March 8, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
“The people of the earth want peace – the governments want war.” –KTRN
A shocking email leaked as part of the Wikileaks Stratfor data dump reveals that the Pentagon is planning to direct terror attacks and assassinations inside Syria in a bid to topple President President Bashar al-Assad.
The email, written by Reva Bhalla, Stratfor’s Director of Analysis, contains details of a December 6 Pentagon meeting attended by members of the USAF strategic studies group along with four military officers at the Lieutenant Colonel level, “including one French and one British representative.”
Bhalla was told by the military officials that, despite official claims to the contrary, foreign troops from NATO powers were already on the ground in Syria.
“After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces,” states the email.
Bhalla goes on to describe how the mission of the undercover commandoes is hypothetically to “commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces [Assad's support base], elicit collapse from within.”
In other words, the Pentagon, along with other NATO powers, have already directed Special Forces troops stationed inside Syria to carry out terrorist attacks and assassinations in an effort to topple President President Bashar al-Assad.
September 12th, 2011
By: Dan Froomkin
In July, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security quietly scuttled a multi-billion dollar program to install high-tech radiation detectors at the nation’s ports. A top priority of the Bush administration, the advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) devices that the Raytheon Company was being paid to build weren’t just way behind schedule and enormously over budget — they didn’t actually appear to work. The failed project cost taxpayers well over $230 million.
DHS had already pulled the plug on its SBInet program — an effort to build a “virtual fence” of sensors, cameras and radar along the nation’s border — in January, after paying more than $1.1 billion. The Government Accountability Office, among others, had concluded that poor management and an over-reliance on the prime contractor, Boeing, had caused staggering delays and cost overruns while producing inadequate results.
And earlier in July, DHS had scrapped its unfinished and dysfunctional Risk Assessment Management Program, a computer application intended to help officials distribute their small army of private security guards between federal buildings, based on the chances of those buildings becoming terror targets. DHS had already shelled out $35 million over three years for a project that contractor Booz Allen had promised to complete in one year for $21 million. With the program axed, some eight years after DHS was founded, the department still isn’t able to do something as basic as assess which federal buildings are more vulnerable to attack than others.
These are just a few of the most recent — and in these cases, now staunched — examples of how DHS has hemorrhaged money since its creation in 2003.
According to an estimate by Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller and Australian engineer Mark Stewart, the cumulative increase in U.S. domestic homeland security spending since the 9/11 terror attacks totals about $580 billion.
Critics of the department say its poor track record when it comes to the distribution of its considerable funds is directly related to how the department was formed: in a panic, out of a need for a grand political gesture — and without a clear mission.
As Virginia Tech public policy professor Patrick Roberts wrote in the Review of Policy Research in 2005, the creation of DHS was “an example of the triumph of symbolic and distributive policies over more straightforward attempts to address the real problems of homeland security.”
When it was formed, DHS absorbed 22 disparate agencies, cramming them into a single, 230,000-person mega-bureaucracy. Without a clear overall strategy, the grant money DHS was responsible for allocating went out to states regardless of their needs. Huge defense contractors took advantage of the easy funding to pitch untested products.
“It opened a floodgate of money for private industry to sell scanners and other devices,” said Charles Perrow, a Yale sociology professor who has called the creation of DHS “The Disaster After 9/11.”
“A lot of money was kind of thrown at the problem,” said John Gannon, a former deputy director of the CIA who was part of the White House team that launched the department and who now leads BAE Systems’ cybersecurity division.
Gannon blames what he called the “unfocused, unstrategic allocation of funds” on Congress, which he said failed to set a strategy for the department, then provided inadequate oversight. But the department also lacked the personnel to hold its contractors accountable.
“You certainly had an insufficient and an inexperienced contracting team,” said former DHS Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin. “And you certainly had rapacious contractors.”
In 2006, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee identified 32 DHS contracts “collectively worth $34.3 billion that have been plagued by waste, abuse, or mismanagement” during the first five years after 9/11. In 2008, the House Committee on Homeland Security listed $15 billion in failed contracts since the department’s founding.
Stories of smaller-scale DHS excesses have become the stuff of legend. One is the famous terror target list used to allocate DHS grant money. It listed 77,069 sites under possible threat, including the Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo in Woodville, Ala., the Amish Country Popcorn factory in Berne, Ind., and the Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tenn.
The Los Angeles Times reported just last week that DHS grant money is still buying such things as state-of-the-art dive gear, cattle nose leads and electric prods for rural Nebraska counties and a nine-ton BearCat armored tactical assault vehicle for suburban Glendale, Calif.
“[T]he reality is that DHS is a colossal and inefficient boondoggle,” Joan Johnson-Freese and Tom Nichols, both professors at the Naval War College, wrote this week for AOL Defense:
DHS was a panic reaction, a precipitous act by a Bush administration determined to show it was ‘doing something’ about terrorism. The horses had already escaped, but the Bush administration went ahead anyway and bought more land, constructed extra barns, equipped them with state-of-the-art doors, and then hired thousands of conscientious civil servants to slam them shut over and over again, for the rest of eternity.
DHS officials insist that the department is a proven success — and is getting better all the time.
“Over the last year, year and a half, in particular, I think you’ve really begun to see the department begin to gel, in terms of working in a coordinated manner,” said John Cohen, principal deputy counterterrorism coordinator at DHS.
“There are capabilities that now exist across this country that have made this country safer from potential attacks that would not exist without a department of homeland security,” he said.
As for contracting, DHS officials said that Obama appointees have worked hard to improve the department’s acquisition oversight. And Ervin, the former inspector general, among others, gives Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano credit for canceling some projects.
“It’s important to acknowledge when you’re throwing money down a rathole,” Ervin said.
DHS could allocate its counterterrorism dollars more effectively by focusing on the areas of greatest risk — regardless of the political consequences or the desires of powerful lobbyists.
But a 2010 study by the National Academy of Sciences found DHS had paid “little effective attention” to “features of the risk problem that are fundamental.”
“Risk analysis capabilities with regard to areas beyond natural disasters … are not yet adequate for supporting DHS decision-making,” the study concluded.
Mueller, the OSU professor, thinks that’s a serious problem. “You’re dealing with human lives, and if you’re spending money on foolish ways to save lives, and there are known ways to save lives and you’re not spending money on that, then that’s really irresponsible,” he said.
Cohen, the DHS official, disputed the notion that the department doesn’t pay enough attention to risk analysis.
“From my perspective, we leverage assessments of risk in everything we do,” he said. “We are constantly evaluating risk and we do it through multiple entities.”
Perrow, the Yale sociology professor, traces DHS’s problems back to the department’s inception. He argues what was needed after 9/11 in terms of domestic counterterrorism efforts was coordination, not centralization. Relevant federal agencies needed to share information and have clear goals; simply shoving them all together into one agency actually made things worse.
But politicians in Washington “never bought this,” he said, because “they like to be in control.”
“If you have a lot of money involved, you tend not to decentralize,” he said. “You tend to keep control at the top.” DHS may be too big to manage effectively, Perrow said, but that doesn’t mean that its founders consider it a failure.
“If you have that control and hierarchy, then you can channel funding in the most politically productive manner,” he said.
July 25th, 2011
By: Mark Townsend
The man who confessed to killing more than 70 people in a bomb and gun massacre on Friday has claimed he belonged to an organisation with two more cells who remain at large.
At a closed hearing in Oslo, Anders Behring Breivik admitted carrying out the attacks but pleaded not guilty to one of the worst mass killings in peacetime Europe, and told the court he had acted to “save Europe” from Islam.
Breivik, 32, will be detained in complete isolation for four weeks, with no incoming letters or visitors except for his lawyer, while police investigate his claims to have accomplices. Breivik has previously said he acted alone in the attacks.
“The accused has made statements today that require further investigation, including that ‘there are two more cells in our organisation’,” said the judge, Kim Heger, who warned that Breivik could tamper with vital evidence if released. He will be held for at least another month after the court-ordered solitary confinement.
Breivik arrived at court on Monday morning to jeering from a crowd of around 400 people. As a police convoy approached the rear of Oslo’s central court, someone shouted then the crowd surged forward. Bystanders screamed “traitor” and banged on the windows of a police car after one man said he’d spotted Breivik in the back seat.
A local book editor, Marius Wulfsberg, 54, described one bystander pointing at a man in the crowd as Breivik’s vehicle passed. “That man lost three friends on Nyota Island, what do you have to say now? But the man he was pointing at was just standing there, impassive.
“People were angry, shouting, some were hitting the door of the car.”
Just after 1.40pm local time, Breivik was hustled into an underground tunnel that led into the basement and then taken up to courtroom 828, on the 8th floor.
The hearing was ordered to be held behind closed doors after the judge was informed of last-minute police concerns.
Outside the sealed courtroom, reporters waited in vain for a glimpse of Breivik, who had initially requested to appear in court in uniform, and asked for time to explain his actions.
Normally such a hearing would be held in open court, but many in Norway had argued that Breivik should not be given a platform to justify the killings.
Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said his client had admitted to the attacks but denied any criminal guilt.
The court acknowledged the need for transparency in the case, but after a 35-minute hearing, Judge Heger said an open hearing would not be possible “for practical reasons.”
“It is clear that there is concrete information that a public hearing with the suspect present could quickly lead to an extraordinary and very difficult situation in terms of the investigation and security,” he said.
Police had earlier put the death toll at more than 90 but on Monday they revised the figure for the youth camp massacre down to 68, with at least seven killed in the bombing.
Earlier, a minute’s silence brought Oslo to a standstill as thousands flocked to pay tribute outside the cathedral. More than 10 minutes later, thousands were still standing while others converged upon the vast field of flowers that has steadily grown in the heart of Oslo since Breivik struck.
The flag on the courthouse remained at half mast.
Meanwhile, the search for victims continued. Police have not released the names of the dead, but Norway’s royal court said on Monday that those killed at the island retreat included Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s stepbrother, an off-duty police officer, who was working there as a security guard.
In an interview with the Swedish tabloid Expressen, Breivik’s father said he was disgusted by his son’s acts and wished he had committed suicide.
“I don’t feel like his father,” said the former diplomat Jens David Breivik. “How could he just stand there and kill so many innocent people and just seem to think that what he did was OK? He should have taken his own life too. That’s what he should have done.”
May 6, 2011
Donald Trump didn’t appear to have many fans at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday.
The Wrap reports that the media mogul was greeted by a round of “boos” upon his arrival to Washington’s Hilton Hotel with his wife, Melania:
After giving a brief interview with a group of several of media outlets, Trump — who was invited to the event as a guest of the Washington Post — walked away to a chorus of audible boos from the media members on the press line. (And it wasn’t because they wanted to hear Trump talk more.)
While waiting in line on the red carpet, Trump told the Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire that he wouldn’t be afraid to give President Barack Obama a piece of his mind that evening, should the two have a chance to speak. “He’s gotta get tough with all the nations that are ripping off the U.S.,” such as China, he told the Journal he would say to the president.
Trump has been no stranger to the press in recent weeks. On Tuesday he took credit for the release of Obama’s birth certificate, saying the disclosure made him “proud” and “honored to play such a big role” in its release, but that “I want to look at it” before confirming its authenticity.
Later, at an event Thursday in Las Vegas, he again made headlines for calling America’s leaders “stupid” and declaring the United States was “not a great country” before erupting in a chorus of curses.
While Trump has yet to confirm his widely-speculated presidential candidacy, during the same Las Vegas appearance he responded to a supporter’s cries of “run for president!” by replying, “I think I’m going to make you very happy on that.”
May 2, 2011
By Kimberly Dozier & David Espo
WASHINGTON – Declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden “a good day for America,” President Barack Obama said Monday the world was safer without the al-Qaida terrorist and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His administration used DNA testing to help confirm that American forces in Pakistan had in fact killed bin Laden, as U.S. officials sought to erase all doubt.
“Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama said. He hailed the pride of those who broke out in overnight celebrations as the stunning news spread around the globe.
An elite crews of American forces killed bin Laden during a daring raid on Monday. Bin Laden was shot in the head during a firefight and then quickly buried at sea. White House officials were mulling the merits and appropriateness of releasing a photo.
As spontaneous celebrations and expressions of relief gave way to questions about precisely what happened and what comes next, U.S. officials warned that the campaign against terrorism is not nearly over — and that the threat of retaliation was real.
Senior administration officials said the DNA testing alone offered near 100 percent certainty that bin Laden was in fact shot dead. Detailed photo analysis by the CIA, confirmation by a woman believed to be bin Laden’s wife on site, and matching physical features like bin Laden’s height all helped confirmed the identification.
December 8th, 2010
By: Stephen A. Webster
MasterCard Worldwide confirmed on Wednesday morning that the “MasterCard Directory Server” had gone down and that cardholders were experiencing service interruptions. The revelation was made as a massive denial of service attack was staged against MasterCard, ostensibly for refusing further payments to secrets outlet WikiLeaks.
“Please be advised that MasterCard SecureCode Support has detected a service disruption to the MasterCard Directory Server,” MasterCard said. “The Directory Server service has been failed over to a secondary site however customers may still be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. More information on the estimated time of recovery will be shared in due course.”
Yesterday, MasterCard Worldwide became the latest financial institution to face the wrath of online hackers acting to avenge secrets outlet WikiLeaks over the credit card provider’s declaration that the site was engaged in “illegal” activities.
Not 36 hours after MasterCard froze payments to WikiLeaks, their website was down as hackers with the group “Anonymous” launched a new wave of cyberattacks. The company said its customers could still use their credit cards for purchases, but the PayPoint retail network told a BBC reporter that MasterCard’s “SecureCode” service had been taken down, interrupting service all over.
The hackers also claimed responsibility for taking down the website for Swiss bank PostFinance, after it froze an account with over €31,000 set aside for site founder Julian Assange’s legal defense.
Assange was arrested in London yesterday on an Interpol warrant out of Sweden, where he’s wanted for questioning in an investigation of sexual assault.
“Anonymous” has dubbed their cyber warfare campaign “Operation Payback,” threatening to “fire” on any entity that attempts to censor WikiLeaks.
Service to mastercard.com was unavailable at time of this writing. The website for the Swedish prosecutor’s office was also offline, as was a site for the lawyer representing Assange’s accusers.
Secure Computing Magazine called what’s happening “an all-out cyber war,” noting that massive botnets were attacking each other by mid-Wednesday morning as even the ‘Anonymous’ group had come under fire from another group of hackers that sought to defend US interests. That group, which was successful in taking WikiLeaks offline in late November, was also thought to be behind attacks on the ‘Anonymous’ website, anonops.net, which was still online at time of this writing.
A “botnet” is Internet slang for a massive shadow network of computers that have been unknowingly hijacked by malicious software. They are typically used for nefarious purposes, such as distributed denial of service attacks.
Credit card processor Visa also suspended payments to WikiLeaks on Tuesday morning, but its website was functional at time of this story’s publication. It too was expected to come under denial of service attacks.
“Operation Payback” also promised to attack PayPal, the online payment service that last week cut off WikiLeaks and froze over $60,000 in electronic donations, but their site was still online Wednesday morning. Topics trending on Twitter suggested an attack may also target the micro-blogging site.
Others to suffer downtime this week include PayPal’s blog, EveryDNS — the domain name service provider that pulled WikiLeaks off it’s .org address — and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) .gov website. Lieberman’s staff was responsible for prompting Amazon.com to take WikiLeaks off its US-based cloud servers.
Researchers with Panda Security have been tracking the wave of attacks, blow-for-blow.
In recent days, the online to-do over WikiLeaks has been called the world’s “first serious infowar” and a “war for control of the Internet.”
“What is this all about? And what does it have to do with censorship and Operation Payback?” ‘Anonymous’ asks on their website.
“While we don’t have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same reasons. We want transparency and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we can not say what we think and are unable to express our opinions and ideas.
“We can not let this happen. This is why our intention is to find out who is responsible for this failed attempt at censorship. This is why we intend to utilize our resources to raise awareness, attack those against and support those who are helping lead our world to freedom and democracy.”
December 8th, 2010
By: Julian Assange
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.
IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.
These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.
WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?
Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.
People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.
If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.
And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.
Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.
We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.
Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?
It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:
► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.
► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran’s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
► Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.
► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
October 19th, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Low vitamin D levels may make asthmatic children significantly more likely to suffer from severe attacks, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.
The researchers took blood samples from 1,024 children with mild-to-moderate asthma who were enrolled in a study of two inhaled asthma drugs, budesonide and nedocromil. The children were then followed for four years.
For the purposes of the study, vitamin D insufficiency was defined as a blood level less than or equal to 30 nanograms per milliliter. Although it currently takes levels lower than 11 nanograms per milliliter to be classified as a deficiency, doctors increasingly believe that levels of 30 nanograms per milliliter or higher are required for optimal health.
The researchers found that children with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly more likely to suffer from severe asthma attacks than children with higher levels of the vitamin. During the course of the study, 38 percent of vitamin D-insufficient children had to be hospitalized at least once due to an asthma attack, compared with only 32 percent of vitamin-sufficient children.
Vitamin D did not appear to protect children from moderate asthma symptoms; in fact, lower vitamin levels appeared to be correlated with a slightly lower risk of moderate symptoms. The researchers were unable to explain this effect.
Scientists have long known that vitamin D plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. More recently, they have discovered that the vitamin plays a vital role in regulating the immune system, and that low levels may increase the risk of allergies, infection, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and heart disease.
The researchers in the current study suggested that the vitamin may help regulate the body’s inflammatory response, perhaps even by enhancing the potency of anti-inflammatory hormones. They found that vitamin D appeared to be more protective among participants who were taking budesonide, a synthetic anti-inflammatory hormone.
October 18th, 2010
By: Sharon Weinberger
Worried about e-mails that appear to be from your bank but could well be part of a phishing scam? That may soon be the least of your problems. With concerns about cyberattacks on the rise, computer security experts are looking ahead to what they think might be the next wave of attacks.
What they find is that everything from your car to your computer webcam is vulnerable to attack. Here are five new types of attacks:
1) Social Network Attacks: Malware that steals your e-mail contacts, passwords and other personal information is old news. But a new technical paper by a group of Israeli researchers says the cybersecurity community is ignoring a new, more insidious type of attack: one that preys on your entire social network, working to slowly pilfer information about your behavior and life.
Dubbed “stealing reality,” these types of attacks, the researchers argue, are more insidious because the “victim of a ‘behavioral pattern’ theft cannot easily change her behavior and life patterns.”
“Most likely those attacks are currently happening,” lead author Yaniv Altshuler, a research scientist at Ben Gurion University, told AOL News.
Altshuler says the market for this sort of information already exists. “And If there is a buyer, there is a seller,” he added.
2) Attacks on Cars: Today’s automobiles often come equipped with the equivalent of advanced computer systems, which means that like your home computer, they could be vulnerable to attack. In a new paper, researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, say they have demonstrated “the ability to adversarially control a wide range of automotive functions and completely ignore driver input — including disabling the brakes, selectively braking individual wheels on demand, stopping the engine, and so on.”
Everything from your car’s wireless tire-pressure sensors to its stolen-vehicle tracking and recovery system provides opportunities for hackers to gain control of your vehicle without you even knowing.
3) Medical Devices: Today, wireless pacemakers can send your doctor or hospital real-time data on your heart, showing just how far medical devices have come with the help of modern electronics. But with that new technology comes a new threat: the possibility of someone hacking into your medical device or injecting malicious code that disrupts the lifesaving device. Prosthetic limbs, wireless pacemakers and other implantable medical devices might all be at risk.
“This is very real — the bad guys would buy the pieces and just work on them a little bit,” Greg Hoglund, who heads HBGary, a computer security company, told an audience earlier this year at a Northern California Hospital Cyberterrorism Seminar. “It’s amazing someone hasn’t pulled this off yet.”
4) Hacking Your Webcam: Watch out for the light on your computer that shows the webcam is on, even after you think you’ve turned it off. It could be a Trojan computer program operating the camera, taking pictures or even video, and sending it over the Internet without your knowledge. For those who leave their laptops on and open, that’s the equivalent of having Big Brother in your bedroom or office without you knowing.
There are already cases of this happening, for example, in Germany. “A man has been arrested for spying on more than 150 girls in their bedrooms by hacking into their computers and using their webcams to watch them, provoking warnings that others will be doing the same thing,” DPA, the German press agency, reported earlier this year.
5) Smart Phone Attacks: Most consumers worried about cyberattacks associate the threat with their home PCs or laptops. So they often think nothing of downloading applications to their smart phones, which often contain just as much personal information as their home computers.
“Nobody’s making money at the moment with mobile security,” said Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer of Finland’s F-Secure, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “But all the players assume that sooner or later we will see a major outbreak or some other major event that will change the situation forever.”
August 25, 2010
by Greg Miller & Peter Finn
For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA analysts see one of al-Qaeda’s offshoots – rather than the core group now based in Pakistan – as the most urgent threat to U.S. security, officials said.
The sober new assessment of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there – including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes, the officials said.
“We are looking to draw on all of the capabilities at our disposal,” said a senior Obama administration official, who described plans for “a ramp-up over a period of months.”
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, stressed that that analysts continue to see al-Qaeda and its allies in the tribal areas of Pakistan as supremely dangerous adversaries. The officials insisted there would be no letup in their pursuit of Osama bin Laden and other senior figures thought to be hiding in Pakistan.
Indeed, officials said it was largely because al-Qaeda has been decimated by Predator strikes in Pakistan that the franchise in Yemen has emerged as a more potent threat. A CIA strike killed a group of al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen in 2002, but officials said the agency has not had that capability on the peninsula for several years.
“We see al-Qaeda as having suffered major losses, unable to replenish ranks and recover at a pace that would keep them on offense,” said a senior U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s assessments.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as its Yemen-based group is called, is “on the upswing,” the official said. “The relative concern ratios are changing. We’re more concerned now about AQAP than we were before.”
Al-Qaeda in Yemen is seen as more agile and aggressive, officials said. It took the group just a few months to set in motion a plot that succeeded in getting an alleged suicide bomber aboard a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
More important, officials cited the role of Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American-born cleric whose command of English and militant ambition have helped transform the Yemen organization into a transnational threat.
Philip Mudd, a former senior official at the CIA and the FBI, argues in a forthcoming article that the threat of a Sept. 11-style attack has been supplanted by a proliferation of plots by AQAP and other affiliates. “The sheer numbers . . . suggest that one of the plots in the United States will succeed,” he writes in the latest issue of CTC Sentinel, a publication of the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. In the future, he said, “the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region will not be the sole, or even primary, source of bombing suspects.”
U.S. officials said the administration’s plans to escalate operations in Yemen reflect two aims: improving U.S. intelligence in Yemen and adding new options for carrying out strikes when a target is found.
The CIA has roughly 10 times more people and resources in Pakistan than it does in Yemen. There is no plan to scale back in Pakistan, but officials said the gap is expected to shrink.
Details of the plans to expand operations in Yemen have been discussed in recent weeks among deputies on the National Security Council at the White House, officials said. According to one participant, the talks are not about whether the CIA should replace the U.S. military in its leading operational role in Yemen, but “what’s the proper mix.”
Although the CIA has expanded the number of case officers collecting intelligence in Yemen over the past year, officials said the agency has not deployed Predator drones or other means of carrying out lethal strikes.
Instead, attacks over the past eight months have been the result of secret military collaboration between Yemen and the United States.
U.S. Special Operations troops have helped train Yemeni forces and helped them to execute raids. A senior U.S. military official said the United States has not used armed drones in Yemen, mainly because they are more urgently needed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, intermittent strikes on al-Qaeda targets have involved cruise missiles and other weapon that are less precise.
An airstrike on a suspected gathering of al-Qaeda operatives in Marib province on May 25 involved a cruise missile launched from a U.S. naval vessel. Among those killed was the deputy governor in the province, who was reportedly seeking to persuade the militants to give up their arms. The human rights group Amnesty International later said it found evidence that U.S. cluster munitions were used in the attack.
Proponents of expanding the CIA’s role argue that years of flying armed drones over Pakistan have given the agency expertise in identifying targets and delivering pinpoint strikes. The agency’s attacks also leave fewer telltale signs.
“You’re not going to find bomb parts with USA markings on them,” the senior U.S. official said. Even so, the official said, the administration is considering sending CIA drones to the Arabian Peninsula “not because they require the deniability but because they desire the capability.”
A senior Yemeni official indicated that the government would not welcome CIA drones. “I don’t think we will ever consider it,” the official said. “The situation in Yemen is different than in Afghanistan or Pakistan. It is still under control.”
Introducing a covert CIA capability might also improve the U.S. ability to carry out attacks – perhaps from a U.S. base in Djibouti – if the Yemeni government were to curtail its cooperation.
That relationship is “in as positive a place as we’ve been for some time,” the senior administration official said. But, he added, “we always have to be in a position where we are able to protect our own interests should that be necessary.”
The concern about al-Qaeda in Yemen is remarkable considering that the group was all but stamped out on the peninsula just a few years ago and is known more for near-misses than successful, spectacular attacks.
Indeed, some government intelligence analysts outside the CIA argued that it would be wrong to conclude that al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has eclipsed the organization’s core.
“We still do view al-Qaeda core as they view themselves,” a senior U.S. counterterrorism analyst said, “which is the vanguard of the jihad, providing a lot of global direction and guidance.”
Even under constant pressure from Predator attacks, al-Qaeda has proven remarkably resilient. Officials also stressed that it is surrounded by other militant groups in Pakistan that share its violent aims.
The U.S. citizen who planted a failed bomb at Times Square earlier this year, for example, said he had been trained by the Pakistani Taliban.
But concern about AQAP has risen sharply in the aftermath of the failed Christmas Day attack.
U.S. officials cited recent indications that AQAP has shared its chemical bomb-making technology with other militant organizations, including Somalia-based al-Shabab.
Because Yemen is an Arab country and the ancestral home of bin Laden, some analysts fear that it could be more difficult to dislodge al-Qaeda there than in Pakistan.
Officials acknowledged that since a military strike missed Aulaqi in December, they have had few clues on his whereabouts. Aulaqi has been linked to three plots in the United States, and his presence has further radicalized his peers.
“The other leaders of AQAP are predominantly Yemenis and Saudis, and their worldview and focus is on the peninsula,” said the senior U.S. counterterrorism official. Aulaqi “brings a world view and focus that brings it back here to the U.S. homeland.”