United States

White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap 232

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can-breathe-there's-a-security-gap dept.
HughPickens.com writes The Washington Post reports that the intrusion by a recreational drone onto the White House lawn has exposed a security gap at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years studying but has so far been unable to fix. Commercial technology is available that can use a combination of sensitive radar and acoustic trackers to detect small drones, though coming up with an effective way to stop them has been more elusive. "To do something about the problem, you have to find it, you have to track it, you have to identify it and you have to decide what to do with it," says Frederick F. Roggero. "But especially in an urban environment, it would be tough to detect and tough to defeat kinetically without shooting it down and causing collateral damage." Most recreational drones, like the one that crashed Monday, weigh only a few pounds and lack the power to do much harm. Larger models that can carry payloads of up to 30 pounds are available on the market and are expected to become more common. The FAA imposes strict safety regulations on drones flown by government agencies or anyone who operates them for commercial purposes. In contrast, hardly any rules apply to people who fly drones as a hobby, other than FAA guidelines that advise them to keep the aircraft below 400 feet and five miles from an airport. "With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington," says Senator Charles Schumer. "There is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed."
United States

Plan C: The Cold War Plan Which Would Have Brought the US Under Martial Law 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the gentlemen-you-can't-fight-in-here-this-is-the-war-room dept.
v3rgEz writes with this story of a top secret Cold War plan which would have brought the U.S. under martial law. Starting on April 19, 1956, the federal government practiced and planned for a near-doomsday scenario known as Plan C. When activated, Plan C would have brought the United States under martial law, rounded up over ten thousand individuals connected to 'subversive' organizations, implemented a censorship board, and prepared the country for life after nuclear attack. There was no Plan A or B....Details of this program were distributed to each FBI field office. Over the following months and years, Plan C would be adjusted as drills and meetings found holes in the defensive strategy: Communications were more closely held, authority was apparently more dispersed, and certain segments of the government, such as the U.S. Attorneys, had trouble actually delineating who was responsible for what. Bureau employees were encouraged to prepare their families for the worst, but had to keep secret the more in-depth plans for what the government would do if war did break out. Families were given a phone number and city for where the relocated agency locations would be, but not the exact location.
Government

SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute 80

Posted by timothy
from the show-elon-what-you're-wearing dept.
hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.
Earth

Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57 215

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.
United States

Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport 110

Posted by timothy
from the don't-expect-luggage-to-arrive dept.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that "Credible" bomb threats were made Saturday against two flights bound for Atlanta, an airport spokesman said. The flights landed safely after being escorted into Atlanta by military fighter jets. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCrainie told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 3 p.m. that both flights — Delta 1156 and Southwest 2492 — had landed and were sitting on a taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police Bomb Squad. ... Witnesses reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles on the tarmac, and the Federal Aviation Administration said just before 3 p.m. that departing flights were experiencing gate holds and delays of up to 30 minutes due to a bomb threat. USA Today says that the flights were on their way to Atlanta from, respectively, Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, and adds that "NORAD Media Relations Specialist Preston Schlachter confirmed that two F-16 jets launched from McIntire Air Force Base in South Carolina as a precautionary measure."
Earth

Doomsday Clock Could Move 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the closer-to-midnight dept.
Lasrick writes The ominous minute hand of the 'Doomsday Clock' has been fixed at 5 minutes to midnight for the past three years. But it could move tomorrow. The clock is a visual metaphor that was created nearly 70 years ago by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, whose Board of Governors boasts 18 Nobel laureates. Each year, the Bulletin's Science and Security Board assesses threats to humanity — with special attention to nuclear warheads and climate change — to decide whether the Doomsday Clock needs an adjustment. The event will be streamed live from the Bulletin's website at 11 am EST.
Robotics

DARPA Wants Atlas Robot To Go Wireless 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-mobility-to-kill-all-humans dept.
mikejuk writes: Atlas is a humanoid robot, one of the most advanced in the world. But it's always had cables that provided it with power and made it look a little like a dog on a leash. It was designed to provide a hardware platform for teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a competition designed to encourage the construction of an effective disaster response robot. DARPA now says the finals of the challenge later in the year will require that the robots be completely wireless.

Power will be supplied by an onboard 3.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That battery will drive a variable-pressure pump which operates all of the hydraulic systems. The pump makes ATLAS much quieter, but introduces a complication for the teams: it can be run at low pressure to save power and then switched to high pressure to get harder work done. Managing power consumption will be a very difficult task, but DARPA has also upped the prize money to $3.5 million in total.
Power

Paris Terror Spurs Plan For Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-no-toothpaste-allowed dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Bloomberg: Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month's Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.

"There's a legal void that needs to be plugged," said Claude de Ganay, the opposition member of the National Assembly spearheading legislation to be considered by parliament on Feb. 5. The proposals would classify atomic energy sites as "highly sensitive military zones" under the control of the Ministry of Defense, according to an outline provided by de Ganay.
Build

Local Hackerspace Loses Solar Balloon, Creating Another UFO In New Mexico 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the states-obsessed-with-aliens,-illegal-and-otherwise dept.
bugnuts writes: Local Albuquerque, New Mexico Hackerspace Quelab created and unintentionally launched a solar-powered tetroon over the city, prompting several calls to the FAA, Kirtland Air Force Base, and news organizations, describing it as a "floating tortilla chip." The tetroon allows sunlight to pass through the top layer, heating the inner black layers, creating a hot-air balloon as the interior gas expands. Besides the well-known "Roswell" incident, New Mexico often has many UFO sightings due to the prevalence of technology and military groups, good weather, and clear skies.
The Military

US Army Wants Weapon To Destroy Drone Swarms 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-considered-sending-jedi-after-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. military loves to use drones against enemies who have no defense against them: think terrorist cells, ISIS/IS/ISIL, the Taliban etc. However, drones are getting cheaper to make, easier to use, and more technologically sophisticated. The day is coming when U.S. military planners will have to defend against drones. And they may have to fight off lots of them.

They already seem to have some ideas — their research proposal says such an anti-drone weapon would "disrupt these platforms' autonomous flight-control and navigation capabilities or cueing a weapons system like the Remotely-Operated Weapon Station (RWS) or other medium or large-caliber weapon." The system would be mounted on vehicles or at Army installations. More interesting, the Army proposal also notes that it might be mounted on UAVs, which raises the possibility of using drones to shoot down other drones.
Privacy

Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes 290

Posted by timothy
from the shoot-anything-that-looks-like-a-blob dept.
mi writes At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.
Government

NSA Hack of N. Korea Convinced Obama NK Was Behind Sony Hack 181

Posted by timothy
from the that's-how-clever-it-was dept.
Mike Lape links to a NYTimes piece which says "The evidence gathered by the 'early warning radar' of software painstakingly hidden to monitor North Korea's activities proved critical in persuading President Obama to accuse the government of Kim Jong-un of ordering the Sony attack, according to the officials and experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified N.S.A. operation." From the linked article: For about a decade, the United States has implanted “beacons,” which can map a computer network, along with surveillance software and occasionally even destructive malware in the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The government spends billions of dollars on the technology, which was crucial to the American and Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, and documents previously disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former security agency contractor, demonstrated how widely they have been deployed against China. ... The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system also raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie “The Interview,” a crude comedy about a C.I.A. plot to assassinate the North’s leader, would be “an act of war.”
Government

NSA Prepares For Future Techno-Battles By Plotting Network Takedowns 81

Posted by timothy
from the your-friends-and-mine dept.
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money. Also check out — New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world.
Privacy

Being Pestered By Drones? Buy a Drone-Hunting Drone 151

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-also-want-a-drone-hunting-drone-hunting-drone dept.
schwit1 writes, "Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses 'tangle-lines' to quickly down its prey." From The Telegraph's article: It has been designed to be faster and more agile than other drones to ensure that they can't escape - partly by limiting flight time and therefore reducing weight. “Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we've collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it's inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it,” the group say on their website. This seems more efficient than going after those pesky paparazzi drones with fighting kites (video), but it should also inspire some skepticism: CNET notes that the team behind it is anonymous, and that "Rapere works in a lab setting, however there aren't any photos or videos of the killer drone in action. The website instead has only a slideshow of the concept."
Encryption

US/UK Will Stage 'Cyber-Attack War Games' As Pressure Against Encryption Mounts 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-you-want-to-play-a-game? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: British prime minister David Cameron is currently visiting Washington to discuss the future of cyber-security in Britain and North America. The leaders have announced that their respective intelligence agencies will mount ongoing cyber-attack "war games" starting this summer in an effort to strengthen the West's tarnished reputation following the Sony hacking scandal. Somewhat relatedly, a recently-leaked Edward Snowden document show the NSA giving dire warnings in 2009 of the threat posed by the lack of encrypted communications on the internet.
News

Belgian Raid Kills 2, Said To Avert "Major Terrorist Attacks" 257

Posted by timothy
from the knock-knock dept.
As reported by CNN, Reuters, and other outlets, a raid in the Belgian city of Verviers -- one of several counter-terrorism actions in the country today -- ended in the death of two men, and the capture of a third, who are said to have been planning imminent acts of violence akin to the ones earlier this month in France. From Reuters' coverage: Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, the incident heightened fears across Europe of young local Muslims returning radicalised from Syria. But prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said the Belgian probe had been under way before the Jan. 7 attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. ... Describing events in the quiet provincial town just after dark, he said: "The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised." ... Earlier in the day, prosecutors said they had detained a man in southern Belgium whom they suspected of supplying weaponry to Amedy Coulibaly, killer of four people at a Paris Jewish grocery after the Charlie Hebdo attack. After the violence in Verviers, La Meuse newspaper quoted an unidentified police officer saying: "We've averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo."
United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Says Gov't Should Be Capable of Reading Any Communications 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-security-v-freedom dept.
Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to introduce a "comprehensive piece of legislation" aimed at there being no "means of communication ... we cannot read," in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. While he didn't mention encryption specifically, the only logical means by which this could occur would be by the introduction of compulsory key escrow, and the banning of forms of encryption which do not use it. While the UK already essentially has a legal means to demand your encryption keys (and imprison you indefinitely if you don't comply), this would fall short if you have a credible reason for not having the key any more (such as using an OTR plugin for your chosen chat program).

The U.S. tried a similar tack with Clipper in the 90s. As we all know, terrorists with any technical chops are unlikely to be affected, given the vast amount of freely available, military-grade crypto now available, and the use of boring old cold war tradecraft. Ironically, France used to ban the use of strong cryptography but has largely liberalized its regime since 2011.
Twitter

US Central Command's Twitter Account Hacked, Filled With Pro-ISIS Messages 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
schwit1 writes with news that U.S. Central Command lost control of its Twitter account today, apparently to people sympathetic to the Islamic State militant group. CENTCOM's YouTube account was also compromised, and two videos related to ISIS were posted. Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the hacking was an embarrassment but did not appear to be a security threat. ... "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad," the Centcom Twitter feed said after being hacked. The Twitter feed had several messages from hackers, including one telling American soldiers to "watch your back," and the YouTube account had two videos that appeared to be linked to Islamic State. The Twitter account published a list of generals and addresses associated with them, titled "Army General Officer Public Roster (by rank) 2 January 2014."
United States

What's Wrong With the Manhattan Project National Park 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the brotherhood-of-steel-approved dept.
Lasrick writes Dawn Stover describes the radioactive dirt behind the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, from its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (the park legislation wouldn't pass otherwise) and lack of funding for national parks in general to the lack of funding for cleanup at Superfund nuclear sites like Hanford. And then there is how the Parks Service is presenting exhibits: at least some of them are described in the past tense, as if nuclear weapons were a thing of the past. Here's the description of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota: "Nuclear war loomed as an apocalyptic shadow that could possibly have brought human history to an end." Can the National Park Service be ignorant of the fact that missiles remain on station, nuclear weapons are still being stockpiled, and saber rattling did not end with the fall of the Berlin Wall?"
Government

Report: DHS Failing On Cybersecurity 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-be-fair-cyberthreats-can't-hide-in-a-tube-of-toothpaste dept.
chicksdaddy writes: It's always interesting to listen to what politicians say on their way out of office — after the pressure to get re-elected and say "on message" has been lifted. Eisenhower's historic farewell address in 1961 warned Americans about the influence of the Military-Industrial Complex. Twenty years later, Jimmy Carter warned of the distorting influence of "single-issue groups and special interest organizations" on the political process. And, this week, outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) used his final days in office to issue a blistering report on the Department of Homeland Security. Coburn argued that DHS was failing on each of its five, critical missions, among them: cyber security.

The report, "A Review of the Department of Homeland Security's Missions and Performance (PDF)," was released on Saturday. In it, the outgoing Senator said that DHS's strategy and programs "are unlikely to protect us from the adversaries that pose the greatest cybersecurity threat."

Despite spending $700 million annually on a range of cybersecurity programs, Coburn said it is hard to know whether the Department's efforts to assist the private sector in identifying, mitigating or remediating cyber incidents provide "significant value" or are worth the expense. DHS programs are still heavily weighted towards software vulnerability mitigation, Coburn says, an activity that "will not protect the nation from the most sophisticated attacks and cybersecurity threats."