research on post development/implementation and even labeling. I could create a very strong and creative marketing position around the use of nano tech, so don’t let that be an excuse i.e. people wont buy it if the products labeled with nano-tech. BS. Its very cool and hip.

What do you think? I would really like to know.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

September 18, 2009 at 1:06 PM

U.S.: Reaction to the CIA Assassination Program

More inexcusable negligence by congress. Very interesting read.

-DF

U.S.: Reaction to the CIA Assassination Program
July 15, 2009 | 1634 GMT
Global Security and Intelligence Report

By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton -Stratfor http://www.stratfor.com/

On June 23, 2009, Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta learned of a highly compartmentalized program to assassinate al Qaeda operatives that was launched by the CIA in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. When Panetta found out that the covert program had not been disclosed to Congress, he canceled it and then called an emergency meeting June 24 to brief congressional oversight committees on the program. Over the past week, many details of the program have been leaked to the press and the issue has received extensive media coverage.

That a program existed to assassinate al Qaeda leaders should certainly come as no surprise to anyone. It has been well-publicized that the Clinton administration had launched military operations and attempted to use covert programs to strike the al Qaeda leadership in the wake of the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. In fact, the Clinton administration has come under strong criticism for not doing more to decapitate al Qaeda prior to 2001. Furthermore, since 2002, the CIA has conducted scores of strikes against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the MQ-1 Predator and the larger MQ-9 Reaper.

These strikes have dramatically increased over the past two years and the pace did not slacken when the Obama administration came to power in January. So far in 2009 there have been more than two dozen UAV strikes in Pakistan alone. In November 2002, the CIA also employed a UAV to kill Abu Ali al-Harithi, a senior al Qaeda leader suspected of planning the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole. The U.S. government has also attacked al Qaeda leaders at other times and in other places, such as the May 1, 2008, attack against al Qaeda-linked figures in Somalia using an AC-130 gunship.

As early as Oct. 28, 2001, The Washington Post ran a story discussing the Clinton-era presidential finding authorizing operations to capture or kill al Qaeda targets. The Oct. 28 Washington Post story also provided details of a finding signed by President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks that reportedly provided authorization to strike a larger cross section of al Qaeda targets, including those who are not in the Afghan theater of operations. Such presidential findings are used to authorize covert actions, but in this case the finding would also provide permission to contravene Executive Order 12333, which prohibits assassinations.

In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush and the members of his administration were very clear that they sought to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and the members of the al Qaeda organization. During the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections in the United States, every major candidate, including Barack Obama, stated that they would seek to kill bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Obama was quite vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration for not doing more to go after al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan. This means that, regardless of who is in the White House, it is U.S. policy to go after individual al Qaeda members as well as the al Qaeda organization.

In light of these facts, it would appear that there was nothing particularly controversial about the covert assassination program itself, and the controversy that has arisen over it has more to do with the failure to report covert activities to Congress. The political uproar and the manner in which the program was canceled, however, will likely have a negative impact on CIA morale and U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
Program Details

As noted above, that the U.S. government has attempted to locate and kill al Qaeda members is not shocking. Bush’s signing of a classified finding authorizing the assassination of al Qaeda members has been a poorly kept secret for many years now, and the U.S. government has succeeded in killing al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

While Hellfire missiles are quite effective at hitting trucks in Yemen and AC-130 gunships are great for striking walled compounds in the Somali badlands, there are many places in the world where it is simply not possible to use such tools against militants. One cannot launch a hellfire from a UAV at a target in Milan or use an AC-130 to attack a target in Doha. Furthermore, there are certain parts of the world — including some countries considered to be U.S. allies — where it is very difficult for the United States to conduct counterterrorism operations at all. These difficulties have been seen in past cases where the governments have refused U.S. requests to detain terrorist suspects or have alerted the suspects to the U.S. interest in them, compromising U.S. intelligence efforts and allowing the suspects to flee.

A prime example of this occurred in 1996, when the United States asked the government of Qatar for assistance in capturing al Qaeda operational mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was living openly in Qatar and even working for the Qatari government as a project engineer. Mohammed was tipped off to American intentions by the Qatari authorities and fled to Pakistan. According to the 9/11 commission report, Mohammed was closely associated with Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who was then the Qatari minister of religious affairs. After fleeing Doha, Mohammed went on to plan several al Qaeda attacks against the United States, including the 9/11 operation.

Given these realities, it appears that the recently disclosed assassination program was intended to provide the United States with a far more subtle and surgical tool to use in attacks against al Qaeda leaders in locations where Hellfire missiles are not appropriate and where host government assistance is unlikely to be provided. Some media reports indicate that the program was never fully developed and deployed; others indicate that it may have conducted a limited number of operations.

Unlike UAV strikes, where pilots fly the vehicles by satellite link and can actually be located a half a world away, or the very tough and resilient airframe of an AC-130, which can fly thousands of feet above a target, a surgical assassination capability means that the CIA would have to put boots on the ground in hostile territory where operatives, by their very presence, would be violating the laws of the sovereign country in which they were operating. Such operatives, under nonofficial cover by necessity, would be at risk of arrest if they were detected.

Also, because of the nature of such a program, a higher level of operational security is required than in the program to strike al Qaeda targets using UAVs. It is far more complex to move officers and weapons into hostile territory in a stealthy manner to strike a target without warning and with plausible deniability. Once a target is struck with a barrage of Hellfire missiles, it is fairly hard to deny what happened. There is ample physical evidence tying the attack to American UAVs. When a person is struck by a sniper’s bullet or a small IED, the perpetrator and sponsor have far more deniability. By its very nature, and by operational necessity, such a program must be extremely covert.

Even with the cooperation of the host government, conducting an extraordinary rendition in a friendly country like Italy has proved to be politically controversial and personally risky for CIA officers, who can be threatened with arrest and trial. Conducting assassination operations in a country that is not so friendly is a far riskier undertaking. As seen by the Russian officers arrested in Doha after the February 2004 assassination of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, such operations can generate blowback. The Russian officers responsible for the Yandarbiyev hit were arrested, tortured, tried and sentenced to life in prison (though after several months they were released into Russian custody to serve the remainder of their sentences).

Because of the physical risk to the officers involved in such operations, and the political blowback such operations can cause, it is not surprising that the details of such a program would be strictly compartmentalized inside the CIA and not widely disseminated beyond the gates of Langley. In fact, it is highly doubtful that the details of such a program were even widely known inside the CIA’s counterterrorism center (CTC) — though almost certainly some of the CTC staff suspected that such a covert program existed somewhere. The details regarding such a program were undoubtedly guarded carefully within the clandestine service, with the officer in charge most likely reporting directly to the deputy director of operations, who reports personally to the director of the CIA.
Loose Lips Sink Ships

As trite as this old saying may sound, it is painfully true. In the counterterrorism realm, leaks destroy counterterrorism cases and often allow terrorist suspects to escape and kill again. There have been several leaks of “sources and methods” by congressional sources over the past decade that have disclosed details of sensitive U.S. government programs designed to do things such as intercept al Qaeda satellite phone signals and track al Qaeda financing. A classified appendix to the report of the 2005 Robb-Silberman Commission on Intelligence Capabilities (which incidentally was leaked to the press) discussed several such leaks, noted the costs they impose on the American taxpayers and highlighted the damage they do to intelligence programs.

The fear that details of a sensitive program designed to assassinate al Qaeda operatives in foreign countries could be leaked was probably the reason for the Bush administration’s decision to withhold knowledge of the program from the U.S. Congress, even though amendments to the National Security Act of 1947 mandate the reporting of most covert intelligence programs to Congress. Given the imaginative legal guidance provided by Bush administration lawyers regarding subjects such as enhanced interrogation, it would not be surprising to find that White House lawyers focused on loopholes in the National Security Act reporting requirements.

The validity of such legal opinions may soon be tested. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, recently said he was considering an investigation into the failure to report the program to Congress, and House Democrats have announced that they want to change the reporting requirements to make them even more inclusive.

Under the current version of the National Security Act, with very few exceptions, the administration is required to report the most sensitive covert activities to, at the very least, the so-called “gang of eight” that includes the chairmen and ranking minority members of the congressional intelligence committees, the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate. In the wake of the program’s disclosure, some Democrats would like to expand this minimum reporting requirement to include the entire membership of the congressional intelligence committees, which would increase the absolute minimum number of people to be briefed from eight to 40. Some congressmen argue that presidents, prompted by the CIA, are too loose in their invocation of the “extraordinary circumstances” that allow them to report only to the gang of eight and not the full committees. Yet ironically, the existence of the covert CIA program stayed secret for over seven and a half years, and yet here we are writing about it less than a month after the congressional committees were briefed.

The addition of that many additional lips to briefings pertaining to covert actions is not the only thing that will cause great consternation at the CIA. While legally mandated, disclosing covert programs to Congress has been very problematic. The angst felt at Langley over potential increases in the number of people to be briefed will be compounded by the recent reports that Attorney General Eric Holder may appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations and ethics reporting.

In April we discussed how some of the early actions of the Obama administration were having a chilling effect on U.S. counterterrorism programs and personnel. Expanding the minimum reporting requirements under the National Security Act will serve to turn the thermostat down several additional notches, as did Panetta’s overt killing of the covert program. It is one thing to quietly kill a controversial program; it is quite another to repudiate the CIA in public. In addition to damaging the already low morale at the agency, Panetta has announced in a very public manner that the United States has taken one important tool entirely out of the counterterrorism toolbox: Al Qaeda no longer has to fear the possibility of clandestine American assassination teams.

Written by David Frederick

July 15, 2009 at 7:52 PM

Cyber Warfare: The Gray Zone Narrows

I found this article to be very interesting and poignant. I also happen to agree with U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), U.S. Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton and Austin Bay.

-DF

Cyber Warfare: The Gray Zone Narrows

by Austin Bay
May 19, 2009

The gray zone separating “cyber attacks” by hackers on computer and communications networks from war waged with bayonet, bomb or missile attacks is narrowing, and narrowing dramatically.

Last week, the head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), U.S. Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, noted that American leaders cannot rule out using “real world” military force (e.g., air strikes and ground attacks) against an enemy who attacks and disrupts critical cyber networks.

On May 8, The Stars and Stripes quoted Chilton as saying, “I don’t think you take anything off the table when you provide options” to senior civilian leaders following an attack on the United States — including cyber attacks on America.

Chilton is addressing, quite publicly and emphatically, an increasingly difficult security threat. Cyberspace is, to paraphrase a recent statement by another senior U.S. military officer, “a contested environment.” “Contested environment” is Pentagonese for “there’s a fight going on there, and we’re in it.”

A column I wrote in January 2008 sketches the thorny issue: “Attack a nation’s highways and railroads, and you’ve attacked transportation infrastructure. You’ve also committed an obvious, recognized act of war. An electronic attack doesn’t leave craters or bleeding human casualties — at least, not in the same overt sense of an assault with artillery and bombs. However, the economic costs can be much larger than a classic barrage or bombing campaign.”

Historians can make the argument that “hacking” as warfare isn’t new. When World War I erupted, British sailors “hacked” German undersea cables in order to intercept or cut German international cable communications traffic. This gave the British an intelligence edge and the ability to deny Germany a communications asset. Likewise, eavesdropping on military radio communications and jamming radio was standard operating procedure in World War II.

In the digital age, more than military and diplomatic communications are at risk. Today, nations depend on networked computers for civilian as well as military communications, for personal and governmental economic transactions, for information storage and retrieval, and command and control of transportation and energy infrastructure. This exponentially increased reliance means that in the 21st century a nation’s “cyber” infrastructure is a very attractive target. Intelligence agencies know this. So do banks, brokerage houses, freight shippers and power companies.

Electric utilities are concerned about “hacker attacks” on their computer systems. Computers guide America’s electrical grids — they monitor and control circuits.

Inducing an electrical blackout on a national scale is an offensive “three-fer”: 1) an attack on key infrastructure; 2) an economic assault (damaging commerce); and 3) a psychological attack seeding hysteria and perhaps producing political panic.

Other scenarios worry defense planners. Commercial air service can be hampered or halted by attacking air traffic control system computers. Trucking can be crippled by attacking the computers controlling fuel supplies (refineries, pipelines, storage sites and distribution systems).

Space satellites and their computer-controlled ground stations offer another target. An attacker who interferes with ground-to-satellite communications could conceivably disrupt Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, deny satellite weather data, “blind” spy satellites, and cut some phone and television networks.

Uncertainty of the “origin of the attack” makes cyber attacks attractive. In cyberspace, the difference between a criminal act and an act of war is often a matter of interpretation as well as degree.

But U.S. defense officials are becoming increasingly vocal about “probes” and “intrusions” traceable to nation-states. Last month, The Wall Street Journal quoted a “senior intelligence official” as saying: “The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid. So have the Russians.” The article noted that cyber “intruders” had not (as yet) attempted to damage the grid but “could try during a crisis or war.”

Cyberspace is complex. While specific computers and control systems are vulnerable to attack, several cyber warriors make the case that knocking out the entire Internet and simultaneously disrupting “hardened” U.S. military communications is a difficult if not impossible task. “Anti-intrusion” and “anti-virus” defenses for computers are also improving.

Chilton’s statement, however, serves as diplomatic notice that “classical deterrence” — assured counter-attack with the full range of U.S. military and police power — is now an element of American “cyber defense.”

Written by David Frederick

May 20, 2009 at 10:01 PM

Posted in AeroSpace, Defence, Politics

Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project

And yet another incident. When are we going to learn? As usual, when its to late.

-DF

Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project

Tuesday , April 21, 2009
WSJ

WASHINGTON —
Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project — the Defense Department’s costliest weapons program ever — according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.

Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force’s air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say.

In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.

The latest intrusions provide new evidence that a battle is heating up between the U.S. and potential adversaries over the data networks that tie the world together.

The revelations follow a recent Wall Street Journal report that computers used to control the U.S. electrical-distribution system, as well as other infrastructure, have also been infiltrated by spies abroad.

Attacks like these — or U.S. awareness of them — appear to have escalated in the past six months, said one former official briefed on the matter.

“There’s never been anything like it,” this person said, adding that other military and civilian agencies as well as private companies are affected. “It’s everything that keeps this country going.”

Many details couldn’t be learned, including the specific identity of the attackers, and the scope of the damage to the U.S. defense program, either in financial or security terms.

In addition, while the spies were able to download sizable amounts of data related to the jet-fighter, they weren’t able to access the most sensitive material, which is stored on computers not connected to the Internet.

Former U.S. officials say the attacks appear to have originated in China. However it can be extremely difficult to determine the true origin because it is easy to mask identities online.

Written by David Frederick

April 21, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Posted in AeroSpace, Defence

Chinese spies may have put chips in US planes

This is just another example of the U.S. being targeted by its enemies. With the proliferation of technology to the lowest common denominator comes exposure to the U.S.. While the U.S. sell’s billions/trillions in debt to countries that have at best competing interests like China and at worst nefarious interests, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, etc. planned for the U.S. we are exposing our defense, infrastructure and industry to potentially crippling and damaging exposure. The level of probing, attack and penetration from nation states like Russia, China, and even so called friends, not to mention amateur hackers, criminal gangs and terrorists is at an unprecedented level.

Wake up! We are under constant malicious attack, just ask any major business IT institution, government and defense agency, power company, research firm. Its time for stronger U.S. counter-technology defense as well as an offensive technology attack capability. Its time to strike back at those who probe, steal, insert, hide and attack the U.S from a technology stand point. If we dont, there will be a time in the not to distant future when we wish we had and congress will ask who knew about this and when did they know it! The global economy does many good things for many people, but this is an INTENDED consiquence by those who wish to do harm to the U.S., of the global economy

-DF

Chinese spies may have put chips in US planes
17 Apr 2009, 0041 hrs IST, PTI

WASHINGTON: The Chinese cyber spies have penetrated so deep into the US system — ranging from its secure defence network, banking system,electricity grid to putting spy chips into its defense planes — that it can cause serious damage to the US any time, a top US official on counter-intelligence has said.

“Chinese penetrations of unclassified DoD networks have also been widely reported. Those are more sophisticated, though hardly state of the art,” said National Counterintelligence Executive, Joel Brenner, at the Austin University Texas last week, according to a transcript made available on Wednesday.

Listing out some of the examples of Chinese cyber spy penetration, he said: “We’re also seeing counterfeit routers and chips, and some of those chips have made their way into US military fighter aircraft.. You don’t sneak counterfeit chips into another nation’s aircraft to steal data. When it’s done intentionally, it’s done to degrade systems, or to have the ability to do so at a time of one’s choosing.”

Referring to the Chinese networks penetrating the cyber grids, he said: “Do I worry about those grids, and about air traffic control systems, water supply systems, and so on? You bet I do. America’s networks are being mapped. There has also been experience of both Chinese and criminal network operations in the networks of some of the banks”.

Written by David Frederick

April 17, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Posted in Defence, Technology