Archive for the ‘Cyberspace’ Category

Iranian nuclear ambitions delayed?

Sunday’s New York Times will have an article on the Front Page that strongly suggests that the Stuxnet worm was an Infowar attack by the Israeli’s against the Iranian Nuclear program. It goes on to suggest that the US assisted and supported the development of this worm as a way to slow down the Iranian attempt to create a nuclear bomb.

This program has seemed to work – and Israeli and US intelligence seem to think this has added 3 years to the timetable for the Iranian’s to have a usable nuclear device.

Time will tell – if this has had the desired effect – or shown others a new way to attack their enemies.


JSF data breach – what will the impact be?

Earlier this week – it came to light that design specifications (computer files) for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)/F-35 Lightning II stored on a Pentagon contractor computer system – had been accessed and downloaded by hackers.

One story says that the contractor’s computers were compromised as early as 2007 – and the hackers continued to access these systems.

The thing about this story – is that it isn’t new. The original allegations that the program’s computers had been compromised was first run almost a year ago in May 2008. The contractor disputed the initial IG’s report with enough vigor that the IG withdrew the report last October.

It seems that Lockheed-Martin and BAE are downplaying the incident by saying that no “classified” data was compromised But if the attackers encrypted the data streams that were being removed – how can anyone be sure what exactly was or was not accessed.

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Now, Big Brother IS Watching


The news of the day was at once innocuous, and stunning:  The BBC reported that Internet Service Providers in the European Union were now under government mandate to log their users’ email messages and internet telephone calls.  Although the mandate does not require ISPs to store the contents of the email, or a recording of the call, it certainly doesn’t forbid it either… and whether such additional records exist ot not, the law on its face it does allow for the monitoring of communications between individuals, and the establishment of "connections" and/or relationships therefrom.

The ways in which this data could be used are many, and the ways in which it could be misused are there as well.  And there are inconsistencies in the announcement that beg for clarification.  For example, the UK Home Office said that "effective safeguards are in place and … the data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate to do so", which implies that the data would only be used to solve crimes as an investigative tool.

But in almost the same breath, they justify this law by saying that "Communications data … plays a vital part in … prevention of terrorist attacks, as well as contributing to public safety more generally."  Prevention?  Contributing to safety generally?  This is a broad mandate that tells the true story: The EU government intends to engage in data-based profiling.  Who you call, or who calls you – even accidentally – now determines who you are.  You might become flagged as a terrorist without ever knowing it, until it’s too late.

For those who might roll their eyes at such a prediction, one need only look back at the lessons of history. The advances of technology are increasing rapidly – even exponentially.  The assumptions about the fabric of our world, which we have grown up with, which we have indoctrinated ourselves with, are turning out to be, if not false, certainly flimsy, and falling away rapidly. Consider the concept of identity theft.  Try explaining identity theft to a "you" of 20 years ago.  Even 10 years ago, this was relatively unheard-of.  Now, an entire industry exists to "serve" the "victims" of identity theft.  And now, a new portion of your identity – your political and ideological affiliations – are up for grabs… or at least interpretation.

What the EU government is doing with communications data is clearly akin to what the US government did in the 1970s with credit reporting.  Called the "Fair Credit Reporting Act", this set of laws codified how credit data could be gathered and used. When words like "Fair" and "Consumer Protection" are used, we automatically assume safety and "goodness" – it becomes a blind spot – the existence of which is proven by the sheer vastness of the identity theft and credit management industry.

Now, what will we have? Clearly there will be a log showing everyone I email, and everyone who emails me.  There will be a log showing everyone I call, even over the Internet, and everyone who calls me.  And since it’s all data, and is person-to-person data (as opposed to person-to-company data reported to credit bureaus), there will be the automatic existence of person-to-person-to-person data.  For example, if terrorist Jim calls the local pub to order a pizza, and I order a pizza from that pub, I will be linked to terrorist Jim. 

And how will I even know this has happened?  Will there be a "terrorist bureau" that I can order my "terrorist report" from?  Will I get a free report each year, from each of the top three "terror reporting agencies?"  What about my "terror score"?  Anything above a 340 and you can be imprisoned for 7 days without cause, you know.

This codification of data gathering, and its stated purposes, are, in this author’s opinion, one of the biggest threats to freedom we have ever seen.  The BBC report quotes a citizen as saying this only got passed by "stretching the law". 

It’s easy to see why.


Marine One data exposed by Contractor

Marine One

Originally uploaded by Pradagirl

It was disclosed this morning that blueprints and specifications of the Presidential Helicopter ‘Marine One’ have been compromised via a File Sharing program on a contractor’s computer.

And that the same data was found on a computer system in Tehran Iran.

The article doesn’t mention if this is the current Marine One, or the new Marine One (which might never go into service due to continuing cost overruns).

Someone will probably lose their job over this (unless they are a VP).

But this is a prime example of why you keep work on one computer and play on another.




As one ThreatAxis member makes last minute preparations tonight before departing to Afghanistan tomorrow, this correspondent has been given to wonder about the apparent attempts of the United States to focus more on Afghanistan… and less on Iraq.

Media and other groups around the world are just beginning to notice this trend.  Ever a leader, the BBC reported on this very issue, outlining several of the problems faced by the United States and its allies during the coming months.

The issue is twofold. First, Iraq. There can be no doubt that the war in Iraq was grim. Former President George W. Bush sacrificed his own political career and reputation being what he was supposed to be: a leader listening to his people. Americans have quickly and conveniently forgotten that they are all complicit in the Iraq war to some degree: On September 12th, 2001, everyone was calling for retribution, and crying out in favor of war.  Regardless of any political niggling that may have come later, regardless of perceptions about weapons of mass destruction, President Bush did not push America into war.  America pushed the President into war.

And into war they went.  Iraq is now ostensibly “free” – free of its tyrranical and genocidial dictator, at least – but the official analysis of the security situation there remains “fragile, reversible, and uneven” throughout Iraq.  This key phrase says it all. Right or wrong, the United States went in to Iraq, and this brings with it responsibility to do what is possible to rebuild the nation for its innocent civilians.  The dictator was evil, the terrorists were obviously there… but the civilians were still innocent.  The people who are yammering for their “troops to come home” are the same irresponsible yet ultimately responsible people who were screaming for war and retribution seven years ago.

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Control Alt Armagedon?


Originally uploaded by Frank Bennett.

When I saw this article – Royal Navy goes with “Windows for Subs” – I got goosebumps.

Bucking the open-source trend, the British Royal Navy has developed a modified version of Microsoft Windows XP and has begun installing it on its fleet of nuclear submarines.

According to the BAE (lead integrator) news release – the new Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG) “transfers the software applications proven on earlier variants of SMCS to a modern system architecture that uses mainstream PCs to provide the computer processing with Microsoft Windows as the software operating system.”

So at this point – all of the RN’s nuclear submarines have been upgraded with these new control stations. Including – the 4 Vanguard class SSBN’s.

Nuclear Weapons – Trident SLBM’s – controlled through Windows.

Maybe Apple should make a Mac commerical based on Windows doing this. Or else another way for Microsoft to push Vista?


Boeing EA-18G Growler

The EA-18G Growler is being developed as the replacement for the EA-6B Prowler. The three Electronic Warfare Officers (EWO) on the EA-6 are being replaced by a single EWO (and lots of electronics) on the EA-18.

The only clue that this isn’t a normal Super Hornet – is the fact that the wingtips don’t have the normal Sidewinder load. Instead this is where the EW pods/antennas are mounted.