Today’s compendium of security woes open with two stories about America’s nuclear arsenal and the folks charged with its oversight.
First up, via the Associated Press, merely the latest instance of a phenomenon all too common these days, given that earlier this year similar cheats were exposed amongst Air Force officers overseeing nuclear missiles:
Navy kicks out 34 for nuke cheating
At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy’s nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press.
The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy’s 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.
Neither the instructors nor the students are involved in handling nuclear weapons.
After further investigation the Navy determined that 78 enlisted sailors were implicated. Although the cheating is believed to have been confined to a single unit at Charleston and apparently was not known to commanding officers, the misconduct had been happening since at least 2007, according to Adm. John M. Richardson, director of naval reactors. The exact start of the cheating was not pinpointed.
From the Associated Press again, nuclear spooks:
Former lab worker sentenced in nuke secrets plot
A former Los Alamos National Laboratory contractor has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for conspiring with her physicist husband to sell nuclear secrets.
The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the sentencing of 71-year-old Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, who pleaded guilty to charges accusing the couple of plotting to communicate classified nuclear weapons data to an undercover agent who they thought was a Venezuelan government official.
Her husband, 79-year-old Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, has also pleaded guilty in the case and is in federal custody pending his sentencing. He was a scientist at the lab from 1979 to 1988. She did technical writing and editing from 1981 to 2010. Prosecutors say both held security clearances that allowed them access to certain classified information and restricted data.
Defense One covers up:
Yet Again, CIA is Concealing Information Americans Should See
Once again, the CIA is concealing information that Americans have a right to know, and once again President Obama should ensure its release.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is set to release a landmark report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. But Obama allowed the CIA to oversee redactions, and it predictably went to town with the black marker. According to committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the redactions “eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions.”
From The Intercept, seriously surreal:
U.S. Military Bans The Intercept
The U.S. military is banning and blocking employees from visiting The Intercept in an apparent effort to censor news reports that contain leaked government secrets.
According to multiple military sources, a notice has been circulated to units within the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps warning staff that they are prohibited from reading stories published by The Intercept on the grounds that they may contain classified information. The ban appears to apply to all employees—including those with top-secret security clearance—and is aimed at preventing classified information from being viewed on unclassified computer networks, even if it is freely available on the internet. Similar military-wide bans have been directed against news outlets in the past after leaks of classified information.
A directive issued to military staff at one location last week, obtained by The Intercept, threatens that any employees caught viewing classified material in the public domain will face “long term security issues.” It suggests that the call to prohibit employees from viewing the website was made by senior officials over concerns about a “potential new leaker” of secret documents.
From the Guardian, does that include begonias?:
US police given billions from Homeland Security for ‘tactical’ equipment
- With little oversight, federal agency awarded billions to local police for spending on drones, drugs, vehicles and ‘animals and plants’, among eligible purchases
Billions of federal dollars have been spent since September 11 on purchasing modern and often military-grade equipment for state and local police. But there is little that limits the use of that hardware to counter-terrorism purposes, and oversight of the spending is difficult, according to federal sources and documents reviewed by the Guardian.
In the wake of the Ferguson protests, much attention has gone to the Department of Defense’s program to supply surplus military equipment to police. But that program is eclipsed in size and scope by grant money from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which enables purchases of similar “tactical” equipment.
Under existing federal requirements, police departments and state law enforcement agencies do not need to spend much of that money on preventing terrorism or preparing for disaster relief.
The Wire covers a benching:
ACLU: Officer Who Threatened to ‘F*cking Kill’ Ferguson Protesters Taken Off Duty
A Ferguson Police officer who threatened to kill protesters has been taken off duty after a complaint from the Missouri ACLU, the organization announced Wednesday.
The organization tweeted, “SUCCESS! In response to our letter, officer who threatened to kill #Ferguson protesters has been removed from duty,” soon after posting a copy of a letter addressed to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The ACLU’s Vanita Gupta tweeted “Highway patrol called. They identified the cop. He will no longer be in ferguson.”
In a letter sent Wednesday, the ACLU called on the Missouri Highway Patrol to “identify and remove” an officer featured in the video below. In the video, the officer points a gun protesters and says he’ll “fucking kill” one man. When asked what his name is, he replies “Go fuck yourself.” While Ferguson protests have had “tense moments,” the ACLU argues that the officer’s behavior was “from start to finish wholly unacceptable.”
From the Christian Science Monitor, another containment effort:
After Foley murder, an effort to stamp out jihadi Twitter accounts
The jihad group IS videotaped its murder of American journalist James Foley as a propaganda exercise, fueling a debate over when and how often such groups should be censored on social media sites.
The gruesome murder of American journalist James Foley yesterday was an opportunity for the self-styled Islamic State (IS) to put on a propaganda show. The jihadi group uploaded video of the killing to YouTube and Vimeo and its social media team bombarded Twitter – including targeting journalists and others who closely follow the war in Syria and Iraq – with the links.
Within minutes YouTube deleted the original post and Twitter was not far behind, announcing it would suspend accounts spreading the distressing video. But by that time the clip had multiplied. Users posted slightly different versions to evade detection – YouTube has an algorithm that prevents re-uploads. By Tuesday evening, dozens of copies of the footage could be found with just a simple web search.
As social media sites fought to shut them down, the online followers of IS reveled in the butchery of a hostage and called for more, part of the point of the exercise for the group. Social media has become an important fund-raising and recruitment tool for them. While to most people the murder was nihilistic and repugnant, for would-be internet mujahideen it was a moment of celebration.
PandoDaily catches a contradiction:
Twitter suspends users that share graphic James Foley images — Unless you’re a New York tabloid
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced a new policy, tweeting, “We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery.” But far from setting this controversy to rest, Costolo’s announcement has only sparked a greater debate over a social network’s responsibility when it comes to policing graphic imagery posted by users.
For example, Costolo’s tweet seems clear enough — post images of Foley’s beheading and you will be suspended. And yet accounts belonging to the New York Post and the New York Daily News, which both tweeted out today’s front pages depicting what by any standards is “graphic imagery” of Foley, are still chugging along.
A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that these accounts would not be suspended, arguing that, depending on a user’s media settings, at least one of the tweets included a warning in place of the photo. But not all users saw that warning, and in any case, letting these accounts off the hook because (presumably — Twitter would not comment on this) they belong to major media organizations, directly contradicts Costolo’s tweet, which didn’t leave much room for interpretation. Making matters even worse, Twitter even suggested the Post’s tweet to one user who didn’t even follow the New York tabloid.
From the Toronto Globe and Mail, numbers to the north:
Spy agency intercepted, kept communications of 66 Canadians
Canada’s electronic security agency intercepted and retained the communications of 66 citizens during its spying on foreigners last year in actions that were taken without a judicial warrant or a court order.
That level of detail on the activities of Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), disclosed in a report issued on Wednesday by its watchdog commissioner, had never before released by the Canadian government.
Nor has such information been divulged by other allied intelligence agencies, observers say.
“All of the activities of CSEC reviewed in 2013-2014 complied with the law,” Commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe wrote in his annual report.
Via SecurityWeek, Se habla español:
‘Machete’ Cyber Espionage Attacks Target Spanish-Speaking Countries
- Researchers have identified a cyber-espionage campaign focused on Spanish-speaking countries.
Researchers at Kaspersky Lab have dubbed the attack ‘Machete.’ It is believed the attack campaign started in 2010 and was renewed in 2012 with an improved infrastructure.
“Some time ago, a Kaspersky Lab customer in Latin America contacted us to say he had visited China and suspected his machine was infected with an unknown, undetected malware,” Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team explained in a blog post. “While assisting the customer, we found a very interesting file in the system that is completely unrelated to China and contained no Chinese coding traces. At first look, it pretends to be a Java related application but after a quick analysis, it was obvious this was something more than just a simple Java file. It was a targeted attack we are calling “Machete”.”
The malware at the center of attacks is capable of a number of actions, including logging keystrokes, capturing audio and screenshots, taking photos from the victim’s webcam and capturing geo-location data. The malware can also copy files to a USB device if inserted, and can also copy files to a remote server. In addition, it can hijack the clipboard and capture information from the target machine.
From TheLocal.se, is should come as no surprise:
Top ministers count cost of ‘less secure world’
Foreign and Finance Ministers Carl Bildt and Anders Borg held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss how Sweden was being affected by a “less secure” world, and how it would foot the bill for a growing influx of refugees.
“Things are changing and we’re heading towards a much less secure world,” Bildt told reporters at Stockholm’s government offices on Wednesday.
“We have a lot more of Sweden in the world today, and a lot more of the world in Sweden.”
From Wired threat level, does it make you feel more secure?:
Researchers Easily Slipped Weapons Past TSA’s X-Ray Body Scanners
Two years ago, a blogger named Jonathan Corbett published a YouTube video that seemed to show a facepalm-worthy vulnerability in the TSA’s Rapiscan full-body X-ray scanners: Because metal detected by the scanners appeared black in the images they created, he claimed that any passenger could hide a weapon on the side of his or her body to render it invisible against the scans’ black background. The TSA dismissed Corbett’s findings, and even called reporters to caution them not to cover his video.
Now a team of security researchers from the University of California at San Diego, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins plans to reveal their own results from months of testing that same model of scanner. And not only did they find that Corbett’s weapon-hiding tactic worked; they also found that they could pull off a disturbing list of other possible tricks, such as using teflon tape to conceal weapons against someone’s spine, installing malware on the scanner’s console that spoofed scans, or simply molding plastic explosives around a person’s body to make it nearly indistinguishable from flesh in the machine’s images.
From the London Telegraph, ditto:
Innocent couple branded shoplifters in CCTV release
- Police in Devon apologise for airing a ‘caught on camera’ CCTV photograph which told the public to report any sightings of a couple who had done nothing wrong
An innocent young couple found themselves wrongly accused of shoplifting after bungling police issued a CCTV ‘wanted’ photograph of the pair to the public.
CCTV shots of Charlotte and James Cozens shopping in their local Boots with their three-year-old son were sent to the media as part of a “caught on camera” appeal.
They were accompanied by a description of the pair and details of how they stashed stolen goods in their toddler’s pushchair.
After the jumps, the latest from the Asian Games of Zones, including Afghan anxieties, escalating Pakistani tensions, Thai coup consolidation, trouble in Thibet, trash talk in Pyongyang, lecturing Tokyo, and Japanese eyes in the sky. . . Continue reading