Recently declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) present a clearer picture of the all-encompassing and wide reaching efforts to win the Cold War’s Space Race. George Washington University’s National Security Archive, a repository of declassified U.S. documents described as the world’s largest nongovernmental collection, unveiled a new batch of once highly sensitive CIA documents in a release titled, “Soldiers, Spies and the Moon: Secret U.S. and Soviet Plans from the 1950s and 1960s.”
Let’s imagine a world in which we had passenger rail that went everywhere. Imagine that we then had an energy crisis that could take down civilization. In the midst of that, some guy says, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be totally cool beans to build cars and sell them to individual commuters? That way we can spend 10 times the energy per person!” That’s what Bezos is proposing with his Amazon delivery drones. Yeah, Jeff. You are wrong. Think it through. Pieces like this one in TechCrunch doesn’t qualify as critical analysis. Journalists ask the hard questions.
The Lint Center for National Security Studies, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, recently unveiled a new Web-based video aimed at increasing the awareness of its semi-annual merit-based scholarship programs. The Lint Center, founded in 2007, focuses on providing scholarship opportunities and mentoring programs to individuals who seek to follow in the footsteps of national service. The Center supports students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on counterintelligence and national security studies as well as cultural understanding.
As an all-volunteer force (no-paid staff), the Lint Center is pleased to release the following video in effort to promote awareness and interest in the Center’s scholarship opportunities. This video was created by one of the Center’s volunteers, Mr. Nathan Rhodes and a proper thank you is certainly in due order.
The Vietnamese-based developer Dong Nguyen, creator of the widely popular and smash-hit online game known as Flappy Bird, took to Twitter just a few days ago to post a screenshot teaser of what many initially suspected was a coming attraction for a new game that many hope will be as addictive and challenging as the last. Nguyen posted the teaser announcement saying, “I am making a new game,” adding, “So people can forget about Flappy Bird for a while.”
The original game, Flappy Bird, first hit Apple’s iOS App Store in May of 2013, but it really grabbed ahold and became a craze in January of 2014, when it became the most downloaded free game in the app store, generating $50,000 a day according to the game’s creator.
The usual focus of cybersecurity efforts on external threats to an organization and its mission overlooks the central, powerful danger – the inside threat. “Corporations don’t take their internal security as seriously as they should,” explains Alex McGeorge, senior security researcher at Florida-based Immunity, a provider of specialized offensive information technologies.
McGeorge goes on to emphasize the importance of protecting a corporation from internal threats, explaining, “The attack surface inside of a network is always greater than outside, when you expose that kind of surface to anyone the potential for damage is higher and the potential for detection is lower. With very few exceptions it isn’t difficult to get on the inside of a corporate network if you’re physically proximate to the corporation.” A survey titled ‘Boardroom Cyber Watch 2013,’ conducted as an online survey by IT Governance, indicates that the outside threat-centric focus of organizations fails to provide a holistic security posturing, specifically from the threat within.
In a soon to be released interview with Homeland Security Today, the widely regarded, enormously feared, and in some cases much despised hacktivist and computer vigilante known as The Jester (or by the individuals Twitter handle @th3j35t3r) takes aim at a cybersecurity issues of consequence, the implications on America’s counterterrorism efforts, and of course the much maligned former NSA defense contractor, Edward Snowden, now in hiding in Russia, who has reportedly been charged with espionage under the 1917 Espionage Act in the US.
He is known online as The Jester, but the hacker’s true identity remains hidden. The Jester claims he is a former U.S. soldier who served in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and others claim he worked as a defense contractor doing work with US Special Operations Command. While the hacker’s identity remains unknown, his online exploits have become notorious. The Jester regularly takes Jihadist websites offline in order to disrupt the dissemination of violently anti-American activities and the coordination of terrorist activity.
“The Internet is the greatest revolution in human history,” said Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission at NETmundial. Just weeks before the World Cup, the Brazilian government hosted 800 people in São Paulo at the two-day “NETmundial” meeting to discuss Internet governance principles and institutional structures. Roughly equally divided among representatives of governments, corporations, civil society and technologists, the in-person participants were supplemented by hundreds of netizens assembled in “remote hubs” on every continent.
The meeting opened with a video featuring vignettes of young people smiling and saying “It’s My Internet!” Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff followed by signing with great flourish the just-passed “Marco Civil,” a law establishing a comprehensive framework of privacy and other legal protections for consumers and providers of the Internet in Brazil. With three billion users now online, and the impending arrival of billions more from developing countries, it is surely time to figure out how this global resource will be managed.
What Occam’s razor tells me is quite the opposite of what Malaysian authorities recently said, “…the possibility of a specific country hiding the plane when more than 20 nations are searching for it, seems absurd.” As you read this, keep in mind that Malaysian pirates are active in the hijacking of ships passing through the Malacca strait. Many officials in Malaysia are believed to benefit financially from it, and this has contributed to the perception that Malaysia faces endemic corruption. The point of this is that it means that there are clandestine networks established in Malaysia that are robust. It means people grow up in that milieu and adopting such methods is second nature.
Here’s what I think happened. A small group of Islamists came up with the idea of hijacking an airplane full of Chinese in order to use them as leverage to get concessions from China in Xinjiang. These men were independent volunteers; intelligent amateurs who hooked up with similar men in Pakistan and possibly Bangladesh. The two pilots were part of the mission, just doing their bit for their Muslim brothers. They flew the plane on a course rather like either of those shown. The first part of the flight we know until almost the divergence point.
A new report released by the cybersecurity firm, Mandiant, a FireEye Company, concluded that the cybersecurity threat landscape is expanding at a rapid clip globally. This year’s report also highlighted the continuing emergence of Iranian-based attacks that are increasingly becoming more targeted. In Mandiant’s annual M-Trends: Beyond the Breach assessment of cybersecurity trends, the company noted, “One conclusion is inescapable: the list of potential targets has increased, and the playing field has grown.”
The report goes on, “Cyber threat actors are expanding the uses of computer network exploitation to fulfill an array of objectives, from the economic to the political,” the report said. “Threat actors are not only interested in seizing the corporate crown jewels but are also looking for ways to publicize their views, cause physical destruction, and influence global decision makers.”
There’s a multitude of great websites out there that we all secretly have bookmarked and that we find ourselves drawn to for a quick laugh or to waste away some hours of unmitigated boredom. Indeed, such sites can become the bane of our existence and an outlet for procrastination when there’s work to be done, but the humor engendered by a quick peek, a speedy view, or a riotous situation never ceases to attract.
From Lamebook, RichKidsOfInstagram, to PeopleofWalMart, if the ridiculous or unbelievable are seeking an outlet, there is a surely a website dedicated to recognizing their existence and highlighting (often forever memorializing) the beautiful power of the Internet and it’s propensity to make things viral.
By now most everyone has heard about the demise of Mt. Gox, the granddaddy of bitcoin exchanges. I am finding their tale of “hackers” stealing bitcoins nominally valued at half a billion dollars rather hard to believe. Let me explain why. According to the alleged leaked document, it looks like hackers had been exploiting that bug for two years, and even removing bitcoins from supposedly secure “cold” wallets that the company had stored offline. Offline wallets are disconnected from the internet and cannot be emptied by online attackers. However, supposedly “cold storage has been wiped out due to a leak in the hot wallet.”
I’m sorry. That is gobbledegook. I was a top end software engineer for 20 years. I’ve worked inside everything from banking to factory automation. I’ve written code from device drivers and math routines to computer integrated manufacturing, simulation and CASE. Flatly, there is no such thing as “a leak in the hot wallet” unless software specifically is written that accesses the “offline” wallet. But if it can be accessed “hot” then it’s online, not offline. If it’s offline, it’s offline. If it’s online it’s online. There isn’t something in between. Bitcoins are data. That’s all they are. The files are either accessible or they are not.
During a recent speech to university students, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei urged the country’s students to prepare for cyberwar, the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported last Wednesday. Calling the students “cyberwar agents” he reminded them of their special role in this particular kind of war and that Tehran is prepared for a cyber battle against the United States and Israel. Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks are believed to be a response to Israel’s Major General Aviv Kochavi, who went on record as saying, “cyber, in my modest opinion, will soon be revealed to be the biggest revolution in warfare, more than gunpowder and the utilization of air power in the last century.” These remarks are a powerful reminder of the uncertainty of future international cyberwarfare and how unregulated it is.
Over the past decade, the United States and Iran have changed the definition of traditional warfare giving the international community a glimpse into what future wars will look like. In the past decade, both countries have extensively built up their cyber arsenals launching sophisticated assaults on each other’s computer networks, banks and sensitive infrastructure. It could be argued that the United States has been more successful but Iran is catching up. It is clear that when these cyberattacks do grow in escalation they may potentially have a serious humanitarian impact. Yet, international law has not been absent in addressing the cyberwar domain. For many, cyberwar and cybersecurity is seen as still the ‘stuff’ you see in summer blockbusters and not for what it really is: serious, perplexing and scary.
I would recommend that readers who have not yet done so create a Twitter account and subscribe to my feed (@chinahand). To my embarrassment and surprise, I’ve churned out over 800 tweets since I started up my feed last November. Some of it is meaningless ephemera, of course. But sometimes the twitter stream carries in it telling or insightful tweets that illustrate the dynamics of debate over US foreign policy as it evolves over a month, a week, or maybe even a day and are worth retweeting. And, of course, I put in my own two cents worth, hopefully in a telling and insightful fashion, on subjects that are perhaps too fleeting or developing too quickly for a post, but are significant nonetheless.
For instance, I’ve become more attuned to the back-and-forth between US pro-Japan China hawks and the (relative) moderates in the Obama administration and the role of the Abe administration’s role as observer, participant, and victim or beneficiary depending on how the debate evolves. One set of my tweets addressed the PRC inserting itself into a spat between the United States and Japan concerning Japan’s footdragging in returning a few hundred kilos of weapon-grade plutonium.
An administrator for the site said hackers had manipulated computer code enabling them to withdraw $2.7m (£1.6m) worth of the virtual currency. It follows similar attacks on two exchanges that trade in bitcoins earlier in the week. Silk Road 2 is known for selling drugs and other illegal items. The site is only accessible through Tor, a network that allows users to browse anonymously online. The virtual currency Bitcoin is often used in transactions as it also grants users a degree of anonymity. The original Silk Road site was shut down by the FBI in 2013 but those behind it said they would start a new site and shortly afterwards Silk Road 2 appeared online.
In a statement posted on Silk Road 2 forums, the administrator of the site, known as Defcon, said: “We have been hacked.” “Nobody is in danger, no information has been leaked, and server access was never obtained by the attacker. Our initial investigations indicate that a vendor exploited a recently discovered vulnerability in the Bitcoin protocol known as ‘transaction malleability’ to repeatedly withdraw coins from our system until it was completely empty,” he said.
From Radiation – Exposure and its treatment: A modern handbook, “During the Manhattan Project, a squad of infantry soldiers without protection dug foxholes a quarter mile from one of the Alamogordo bomb tests. When the atom bomb exploded atop its tower, it was so bright a soldier said he saw through his eyelids, through the blood vessels, skin and muscles of his arm, to the grains of sand on the side of his foxhole. After the blast, the squad marched to ground zero as ordered and disassembled their rifles…The squad reassembled their rifles and marched out through clouds of dust. All of them got serious radiation sickness.”
“All of them recovered, went home and had families. Their children were normal. At 20 years past their exposure they started to die of lymphomas and sarcomas. By 30 years, all of them had died of some type of cancer. Even with a dose that nearly kills you, it takes decades to develop cancer – if you do.”