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Because there just haven't been enough government scandals lately...

Federal surveillance of over a hundred homes, businesses, mosques, warehouses and other sites has been conducted without warrants, according to a new USNews report. Indications are that the persons so targeted were US citizens. "In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts."
posted by darkstar on Dec 23, 2005 - 131 comments

Echelon: 60 Minutes discussion

Echelon This is what we know--or do not know--about NSA prgram called Echelon, from 60 Minute show (TV) in 2000. If we assume this what had been going on and there were some sort of restraints for internal spying, then what is going on now? This evening I had heard on radio that the White House claimed that only calls going in and out of the country might be monitored. But this early interview suggests that such calls were monitored previous to the "new" approach. Why were legal restraints put in place calling for judicial hearings? Because of spying abuse done under Nixon. Those restraints are now removed.
posted by Postroad on Dec 19, 2005 - 158 comments

Above Ground Covert-Ops

Global Options, Inc. Have you been unfairly attacked by: the media? trial lawyers? disgruntled workers? terrorists? overzealous federal regulators? competitors? hackers? industrial spies? one-issue activists? extortionists? intellectual property thieves? or even the Russian mafia? Global Options has your back. [warning: radar beeps.]
posted by panoptican on Dec 4, 2005 - 19 comments

Signaling Vulnerabilities in Wiretapping Systems

Signaling Vulnerabilities in Wiretapping Systems. The technology used for decades by law enforcement agents to wiretap telephones has a security flaw that allows the person being wiretapped to stop the recorder remotely [bugmenot]. It is also possible to falsify the numbers dialed [pdf].
posted by event on Nov 30, 2005 - 5 comments

David Brin's worried ....

David Brin -- hoping to rescue modernity Quote: -- "... I have spoken before of the blatant -- and yet never-reported -- pattern shown by more than a hundred members of the United States Congress, appointing young cadets to the US Military Academies according to one criterion above all others -- their depth of religious zealotry. This infusion of young officers who believe in a coming apocalypse is discreetly worrisome at West Point and Annapolis, but it has already had newsworthy effects at the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs. A town that is also now known as a main locus and training center for fanatics bent on dominating American civilization. (see) This coincidence... one of many that simply cannot be coincidence... should be tallied and noted. See also this in recent -- 11/26 -- news "... Among the steps already taken by the Pentagon that enhanced its domestic capabilities was the establishment after 9/11 of Northern Command, or Northcom, in Colorado Springs, to provide military forces to help in reacting to terrorist threats in the continental United States. Today, Northcom's intelligence centers in Colorado and Texas fuse reports from CIFA, the FBI and other U.S. agencies, and are staffed by 290 intelligence analysts. That is more than the roughly 200 analysts working for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and far more than those at the Department of Homeland Security...."
posted by hank on Nov 28, 2005 - 29 comments

Deafening silence over GAO e-voting report, new evidence of abuse.

Mainstream Media to American Democracy: Drop Dead! Brad Friedman ask alarming questions about the complete lack of attention which has been paid to the GAO report on electronic voting technology (PDF link) released more than a month ago, which confirms what security experts have been saying for years: these systems are vulnerable to multiple independent attacks targeting system and network vulnerabilities, access controls, hardware controls, and overall management practices. If you're short of time, at least read Rep. Waxman's fact sheet summary.

Ultimately, there is no real security on these machines; the report shows that overturning election results would not be at all difficult for even a single moderately skilled attacker. And now Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are wondering if American Democracy has died an electronic death in the wake of massive discrepancies between final pre-election opinion polls and the results of several citizen initiatives designed to reform Ohio's electoral processes.
posted by dinsdale on Nov 16, 2005 - 68 comments

Security smackdown

Howard Schmidt thinks that developers should be accountable for security holes. Schneier responds.
posted by afroblanca on Oct 20, 2005 - 29 comments

Herding Zombies

Interesting "New Yorker" article about online extortion via DDoS attacks. Call me naive and underinformed, but I had little understanding of how this works. "In the most common scenario, the bots surreptitiously connect hundreds, or thousands, of zombies to a channel in a chat room. The process is called “herding,” and a herd of zombies is called a botnet."
posted by dersins on Oct 7, 2005 - 34 comments

Conservation doesn't include Air Force One

Petroleum Industry Christmas Wishlist Conservative pundits are quick to point out that no "new refineries have been built since 1976", and even quicker to blame "environmentalists". But the facts just don't support that. Refiners have chosen the environment that they do business in, and in some cases have willingly contributed to it. (Plenty of data here.) Here's why:

  • The government has allowed the industry to merge, consolidate, and restrict refining capacity, thus impacting pricing, supply, and demand.
  • The quest for profits has caused the need to run extremely lean supplies (ie. no stockpiles of crude - it arrives when you need it, not before) and has resulted in susceptability to wild volatility in prices, but has allowed refiners to operate at very high efficiency but with no margin of excess capacity for temporary shortages, disasters, etc.
  • Oil refiners trimmed back capacity after the Oil Crash of the early 1980s and have been unwilling to reinvest in new technologies unless environmental restrictions and local fuel cleanliness mandates are reduced.
As one would expect, Bush's solutions nicely match up with the wishlists of OPEC and US refiners, who in the past few decades have largely undone the breakup of Standard Oil (via) via mergers and joint ventures. Representative Joe Barton, (R-TX), Chairperson of the Energy and Commerce Committee, incidentally up for reelection and well funded, by "the industry" through various Political Action Committees, has released a draft of the predictably named (to be found here when released) Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005 (committee discusion and webcast are scheduled for 9/28 at 8 am.) Given that new refineries are years away, there is still no solution for current prices or the (90%?) increase in prices since January of 2001.
posted by rzklkng on Sep 27, 2005 - 22 comments

In the future, the whole world will be like a video game....

Closed Circuit TV and Data Confluence
Qinetiq is bringing their CCTV confluence technology, codenamed Praetorian, to the UK. "The system automatically tracks and stitches 3D images with CCTV video, maps and other real-time information. It automatically alerts operators to intruders, unusual behaviour, left objects or anything it is told to spot." And it looks more like a video game than a video feed. This new tech is perhaps not as controversial as Qinetiq's Millimetre Wave Imaging System that allows passive scanning through clothing to detect guns, knives or bombs.
Yes, it is very Big Brother-esque but its also pretty amazing technology too. Qinetiq previously discussed on MeFi here, here, here and here.
posted by fenriq on Aug 12, 2005 - 7 comments

Kill Spam Dead

"Israeli technology firm Blue Security has set up a scheme to batter spam websites with thousands of complaints. The plan is to fill order forms...offering pills, porn and penile health tonics with complaints about the products advertised for sale in junk messages." I signed up.
posted by JPowers on Jul 23, 2005 - 27 comments

Stealing Osama's Identity

Security, the TSA, and the No-Fly List You would think that our National Security apparatus would be like the TV series "24", with the most ingenious and sophisticated technology available. You would be wrong. Disclaimer: TSA is not an intelligent intelligence agency. Here's a blurb from the resume of the designer(Kenneth Mack) of the application the airline industry uses for *PDF* managing their employee data and the cross-checking them with the no-fly list:
- Sr. Developer: Developed a program [for Goddard Technologies] that uses the "No-Fly List" Excel spreadsheet, provided by the FAA and the database of badged employees to permute the name combinations. It takes into consideration multiple first and middle names, with Soundex and the various "initial" combinations. This program reduced the time for comparison from 3 days to 10 minutes.
The scary yet interesting part of all of this is that the No-Fly List is nothing more than a password-protected spreadsheet (see this PDF). One would guess our Government's geeks would know that it's a bad idea to send email attachments containing social security numbers and dates of birth, unencrypted, over the internets, even if they might be terrorists.
posted by rzklkng on Jul 15, 2005 - 30 comments

Alarming Article on Security Procedures

Alarming Article on Security Procedures What is alarming is not necessarily that there is a "no-fly" list, or that we have security measures in response to a percieved terrorist threat. What's alarming is that there seems to be no accountabity or due process demanded from public officials. Without accountability, what's to stop public officials from acting arbitrarily, or for some political endeavor? (See the Plame case.) Combined with the Right's seeming position that the president is above the law in prosecuting a war, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 03-1027 (Rumsfield v. Padilla) and Case No. 03-6696 (Hamdi v. Rumsfield), (see also the recent DOJ position papers), and for the 1st time I am becoming nervous that America might devolve into something like a police state.
posted by JKevinKing on Jul 7, 2005 - 36 comments

$$$P0--ahgo6

Write down your password. Bruce Schneier, Author of Applied Cryptography and founder of Counterpane security is urging people to write down their passwords.
posted by delmoi on Jun 21, 2005 - 68 comments

Ice Cream Safety At Last

Keep your ice cream safe or at least make it clear that you don't appreciate the tampering.
posted by plinth on Jun 15, 2005 - 23 comments

"Skunk" Baxter

Rocker Jeff Baxter Moves and Shakes in National Security • "Jeff Baxter played psychedelic music with Ultimate Spinach, jazz-rock with Steely Dan and funky pop with the Doobie Brothers. But in the last few years he has made an even bigger transition: Mr. Baxter, who goes by the nickname "Skunk," has become one of the national-security world's well-known counterterrorism experts."
posted by dhoyt on May 25, 2005 - 27 comments

Terror Alert: Yellow!

Be afraid: The national threat-alert level today is yellow or "elevated," with "significant risk of terrorist attacks," says the Department of Homeland Security. In fact, the alert level has been elevated since December of 2003, when it was raised from orange. During the election season, the Fox News network flashed the terror alert level in their "crawl" as if there was breaking news -- the sort of thing that prompted some liberal wags to ridicule the entire system. Now former DHS secretary Tom Ridge says that the Bush administration was "really aggressive" about raising the threat-alert level during his tenure, even when the agency felt that the intelligence didn't warrant it.
posted by digaman on May 11, 2005 - 24 comments

"Speaks strange language? Check. Ethnic-style dress? Check. Very suspicious".

Terrorists from Antarctica. Two Seaworld penguins flying out of San Diego airport are sent walking through the metal detector. Better safe than sorry. via BoingBoing, via Schneier
posted by matteo on Apr 23, 2005 - 44 comments

US Anti-Espionage Posters

Loose lips sink ships!!!1 (There be images, some quite big here) I suspect a lot of MeFi shares my obsession with propaganda (and propaganda-style) posters, both domestic and foreign, as well as the photoshops that the Something Awful or Fark crowds generate. CoolGov has a link today to the Office of the National National Counterintelligence Executive and their Anti-Espionage poster collection. Some are great, some are almost pure propaganda, and some show how obsessed with secrecy our government has become. That lead me to Google to look for posters on the *.gov and *.mil domains. Check out the posters for "Venemous Snakes of Afghanistan and Pakistan", or what the well dressed airmen is wearing (*note the "Essentials"), posters from the NOAA telling you that "lightning kills", the Code of Ethics for Government Officers and Employees, and this one telling GI's why smoking could kill them.
posted by rzklkng on Apr 18, 2005 - 22 comments

Harvard rejects

"Hacker" discovers backdoor to Harvard Business School admissions decisions.
Harvard rejects all applicants who used the "hack."
posted by trharlan on Mar 8, 2005 - 68 comments

Prox Card Hack

Think your Prox Card system is secure? Guess again. Some Sophomores at Olin College reverse-engineered the prox card system on campus and built their own reader. Rumor has it they have a spoofer (self-contained copier/transmitter) too, but nothing on the site about it.
posted by Brockstar on Mar 5, 2005 - 10 comments

Want to know the hardware behind Echelon?

Want to know the hardware behind Echelon? The other day I posted a book (Chatter) review about NSA. In this follow-up, the equipment used. "Aside from using the system for industrial espionage and bypassing international and national laws to listen in on people, it is also used to listen out for people like Osama bin Laden and assorted terrorists in the hope of preventing attacks."
posted by Postroad on Mar 3, 2005 - 7 comments

A false is false, of course of course

New Firefox build fixes IDN toggle Hear about the IDN debacle yesterday? Last night's build of Firefox fixes it. Download and install over your existing Firefox. The Mozilla tree is fixed too. [instructions inside]
posted by cavalier on Feb 8, 2005 - 38 comments

IDN browser hacks

Heard about the IDN browser hack? Try out this test page which should open your eyes (the hack is blocked in IE, ironically enough). Here's a list of all affected browsers, ways to fix this in mozilla inside.
posted by mathowie on Feb 7, 2005 - 64 comments

Earmarked

Visitors to the US tagged with RFID chips? They already use them on goods and livestock, but soon also foreign visitors will be earmarked. Will it make the US a safer country?
posted by kika on Jan 27, 2005 - 34 comments

Prohibited Items at the Presidential Inauguration

Empty your pockets before attending the Presidential Inauguration. Among items forbidden are pocket tools, explosives, animals -- and in case they forgot to mention something, "any other items at the discretion of the security screeners that may pose a potential safety hazard"
posted by ThePrawn on Jan 16, 2005 - 50 comments

Sign on the X

Testing the limits of credit card receipt signatures. Are there any?
posted by DBAPaul on Jan 14, 2005 - 62 comments

Nothing--you're screwed.

Safe Personal Computing. Bruce Schneier, cited frequently on Metafilter, has a new article on his blog in which he gives home users concrete actions they could take to improve security. As the holidays come and I make the rounds to disinfect and repair all my family's computers, I'll be printing this out and sticking copies to their monitors.
posted by sohcahtoa on Dec 13, 2004 - 73 comments

Barlow's War

Is John Barlow, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Grateful Dead lyricist, a threat to national security? "On September 15, 2003, I boarded Delta Flight 310, scheduled to depart San Francisco International Airport for JFK at 7:20 that morning. I was still feeling slightly singed from Burning Man and the hour was one I prefer to see from the other side. I was almost back to sleep when, roughly two minutes before pull-back, I was approached by a Delta employee who informed me that there was 'a problem' of some sort and that it would be necessary to get off the aircraft..."
posted by digaman on Dec 10, 2004 - 172 comments

Que pensaient-ils?

French police on Sunday ended their practice of hiding plastic explosives in air passengers' luggage to train bomb-sniffing dogs after one such bag got lost, possibly ending up on a flight out of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.
WTF were they thinking? Isn't there a better way to train the dogs without making innocent people unwittingly carry plastique?
posted by Vidiot on Dec 5, 2004 - 34 comments

Who is watching Big Brother?

Who is watching Big Brother? Last week, the Australian Privacy Foundation held its annual Big Brother Awards, with biometric passports winning the prestigious "Orwell" for the most invasive technology (other countries' Big Brother Awards here). Not long before, Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center released their 7th Annual Survey on the state of privacy in sixty countries, claiming that threats to personal privacy have reached a level that is dangerous to fundamental human rights. Are we edging closer to Room 101?
posted by UbuRoivas on Nov 29, 2004 - 6 comments

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia

I feel safer already! Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security lowered the terror alert-level for the financial-services sector in the NY/DC area from orange to yellow, which has nothing, repeat nothing, to do with the election. "We don't do politics here at this department," days DHS deputy secretary James Loy. When the alert was jacked up back in August, some felt otherwise.
posted by digaman on Nov 11, 2004 - 16 comments

Robotechs personal robots that protect and hopefully don't kill

I always thought a future filled with robots would be kinda cool, but I find the Robowatch home security robot kinda creepy. It's expensive (50k euros), looks pretty obvious patrolling around, does have a slick futuristic controller, but finding the three stooges is about the best it can do. I suppose this would be like having your own googlebot around the house.
posted by mathowie on Nov 5, 2004 - 5 comments

Google falters? Can't be!

GMail not-so-safe Mail. So apparentley GMail has a major exploit that's been discovered by an Israeli hacker. "Using a hex-encoded XSS link, the victim's cookie file can be stolen by a hacker, who can later use it to identify himself to Gmail as the original owner of an email account, regardless of whether or not the password is subsequently changed." And so the fun with GMail begins..
posted by mrplab on Oct 29, 2004 - 9 comments

crime

Identity theft is epidemic.
posted by semmi on Oct 25, 2004 - 17 comments

We're the most advanced nation on earth! Neat!

Monkey hacks Diebold voting machine. Really.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Sep 23, 2004 - 68 comments

Morning has broken

Cat Stevens on NatSec watchlist. "A London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Maine on Tuesday when it was discovered passenger Yusuf Islam - formerly known as singer Cat Stevens - was on a government watch list and barred from entering the country, federal officials said... Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy identified the passenger as Islam. 'He was interviewed and denied admission to the United States on national security grounds,' Murphy said, and would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday."
posted by mwhybark on Sep 21, 2004 - 79 comments

The pen is mightier than the lock.

Use one of those heavy U-locks to secure your bike? You might want to think again. It seems the barrel style lock mechanisms some of them employ can be opened by a Bic pen [.mov movie].
posted by normy on Sep 14, 2004 - 69 comments

Run away run away!!

In other news... Bush’s security detail gallantly protects President from triple amputee. Meanwhile, a local father expresses his opinion of Bush’s foreign policy results in a more illuminating fashion.
posted by EmoChild on Aug 25, 2004 - 77 comments

Fear itself

Fear Itself: an american journalist wants to put the threat of terrorism into perspective, and elects to ride on a bus line in Jerusalem, the train line through Madrid, and a British Airways flight said to be a bombing target. He comes away with it unscathed but the stories he tells about the history of terror, especially in Israel, is chilling and daily life in some parts of Jerusalem sounds like scenes lifted straight out of Brazil. [via the big K]
posted by mathowie on Aug 22, 2004 - 27 comments

Losing sleep over terrorism?

Quantum Sleeper... If I blow $100,000+ on a bed, Sandra Bullock better be in it.
posted by RavinDave on Aug 19, 2004 - 33 comments

Melek Can Dickerson...took hundreds of pages of top-secret sensitive intelligence documents outside the FBI to unknown recipients.

a letter to Thomas Kean, Chair of the 9/11 Commission from Sibel Edmonds: Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address serious intelligence issues that I am aware of, which have been confirmed, and which as a witness to the commission, I made you aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues that I am not aware of were in the same manner omitted from your report. These omissions cast doubt on the validity of your report and therefore on its conclusions and recommendations. Considering what is at stake, our national security, we are entitled to demand answers to unanswered questions, and to ask for clarification of issues that were ignored and/or omitted from the report. A solid letter detailing many disturbing things reported to the Commission, yet not in the report. More on Edmonds here.
posted by amberglow on Aug 2, 2004 - 19 comments

A Mile High Clubbing

Flight crew beat up passenger: Drunken passengers often give air crews trouble, but Russia's leading airline today reported an 'unprecedented' reversal: a passenger was assaulted by intoxicated flight attendants. (via failure)
posted by fizz-ed on Jul 20, 2004 - 11 comments

Orwell would be proud

Eastasia plans attacks on Eurasia "Efforts each of you make to be vigilant – such as reporting suspicious items or activities to authorities – do make a difference. Every citizen using their common sense and eyes and ears can support our national effort to stop the terrorists. Thank you for your continued resolve in the face of the ongoing threat of terrorism. We must continue to work together – to ensure that the freedom we just celebrated continues as the hallmark of this great nation." Are you scared yet?
posted by skechada on Jul 8, 2004 - 57 comments

Intercepting E-Mail

E-mail snooping is legal. A U.S. federal appeals court set an unsettling precedent last week by ruling (PDF) that an e-mail provider did not break the law when he copied and read e-mail messages sent to customers through his server.
posted by homunculus on Jul 7, 2004 - 15 comments

Secret world of US jails

Secret world of US jails The United States government, in conjunction with key allies, is running an 'invisible' network of prisons and detention centres into which thousands of suspects have disappeared without trace since the 'war on terror' began. In the past three years, thousands of alleged militants have been transferred around the world by American, Arab and Far Eastern security services, often in secret operations that by-pass extradition laws. The astonishing traffic has seen many, including British citizens, sent from the West to countries where they can be tortured to extract information. Anything learnt is passed on to the US and, in some cases, reaches British intelligence.
posted by Postroad on Jun 14, 2004 - 34 comments

Is Bremer running scared?

Is Bremer running scared? Chris Neidrich was one of those who died on Sunday when a carefully planned ambush by seven vehicles attacked a Blackwater security convoy headed to Baghdad Airport, killing four and wounding three. Neidrich also guarded Bremer's motorcade.
The day after the attack on Bremer, the following security bulletin was released:
Effective immediately and until further notice, all CPA ground movement to/from Baghdad International Airport is prohibited. Exceptions for mission critical movements may be requested from Force Protection at DSN.
Is the U.S. military incapable of securing 2 1/2 miles of road from the Green Zone to Baghdad Airport, or has a political decision been made to not guard the road, thereby reducing the risk of military casualties. In other words, is Bremer scared, or is Bush?
posted by insomnia_lj on Jun 8, 2004 - 19 comments

free speech gagged--thanks to the Patriot Act

National Security Letters and John Doe --once only issued against suspected terrorists and spies, NSLs now can be used, thanks to the Patriot Act, against all and any of us. John Doe, the currently gagged owner of a small ISP was targeted for the political speech of his customers and is fighting, along with the ACLU and others. More here (and more inside)
posted by amberglow on May 30, 2004 - 20 comments

Trusted Computing

Trusted Computing. Microsoft and friends are proposing some major alterations to the way that computers work, the ostensible goal being to increase security. But others say that the real goals are much more insidious.
posted by bingo on May 22, 2004 - 15 comments

Comments on Bomb Crap

Advanced methods of bomb detection and investigation. New equipment developed to scan cars and people, such as a parking lot device which quickly bathes the car's trunk in invisible neutrons, a procedure that makes materials inside the trunk emit gamma-rays that would indicate the presence of explosives. Also, a bomb disposal robot which take[s] fingerprints before blowing [a] package up.
posted by mcgraw on May 3, 2004 - 17 comments

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