Lot of ground to cover, with major disruptions in Hong Kong after the jump, plus much more.
We begin with the greatest bomb threast to global civilization, the debt bomb, via the Guardian:
Record world debt could trigger new financial crisis, Geneva report warns
- Concerted effort required to tackle economic woes as slow growth and low inflation cause global debts to balloon
Global debts have reached a record high despite efforts by governments to reduce public and private borrowing, according to a report that warns the “poisonous combination” of spiralling debts and low growth could trigger another crisis.
Modest falls in household debt in the UK and the rest of Europe have been offset by a credit binge in Asia that has pushed global private and public debt to a new high in the past year, according to the 16th annual Geneva report.
The total burden of world debt, excluding the financial sector, has risen from 180% of global output in 2008 to 212% last year, according to the report.
From the New York Times, spy anxiety:
Spy Agencies Urge Caution on Phone Deal
An obscure federal contract for a company charged with routing millions of phone calls and text messages in the United States has prompted an unusual lobbying battle in which intelligence officials are arguing that the nation’s surveillance secrets could be at risk.
The contractor that wins the bid would essentially act as the air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system, which is run by private companies but is essentially overseen by the government.
And with a European-based company now favored for the job, some current and former intelligence officials — who normally stay out of the business of awarding federal contracts — say they are concerned that the government’s ability to trace reams of phone data used in terrorism and law enforcement investigations could be hindered.
On to the other bomb-athon, with The Hill leading the way:
Rogers: Intel officials warned Obama about ISIS ‘for over a year’
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the intelligence community had warned President Obama about the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria for “over a year.”
“This was not an Intelligence Community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat,” Rogers said in a statement Monday.
His statement comes after the president said that intelligence officers had underestimated ISIS in an interview that aired on “60 Minutes” Sunday.
RT covers an unfolding scenario:
ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued
Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front has issued a new threatening audio message featuring its leader warning the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions. The Syrian group is reportedly now joining up with the estranged Islamic State militants.
The leader of Syria’s most prominent terrorist group, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in denouncing the US-led air strike campaign, has urged Westerners everywhere to do the same “by standing against the decisions of your rulers,” otherwise bloodshed would be brought to their soil.
“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Reuters cited him as saying. He threatened viewers that the fight would be brought “to the hearts of your homes.”
Der Spiegel covers reconsideration:
The Caliphate Next Door: Turkey Faces Up to its Islamic State Problem
- For years, Ankara has been tolerating the rise of the extremist Islamic State. But now that the jihadists are conquering regions just across the border in northern Syria, concern is growing that Islamist terror could threaten Turkey too.
The country has been strangely reserved when it comes to dealing with the Islamic State. It is the neighboring country that is perhaps most threatened by the jihadist fighters, but it has refrained thus far from joining US President Barack Obama’s anti-terror coalition, even if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly hinted over the weekend that it might do so soon. When it comes to combatting the Islamic State and putting an end to the Syrian civil war, Turkey has a key role to play.
The government in Ankara had justified its hesitancy by pointing to the dozens of Turkish diplomats taken hostage by the Islamic State in Mosul. Now that they have been released, however, all eyes are on Turkey to see what responsibilities it might take on. On the way back to Turkey from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan told reporters that his country is now prepared to join the coalition. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Istanbul on Sunday he added, in reference to the fight against the Islamic State: “We cannot stay out of this.”
From the US perspective, Turkey has often been a difficult partner. Still, after the civil war in Syria began, the two countries expanded cooperation, with American intelligence agencies operating centers in southern Turkey and delivering information about intercepted extremist communications to their Turkish counterparts in near real time.
News Corp Australia covers collateral damage:
Office fitout company ISIS Group Australia considers name change after staff abused as ‘terrorists’
A NATIONAL construction company could be forced to change its name of 25 years because staff members are being abused as “terrorists”.
ISIS Group Australia — an Australian company that has specialised in commercial office fit-outs and refurbishments since 1989 — has been forced to scale back signage on worksites and asked workers to not wear uniforms branded with the company name.
It comes as a Sydney family has been urged to change the name of their eight-year-old girl, whose name is Isis.
In recent weeks, site workers have been abused as “terrorists” by passers-by and angry messages have been left on the company’s office line.
Salon poses allegations:
Glenn Greenwald: U.S. manufactured militant threat as pretext to bomb Syria
- In an extensive new report, The Intercept questions whether the much-hyped Khorasan Group actually exists
Until the Obama administration announced last week that it was launching air strikes in Syria to target the Islamic State (ISIS) and an al-Qaida affiliate called the Khorasan Group, most Americans had never heard of the latter organization.
That’s because the U.S. government invented the threat, the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain charge. In an extensive new report, the journalists document a carefully orchestrated campaign by U.S. officials to depict an imminent threat of terror attacks by Khorasan against U.S. targets. Media outlets suddenly zeroed in on Khorasan, hyping the alleged threat the group could pose, Greenwald and Hussain write.
Claims that Khorasan planned to launch attacks on the U.S. came from anonymous officials who provided thin evidence that any such plans were at risk of being carried out. But, Greenwald and Hussain contend, “American media outlets – eager, as always, to justify Americans wars – spewed all of this with very little skepticism.”
Greenwald’s report is here.
Well-grounded boots from the Los Angeles Times:
U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan after historic transfer of power
Afghanistan’s new government plans to sign a strategic agreement Tuesday with the United States that would allow for approximately 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the U.S.-led NATO coalition’s mandate expires in December.
U.S. officials say the extended troop presence is needed to continue training Afghanistan’s 350,000 soldiers and police, and to conduct counter-terrorism operations.
The pact – which outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to sign in his final months in office, fueling tensions with Washington – is expected to be signed by U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and a senior member of the Afghan government.
International Business Times casts a pall:
US Troops In Afghanistan Could Lose Combat Role, Face Bigger Risk From Taliban Attacks
Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the new president of Afghanistan Monday, clearing the path for a bilateral security agreement that will allow nearly 10,000 U.S. military personnel to stay in the country beyond the end of 2014. The agreement will see U.S. military personnel deployed as advisers to train and equip Afghan security forces, with U.S. special-operations personnel for anti-terrorism missions against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
While the new role puts an end to regular combat missions for the U.S. military, the reduced number of overall personnel may leave the force more exposed.
“In terms of the protection issues, this was a concern of the vice president who wanted the zero personnel option, but Obama disagreed,” said Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Vice President Biden’s “main concern was that as U.S. forces decrease, they will become more susceptible to being attacked.”
From the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, with the documents at the link:
New Documents Shed Light on One of the NSA’s Most Powerful Tools
Today, we’re releasing several key documents about Executive Order 12333 that we obtained from the government in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that the ACLU filed (along with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School) just before the first revelations of Edward Snowden. The documents are from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and others agencies. They confirm that the order, although not the focus of the public debate, actually governs most of the NSA’s spying.
In some ways, this is not surprising. After all, it has been reported that some of the NSA’s biggest spying programs rely on the executive order, such as the NSA’s interception of internet traffic between Google’s and Yahoo!’s data centers abroad, the collection of millions of email and instant-message address books, the recording of the contents of every phone call made in at least two countries, and the mass cellphone location-tracking program. In other ways, however, it is surprising. Congress’s reform efforts have not addressed the executive order, and the bulk of the government’s disclosures in response to the Snowden revelations have conspicuously ignored the NSA’s extensive mandate under EO 12333.
The order, issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, imposes the sole constraints on U.S. surveillance on foreign soil that targets foreigners. There’s been some speculation, too, that the government relies directly on the order — as opposed to its statutory authority — to conduct surveillance inside the United States.
More from The Intercept:
The Ghost of Ronald Reagan Authorizes Most NSA Spying
U.S. intelligence agents have broad authority to spy on U.S. companies as long as they are “believed to have some relationship with foreign organizations or persons” — a description that could conceivably apply to any company with foreign shareholders, subsidiaries, or even employees—according to newly released government documents published this morning by the ACLU.
The trove, which includes documents from the NSA, Department of Justice, and Defense Intelligence Agency, confirms long-standing suspicions that the bulk of U.S. foreign surveillance operations are governed not by acts of Congress, but by a 33-year-old executive order issued unilaterally by President Ronald Reagan.
The documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, and they detail the extent of the order — which is extraordinarily broad and until recently largely obscure — and which underpins expansive U.S. surveillance programs, like siphoning internet traffic from Google and Yahoo’s overseas data centers, recording every call in the Bahamas, and gathering billions of records on cellphone locations around the world.
Recruitment advancement from the Associated Press:
Israel’s shadowy Mossad looks to recruit online
It used to be that if you wanted to join one of the world’s most secretive espionage organizations you had to sneak into a foreign embassy, answer a cryptic newspaper ad or show up in a nondescript building in Tel Aviv to meet a shadowy recruiter. Now all it takes to apply for a job at Israel’s Mossad spy agency is a click of the mouse.
The typically hush-hush Mossad revamped its website last week to include a snazzy recruiting video and an online application option for those seeking employment. With versions in Hebrew, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Persian, the sleek site looks to revolutionize the way Israel’s legendary agency seeks out potential agents after generations of backdoor, cloak-and-dagger antics.
“We must continue to recruit the best people into our ranks so that the Mossad might continue to lead, defend and allow for the continued existence of the state of Israel,” Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo said in a statement announcing the launch. “The Mossad’s qualitative human capital is the secret of our success.”
From the Guardian, the latest from The Most Transparent Administration in American History™:
US bid for secret Guantánamo force-feeding hearings prompts cover-up fears
- The Guardian is among several news organisations planning to file a motion to challenge the administration’s secrecy reques
The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to hold a highly anticipated court hearing on its painful force-feedings of Guantánamo Bay detainees almost entirely in secret, prompting suspicions of a cover-up.
Justice Department attorneys argued to district judge Gladys Kessler that allowing the hearings to be open to the public would jeopardize national security through the disclosure of classified information. Should Kessler agree, the first major legal battle over forced feeding in a federal court would be less transparent than the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay.
Attorneys for Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian detainee on hunger strike whose court challenge is slated to begin next week, said the government was using national security as an excuse to prevent the public from learning the extent of a practice that the judge in the case has considered brutal.
A spooky brew-ha-ha from the London Daily Mail:
Inside the CIA’s Starbucks: Coffee shop known as Store Number 1 bans names on cups and runs background checks on baristas
- Cafe is deep inside the agency’s Langley, Virginia, forest compound
- Is referred to as ‘Store Number 1′ on customers’ receipts
- However agents working in the building call it the ‘Stealthy Starbucks’
- Baristas are given security briefings on a regular basis
- Staff are also escorted by agency ‘minders’ when they leave work
- Double espressos and sugary Frappuccinos are said to be popular orders
From PCWorld, a cell for cell phone hacking?
CEO indicted for company’s alleged mobile spyware app
The CEO of a Pakistani company has been indicted in the U.S. for selling a product called StealthGenie that buyers could use to monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on other people’s mobile phones, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The indictment of Hammad Akbar, 31, of Lahore, Pakistan, represents the first time the DOJ has brought a criminal case related to the marketing and sale of an alleged mobile spyware app, the DOJ said in a press release Monday.
Akbar is CEO of InvoCode, the company selling StealthGenie online. Akbar is among the creators of StealthGenie, which could intercept communications to and from mobile phones, including Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices, the DOJ said.
On to the world of online insecurity, starting with this from Network World:
Malvertising campaign delivers digitally signed CryptoWall ransomware
The cybercriminals behind the CryptoWall ransomware threat have stepped up their game and are digitally signing new samples before using them in attacks in an attempt to bypass antivirus detection.
Researchers from network security firm Barracuda Networks found new CryptoWall samples that were digitally signed with a legitimate certificate obtained from DigiCert. The samples were distributed through drive-by download attacks launched from popular websites via malicious advertisements.
Several websites in the Alexa top 15,000 list were affected by this latest malvertising—malicious advertising—campaign including hindustantimes.com, the site of Indian daily newspaper Hindustan Times; Israeli sports news site one.co.il; and Web development community codingforums.com.
“In every case, malicious content arrived via the site’s use of the Zedo ad network,” the Barracuda researchers said in a blog post Sunday.
Serious insecurity from SecurityWeek:
What We Know About Shellshock So Far, and Why the Bash Bug Matters
Security researchers around the world have been working around the clock analyzing the recently disclosed flaw in Bash which can be exploited to execute code and hijack vulnerable devices. Attackers are already targeting the bug, which has been nicknamed Shellshock, and security experts warned organizations to prepare for more attacks and messy cleanup.
The investigation is still in the early stages and there are a many unanswered questions about how Shellshock can be abused. Opinions also vary wildly among experts as to its potential impact. What is known—and agreed upon—at this point, is that Shellshock is a very serious vulnerability because it allows remote code execution and gives the attacker full access to the system. Being able to get shell and execute any kind of program on the target system is a major coup for attackers
Bash “is widely used so attackers can use this vulnerability to remotely execute a huge variety of devices and web servers,” said Tod Beardsley, engineering manager at Rapid7.
The most obvious initial targets will be large hosting providers, “which are riddled with bash-enabled administrative functions, as well as innumerable PHP-based forums, blogs, stores,” suggested Daniel Ingevaldson, CTO of Easy Solutions.
From Network World, corporate surveillance anxieties:
Facebook’s new ad sales plan raises hackles in Germany
As Facebook began rolling out a global advertising network on Monday that will capitalize on all it knows from tracking users across the web, German consumer organizations immediately raised their voices in protest.
Called Atlas, the new ad network is supposed to allow advertisers to use Facebook’s detailed knowledge about its users to reach their desired customers across devices and target ads at them across apps and websites.
From The Verge, foiling 4Chan?:
George Clooney gave his wedding guests burner phones to prevent photo leaks
It’s a tricky security problem: how do you let your wedding guests take photos, but make sure none of the photos leak? If you’re George Clooney, you collect everyone’s phone and give each of them a burner phone just for the occasion, to be tossed away once the big day is over. It’s an expensive way around the problem, sure, but if you’re a movie star, it’s a small price to pay.
The bigger question, tossed around in security circles, is how all this actually worked. Supposedly, Clooney’s people had access to all of the photos taken with the burner phones, so they would know who took which photos and would be able to trace back any leaks that came out. Vogue had bought exclusive photography rights to the wedding (donating the fee to charity), so Clooney had reason to be protective of the photos. But as some in the security world have noted, it may not have been an airtight system.
Of course, from a security perspective, the race is hard to win anyway. If someone was really dead-set on leaking that million-dollar wedding photo to TMZ, they could have just smuggled in a camera of their own. If the burner phones worked — and Clooney’s photo embargo has held, so far — it may be more due to well-behaved guests than airtight infosec.
After the jump, Indian police bust self-snappers, Jerry Brown vetoes a bill to curb cop drone ops, 58 Mexican students “disappeared” and a politician gunned down in public, privatized security abuse in Germany, China censors online posts about the turmoil in Hong Kong and condemns the protests, Beijing warns would-be interveners, media savvy and Global solidarity rallies called, Beijing’s deepest fear, a significant move in the Game of Zones, a Chinese missile advance and a demonstration of force, and an ill-matched pair divorces. . . Continue reading