Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feds Doled Out Millions Towards #Tor Online Anonymity Tools

from RT.com: The National Security Agency may be working to crack the anonymous Tor browser, but the US government actually donated close to $2 million to the project in 2013. In fact, the large majority of the money gifted to the Tor Project has its origins in the State Department and the Department of Defense.
 
According to the Guardian, the US government delivered a little more than $1.8 million to Tor last year – an increase over the $1.2 million given in 2012. Some of that money was direct – the State Department issued $256,900 while the National Science Foundation donated $100,325 – but most of it was delivered through third parties and non-profit organizations. “The two largest single grantors of federal money were SRI international, a non-profit research and development centre that aims to bridge the gap between abstract research and industry, and Internews Network, an international non-profit that funds programmes supporting democracy and human rights,” wrote Alex Hern at the Guardian. “The latter gave $555,413 in funding originally from the US Department of State, while the former gave $830,269 in funding ultimately stemming from the US Department of Defense.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NASA: Humans Will Prove ‘We Are Not Alone In The Universe’ Within 20 Years

from cbslocal.com: NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades.

Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,” added Mountain. “It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

GCHQ's Dark Arts: Leaked Documents Reveal Online Manipulation and Facebook, YouTube Snooping

from zdnet.com: GCHQ has developed a toolkit of software programs used to manipulate online traffic, infiltrate users' computers and spread select messages across social media sites including Facebook and YouTube. The UK spy agency's dark arts were revealed in documents first published by The Intercept, and each piece of software is described in a wiki document written up by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The document, which reads like a software inventory, calls the tools part of the agency's "weaponised capability."

Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed "extremist" and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook's approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

‘Diplomatic Earthquake’ As Germany Halts Spy Cooperation With U.S.

from intelnews.org: The German government has instructed its intelligence agencies to limit their cooperation with their American counterparts “to the bare essentials” until further notice, according to media reports. The move follows news that Berlin requested on Thursday the immediate removal from Germany of the United States Central Intelligence Agency chief of station —essentially the top American official in the country. The request came after two German citizens, one working for the BND, Germany’s main external intelligence organization, and one working for the country’s Federal Ministry of Defense, were allegedly found to have been secretly spying for the US. German media reported on Thursday that the temporary halt in Berlin’s intelligence collaboration with Washington applies across the spectrum, with the exception of areas directly affecting tactical security concerns for Germany, such as the protection of its troops in Afghanistan, or defending against immediate terrorist threats. Sources in the German capital claimed that the removal of the CIA station chief was technically a “recommendation for his departure”, and did not constitute an official diplomatic expulsion. However, German observers described the incident as a “diplomatic earthquake”, which would have been unthinkable as a policy option for the German government, barring actions against “pariah states like North Korea or Iran”. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

UK Moves to Legalize Mass Surveillance

from commondreams.org: The UK government is pushing to pass an emergency law that would allow for storing and tracking the public's phone calls, text messages, and internet use. The bill, which is set for inter-party reforms later this week and is expected to pass, was created as a response to alleged domestic terrorism threats — although the validity of these threats and the likeliness of an attack are uncertain. Recruitment propaganda and videos of alleged war crimes by British citizens in Syria that surfaced on social media this year have helped fuel speculation and reports of radicalization on the home front. However, former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove said Tuesday that recent fears of extremism in the West have been overblown by governments and media, with most terrorist activity having been refocused into the Middle East.

The bill closely resembles a previous plan, proposed in 2012 by Home Secretary Theresa May, that would have required telecommunications companies to retain detailed information about their customers' phone calls and internet use for up to 12 months. The proposal, called the Communications Data Bill, was dropped in 2013 after its tactics were deemed invasive and disproportionate by opposing members, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Big Banks Want Power to Declare Cyber War

Merger of Big Banks and National Security Power … What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

from washingtonsblog.com: Bloomberg reports - Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document. 

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as SIFMA, calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House official.

The trade association also reveals in the document that SIFMA has retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to “facilitate” the joint effort with the government. Alexander, in turn, has brought in Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and his firm, Chertoff Group.

Monday, July 7, 2014

US Military Studied How To Influence Twitter Users In DARPA-Funded Research

from blacklistednews.com: The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds. Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as DARPA, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.


While some elements of the multi-million dollar project might raise a wry smile – research has included analysis of the tweets of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, in an attempt to understand influence on Twitter – others have resulted in the buildup of massive datasets of tweets and additional types social media posts. Several of the DoD-funded studies went further than merely monitoring what users were communicating on their own, instead messaging unwitting participants in order to track and study how they responded.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

PLA Cyberspace Strategic Intelligence Research Center Founded

from ecns.cn: The Cyberspace Strategic Intelligence Research Center was officially founded at an information center of the General Armaments Department (GAD) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on June 26, 2014. Experts believe that the center will provide strong support in obtaining high-quality intelligence research findings and help China gain advantage in national information security. The Cyberspace Strategic Intelligence Research Center is a high-level intelligence platform built on research efforts of an information center of the GAD and the wisdom of the experts in various fields.

The center is designed to become an authoritative research resource for Internet intelligence, build a highly-efficient cyberspace dynamically-tracking research system, provide high-end services for hot and major issues, and explore approaches of intelligence analysis as well as identification and appraisal with cyberspace characteristics.