Thursday, August 08, 2013
Are Terror Warnings Pointless?
Official warnings of imminent—or even of not so imminent—al-Qaida attacks have (fortunately) had a perfect record: They never seem to pan out.
… Regrettably, the Obama administration has never subjected massive homeland security expenditures to the kind of sober and systematic evaluation they so richly deserve after a decade of drunken-sailor profligacy. And it has continued to find threatening proto-al-Qaidas popping up everywhere.
… And those raising the alarm have a decided advantage: They can never be proved wrong. As Dan Gardner points out in his superb book, Future Babble, if there is an attack, they can claim prescience. If there isn’t, they can insist that their warnings and preparations prevented or deterred it while deftly classifying information that might determine whether that is true or not.
… However, experience questions whether such generalized warnings should be issued at all. If intelligence has uncovered specifics of target and time of attack, the sensible response, of course, is not to bloviate grandly, but to work to secure the likely target or targets or to use policing measure to disrupt the plot.
But if, as it appears thus far in the present case, the warnings are vague and unspecific, issuing proclamations of danger out of an “abundance of caution” (as it has been put by the State Department) scarcely helps the situation.
Rather than disclose classified sources, lie?
John Shiffman and David Ingram report:
Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
Read more on Reuters.
[From the article:
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007.
… Monday's Reuters report cited internal government documents that show that law enforcement agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin - to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information.
DEA officials said the practice is legal and has been in near-daily use since the 1990s. They have said that its purpose is to protect sources and methods, not to withhold evidence.
Defense attorneys and some former judges and prosecutors say that systematically hiding potential evidence from defendants violates the U.S. Constitution. According to documents and interviews, agents use a procedure they call "parallel construction" to recreate the investigative trail, stating in affidavits or in court, for example, that an investigation began with a traffic infraction rather than an SOD tip.
Is worse that what NSA does, and it was an accident? (or is this another IRS lie?)
Bogdan Botezatu reports:
A massive numbers of Prodigy subscribers in Mexico have had their email conversations exposed overnight because of a security flaw in the company’s mobile e-mail and web-based mail systems.
According to a news report by El Economista, the flaw allowed search engines to simply index private conversations and list them on the World Wide Web in search results. At the moment, security specialist Ken Westin, who discovered the flaw, estimates that several thousand e-mail accounts registered on prodigy.net.mx and several other domains have been exposed.
Read more on HotforSecurity.
Wouldn't DoJ view these folks as “Co-conspiritors?”
Publishers urge DOJ to rethink Apple e-book remedies
… Hachette, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck (also known as Macmillan), Penguin, and Simon & Schuster filed an opposition to last week's proposed remedies against Apple by the Justice Department, arguing that the plan would "effectively eliminate the use of the agency model" for e-book distribution for the next five years.
Under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the Settling Defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model," the publishers wrote, adding that the move "directly conflicts" with the settlements the publishers reached with the Justice Department before the Apple case went to trial.
More jobs for my Computer Security students.
HHS Inspector General: Obamacare Privacy Protections Way Behind Schedule; Rampant Violations Of Law Possible
Avik Roy reports:
In order for Obamacare to work, the government will need to know a lot about your financial, medical, and employment situation. Has the Obama administration set up adequate safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy under the law? According to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, the answer is no. Based on OIG’s analysis, Obamacare’s exchanges may end up illegally exposing Americans’ private records to hackers and criminals.
Read more on Forbes.
Perspective: For my Ethical Hackers. If Willie Sutton (look him up) was alive today, he would say, “I hack, because that's where the money is.”
Pew: 51% of U.S. Adults Bank Online
Susannah Fox: “Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults, or 61% of internet users, bank online. Thirty-two percent of U.S. adults, or 35% of cell phone owners, bank using their mobile phones. Both types of digital banking are on the rise. In 2010, 46% of U.S. adults, or 58% of internet users, said they bank online. In 2011, 18% of cell phone owners said they have used their phone to check their balance or transact business with a bank.”
For my serious hacker students
Want to build your own electronics, but don’t know where to start? Then you’re certainly looked into the Arduino, only to find yourself frustrated when you look for a simple-language guide. We hope Getting Started With Arduino, A Beginner’s Guide can help.
… Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.
PDF, EPUB, Amazon and online. No password or registration required.
For the Swiss Army Folder...
When it comes to video editing, most programs currently available are extremely dense and packed with hundreds of options. … The downside is the huge inherent learning curve of such complex programs. What if you want to edit videos on a more basic level? I present to you: Avidemux.
Now, to be fair, there are a few basic video editors available if you need a quick cut or splice – I’m thinking Windows Movie Maker and VirtualDub. However, those programs come with limitations and difficulties that may prove to be dealbreakers. On the other hand, Avidemux is new, simple, powerful, and entirely free.
… Avidemux is available on all of the major platforms – Windows, Mac, and Linux … Not only is Avidemux free, but it’s also open source in case you want to take a look at the inner workings of it.
Avidemux is so great that it’s part of our Best Portable Apps page.
I wish I didn't feel I had to tell every woman I know with a Android smartphone about this App. Are there similar Apps for other platforms?
SOS Stay Safe! – is a discreet, personal safety app for women. It empowers women against abuse and acts of violence. Users can send SOS alerts to their friends and family on sensing danger, simply by shaking their phone. Text and email messages are sent at regular intervals to provide real time GPS tracking from your exact location. The alerts are sent discreetly, without you having to even look at your device.