Thursday, October 29, 2009

defcon 10/29: smart grid, nsa supercenters & surveillance

obama announces stimulus funding for the 'smart grid'*
obama announces stimulus funding for the 'smart grid'obama invests $3.4b in US electricity grid*
feds' smart grid race leaves cybersecurity in the dust*
flashback: corbett report: episode103 - the smart grid cometh*
cyberattacks: espionage now, sabotage soon*
nsa supercenters to store americans' private data permanently*
government to build $1.5b cybersecurity data center*
dhs to announce cyber merger*
scan of internet uncovers 1000s of vulnerable embedded devices*
guardian loses half a million resumes*
video: isp removes fake US chamber press release from internet*
chamber suing yes men for 'commercial identity theft'*
nation's first open source election software released*
sec & dhs need web backup, gao says*
after net neutrality, will we need 'google neutrality'?*
darpa looks to send the internet into orbit*
video: baltic 'meteorite' a flaming hoax*
mars can wait: nasa should try landing on asteroids first*
ares i-x stuck on the pad*
ares i-x blasts off on 2nd attempt*
pilots who missed airport cite computer distraction*
video: new army robot walks like a human*

update: internet turns 40 & throws itself a birthday party*

mind your tweets: cia & eu building social network surveillance system

mind your tweets: cia & eu building social networking surveillance systemfrom antifascist-calling: Social networking sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter and their competitors can facilitate communication and information sharing amongst diverse groups and individuals is by now a cliché.

It should come as no surprise then, that the secret state and the capitalist grifters whom they serve, have zeroed-in on the explosive growth of these technologies. One can be certain however, securocrats aren't tweeting their restaurant preferences or finalizing plans for after work drinks.

No, researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are busy as proverbial bees building a "total information" surveillance system, one that will, so they hope, provide police and security agencies with what they euphemistically call "actionable intelligence." ...

In this context, the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks published a remarkable document October 4 by the INDECT Consortium, the Intelligence Information System Supporting Observation, Searching and Detection for Security of Citizens in Urban Environment.

Hardly a catchy acronym, but simply put INDECT is working to put a human face on the billions of emails, text messages, tweets and blog posts that transit cyberspace every day; perhaps your face.

flashback: cia to monitor internet chatter for anti-govt sentiment

Monday, October 26, 2009

pulling the tv cord yet staying plugged in

a small but apparently growing number of people are cutting the television service connections from cable satellite & telephone companies in favor of viewing their picks over the computer.
pulling the tv cord yet staying plugged infrom latimes: Jazz musician Bill Cunliffe loves television - but he doesn't watch it on a TV set. "I can watch anything I want, any time I want," he said, "on my bottom-of-the-line Mac PowerBook." Cunliffe, 53, is one of a growing number of TV viewers who get all their programs via the Internet.

For reasons that include saving money, convenience, personal choice and a hatred of commercials, these viewers are cutting the cord from cable, satellite and telephone suppliers of TV service, and even throwing away the rabbit ears and other antennas that brought in over-the-air broadcasts.

"The idea that you come home and your entertainment choices are dictated on what some entertainment channel decides is not for me," said video game producer Chris Codding, whose Venice apartment has a 52-inch Sony television that's used only for video games and viewing DVDs. "I really like the concept of having something in your mind that you want to watch," Codding said, "and then going to the computer and watching it." ...

Shows are also available, unauthorized, on underground sites that are the bane of the TV (as well as movie) industry. "You can download just about anything you want right after it's broadcast," said one user of these sites who asked that his name not be used. "My wife asks for a show, and I can just go on and get it for her."

Cunliffe, who said he sticks to authorized sites, began watching online when TV went entirely digital in June. Up until then, he used rabbit ears to bring in broadcast stations. After the switch-over, he could no longer receive some of his favorite stations, even with a digital converter box.

He was ready to give up on TV until he discovered how easy it was to get programs online. Now he's ready to move up from his laptop screen. "I'm going to go out and buy the cheapest flat-screen monitor I can find and plug it in," he said. "I'm watching more TV than ever."

update/rebuttal: cord cutting?:
without data, the latimes writes the story it wanted anyway

from tv by the numbers: There seem to be a few memes that persist in the TV media world even though there is no data to back them up. One is the “Oprah ratings down because of Obama endorsement”, another is “Look at all the people cutting the cord” (i.e. canceling their subscription TV service). Recently it’s been spun as an after effect of the economic problems, in today’s LA Times cord cutting is touted as a combination of technology and consumer choice, which of course it is, and the anecdotal examples are charming, but the problem is the data just doesn’t support the fact that it’s a general phenomenon. In fact, total subscriptions to cable/satellite/telco TV services continue to grow slowly, as they have for many years. Who knows what will happen in the future, but it’s not happening now!

so, these 2 supposedly opposing pieces both come to the same conclusion: "i'm watching more TV than ever."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

cia to monitor internet chatter for anti-government sentiment

cia to monitor internet chatter for anti-government sentimentfrom danger room: America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using "open source intelligence" — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.

That’s kind of the basic step - get in and monitor,” says company senior vice president Blake Cahill.

Monday, October 19, 2009

small asteroid flew past earth on 10/16

small asteroid flew past earth on 10/16from A small asteroid will buzz the Earth late Friday EDT, flying just inside the orbit of the moon. It should pass safely by our home planet, according to a crack team of NASA space rock trackers. The space rock, named 2009 TM8, was just discovered Thursday by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. It will get within 216,000 miles of Earth when it zooms by at a speed of about 18,163 mph. "That's slightly closer than the orbit of our moon," NASA's Asteroid Watch team said Friday via Twitter. The time of closest approach will be 11:44 p.m. EDT tonight. The asteroid hunters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., stands on constant watch for rogue space rocks that could pose an impact risk to Earth. It was the same team which, last week, scaled back the risk of another asteroid — a large space rock called Apophis — hitting the Earth in 2036.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

nasa says 2012 is viral marketing not the end of the world

...nasa condemned film producers over a viral marketing campaign that suggests the world will come to and end in 2012...
nasa says 2012 is viral marketing not the end of the worldfrom telegraph: Sony Pictures set up a website for an organisation called the Institute for Human Continuity which predicts a cataclysmic denouement for Earth three years from now.

It suggests that "after two decades of rigorous research from the world's top astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, physicists, engineers, futurists, we know that in 2012 a series of cataclysmic forces will wreak havoc on our planet".

It even details how elections have begun for the leader of the post-2102 world, offers survival kits and asks people to sign up to a lottery to be saved.

In fact, the website is a vehicle for promoting 2012 - a disaster movie about the end of the world based on predictions in the Mayan calendar.

It stars John Cusack and is directed by Roland Emmerich, who was behind the blockbusters Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. The film will include scenes of a tsunami washing an aircraft carrier into the White House and Los Angeles falling into the sea.

According to the website scientists have been tracking a previously unknown Planet X which is on the edge of the solar system and on a collision course with Earth.

But the site has been so successful that hundreds of people have been convinced that something terrible is about to befall the planet.

Dr David Morrison, a senior scientist at Nasa's Astrobiology Institute, said he had received more than 1,000 inquiries from worried members of the public.

That included teenagers saying they would rather commit suicide than witness the world end. Dr Morrison said the website was "ethically wrong". But Vikki Luya, Sony's publicity director said: "It is very clear that this site is connected to a fictional movie. This can readily be seen in the logos on the site."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

cern scientist arrested for alleged terror connections

cern scientist arrested for alleged terror connectionsfrom the register: An atomic physicist who worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research for six years has been arrested on suspicion he had links to an Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa.

The unnamed man had been assigned to an analysis project for the organization, better known as CERN, since 2003, the group said in a press release. He had no contact with anything that could be used for terrorism, it added. He was arrested Thursday in the French city of Vienne.

His detention came as two brothers also suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda were arrested in in Vienne on a warrant issued by an antiterrorism judge at the Paris prosecutor's office. Police didn't release their names or nationalities, but the Associated Press reported they were aged 25 and 32.

Shortly after coming online last year, CERN's LCH, or Large Hadron Collider, was downed by a faulty electrical connection between two magnets in the 17-mile doughnut-shaped atom smasher. It has been under repair ever since.

A CERN spokeswoman assured the AP there were no indications of sabotage and that the arrested physicist had access only to the experiment he was working on and not to the tunnel itself.

CERN is providing support to French authorities investigating the arrested man. More from the Associated Press and The New York Times is here and here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

US navy creates command to maintain cyber supremacy

US navy creates command to maintain cyber supremacyfrom afp: The US Navy announced Thursday [oct1] it was consolidating intelligence gathering and other data capabilities under a single command in a bid to maintain an increasingly challenged US military supremacy in cyberspace. Naval Intelligence chief Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett said the navy was creating an "Information Dominance Corps" bringing together over 44,000 sailors - including an expansion of the navy's cyberworkforce by about 1,000 people. The move was part of a broader US effort to maintain competitive advantage over adversaries like China. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead described the cyber world as a "battlespace" where attacks on US security and military systems are unlikely to wane.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

moon crash to create 6-mile plume as nasa searches for water

update: watch nasa bomb the moon @ 7:30a et/4:30a pt on 10/9

moon crash to create 6-mile plume as nasa searches for waterfrom times online: A NASA spacecraft will deliberately crash into the Moon next week on a mission that could enhance the prospects of establishing a manned lunar base.

Only two weeks after three probes discovered water on the Moon, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will blast two huge chunks out of its surface to establish whether it exists in a form that could be exploited by astronauts.

In the early hours of Friday morning [oct9], the LCROSS probe will separate from the Centaur upper stage of the rocket that carried it to lunar orbit, and send the spent module crashing into the Cabeus crater at the Moon’s south pole.

When the 2.4-tonne Centaur hits at 12.31pm BST, at a speed of 2.5km per second (1.6 miles per sec), it will throw up a plume of debris 10km (6 miles) high.

updates from 10/8:
'stop nasa bombing the moon!' petition*

nasa tweaks killer asteroid's trajectory of death*
moonstruck: making one giant thud for mankind*

update: US spacecraft crash into moon in search for water
from reuters: Searching for stocks of water on the moon, NASA crashed two spacecraft into an eternally dark lunar crater on Friday, hoping to splash ice into the light where instruments could assess it. A two-ton empty rocket stage hit the dark Cabeus crater near the moon's south pole at about 4:31 a.m. PDT (7:31 a.m. EDT) and a second craft crashed four minutes later. A camera on the following spacecraft did not capture an image of the impact as hoped, but scientists said they were confident that the explosive hit took place as planned. "We didn't see a big splashy plume like we wanted to see," said Michael Bicay, director of science at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center. Bicay said an infrared camera showed changes that suggested an explosion.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

cybercom goes online today so the military can 'fight the net'

cybercom goes online today so the military can 'fight the net'from democracy arsenal: Today, several Cyber Security experts including NSN Advisory Board member Richard Clarke, released the following memo on the launch of U.S Cyber Command, or USCYBERCOM:

"Beginning today, the U.S Cyber Command, or USCYBERCOM, is supposed to go online. But the Pentagon has not yet revealed what the scope of Cyber Command’s mission will be. Even in the most basic terms, we do not know whom the Cyber Command will defend nor what sorts of cyber threats they will defend against. For instance, in the event of a cyber attack on U.S. infrastructure, such as the electrical grid, would Cyber Command help to repel the attack? Or will the Cyber Command only be concerned with defending military networks from cyber attacks?

We do not know the answers to these critical questions and others because even basic information on the Cyber Command has not been released to the public. These are the publicly known facts about the Cyber Command:

* Cyber Command will exist as a subordinate, unified command under the Strategic Command.

* The head of Cyber Command will be the Director of the NSA (currently Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander), who will receive a promotion from 3-stars to 4-stars.

Anything else about the Cyber Command, its mission, and how it will execute its mission is conjecture at this point for anyone not privy to the discussion going on behind closed doors."

related: dhs will hire 1,000 more cybersecurity professionals
from fcw: The Homeland Security Department will hire up to 1,000 additional people to work in cybersecurity jobs over the next three years, senior DHS officials announced today. The new employees will be scattered across DHS agencies, and will work in areas such as cyber risk and strategic analysis, cyber incident response, vulnerability detection and assessment, intelligence and investigation and network and systems engineering, DHS said. The hiring authority comes from a joint effort between DHS, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, according to the department. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the program in Washington at an event hosted by the National Cyber Security Alliance. Philip Reitinger, deputy undersecretary of DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) that includes the National Cybersecurity Division (NCSD), joined Napolitano at the event. DHS is in charge of protecting the federal government’s civilian computer networks and leads efforts to work with industry to enhance cybersecurity.