Category Archives: Intolerance

InSecurityWatch: War, threats, hacks, hate, zones


First up, this from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

In face of Russian aggression, Obama tells Baltic states NATO, US have their back

President Barack Obama accused Russia of fomenting violence in Ukraine and told the Baltic states that NATO and the United States military will respond if Russia attacks a member of the alliance.

Speaking in Estonia before traveling to a NATO summit, Obama pledged that the three countries independence “will always be guaranteed by the strongest military alliance the world has ever known.”

He said the former Soviet Republics had successfully embraced democracy, but that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens that progress.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Cold War revitalization:

NATO may create quick-strike force over Ukraine crisis

President Barack Obama and allied leaders will respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine by moving to set up a quick-strike force of several thousand troops at the NATO summit this week in Wales.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday the new multinational force would be part of a “Readiness Action Plan (that) responds to Russia’s aggressive behavior,” adding that “it equips the alliance to respond to all security challenges wherever they may arise.”

Rasmussen acknowledged that a NATO conference originally scheduled to focus on Afghanistan will now be dominated by the Ukraine crisis when heads of the 28 member nations gather Thursday and Friday in Newport on Wales’ southern coast off the Bristol Channel.

From the Guardian, vroom-vroom:

Nato summit: US and UK to debate military options for tackling Isis

  • Britain will discuss possibilities with US, including joining in air attacks in Iraq, and chance of rescue attempt for threatened Brit

The United States and Britain will discuss a range of military options for tackling Islamic State (Isis) at the Nato summit, opening in Wales on Thursday, ranging from joining in air attacks in Iraq and possibly Syria, to providing more arms to the Kurds and Iraqi government forces fighting them on the ground.

The British military will also discuss internally and with its US counterparts, following their own failed attempt last month, the realistic chances of special forces mounting a rescue operation to save the Briton threatened by Isis with beheading.

On Wednesday, after a meeting of the government emergency group Cobra, the British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said the UK government had to discuss the wider threat posed to the British public as well as the individual British citizen under threat.

From Sky News, a declaration:

US Vows To ‘Degrade And Destroy’ Islamic State

  • A video is released showing an IS militant killing a US reporter – and warning that a kneeling British hostage will be next.

Barack Obama has vowed that justice will be done against the Islamic State after it beheaded a second American journalist.

The US President said America would “not be intimidated” by IS violence and promised to “degrade and destroy” its forces.

He spoke after a video was released apparently showing a masked IS militant killing US reporter Steven Sotloff – and warning that a British hostage will be next.

The Independent covers a stumbling block:

Tory anti-terror laws in trouble after Lib Dems raise serious legal concerns

David Cameron’s plans to tighten the anti-terror laws are in trouble amid a deepening split inside the Coalition.

The Liberal Democrats have warned they will not be bounced into backing new legislation, and would not allow the Conservatives to blame them for blocking a crackdown.

Lib Dem sources claim Mr Cameron overreached himself when he floated new laws last Friday without considering whether they were workable, saying that the problem was not Lib Dem opposition, but doubts among Government legal advisers.

In the Commons, the Prime Minister vowed that plans to toughen the laws so that terror suspects could be forced to relocate to another area “will go ahead.”

From intelNews, spooky blowback continues:

Turkey summons US chargé d’affaires to protest spying claims

The government of Turkey has summoned the interim head of the United States diplomatic mission in the country to lodge an official protest over reports that Washington has been spying on Turkish leaders for nearly 10 years.

German publication Der Spiegel said on Sunday that American intelligence agencies, with the help of British operatives, have engaged in “intensive spying” of Turkish government officials since at least 2006. The German newsmagazine said the information was based on internal documents released by American defector Edward Snowden, a former employee of the US National Security Agency who is currently living in Russia.

The documents show that the NSA, which conducts worldwide communications interception on behalf of the US government, places Turkey “ahead of Cuba” when it comes to intelligence collection in the service of American national security.

From the Guardian, takin’ it to the judge:

NSA bulk collection of phone data under scrutiny as federal case opens

Justice Department officials face pointed questions on opening day of case that could push NSA privacy to supreme court

Federal judges pointedly questioned a Justice Department lawyer on Tuesday about the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of US phone data, in the opening day of case that represents a major step toward a supreme court ruling on the constitutionality of the program.

A three-judge panel from the second circuit court of appeals aimed skeptical questions at assistant attorney general Stuart Delery about the scope and breadth of the call-records dragnet, reported last year by the Guardian thanks to leaks from Edward Snowden.

Judge Gerard Lynch, a Barack Obama appointee, asked what was “so uniquely valuable about phone records” that compelled the NSA to collect all domestic phone records, in bulk, without individual suspicion of terrorism, espionage or any other wrongdoing.

From The Hill, if they support it, can it really be reform?:

Holder, spy chief support Senate NSA reform bill

Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are lending their support to the Senate’s effort to rein in the National Security Agency, a boost for advocates of reform.

The two sent a letter this week to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in support of his bill to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

“Overall, the bill’s significant reforms should provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system,” Holder and Clapper wrote in the joint letter, which Leahy released on Wednesday.

On to hackery, first with Businessweek:

Does Apple’s HealthKit App Have a Nude Celebrity Photo Problem?

The nude photos stolen from Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other female celebrities could spell trouble for Apple’s forthcoming health-care app. It wouldn’t be a stretch for those following news of the leaked photos to worry about trusting their iPhones with intimate health data.

Apple (AAPL) has already acknowledged that “certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions” while denying “any breach in any of Apple’s systems.” But that carefully worded defense may not reassure those nervous users busy taking their own private pictures off iCloud, Apple’s online storage program.

Apple’s new app, HealthKit, is expected to combine data from activity trackers and medical records in one place. The company is expected to discuss the program and associated tools with developers at a high-profile event on Sept. 9. The idea is to let other app developers tap into health data, with permission from the iPhone user. “You can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor. Or allow your nutrition app to tell your fitness apps how many calories you consume each day,” promises a preview of HealthKit on Apple’s website.

From Business Insider, another kind of blowback:

Apple Shares Tank After The Celeb Nude Scandal, And Pacific Crest Tells Everyone To Sell

Last week, the company was flying high as anticipation built for the iPhone 6, and the iWatch, which are expected to be announced next week. The stock was hitting new all-time highs, trading up to $103.20, but today it’s back under $100.

It all came to a screeching halt over the weekend for Apple, when nude photos of celebrities hit the web. Apple’s weak security on iCloud, where the photos were backed up, was blamed for the photos hitting the web.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Apple is about to roll out a new mobile payments feature, as well as health tracking data tied to your iPhone. Most of that data is likely to be stored right on the phone, and therefore more secure. However, most people won’t understand that delineation. Most people will think, “If Apple can’t be trusted with photos, can it be trusted with banking data and health data? “

Summing up with Jimmy Kimmel Live [and catch that “commercial” at the end:

Jimmy Kimmel’s Leaked iCloud Photo

Program notes:

Nude and intimate photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many other stars were posted online over Labor Day weekend, believed to have been hacked from their Apple iCloud accounts. It’s embarrassing, especially for Jimmy since he happens to be one of the people who got caught up in this.

Nextgov covers other implications:

What Does Alleged iCloud Hack Mean For Federal Agencies?

Most federal agency employees with iPhones probably don’t have to worry about hackers ogling naked photos of them saved in Apple’s iCloud backup system.

But they might have cause for concern about attackers targeting the cloud service to peer at sensitive government information, cybersecurity experts warn.

The problem, experts say, is a lack of awareness. iCloud, by default, automatically backs up a user’s device over Wi-Fi every day, according to Apple’s website.

Federal employees could be uploading sensitive information when they work on their personally owned iPhones — unless agencies take action. And it is not clear that they are.

The Los Angeles Times covers another hackery consequence:

Hacker may have sent bomb threat at O.C. schools; no explosives found

Police in Fountain Valley now say they believe a 17-year-old student’s email account was hacked and that there’s no evidence he sent a threatening message that forced the closure of Fountain Valley High School and an adjoining continuation school as police searched for weapons and explosives.

Teachers and administrators have been allowed back on the campuses but are being escorted by police officers, part of a final precautionary step before the schools are reopened, police said.

All classes, though, have been canceled for the day.

From MIT Technology Review, oh joy:

Networked Home Gadgets Offer Hackers New Opportunities

  • Connected appliances such as TVs can provide hackers a way into your house.

Connecting a new appliance to your home’s Wi-Fi network or broadband modem could increase the risk that data such as passwords will be taken from computers in your house. Such is the warning from antivirus company Kaspersky Lab in a forthcoming report on the side effects of more and more home devices being connected to the Internet.

By now most consumers are aware that security is a major problem for their laptops and PCs, says David Jacoby, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. But they don’t realize that appliances like TVs, DVD players, and printers that connect to a home network are vulnerable to similar threats. What’s more, most such devices have no security protections built in whatsoever, he says (see “Securing the Smart Home, from Toasters to Toilets”). “Consumers need to understand that the devices that they buy might be vulnerable,” says Jacoby.

Jacoby recently hacked several Internet-enabled devices connected to his own home network, including his TV, printer, router, and remote storage devices. He came up with a laundry list of flaws in several everyday products, and is working with manufacturers to fix them before making a report public to highlight the severity of the problem.

Network World covers hackery in Latin America:

Attack hijacks DNS settings on home routers in Brazil

An ongoing attack in Brazil tricks users into visiting malicious websites that attempt to silently change the Domain Name System settings of their home routers.

If the attack is successful, the routers are reconfigured to use rogue DNS servers that redirect victims to phishing pages when they open banking sites, said Fabio Assolini, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post Tuesday.

The attack starts with spam emails that tell recipients they’re being cheated and asks them to click on a link. The link leads to an adult content website that in the background forces browsers to load specifically crafted URLs.

SecurityWeek covers another vulnerability:

Enterprises Warned of DDoS Attacks Leveraging Linux Malware

Akamai Technologies has published a threat advisory to warn organizations of attacks where cybercriminals are infecting Linux servers with malware capable of launching powerful distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

According to the alert released Wednesday, attacks leveraging Linux malware dubbed IptabLes and IptabLex have been launched against the entertainment industry and other verticals. The threats are designed to target Linux distributions such as Debian, CentOS, Ubuntu and Red Hat, and have been placed on servers by exploiting vulnerabilities in Apache Struts, Apache Tomcat, the open source search and analytics engine Elasticsearch, and other software components.

According to the alert, attackers are leveraging flaws in these programs to breach servers and escalate their privileges, which enables them to drop and execute the malicious binary. Administrators can detect infections by looking for files named “.IptabLes” or “.IptabLex” in the “/boot” directory. However, Akamai points out that these are post-infection indicators since these are not the names of the malicious files at the moment when they’re dropped.

And from Nextgov, downgrading a threat:

Instagram Identity Theft: New Spam Bots are Copying Real Accounts, Pic-for-Pic and Word-for-Word

On Instagram, if it looks like you, and talks like you, and posts like you, it may not actually be you. A new wave of spam bots are apparently avoiding detection by Instagram’s filters by copying real people… picture for picture, word for word.

The harmless-but-creepy occurrence was revealed in an article on The Verge, whose own video director Christian Mazza recently had his account hijacked… and he’s not the only one.

Others are reporting the same thing, and though it’s not causing any issues — the bots are literally just copying your profile photo, setting up under a new username and then reposting some of your images, caption and all — it’s oddly unsettling to know that someone out there might be pretending to be you.

We said downgrading, because they miss one key implication: By stealing the work of others and reposting it as their own, they could sell the photos for commercial use and collect money right due to the actual photographer. Odd that Nextgov would miss the implication.

Popular Science covers a mystery:

Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls

  • Every smart phone has a secondary OS, which can be hijacked by high-tech hackers

Like many of the ultra-secure phones that have come to market in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks, the CryptoPhone 500, which is marketed in the U.S. by ESD America and built on top of an unassuming Samsung Galaxy SIII body, features high-powered encryption. Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, says the phone also runs a customized or “hardened” version of Android that removes 468 vulnerabilities that his engineering team team found in the stock installation of the OS.

His mobile security team also found that the version of the Android OS that comes standard on the Samsung Galaxy SIII leaks data to parts unknown 80-90 times every hour.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the phone has been hacked, Goldmsith says, but the user can’t know whether the data is beaming out from a particular app, the OS, or an illicit piece of spyware.  His clients want real security and control over their device, and have the money to pay for it.

To show what the CryptoPhone can do that less expensive competitors cannot, he points me to a map that he and his customers have created, indicating 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July alone. Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower.  Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.

From the Guardian, more corrupt cop capering:

Plebgate: Met obtained phone records of Sun political editor without consent

  • Tom Newton Dunn said to be unaware of intervention which led to arrest of officer on suspicion of leaking information to paper

Police investigating the Plebgate saga obtained the telephone records of the political editor of the Sun without his consent, despite laws which entitle journalists to keep their sources confidential.

The Metropolitan police report into the scandal reveals that the force arrested an officer on suspicion of leaking information to the Sun after an analysis of Tom Newton Dunn’s phone records.

The Met also obtained call records to the Sun newsdesk to try to identify a second potential source to the Plebgate scandal.

France 24 drones on:

US extends Niger drone capabilities in cooperation with France

The United States is preparing to redeploy drones already in Niger to set up a forward base in the Sahara closer to Islamist militants blamed for attacks across the region, according to US military and Defence Department officials.

In a move that illustrates growing cooperation between France and the US to combat militant Islamism in Saharan Africa, Washington deployed unarmed surveillance drones to Niger in 2013.

The move followed a French-led military operation that destroyed an al Qaeda enclave in neighbouring northern Mali.

And the U.S. Naval Institute News covers another step toward Skynet:

Navy’s Next Fighter Likely to Feature Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence will likely feature prominently onboard the Pentagon’s next-generation successors to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

“AI is going to be huge,” said one U.S. Navy official familiar with the service’s F/A-XX effort to replace the Super Hornet starting around 2030.

Further, while there are significant differences between the U.S. Air Force’s vision for its F-X air superiority fighter and the Navy’s F/A-XX, the two services agree on some fundamental aspects about what characteristics the jet will need to share.

From Shanghai Daily, a hazard of online shopping:

Online customer gets body bag for posting poor rating

A LOCAL customer was sent a dead body bag in an act of revenge for posting low ratings on an online shop based in Fujian Province.

The customer, surnamed Xue, had ordered a pair of shoes from the online shop on taobao.com, China’s largest online shopping platform. He received the shoes three days later but gave a poor rating to the shop because of the poor quality of the shoes and its slow delivery.

In return, he was bombarded with over 80 phone calls before being sent the body bag.

And the New York Times debunks a myth:

Deportations Don’t Lower Crime Rates, Study Says

Six years after the federal government opened an immigration enforcement program intended to improve public safety, deporting hundreds of thousands of people, many of them convicted criminals, a new study has concluded that the program has had “no observable effect on the overall crime rate.”

The finding “calls into question the longstanding assumption that deporting noncitizens who commit crimes is an effective crime-control strategy,” said the study, conducted by two law professors at the University of Chicago and New York University.

The analysis, scheduled for publication in the November issue of The Journal of Law and Economics, a journal for peer-review research, coincides with the Obama administration’s internal review of the program, known as Secure Communities. Jeh Johnson, the homeland security secretary, has suggested that he might overhaul the program, saying it needs “a fresh start.”

From the London Telegraph, inviting more terrorism?:

IRA suspects protected by human rights as ‘comfort letters’ are annulled

  • Theresa Villiers, Northern Ireland Secretary, warns recipients of comfort letters that they can no longer rely on them to avoid prosecution

Theresa Villiers has refused to name the IRA suspects sent “comfort letters” because it would breach their human rights, despite admitting more could have been sent in error.

The Northern Ireland Secretary confirmed the Government was effectively annulling the assurances given to the so-called IRA “on-the-runs” that they no longer faced prosecution.

The Daily Telegraph disclosed on Wednesday that recipients of the letters, sent out in the years after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, are to be told they are not worth the paper they are written on and they will still be pursued by police.

While BBC News warns of woes for those already behind bars:

Ministry of Justice fined over prison data loss

The Ministry of Justice has been fined £180,000 for “serious failings” in the handling of confidential data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the penalty was related to the loss of a hard drive containing the details of almost 3,000 prisoners at Erlestoke prison in Wiltshire.

The disk was not encrypted.

The records, lost in 2013, included material on organised crime, prisoners’ health and drug misuse, and information about inmates’ victims and visitors.

And from TheLocal.de, a point we’ve been regularly making:

Sinti, Roma are most discriminated against

A new study has found that the Sinti and Roma people encounter more discrimination than any other group in Germany, with more than a fifth of Germans supporting their deportation.

The study found that 22 percent of respondents were for their deportation.

The head of the Federal Anti-discrimination Agency, which conducted the survey, is calling for politicians to act against discrimination of the Roma and Sinti populations in Germany.

“People don’t know anything about the Sinti and Roma. Their image is dominated by what people see on the streets,” Christine Lüders said on Wednesday on her appearance on ZDF’s morning news show, Morgenmagazin.

After the jump, the latest from Asia including a fascist visit and legal reforms Down Under, Al Qaeda expands to the subcontinent, a body count in Pakistan and protest suspicions, anger at a draconian sedition law in Malaysia, Chinese drone boasting, Sino/Canadian peace feelers, a political realignment in Japan, tightening those Indo/Japanese ties, and why LA’s 911 operators hate Facebook. . .
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InSecurityWatch: Terror, hacks, cartels, drones


Straight to it, starting with a headline from CBC News:

Steven Sotloff beheading shown in video, ISIS claims

  • U.S. journalist was captured in Syria in August 2013

The militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has released a video it says shows the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, according to the website Siteintelgroup.com.

The video of reporter James Foley’s beheading released in August also showed Sotloff, warning he would be killed next if U.S. airstrikes continued.

The reports cannot yet be confirmed, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

From the Los Angeles Times, the tragedy that is blowback:

Amnesty International: Islamic State carrying out ethnic cleansing

The militant group Islamic State, which has seized large areas of northern Iraq in recent months, has “carried out ethnic cleansing on a historic scale,” according to a report released on Tuesday by the monitoring group Amnesty International.

The 26-page report, based on field investigations and hundreds of interviews with witnesses and victims of the Al Qaeda offshoot, is a litany of massacres and abductions.

The militant group Islamic State, which has seized large areas of northern Iraq in recent months, has “carried out ethnic cleansing on a historic scale,” according to a report released on Tuesday by the monitoring group Amnesty International.

The 26-page report, based on field investigations and hundreds of interviews with witnesses and victims of the Al Qaeda offshoot, is a litany of massacres and abductions.

Much of the northern Iraqi province of Nineva, with a multiethnic population of 3.2 million that includes Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Kurds, is now under the control of Islamic State. The militants espouse a particularly harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law that views non-Muslims and Shiite Muslims as infidels.

The Express Tribune covers blowback metastasis:

Spillover effect: ISIS making inroads into Pakistan, Afghanistan

In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.

The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.

On the last page of the pamphlet, the editor’s name appears to be fake and where the document has been published cannot be ascertained. Since long, Afghan resistance groups, including Haqqani Network, Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan and Tora Bora group have been publishing similar pamphlets, magazines and propaganda literature in Peshawar black markets.

The Diplomat questions:

ISIL’s Rise Highlights Afghan War’s Shaky Premise

  • The U.S. ought to reassess what it is building in Afghanistan.

As the Pentagon explores all options short of “boots on the ground” for Iraq, little attention is being paid to the boots still on the ground in Afghanistan, even as weekly losses continue – including the recent loss of Major General Harold Greene, the highest ranking U.S. officer killed in combat since Vietnam. Hagel vowed in his press conference to “take a cold, steely, hard look” at the ISIL threat, but the strategic assessment for Afghanistan, where the Taliban kills aid workers and journalists on a monthly basis, seems to have concluded last May with a Rose Garden statement by President Barack Obama. “[T]his is how wars end in the 21st century,” he noted, as he stressed a “narrow mission” focused on “the remnants of al Qaeda.”

What remains unfinished, however, is an explanation of not only of why these phantom remnants pose a greater threat to Americans than ISIL does, but of how a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan will help defeat them. Indeed, in the minds of most Taliban-sympathizing Afghans, al Qaeda – which has not claimed responsibility for any attack in Afghanistan since 2009 – is less a varsity jihad team than a CIA concoction for justifying a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Conversely, the ISIL “junior varsity team” has rapidly secured in Mosul a writ more destructive and globally minded than that which existed in Kabul during even the most powerful days of the Taliban regime. Indeed, Iraq is quickly becoming more “Afghan” than Afghanistan itself: one Iraqi journalist recently described how new tastes for an “Afghani look” have Mosul men donning the shalwar kameez of Afghan Taliban fighters, leaving locals to ask themselves if their city has become another Kandahar.

Homeland Security News Wire ups the ante:

Captured documents reveal IS’s interest in acquiring bioterror weapons

Terrorist organizations for a while now have been trying to acquire or build biological weapons of mass destruction. After the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, soldiers found at least one chemical weapons laboratory used by al-Qaeda. Now, with the growing threat of the Islamic State (IS), analysts are concerned that the Islamist group may gain access to bio-labs in Syria or Iraq.

Foreign Policy reports that Abu Ali, a leader of a moderate Syrian rebel group in northern Syria, recently found a laptop containing instructions for building bio-terror weapons. The laptop, found after the rebel group raided an IS building, belonged to Muhammed S., a Tunisian national who joined IS. Hidden in several folders on the laptop were 35,347 files containing documents and speeches of leading jihadi clerics, videos of Osama bin Laden, and practical training on how to carry out deadly campaigns. The laptop also contains documents about how to build and use biological weapons.

The Los Angeles Times covers litigation:

Missouri residents sue police over use of force in Ferguson protests

Six Missouri residents filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging excessive force and false arrests by the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments during the street protests that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Among the allegations:

–Dewayne Matthews Jr. says he had his hands up when police officers in riot gear pelted him with rubber bullets, slammed his face into the concrete and doused him with a chemical spray.

–Tracey White and her 13-year-old son were waiting to leave a McDonald’s, she says, when police stormed the restaurant and arrested them without cause.

–Damon Coleman and Theophilus Green say they were part of a peaceful protest in Ferguson on Aug. 11. Confronted by officers clad in riot gear, the two men shouted “hands up, don’t shoot,” the refrain that became a battle cry for demonstrators. Police responded with rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, racial slurs and a beatdown.

From the Oakland Tribune, beat the press:

Bay Area TV reporters targeted in two separate incidents

Police in Oakland and San Francisco are investigating after television news reporters were targeted in unrelated crimes — one beaten, one robbed — in the last several days.

Oakland police are seeking a woman who assaulted a KTVU Channel 2 news reporter Sunday as the reporter covered a fatal shooting at the Coliseum Swap Meet in East Oakland.

At roughly 5 a.m. Tuesday, San Francisco police responded to a robbery on 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Two armed men robbed a KRON-TV news reporter while the reporter was sitting in his van, a station official confirmed. The men opened the van’s doors, told the victim to get in the rear of the van and stole his laptop, wallet and tripod, police said. Both suspects covered their faces with bandannas and they remain at large, police said. The reporter was not injured.

Calling out the feds, via BBC News:

FBI investigates ‘Cloud’ celebrity picture leaks

The FBI is looking into allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen and posted online.

About 20 personalities, including the US actress Jennifer Lawrence, have had images of themselves leaked over the Internet.

It is understood some of the images were obtained from services such as Apple iCloud that back up content from devices on to the internet.

Apple says it is investigating whether iCloud accounts have been hacked.

BuzzFeed hushes:

Apple Silent As Blame For Nude Celebrity Leaks Remains Unclear

Security researchers say Apple may not be directly at fault in what some have called an “iCloud leak.” Key new features depend on a safe and secure cloud.

As the dust begins to settle on the initial image dump of nude celebrity pictures that began circulating Sunday afternoon, security researchers, law enforcement, and regular cloud-fearing phone users are looking for answers. And Apple, largely thought to be the weak security link, is silent.

Across the internet, the image leaks are being regularly referenced as an “iCloud hack,” thanks to the original 4chan leaked photo posts, which alleged the photos were retrieved via Apple’s cloud storage. And multiple sites have identified both notable vulnerabilities in iCloud (via Find My Phone) as well as well-documented communities of iCloud hackers, who can crack passwords with “brute force” programs (which allow for unlimited password guessing attempts) and download photos stashes in bulk.

However, three security researchers told BuzzFeed that it’s too early to pin this security security breach on the Apple cloud service, suggesting instead that the photos were obtained through multiple, individual hacks over a long period of time and then assembled into a larger collection through trading on obscure online forums.

From the Guardian, not rotten to the core?:

Apple blames ‘very targeted attack’ for hack of nude celebrity photos

  • Denying fault over hacked naked photos of celebrities, Apple fights off criticism of iCloud and Find My iPhone app

In a statement the company said it was “outraged” by the news and “immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source”.

“After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved,” said Apple.

The breach has become a PR nightmare for Apple. Shortly after the hack was made public actress Kirsten Dunst Tweeted: “Thank you iCloud” followed by the emoji for pizza and a pile of shit.

And here’s the Tweet:

BLOG Dunst
Valleywag scoffs:

iCloud Isn’t Safe, Because Everyone’s a Target and Apple Doesn’t Care

So, in the meantime, want to know how to get into someone’s iCloud? It’s this easy. Tell Apple you forgot that person’s password, and then guess their security questions with readily available biographical information other Silicon Valley corporations have goaded us all into sharing.

But even as it acknowledges that its systems are easy prey for basic social engineering—a handful of Google or Facebook searches and a winning manner on the phone—Apple would like you to believe that you’re not at risk. The celebrities whose private photos are now all over the internet, it declares, were victims of a “very targeted attack”—exposed only because they’re public figures.

It’s true that Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence were victims of a “very targeted attack.” But the idea that only celebrities are being targeted is horseshit. There are people out there ripping the iCloud accounts of ordinary people, right now. iCloud will betray you whether you’re McKayla Maroney or a kindergarten teacher.

The Independent organizes:

Naked celebrity photo hacks the work of ‘an underground nude trading ring’, reports claim

Posters on anonymous image-sharing boards 4chan and AnonIB claim that the cache of stolen images was assembled by a group of hackers and took “several months of long and hard work by all involved”.

Another poster on 4chan has claimed that an “underground celeb n00d-trading ring” that finds these images has “existed for years,” with individuals conducting trades with another to “expand [their] collections”.

“These guys conduct individual attacks on celebs through (I presume) a mix of social engineering and (esp for more high-profile targets) straight-up hacking,” wrote the anonymous tipster. “The only way to join the ring is by ‘buying in’ with original pics (“wins”, as they call them) you’ve acquired by yourself.

“[The] circle hardly ever widens to include more people – very few people even find out about this ring, and fewer still have n00ds to buy in with.”

From Wired threat level, copping selfies:

The Police Tool That Pervs Use to Steal Nude Pics From Apple’s iCloud

As nude celebrity photos spilled onto the web over the weekend, blame for the scandal has rotated from the scumbag hackers who stole the images to a researcher who released a tool used to crack victims’ iCloud passwords to Apple, whose security flaws may have made that cracking exploit possible in the first place. But one step in the hackers’ sext-stealing playbook has been ignored—a piece of software designed to let cops and spies siphon data from iPhones, but is instead being used by pervy criminals themselves.

On the web forum Anon-IB, one of the most popular anonymous image boards for posting stolen nude selfies, hackers openly discuss using a piece of software called EPPB or Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker to download their victims’ data from iCloud backups. That software is sold by Moscow-based forensics firm Elcomsoft and intended for government agency customers. In combination with iCloud credentials obtained with iBrute, the password-cracking software for iCloud released on Github over the weekend, EPPB lets anyone impersonate a victim’s iPhone and download its full backup rather than the more limited data accessible on iCloud.com. And as of Tuesday, it was still being used to steal revealing photos and post them on Anon-IB’s forum.

“Use the script to hack her passwd…use eppb to download the backup,” wrote one anonymous user on Anon-IB explaining the process to a less-experienced hacker. “Post your wins here ;-)”

Hacking the hardware, via the Guardian:

Home Depot investigating possible breach by hackers hunting credit cards

  • Report from Krebs on Security suggests ‘unusual activity’ and raises fears that eastern European hacker group is responsible

Home Depot said Tuesday that it is investigating “unusual activity” after a security expert reported the home improvement giant may have become the latest victim of credit card hackers.

The company was responding to a report from Krebs on Security, the security blog that broke the news of Target’s massive credit card hack. Brian Krebs, the site’s founder, said “multiple banks” were reporting that Home Depot may be the source of a “massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards that went on sale this morning in the cybercrime underground”.

In a statement Home Depot said it was working with investigators assess the situation. “Protecting our customers’ information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers.”

And from MIT Technology Review, the truly despicable:

Hackers Are Homing in on Hospitals

  • Computer criminals are increasingly capturing valuable information stored on hospital computer networks.

The shift from paper medical records to digital ones brings new security risks.

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting the computer networks of hospitals—one recently announced theft involved data from 4.5 million people who had received treatment from Community Health Systems (CHS), a company that runs more than 200 hospitals. Malware attacks are on the rise in many industries, but researchers from the security firm Websense say the rate at which attacks on hospitals has grown during the past year is unparalleled.

Data security is often lax within health-care facilities, and hackers are targeting systems that store troves of valuable personal information held in electronic medical records, according to the Websense researchers, who say they’ve observed a 600 percent increase in attacks on hospitals over the past 10 months.

Carl Leonard, senior manager of security research for Websense, says the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability was used in some of the hospital attacks. The bug, whose existence was first revealed to the public in April (two years after it first appeared), is a flaw in a widely used encryption software called OpenSSL. Criminals can exploit the flaw and trick vulnerable computers into revealing information stored in their memory. The Web security firm TrustedSec, citing sources close to the investigation, reports that the hackers who targeted CHS gained access to the network via the Heartbleed vulnerability.

From BBC News, Mexican domestic insecurity:

Mexico mayors to be charged over alleged cartel links

Two serving and one former mayor in the western Mexican state of Michoacan are being held over allegations they have links to a notorious drugs cartel.

A federal judge has ordered they be charged with organised crime.

The move follows the publication on social media of videos showing them apparently meeting the leader of the Knights Templar cartel.

The Knights Templar control much of the methamphetamine and marijuana trade in western Mexico.

After the jump, the latest from the Game of Zones, including the latest from Pakistan, Hong Kong censorship, a rebuke for Old Blighty, China plants the flag on more islands, a celebration of Victory Day in the Anti-Japanese War, anti-China terror thwarted, and a military hardware tit for a stealthy tat. . . Continue reading

The American Frankenstein faces its monster


For years the American government’s black ops boys and girls stirred up religious fundamentalists to rise up against strong central governments, invoking populist justifications.

Needless to say, students of history will recognize parallels with other extremists bent on purification through extermination of “impure” or parasitic elements.

And now the blowback, plus a lot more dark arts games are unfolding, with the ironic twists becoming ever more blatant.

First, this from intelNews:

US sharing intelligence with Syrian government, say sources

The United States is secretly sharing intelligence about the Islamic State with the government of Syria, according to sources.

On Monday, American officials told the Associated Press that US President Barack Obama had authorized reconnaissance flights over Syrian airspace with the aim of gathering intelligence on the Islamic State —known previously as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.

Pentagon officials said the reconnaissance flights are intended to collect “additional intelligence” on the Islamic State’s troop movements in Syria. Their ultimate goal is reportedly to assist the president and his advisors as they contemplate whether the US should launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Syrian soil.

From The Intercept, the latest from Glenn Greenwald:

The Fun of Empire: Fighting on All Sides of a War in Syria

It was not even a year ago when we were bombarded with messaging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a Supreme Evil and Grave Threat, and that military action against his regime was both a moral and strategic imperative. The standard cast of “liberal interventionists” –  Tony Blair, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Nicholas Kristof and Samantha Power – issued stirring sermons on the duties of war against Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry actually compared Assad to (guess who?) Hitler, instructing the nation that “this is our Munich moment.” Striking Assad, he argued, “is a matter of national security. It’s a matter of the credibility of the United States of America. It’s a matter of upholding the interests of our allies and friends in the region.”

U.S. military action against the Assad regime was thwarted only by overwhelming American public opinion which opposed it and by a resounding rejection by the UK Parliament of Prime Minister David Cameron’s desire to assume the usual subservient British role in support of American wars.

Now the Obama administration and American political class is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the failed “Bomb Assad!” campaign by starting a new campaign to bomb those fighting against Assad – the very same side the U.S. has been arming over the last two years.

The Progressive notes another irony:

ISIS’s Brand of Islam Similar to U.S. Ally’s

While the Obama Administration is figuring out the best way to combat the extremism of groups like ISIS, it continues to maintain close ties with the Middle Eastern regime that promotes the same brand of Islam.

“The ideology of the Saudi regime is that of ISIS even if the foreign policies differ,” California State University-Stanislaus Professor Asad AbuKhalil tells The Progressive.

In an online column, AbuKhalil elaborates on his view.

“Mainstream Islam frowns upon the views, excesses, practices and interpretations of ISIS,” he writes. “But Wahhabi Islam [the official ideology of the Saudi monarchy] is fully in sync with ISIS.”

Finally, from The Real News Network, a Jessica Desvarieux interview with veteran Middle East beat journalist Patrick Cockburn, who has reported for both the Financial Times and, currently, the Guardian. His latest book is The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising.

From The Real News Network:

The Islamic State, Assad, and the Contradictions Faced by the US in Syria

From the transcript:

DESVARIEUX: So, Patrick, there are so many contradictions in this story. Let’s try to work out some of these contradictions. First explain the U.S.’s objectives in Syria. And how did it come to be that they are now fighting the very same forces that they once supported?

COCKBURN: Yes. It’s something of a diplomatic disaster. The U.S. supported the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad to weaken and replace him over the last three years. But over the last year and a half, the main opposition has been jihadis, al-Qaeda type organizations, and over the last six months it’s been the Islamic State, ISIS, which the U.S. is fighting in or were helping the Iraqi government and the Kurdish government fight in Iraq. So in one country they’re supporting the government against ISIS, in Iraq, and in Syria they’re doing exactly the opposite, they’re opposing the government, which is fighting ISIS. And I don’t think this contradiction can go on very long. I think soon they’ll have to decide whose side they’re on.

DESVARIEUX: Yeah, and that’s a good question, because there are consequences depending on which side they choose, because if they look to topple Assad, that benefits ISIS. If they look to attack ISIS, that helps Assad. So it seems like quite a mess. What would you suggest they do?

COCKBURN: Well, there’s no doubt in my mind that the great threat to both these countries is ISIS, which is a very horrible, in many ways fascist organization, very sectarian, kills anybody who doesn’t believe in their particular rigorous brand of Islam. They killed last week a single tribe that opposed them. They killed 700 members. Another 1,500 have disappeared. So these are big-scale massacres. So I think they should oppose ISIS. But they need to do it effectively, which means that they have a parallel policy with the Syrian government, which they’ve been trying to overthrow. I don’t think they’re going to have a U-turn in that policy, because it would be to humiliating. But covertly I think that they’re shifting their ground. They need to prevent Assad’s government falling to ISIS.

Obliterating Fox News: John Stewart + Ferguson


Finally, one clear, scathingly brutal, and altogether spot-on evisceration of the increasingly blatant racism enshrined in the Fair and Balanced™ turd dropped in the already debased American journalist punch bowl by the Dirty DIgger.

Take it, John Stewart and the Daily Show, via vlogger The Stewart SHow:

Jon Stewart Goes After Fox in Powerful Ferguson Monologue

And if perchance the video is taken down, you can watch it at Salon in  a format we can’t embed.

Racial profiling: Profit center for City of Ferguson


From The Real News Network, a report on one of the dark sides of American law enforcement, exploiting racial intolerance for local government financial gain, presented by TRNN producer Jihan Hafiz.

Via The Real News Network:

Special Report: Ferguson Police Profiling of Blacks a Major Funding Source for City Budget

From the transcript:

HAFIZ: Statistics indicate racial profiling is not only common in Ferguson, but systematic. A recent study/report conducted by ArchCity Defenders found the rate at which black residents are pulled over or issued petty fines is disproportionate to the black population of Ferguson. Eighty-seven percent of vehicle stops and traffic fines are issued to black residents, although they make up 67 percent of the population, compared to just 12 percent of vehicle stops and fines given to white residents, who make up 27 percent of Ferguson’s population. Statistics recorded by the Ferguson Police Department show an overwhelming majority of the court cases that go through Ferguson’s municipal court involved black residents.

THOMAS HARVEY, EXEC. DIR., ARCHCITY DEFENDERS: And it shows that there’s a disproportionate number of people pulled over, even in proportion to their representative population, in Ferguson, Florissant, and Bel-Ridge.

HAFIZ: Police singling out black commuters and residents is twice and sometimes three times more likely than their white neighbors. Once pulled over or stopped by the police, black residents are typically searched without warrants, fined, and/or arrested. Of the 60 municipalities surveyed in the report, Ferguson was among the three worst counties for vehicle stops and petty fines targeting black residents.

HARVEY: We decided to focus on three courts where we saw the most egregious examples. And that was Bel-Ridge, Ferguson, and Florissant. And when we looked at their budgets, it completely supported what our clients were saying. Ferguson budgets predicts that it will earn in revenue $2.65 million from court costs and fines per year. And that number has increased steadily from 2010 to 2013. So Florissant is the neighboring municipality, and it estimates it’ll bring in another–I think it’s $1.5 million or $1.6 million net off of these fines. So you’ve got two municipalities right next door to one another who’ve got over $4 million in fines that are being brought in, generally derived from traffic tickets. I want to be clear. These aren’t felonies. These aren’t violent infractions. These are the lowest level possible contact with the criminal justice system. You can get tickets in these courts for not cutting your grass.

InSecurityWatch: War, spooks, hacks, zones


We begin today’s walk on the dark side with a story everyone knew was coming, via the New York Times:

U.S. Weighs Direct Military Action Against ISIS in Syria

The Obama administration is debating a more robust intervention in Syria, including possible American airstrikes, in a significant escalation of its weeks-long military assault on the Islamic extremist group that has destabilized neighboring Iraq and killed an American journalist, officials said Friday.

While President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war, officials said recent advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have made clear that it represents a threat to the interests of the United States and its allies. The beheading of James Foley, the American journalist, has contributed to what officials called a “new context” for a challenge that has long divided the president’s team.

Officials said the options include speeding up and intensifying limited American efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian rebel forces that have been fighting ISIS as well as fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Another option would be to bolster other partners on the ground to take on ISIS, including the Syrian Kurds.

But as Deutsche Welle notes, some things remain unsayable:

Germany ‘regrets’ comments on Qatar support for ‘IS’

  • Germany has upset Qatar, with one of Angela Merkel’s ministers saying the Gulf monarchy was funding the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” terror group, and another attempting some sensitive World Cup wordplay

The German government said on Friday that it had no direct evidence of Qatar funding the so-called “Islamic State” (“IS”) group active in Iraq and Syria.

“If there were misunderstandings, we regret these,” foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer told reporters in Berlin, after Development Minister Gerd Müller told public broadcaster ZDF earlier in the week that efforts to cut off “IS” funding had the “keyword Qatar.”

Schäfer on Friday said that Qatar had contacted the government in Berlin over the comments, and called the Gulf monarchy an important partner for Germany. However, he said that there were several issues, “where we are not always of the same opinion.”

While the Independent notes that America’s closest Arab ally is still killing people for witchcraft:

Saudi Arabia executes 19 during one half of August in ‘disturbing surge of beheadings’

Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 19 people since the beginning of August in a surge of executions, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The deaths relate to the period from 4 to 20 August and are included in the 34 deaths ordered since the beginning of January.

According to HRW, international standards require that capital punishment should only be reserved for the “most serious crimes” in countries that still use it.

Offences that resulted in the Saudi Arabian death penalties in August ranged from drug smuggling and sorcery.

And closer to home, the latest GOP cross-border xenophobia alert, via Mother Jones:

Iowa GOP Official Warns That Child Migrants Might Be Highly Trained “Warriors”

Iowa Republican National Committee member Tamara Scott has a special theory about the flood of child migrants entering the United States: What if they’re secretly ninjas?

Republican congressmen have previously argued that the 70,000 youths who will come across the border in 2014 are being brought over to bolster Democratic voter rolls at some point in the distant future, or that they are carrying a deadly disease that does not actually exist in their home countries. Scott, in a Thursday radio segment flagged by Right Wing Watch, sought to outdo them all:

For us just to open our borders it’s chaos we don’t know orderly who’s coming in, who’s not. When we see these kids, you and I think young kids, we think maybe 12-year-olds, maybe even…middle-schoolers. But we know back in our revolution, we had 12-year-olds fighting in our revolution. And for many of these kids, depending on where they’re coming from, they could be coming from other countries and be highly trained as warriors who will meet up with their group here and actually rise up against us as Americans. We have no idea what’s coming through our borders, but I would say biblically it’s not a Christian nation when you entice people to do wrong.

Wired threat level totes up another tab:

Personal Privacy Is Only One of the Costs of NSA Surveillance

There is no doubt the integrity of our communications and the privacy of our online activities have been the biggest casualty of the NSA’s unfettered surveillance of our digital lives. But the ongoing revelations of government eavesdropping have had a profound impact on the economy, the security of the internet and the credibility of the U.S. government’s leadership when it comes to online governance.

These are among the many serious costs and consequences the NSA and those who sanctioned its activities—including the White House, the Justice Department and lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein—apparently have not considered, or acknowledged, according to a report by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

“Too often, we have discussed the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs through the distorting lens of a simplistic ‘security versus privacy’ narrative,” said Danielle Kehl, policy analyst at the Open Technology Institute and primary author of the report. “But if you look closer, the more accurate story is that in the name of security, we’re trading away not only privacy, but also the U.S. tech economy, internet openness, America’s foreign policy interests and cybersecurity.”

And the Guardian raises grounds for real domestic insecurity:

Ferguson: officer relieved of duty after ‘black little perverts’ video surfaces

  • Dan Page, among the police working at Ferguson protests, is relieved after video emerges of him saying ‘I’m into diversity, I kill everybody’

A police officer involved in the protests over Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, has been relieved of his duty after video surfaced of him describing black people as “little perverts” and Barack Obama as an illegal immigrant.

Dan Page – who was seen live on CNN earlier this week threatening to arrest the network’s anchor Don Lemon – was recorded in April giving a speech in which he railed against Muslims and gay people, saying: “I’m into diversity – I kill everybody.”

Page is the second St Louis county officer to have been stood down in controversial circumstances surrounding the Ferguson protests. Lieutenant Ray Albers was suspended on Wednesday after video emerged of him pointing his assault weapon at protestors and threatening to kill them.

And closer to Casa esnl, more grounds for insecurity from the Fairfield, California, Daily Republic:

Fairfield cops under investigation for possible database checks on potential dates

A pair of veteran Fairfield police officers are under investigation for possible felony conduct relating to their trolling of personals dating websites while on duty and possibly using confidential law enforcement databases repeatedly to screen women they found appealing.

The officers, Sgt. Stephen Ruiz and Detective Jacob Glashoff, had their desktop computers, their laptop computers, their duty cellphones and a Fairfield police iPad seized by an internal affairs investigator in June, according to court documents filed Thursday. The equipment was turned over to the Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, which was joined in the investigation of the two officers by a data analyst with the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Analysis.

The investigation began in June when another detective reported to his superiors that some of his peers in the Investigations Bureau office at 1100 Texas St. were misusing the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System database. It connects to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and state and federal law enforcement records.

The Miami Herald makes a point with which we agree:

Miami-Dade mayor: ‘I want a camera on every police officer’

In the wake of national outrage over alleged police misconduct in Ferguson, Mo., Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday vowed to make “body cameras” mandatory for all county patrol officers.

His proposed budget calls for purchasing 500 of the mini cameras, enough to outfit about half of Miami-Dade’s patrol force. Made by Taser, they’re small enough to snap onto a pair of glasses or a hat in order to record everything an officer sees.

“I want a camera on every police officer,” Gimenez told the audience at a budget town hall meeting in Little Haiti.

From TechWeekEurope, friends in high places for a high-security service otherwise often decried by governments aplenty:

Tor Is Being Kept Safe By Dissenting GCHQ And NSA Agents, Claims Project Director

  • Apparently a few of the government spies want to keep Tor anonymous and secure

Employees of the UK and US intelligence services have been helping the Tor network maintain anonymity of its users, claims Andrew Lewman, executive director of the Tor Project.

Lewman told the BBC that his development team regularly gets ‘tipped off’ when the National Security Agency (NSA) or Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) find a vulnerability that could compromise the security of the network.

“There are plenty of people in both organisations who can anonymously leak data to us to say – maybe you should look here, maybe you should look at this to fix this,” he said. “And they have.”

From the Guardian, a spooky blast from the past:

Botched Nazi spy mission was act of sabotage, says historian

  • German intelligence officials opposed to Hitler’s plans chose agents with poor English for Operation Lena, book suggests

Of the 12 spies who landed in Britain as part of Operation Lena in September 1940, most were arrested without having come closing to fulfilling their mission, and “because of their own stupidity”, as British official records put it. Why Germany sent such inept agents on one of the most important missions of the second world war has remained an enduring mystery.

A book published in Germany this summer comes up with a new explanation. In Operation Sealion: Resistance inside the Secret Service, the historian Monika Siedentopf argues that the botched spying mission was not the result of German incompetence, but a deliberate act of sabotage by a cadre of intelligence officials opposed to Hitler’s plans.

Siedentopf first became interested in the story of Operation Sealion – the German plan to invade Britain – while researching a book on the role of female spies during the war. For many other missions, German spies had been meticulously well-prepared, she noticed, so why not in 1940?

From Techdirt, censorship on campus:

University Bans Social Media, Political Content and Wikipedia Pages On Dorm WiFi

My understanding is that there was once a theory that America’s public universities were havens of free speech, political thought, and a center for the exchange of ideas. I must admit that this seems foreign to me. I’ve always experienced universities primarily as a group-think center mostly centered around college athletics. That said, if universities want to still claim to be at the forefront of idea and thought, they probably shouldn’t be censoring the hell out of what their students can access on the internet.

Yet, as btr1701 writes in about, that’s exactly what Northern Illinois University appears to be doing.

Northern Illinois University enacted an Acceptable Use Policy that goes further than banning torrents, also denying students access to social media sites and other content the university considers “unethical” or “obscene.” A discussion on the ban was brought to Reddit by user darkf who discovered the new policy while trying to access the Wikipedia page for the Westboro Baptist Church from his personal computer in his dorm room. The student received a filter message categorizing the page as “illegal or unethical.” It seems possible to continue to the webpage, but the message warns that all violations will be reviewed.

While DutchNews.nl resists a similar measure on a national scale:

Dutch minister opposes new law to criminalise ‘glorifying violence’

Justice minister Ivo Opstelten has rejected calls for the government to bring in a new law making it a crime to glorify terrorist violence.

Christian Democrat MPs have called for a change in the law following the murder of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State. The government is currently not doing enough to tackle the problem, CDA leader Sybrand Buma said on Thursday.

Opstelten said in a reaction he is not in favour of the introduction of ‘thought police’. ‘There is freedom of expression,’ the minister is quoted as saying.

While the Mainichi covers a real domestic security threat:

Dominican Republic bans Miley Cyrus concert

The Dominican Republic government commission that oversees public performances is banning a Sept. 13 concert by Miley Cyrus on morality grounds.

The commission said in a statement Thursday that it took the action because Cyrus often “undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law.”

Tickets ranging from $27 to $370 for the concert in the capital have been on sale since July.

PandoDaily covers a banner year:

Are the hackers winning? 2014 is shaping up as a record year in security breaches

Hackers have been busy in 2014. According to a Data Breach QuickView report by Risk Based Security (RBS), the first half of 2014 has already surpassed the record set across all of 2013 for the number of consumer records exposed.

The company writes, “Mid-year 2014 data breaches exposed over 502 million records far exceeding the mid-year point in 2013, the previous all-time record setting year… and the recently reported exposure of 1.2 billion email addresses and usernames has not been included.”

This news comes weeks after Target released an analysis of the cost of its 2013 breach which, at 110 million records exposed, was the seventh largest breach in history and and was surely among the most-widely publicized. The final tally: $148 million, plus an incalculable loss of consumer trust. The incident, and a confidence eroding response by management, also ended up cost the company its CEO and CIO.

More hackery news from RT:

User beware: Researchers have 92% success rate hacking into Gmail app

Your smartphone may be far less secure than you think. A group of computer scientists say they’ve found a way to hack into six out of seven popular apps like Gmail on Android, Windows and iOS platforms, with a success rate of up to 92 percent.

The weakness, which was discovered by researchers from the University of California Riverside, means they could get potentially sensitive information, such as looking at emails and changing passwords. Thankfully for unsuspecting citizens, the team says it has no interest in using any personal data, but will instead present its findings in a paper: “Peeking into Your App without Actually Seeing It: UI State Inference and Novel Android Attacks,” at the USENIX Security Symposium in San Diego on Friday.

The team believed they could find a fault in an app because so many are produced by so many different developers. Once a user downloads a number of apps to his or her smartphone they are all running on the same shared platform, or operating system. Therefore users leave themselves open to attacks as an Android phone allows itself to be hijacked or pre-empted.

Network World covers still more hackery:

US warns ‘significant number’ of major businesses hit by Backoff malware

Over a thousand major enterprise networks and small and medium businesses in the U.S. have been compromised by a recently discovered malware package called “Backoff” and are probably unaware of it, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a cybersecurity alert on Friday.

Backoff first appeared in October 2013 and is capable of scraping the memory contents of point of sales systems—industry speak for cash registers and other terminals used at store checkouts—for data swiped from credit cards, from monitoring the keyboard and logging keystrokes, from communicating with a remote server.

“Over the past year, the Secret Service has responded to network intrusions at numerous businesses throughout the United States that have been impacted by the “Backoff” malware,” the alert said. “Seven PoS system providers/vendors have confirmed that they have had multiple clients affected.”

Meanwhile, a privacy battle shapes up in Europe, via RT:

Facebook given deadline in ‘largest privacy class action in Europe’

Facebook has been given four weeks to respond to a class action, launched against it by an Austrian activist and supported by 60,000 users. The suit claims Facebook violated users’ privacy, by cooperating with the NSA’s PRISM program.

The class action initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer, data privacy activist and founder of Europe vs. Facebook group has passed its first review in the Vienna Regional Court.

Facebook Ireland, which runs the social network’s activities outside the US and Canada, has been given four weeks to respond to the action.

BBC News covers a crackdown on aisle three:

Venezuela plans to introduce supermarket fingerprinting

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has announced a mandatory fingerprinting system in supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling.

He said the system would stop people from buying too much of a single item.

But the opposition in Venezuela rejected the plan, saying the policy treated all Venezuelans as thieves.

And Factor has Robocop, Mark I:

Bots on patrol: Mobile security robot to be mass produced

In a move that will rock the job security of night watchmen everywhere, the world’s first commercially available security robot is set for mass production in the US.

Designed by Denver-based Gamma 2 Robotics, the robot will now be manufactured entirely in the States, with a process that can be scaled up to full mass production as demand grows.

The robot, which is known as the Vigilant MCP (mobile camera platform), features a digital camera and an array of sensors to detect the presence of unauthorised intruders, and will activate the alarm and send out an alert should it find someone where they shouldn’t be.

After the jump, the latest from the Asian Game of Zones, including a call for a cyberwar treaty, talks in Karachi, a nautical seizure, a Chinese question, a Sino/American aerial close encounter, North Korean missiles ahead, tensions on the high seas, an Obama administration thumbs up for Japanese militarism, an anti-propaganda call in Japan, posturing by exercise, and still more turmoil over Japanese ethnic intolerance towards Koreans and that the ongoing crisis over Japanese reluctance to fully acknowledge World War II sex slavery. . .   Continue reading

Chart of the day: Between killings, a notable rethink


Public attitudes toward the racial component of “office4-involved shootings” have shifted significantly between the time of last year’s Trayvon Martin shooting and the killing of Martin Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as revealed in a new study [PDF] from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Cartoon