Friday, February 07, 2014

“Obtain awareness” is quite far from “actionable intelligence” in my experience. Perhaps they mean actions like pointing to potential entry points or locating secondary infections? I guess I don't see any new value here. This seems to duplicate CERT or Cyber Command or any of the anti-virus vendors. (Unless the FBI plans to introduce selected malware themselves?)
Got Malware? The FBI Is Willing to Pay For It
According to a 'Request for a Quote' posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the FBI is looking for price quotes for malware for the Investigative Analysis Unit of the agency's Operational Technology Division.
"The Operational Technology Division (OTD), Investigative Analysis Unit (IAU) of the FBI has the following mission: Provide technical analysis of digital methods, software and data, and provide technical support to FBI investigations and intelligence operations that involve computers, networks and malicious software," according to the document (.doc).
The agency does not say precisely how the malware will be used, but the document calls the collection of malware from law enforcement and research sources "critical to the success of the IAU's mission to obtain global awareness of malware threat."
"The collection of this malware allows the IAU to provide actionable intelligence to the investigator in both criminal and intelligence matters," according to the document.

I would have thought that obvious, since it passes my “It's only a digital version” test. If someone had mailed me a copy of an old fashion printed photo, I would have the envelope to examine. It would tell me where the photo was mailed, when it was mailed, and perhaps a lot more. If someone “sends” me metadata, why would/should I ignore it?
Orin Kerr writes:
I’m guessing we all know that you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in photographs that you post on the public Internet. Government investigators don’t violate privacy rights by looking at photos posted on the web for all to see. But what about the metadata embedded in those photographs? And what if it’s a website only accessible using the TOR browser?
In a case handed down last week, United States v. Post, a district court held that the Fourth Amendment still offers no protection.
Read more on WaPo Volokh Conspiracy.

Interesting that the Post thinks this is new tech. It has been used in Afghanistan (see for example) for several years.
New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time
… As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Global Warming! Global Warming! This article actually seems to make sense. Deforestation and (in Colorado) the pine beetle contribute to global warming. Perhaps Al Gore will help us plant trees? I do find it interesting that we understand so few of these systems impacting climate.
Report – Tree roots in the mountains ‘acted like a thermostat’ for millions of years
by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 6, 2014
University of Oxford: “For the first time, scientists have discovered how tree roots in the mountains may play an important role in controlling long-term global temperatures. Researchers from Oxford and Sheffield Universities have found that temperatures affect the thickness of the leaf litter and organic soil layers, as well as the rate at which the tree roots grow. In a warmer world, this means that tree roots are more likely to grow into the mineral layer of the soil, breaking down rock into component parts which will eventually combine with carbon dioxide. This process, called weathering, draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and cools the planet. The researchers say this theory suggests that mountainous ecosystems have acted like the Earth’s thermostat, addressing the risk of ‘catastrophic’ overheating or cooling over millions of years. In their research paper published online in Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers carried out studies in tropical rain forests in Peru, measuring tree roots across different sites of varying altitude – from the warm Amazonian Lowlands to the cooler mountain ranges of the Andes.
… Lead researcher Chris Doughty, from the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is a simple process driven by tree root growth and the decomposition of organic material. Yet it may contribute to Earth’s long-term climate stability. It seems to act like a thermostat, drawing more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere when it is warm and less when it is cooler.'
… In the past, this natural process may have prevented the planet from reaching temperatures that are catastrophic for life.’”

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