Monday, June 13, 2011

Is this an act of war? Would the US tolerate a similar system here?

US underwrites Internet detour around censors

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries...

… Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

… Developers caution that independent networks come with downsides: repressive governments could use surveillance to pinpoint and arrest activists who use the technology or simply catch them bringing hardware across the border.

… Mrs. Clinton has made Internet freedom into a signature cause. But the State Department has carefully framed its support as promoting free speech and human rights for their own sake, not as a policy aimed at destabilizing autocratic governments.

That distinction is difficult to maintain, said Clay Shirky, an assistant professor at New York University who studies the Internet and social media. “You can’t say, ‘All we want is for people to speak their minds, not bring down autocratic regimes’ — they’re the same thing,” Mr. Shirky said.

(Related) A “Shadow Internet” also preserves targeting information... An example of “Open Source Intelligence.”

June 12, 2011

NATO Leveraging Twitter for Airstrikes in Libya

Wired: "In the early days of the Libya war, U.S. commanders were adamant that they didn’t communicate with the Libyan rebels about what targets to bomb. As it turns out, they don’t need to. They’ve got Twitter. NATO officials conducting air strikes on forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi don’t have soldiers on the ground to spot for the warplanes and armed drones overhead. (Well, at least not officially.) But they do have a barrage of tweets about Gadhafi’s troop movements in beleaguered cities like Benghazi and Tripoli, all of which come in handy when picking out targets.We get information from open sources on the Internet, we get Twitter,” British Wing Commander Mike Bracken told AFP. Another NATO official attested, “Twitter is a great source.” None of which is to say that an errant tweet is enough to launch a Hellfire missile. NATO flies AWACS surveillance planes over Libya, as well as other spy aircraft and satellites, to aid with targeting. NATO officials assure that they don’t just set targeting coordinates based on what someone says over Twitter — just that Twitter has value as a source of tactical intelligence."

This should be amusing...

Hackers Expose 26,000 Sex Website Passwords

"Passwords and email addresses of almost 26,000 members of adult website have been released on the internet by the notorious hacking group LulzSec. To add to the victims' humiliation, LulzSec called on its followers to try the email/password combinations against Facebook, and tell friends and family of the users that they were subscribers to a pornographic website. In addition LulzSec released passwords belonging to the administrators of dozens of other adult websites, and highlighted military and government email addresses that had signed up for the xxx-rated services."

You would think Anonymous would be better at hiding...

Turkish Police Nab 32 Suspects Tied To Anonymous

"Following the arrest of three alleged 'Anonymous' members by Spanish authorities on Friday, Turkey's state-run news agency has reported that police have detained 32 individuals allegedly linked to the hacktivist group. The Anatolia news agency said today that the suspects were taken into custody after conducting raids in a dozen cities for suspected ties to Anonymous. The group recently targeted Web sites of the country's telecommunications watchdog, the prime minister's office and parliament as a protest to Turkey's plans to introduce Internet filters."

1984 has come and gone, but Big Brother is forever! Facebook? Really?

UK: Cabinet Office talks to Facebook & co about new ID system

June 13, 2011 by Dissent

Kelly Fiveash reports:

Facebook and other social networks could be used by British citizens to sign into public services online, The Register has learned.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman confirmed to us this morning that the department was speaking to “a range of industry” about its ID assurance scheme, a prototype for which is expected in October this year.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in the House of Commons last month that “people will be able to use the service of their choice to prove identity when accessing any public services [via the internet].”

Read more in The Register.

Right. Because it’s not like this is any national ID scheme under another name and it’s not like identities on social media platforms are ever compromised or fake.

TelecomTV has some pointed commentary about the proposal:

The Cabinet Office has already launched a damage limitation exercise. According to Kelly Fiveash, wring in The Register, a government spokeswoman claims that “no data will be held by the government through the ID assurance scheme.” However. as Kelly Fiveash points out, this is because the ID authentication process will be farmed-out to private sector companies such as social networking sites and banks.

In which case, God help us.

Interesting. I don't see any indication that Comcast has people dedicated to thei service – it seems they simply send 'alerts' to customers. More “Home Surveillance” than Security.

Comcast Offering Home Security Bundle

"Bloomberg reports that media giant Comcast has begun offering home security bundles with cable or phone service in selected markets. From the article: 'The Philadelphia-based company is starting Xfinity Home Security in seven markets for $39.95 a month. It lets users remotely adjust lights and thermostats, watch cameras, and get e-mail or text alerts when doors and windows are opened and closed. Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website or with an Apple Inc. iPad application.'"

For my Data Mining and Data Analysis students.

How Journalists Data-Mined the Wikileaks Docs

"Associated Press developer-journalist extraordinaire Jonathan Stray gives a brilliant explanation of the use of data-mining strategies to winnow and wring journalistic sense out of massive numbers of documents, using the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs released by Wikileaks as a case in point. The concepts for focusing on certain groups of documents and ignoring others are hardly new; they underlie the algorithms used by the major Web search engines. Their use in a journalistic context is on a cutting edge, though, and it raises a fascinating quandary: By choosing the parameters under which documents will be considered similar enough to pay attention to, journalist-programmers actually choose the frame in which a story will be told. This type of data mining holds great potential for investigative revelation — and great potential for journalistic abuse."

For my Computer Security students:

Seeking Address: Why Cyber Attacks Are So Difficult to Trace Back to Hackers

Malicious hackers use the very same technology that enables online banking, entertainment and myriad other communication services to attack these very applications, steal user data, and then cover their own tracks.

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