Drones and Anti-Missile Systems Being Used to Protect Tanks

When it comes to technology and tanks, we often think of one of two extremes. Firstly the original tanks from years ago, with the large cannons mounted to tracks and then we think to our idea of the future, with giant floating armoured platforms. It would seem the marines are looking to go somewhere inbetween, but not with flying tanks but ones equipped with more systems to help protect tanks from their enemies.

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking at using technology, not additional armour, to help protect their vehicles. First up on the list of technologies is the use of electronic anti-missile systems, or active protective systems, that will detect and intercept anything from a guided anti-tank rocket to the likes of a rocket propelled grenade (such as those used in RPG’s). The system in place would be the Israli Trophy Active Protection System (APS), with four systems being mounted to both Stryker combat vehicles and M1A2 tanks.

With jammers and missile interception components working together the hardware is commonly designed to protect ships or airplanes, but with threats changing the military wants to be one step ahead. That isn’t all, with the Marines also looking at “unmanned aerial systems” (Drones) to help spot enemies before they can even launch the attack.

Combining knowledge about threats before they happen with active and passive defence systems is a nice way to protect soldiers from unwanted threats at a moments notice.

Congressman Wants Longstanding Mobile Security Flaw Investigated

When it comes to our technology, we like to think there might be a hint of privacy in their use. Signaling System 7 is a set of protocols used to help route data, messages, and even phone calls through mobile networks but the problem is that such a widely used system is actually flawed. This flaw led to Ted Lieu, a congressman for  the state of California, calling for an investigation into the longstanding mobile security flaw after it was demonstrated to him by a group of hackers based in Germany.

The mobile security flaw was demonstrated on 60 minutes by german security researcher Karsten Nohl, with it initially being revealed all the way back in 2014. Nohl managed to use the exploit after knowing nothing more than just the congressman’s phone number. With just their number Nohl stated that they could track people’s locations, read their texts and even what was said in their phone calls.

Lieu is coming hard at those who might have known about this issue, saying that any government employee that knew about the SS7 problem should be fired because “this affects so much of daily life to your personal phone”. With everyone using their mobile phones people don’t protect them, often being lulled into a false sense of security and risking their personal lives and data on a daily basis.

IRS Used Stingray To Track 37 Phones

Digital security is an issue that is raised weekly, with digital privacy seeming to be at odds, security or privacy. These topics come to a point when the topic of Stingray towers is brought up, mobile devices that mimic mobile phone towers. These devices can be used to intercept data such as phone calls and text messages, potentially leading the authorities to important information. The problem is that these devices act much like regular towers, in that you can’t target them, this means that you can only collect everyone’s data in range and search for the stuff you are interested in afterwards. Seems the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has been using one of these devices since 2011 and are looking at getting another.

IRS Director John Koskinen wrote in an open letter to Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, in the hopes of answering some questions regarding the “cell-site simulator technology”. In the letter, they state that they used the device on 11 federal grand jury cases, tracking a total of 37 cellular devices. It does continue to say though that they used the Stingray (constantly referred to as a cell-site simulator) in four non-IRS cases, one federal and three state level.

At the end of the letter, he continues to say about the Department of Justice requiring a warrant now in order to use the technology, along with probable cause and certain restrictions being met.

While it is nice to see agencies report this kind of information and take these steps to monitor information in a legal and controlled way, you have to wonder, if they were trying to monitor 37 phones, how many other phones did they intercept in total?

Snooper Charter Powers are Increasingly Worrying

Security is one thing, from a virus on your phone or PC to a coordinated breach and remote access that compromises your computer. While we may not want to believe them, they are the things that happen more than anyone would want and as such, people are employed to look out for any risks and report and maybe even fix them. Security researchers are essential in the world where our digital security is as important to many as locking your door. So what does the new law that the UK government want enforced mean for you? For one it’s more than often known as the Snooper Charter, and its powers could be a problem for security researchers and even you.

The typical process for security researchers upon finding a backdoor, something that can give anyone access to your system, is to check your findings with colleagues and make sure that it is, in fact, a security risk, then to alert your client, normally the creator of the software or the owner of it at least. They then report it, get a fix out and then you can reveal to the world that they need to update in order to receive this fix.
Under the snooper charter, though, even so much as revealing a backdoor could be punishable with up to 12 months in jail or a fine. For someone who spends their life finding these flaws, the risk of you exposing one created by the government, could put you not only out of a job but also out of work for good.

If that wasn’t enough, intercepting information, equipment interference (hacking) and retaining communications data would also be protected under gag orders, including those for bulk communications data collection, such as all the emails sent from your home IP.

Granting access to all your information, without having to provide anything for scrutiny. This is made all the worse by that fact that even in talking to your MP, to prove someone innocent of a crime they were falsely accused for or even in the court when you’re being charged using this information, it would become illegal to even disclose that these tactics were used to obtain the information.

With these powers and the charter as it is, not only would the government and agencies have abilities to access and obtain information with little oversight, but you would be unable to discuss or reveal that these activities even took place.

The Intercept Leaks Huge Cache of Documents on the USA Drone Strike Program

Leaks of classified information have been part of the fabric of social interactions and also modern-day communications that includes the Internet, from hacked celeb pics to the now infamous Edward Snowdon cache of documents that detailed the extensive surveillance states and operations around the world. This leak is no different, yet if genuine, (I have to put this caveat in just in case someone is lying here and it comes back to bite me firmly on the posterior), is a huge trove of secret documents which have been published by The Intercept, detailing the Obama administration’s secretive and controversial drone-based assassination program.

If you’re not familiar with this program then let me elaborate, The US military and figures including the Obama administration have implemented a program that sort to track and kill high-value enemy targets throughout Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Now onto the documents which have been classed as being leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, this information covers an extensive array of subjects which includes kill chains, operations and also the standard intelligence flaws.

Skimming through this information reveals some extremely sensitive documents, for example “One top-secret document shows how the terror watchlist appears in the terminals of personnel conducting drone operations, linking unique codes associated with cellphone SIM cards and handsets to specific individuals in order to geolocate them”.

Another document reveals a case of a British citizen, Bilal el-Berjawi, who was stripped of his citizenship before being killed in a U.S drone strike in 2012. “British and American intelligence had Berjawi under surveillance for several years as he travelled back and forth between the U.K. and East Africa yet did not capture him. Instead, the U.S. hunted him down” and eventually used a drone strike to kill him in Somalia.

The “Kill Chain” sounds like a title to a film, yet this purported leak is very compelling, interesting, informative and also fascinating. It details the steps required to authorize a drone strike on a target in Yemen and the people who it passes through. It also shows that according to a Pentagon study, president Obama signed off on a 60 day authorizations to kill suspected terrorists, but he did not sign off on individual strikes.

According to the documents, there are two steps. Step 1 is choosing the target and step 2 is taking a strike. Step 1 starts from a JSOC task force before going through officials including Leon Panetta who is the Secretary of Defence, a principals committee which includes Hillary Clinton all the way to President Obama. Step 2, in the case of strikes in Yemen, ranges from a JSOC task force all the way to the president of Yemen.

Well yes, this is indeed big, am I surprised? No, the US is addicted to the Find Fix Finish mantra which has made drone strikes popular for the administration. The cache is extensive and it is far too much information to detail here, otherwise this article would be 5000 words long, and few want that.

It will be fascinating to see further developments in the coming days, weeks and also months.

Thank you theintercept for providing us with this information.

NSA Surveillance Program Operating For a Very Long Time

NSA operations have been going on a long, long, long, long time, that is according to the latest revelations by both Edward Snowdon and also by a report from The Intercept, NSA/GCHQ’s top secret surveillance program “Project Echelon” has been spying on the US allies, enemies, and its citizens for last 50 years. It’s being called the first-ever automated global mass surveillance system.

A British investigative journalist by the name of Duncan Campbell wrote a magazine article in 1988 about the existence a surveillance program by the name of Echelon, which is essentially a giant and automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites. This technique was a precursor to today’s tapping of undersea fibre optic cables by survey non-military targets; these include governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every corner of the world.

In 2000, the European Parliament appointed a committee to investigate the program which lead to the outcome of the same old “The NSA played by the rules” mantra. How do you sum these latest revelations up? A foreign affairs directorate special adviser managed it perfectly by concluding the following,

In the final analysis, the “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: “Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”

If anyone attempts to challenge these practises then both parties will be slandered into oblivion, the only difference is, the good guy always looks worst. I am not surprised by these revelations because frankly, who the hell can be after so much has been leaked out. I also think there is now more than surveillance at stake, but the underpinning of democracy which is looking weaker by the day.

This is also where GCHQ and the NSA look stupid, if they are able to track everyone all of the time, how come the likes of Osama Bin Laden managed to hide for so long? How come there are many criminals, illegal activities and an escalation in gun violence in the US within a world which is perceived to be more under surveillance? After all, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shootings wrote a manifesto which was easily accessible online, if the words “It was obvious that George Zimmerman was in the right” does not look slightly psychopathic, then nothing will.

Thank You fossbytes and The Intercept for providing us with this information.