Assange, A Rat

Apparently, people will protest anything.


Here they are protesting against the extradition of Julian Assange of Wikileaks.


Assange allegedly published loads of classified documents stolen from this country.


That is NOT journalism or freedom of speech.


It is spreading stolen materials, endangering the nation, and maybe even espionage!


Freedom of speech is calling out a possible rat when we see one and having him brought to face justice. ūüėČ


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Top Secret Tinseltown

So this is a city with a lot of secrets. 


I’m not talking about just the run-of-the-mill, non-disclosure agreement (NDA).


This is Top Secret Tinseltown!


And even the stuff that comes out in the news–whether it’s clandestine transfers of $1.7 billion to the Ayatollahs in Iran or the Uranium One deal with the Russians, there is plenty of dirty little games going on.¬†


What was hilarious is when when saw this huge industrial shredding truck in the parking lot:

Paper Shredding * Electronic Destruction * Medical Waste Disposal


And there were a line of cars waiting to get rid of their little secrets.


I kid you not when I say that on a Saturday morning, there were at least 25 cars in line to dispose of their “stuff.”


Now who do you know in what city that waits 25 cars deep in line for an industrial shredder on a Saturday morning.


And the cars are pulling up, the trunks are popping open, and boxes and boxes of paper and electronic files are being handed over. 


Gee, I hope the Russians or Chinese aren’t getting into the shredding business…and inside the truck isn’t a large shredder but a bunch of analysts waiting for you to hand it all over. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

We Just Keep Giving It All Away

Missiles

How do these things keep happening to us?


We lost a high-tech Hellfire air-to- ground missile, accidentally sending it to Cuba, likely compromising critical sensor and GPS targeting technology to China, Russia, and/or North Korea. 


But it’s not all that different from how many other examples, such as:¬†


РChinese cyber espionage snared critical design secrets to the 5th generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.


РIran captured and purportedly decoded an RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone.


– Russian spies stole U.S. nuclear secrets helping them to build their first atomic bomb.


We are the innovator for high-tech bar none, which is beautiful and a huge competitive advantage. 


But what good is it when we can’t protect our intellectual property and national security secrets.¬†


The U.S. feeds the world not only with our agricultural, but with our knowledge.


Knowledge Management should be a mindful exercise that rewards our allies and friends and protects us from our enemies–and not a free-for-all where we we can’t responsibly control our information. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: here with attribution to James Emery)

The *S*p*y* Named Snowden

The *S*p*y* Named Snowden

So was Edward Snowden a whistleblower (some even call him a patriot) or one of the most ruthless spies this country has ever known?

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Edward Jay Epstein makes a strong case that Snowden was a spy galore, and the whistleblowing was his cover.
What he stole? – 1.7 million documents from the NSA with “only a minute fraction of them have anything to do with civil liberties or whistleblowing.” Instead, the vast majority “were related to our military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques, and procedures”–otherwise known as the “keys to the kingdom.” Moreover, it seems clear that a “top priority was lists of the computers of U.S. adversaries abroad that the NSA has succeeded in penetrating.”
When he stole them? – Snowden took the Booz Allen Hamilton job as a contractor for NSA in March 2013–this was at the “tail end of his operation.” Moreover, the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) court order for Verizon to provide metadata on U.S. phone calls for 90 days had only been issued in April 2013. And Snowden told reporter James Rosen in October 2013, that his last job at NSA gave him access to every active operation against the Chinese and “that is why I accepted the position.”
Where did Snowden end up? – First in Hong Kong and then under the protection of the FSB (aka the old KGB) in Russia, which “effectively compromises all the sources and methods” and ties all too nicely with what he stole. A former cabinet official has indicated that the Snowden heist was either Russian espionage, Chinese espionage, or a joint operation.
If Snowden really was a spy as indicated, then the Whistleblowing of domestic surveillance in the U.S. was a most brilliant ploy by his operators to distract our nation from the true nature of the exfiltration and the harm done to our national security. In a way, it falls right in line with Russia’s creative storyline/coverup in taking Crimea in saying that they were only protecting ethnic Russians. Score 2 for Russia!

Are we so easily lied to and manipulated…is public opinion really just jello in the hands of the global spymasters.

We’ve got to be smart enough (i.e. critical thinkers) to interpret the noise in the intelligence signals, political speeches, and news stories to unveil the truth of what is really going on. In advertising, when exposing the truth of products and companies, this is sometimes referred to as culture jamming. Can we apply this to the complicated intrigue of global politics and get past the storyline that is fed to us to expose truth?

It’s high time to outmaneuver those that may seek to manipulate the public (whether from outside or even sometimes from within) with some brilliance of our own–in not believing every snippet that is fed to us and instead looking at the bigger picture of political theater, special interests, and national security to see who is now zinging whom and why. ūüėČ

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Information Is On You

Green_wig

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times (17 June 2012) called: “A data giant is Mapping and Sharing the Consumer Genome.”

It is about a company called Acxion–with revenues of $1.13 billion–that develops marketing solutions for other companies based on their enormous data collection of everything about you!

Acxion has more than 23,000 servers “collecting, collating, and analyzing consumer data…[and] they have amassed the world’s largest commercial database on consumers.”

Their “surveillance engine” and database on you is so large that they:

– “Process more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.”
– “Database contains information about 500 million active consumers.”
– “About 1,500 data points per person.”
– Have been collecting data for 40 years!

Acxion is the slayer of the consumer big data dragon–doing large-scale data mining and analytics using publicly available information and consumer surveys.

They collect data on demographics, socio-economics, lifestyle, and buying habits and they integrate all this data.

Acxion generates direct marketing solutions and predictive consumer behavior information.

They work with 47 of the Fortune 100 as well as the government after 9/11.

There are many concerns raised by both the size and scope of this activity.

Firstly, as to the information itself relative to its:

– Privacy
– Security

Secondly, regarding the consumer in terms of potential:

– Profiling
– Espionage
– Stalking
– Manipulation

Therefore, the challenge of big data is a double-edged sword:

– On one hand we have the desire for data intelligence to make sense of all the data out there and use it to maximum affect.
– On the other hand, we have serious concerns about privacy, security, and the potential abuse of power that the information enables.

How we harness the power of information to help society, but not hurt people is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

This will be an ongoing tug of war between the opposing camps until hopefully, the pendulum settles in the healthy middle, that is our collective information sweet spot.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Losing The Edge, No More

Copyright

For years, there has been all sorts of uproar about the U.S. and its citizens and businesses losing their edge.

 

From critics who point out to how our educational system (especially through high school) is not keeping up, how we are not attracting and graduating enough folks in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), how our inventions are freely copied overseas, and how innovation and entrepreneurship is suffering at home whether due to challenging economic or social conditions.

 

Yet, when it comes to losing our edge,¬†nothing is more maddening than when the technological advances we do have are taken from us–this happens in numerous ways, including:

 

–¬†Cyber Attacks:¬†According to the Pentagon Strategy on Cyberwar as per the Wall Street Journal (15 July 2011) “each year a volume of intellectual property the size of the Library of Congress is stolen from U.S. government and private-sector networks.” Cyber espionage has affected a broad range of our prized national assets: from Space Shuttle designs to the Joint U.S. Defense Strategy with South Korea as del as the plans for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and more. Moreover and unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. For example, this past August, McAfee disclosed a cyber spying operation dubbed¬†Operation Shady Rat¬†that infiltrated some 71 government and corporate entities of which 49 were in the U.S. and which included more than a dozen defense firms over five years, compromising a massive amount of information.

 

–¬†Spies/Insider Threats:¬†Spies and insider threats can turn over state secrets to foreign powers or entities causing a major lose to our competitive advantage. This has happened with convicted spies from Aldrich Ames to FBI agent Robert Hanssen, and more recently to Army Corporal Bradley Manning accused of turning over troves of restricted documents to WikLleaks. And despite the amazing efforts to catch these subversives, presumably, there are plenty more where they came from.

 

–¬†Expropriations:¬†We lose our edge to foreign nations and organizations when our high-technology or intellectual assets are used without our consent or otherwise seized and compromised. This can happen from having our copyrights trampled on, our designs simply copied and “knockoffs” produced and peddled, or even when we are in a sense forced to exchange our intellectual property for basic entry into foreign markets. But this also happens more explicitly and violently when our assets are literally taken from us. For example this happened in April 2001, when Chinese fighter jets intercepted (in international air space) and crashed a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance plane and didn’t return it until July in disassembled pieces. Similarly, when the tail of the stealth modified MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, with sensitive military technology, used in the raid in Osama bin Laden’s was recovered and held by Pakistan for weeks before it was returned to the U.S. And we saw this again this week when the Iranians showed off a prized RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone they now have seized, and which secrets presumably may end up in Russian, Chinese, or ultimately terrorist hands.

 

Developing an edge is not something we should take lightly or for granted–It is based on lots of talent, experience, and hard work and we do not have an exclusive hold on any of these.

 

We must prize our scientific and technological advances and¬†secure these the way a mother protects it’s young–fiercely and without compromise.

 

No matter how much or fast we churn out the advances, it will not matter if we do not¬†safeguard our investments¬†from those who would take it right out from under us. We can do this by significantly increasing investment in cyber security, strengthening counterespionage efforts, and not letting any nation or organization take something that doesn’t belong to them without consequences–economic or military–that restore our edge and then some.

 

(Source Photo: here)

Espionage, Social Media Style

Espionage

You are being watched!

Good guys and bad guys are tracking your movements, rants and raves, photos, and more online.

For example, The Atlantic reported on 4 November 2011 in an article titled¬†How the CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel¬†that “analysts are tracking millions of tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates around the world.”

Further, in January 2009, “DHS established a Social Networking Monitoring Center (SNMC)¬†to monitor social networking sites for ‘items of interest.'”

And even more recently in August 2011,¬†DARPA invited proposals for “memetracking”¬†to identify themes and sentiments online and potentially use this for predictive analysis.

The thinking is that if you can use online information to predict stock market movements as some have attempted, why not criminal and terrorist activity?

Similarly, The Guardian reported on 16 March 2010 “FBI using Facebook in fight against crime” and cautions that “criminals dumb enough to brag about their exploits on social networking sites have now been warned: the¬†next Facebook ‘friend’ who contacts you may be an FBI agent.”

This is reminescent of the work of private sector,Dateline NBC in using Internet chat rooms to catch sexual predators online by luring them to a house where the predators believed they were going to meet up with a underage girl for a tryst.

While¬†these efforts are notable and even praiseworthy by the good guys–assuming you can get over the privacy implications in favor of the potential to have a safer society to live in–these activities should be carefully safeguarded, so as not to infringe on the rights and freedoms of those who behave legally and ethically.

But the good guys are not the only ones using the tools of the trade for monitoring and analyzing social networking activities–the¬†bad guys too recognize the implicit information treasure trove available¬†and have you in their crosshairs.

For example,¬†in the last years Arab Spring, we have nation states tracking their citizens¬†political activities and using their power over the Internet to shut off access and otherwise surpress democracy and human rights. Further, we have seen their use for cyberspyingand testing offensive cyber attack capabilities–only the most recent of which was the alleged infiltration of a SCADA system for a Illinois water plant.

Moreover, this past week, Forbes (21 November 2011) reported in¬†The Spy Who Liked Me¬†that “your social network friends might not be all that friendly.”

From corporate espionage to market intelligence, there are those online who “steadfastly follows competitors’ executives and employees on Twitter and LinkedIn.”

In fact, the notion of online monitoring is so strong now that the article openly states that “if you’re not monitoring your competitors activity on social media, you may be missing out on delicious tidbits” and warns that “it’s easy to forget that some may not have your best intersts at heart.

Additionally, while you may not think your posts online give that much away,¬†when your information is aggregated with other peoples posts as well as public information, it’s possible to put together a pretty good sketch¬†of what organizations and individuals are doing.

Forbes lists the following sites as¬†examples of the “Web Spy Manual”¬†with lots of information to pull from: Slideshare, Glassdoor.com, Quora, iSpionage, Youtube as well as job postings and customer support forums.

When you are on your computer in what you believe to be the privacy of your own home, office, or wherever,do not be deceived, when you are logged on, you are basically as open book for all the world to see–good guys and bad guys alike.

(Source Photo: here)