Tag Archives | Security

Amazon Cuts Ties with “Neo-Nazi” Security

Disinfonaut Russell Grant tipped us that Amazon.com will no longer employ alleged Neo-Nazi security firm Hess.

Via Salon:

An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany, Ulrike Stoecker, said Monday the online retailer has ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services “with immediate effect.”

A documentary shown on ARD public television last week showed staff of the security company – whose initials spell out the name of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Hess – wearing clothes linked to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene. It interviewed people claiming they were mistreated by the staff.

Stoecker told The Associated Press that Amazon has a “zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies it works with.”

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Silent Circle, The New Encryption App That Is Terrifying The Government

The idea is to “democratize encryption” by making it available to the non-tech-savvy with the push of a button. Will this be used for good or evil? Slate‘s Ryan Gallagher explains:

The startup tech firm Silent Circle’s groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button—photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.

The technology uses a sophisticated peer-to-peer encryption technique that allows users to send encrypted files of up to 60 megabytes through a “Silent Text” app. The sender of the file can set it on a timer so that it will automatically “burn”—deleting it from both devices after a set period of, say, seven minutes. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade surveillance.

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TSA To Cease Use Of Naked-Image Scanners In Airports

The machines are being removed, but the disturbing grayscale images of travelers’ bloated bodies will continue to haunt our nightmares. Via Boomberg:

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration will remove airport body scanners that privacy advocates likened to strip searches after OSI Systems Inc. (OSIS) couldn’t write software to make passenger images less revealing.

TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI’s Rapiscan unit. The agency removed 76 of the machines from busier U.S. airports last year. It will now get rid of the remaining 174 Rapiscan machines, with the company absorbing the cost.

Airline passengers were offended by the revealing images, including those of children and the elderly. The Washington- based Electronic Privacy Information Center sued the agency in July 2010, claiming the scanners violated privacy laws and has called use of the machines equivalent to a “physically invasive strip search.”

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All Charges Dropped Against British ‘UFO Hacker’ Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon can now be referred to as “the man who hacked NASA and the Pentagon and got away with it all.” Via the Daily Mail:

Gary McKinnon’s ten-year nightmare was finally over yesterday after police and prosecutors decided he will not stand trial in Britain. The computer hacker won his fight against extradition two months ago when Theresa May blocked US demands to send him there. Now Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer has announced that the 46-year-old Asperger’s sufferer will not face criminal charges in this country either.

His mother Janis Sharp said: ‘This will be the 11th Christmas since his arrest and it is the first time we can celebrate. If extradited, Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, North London, faced up to 60 years behind bars for hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers looking for the existence of ‘little green men’.

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Bank Hackers Deny Being Iranian Agents

In short, to the U.S. government, anything anomalous is an Iranian conspiracy. Wired writes:

A slew of American officials have blamed Iran for attacks on the servers of Bank of America, Well Fargo, HSBC, and other western banks. But the hackers taking credit for the sophisticated distributed denial-of-service strikes say that’s all wrong; they claim they hit the financial institutions because they were pissed off about “The Innocence of Muslims,” the infamous viral video making fun of the Prophet Muhammad. Tehran didn’t have a thing to do with it.

“We are not dependent on any government. We merely wanted to protest against the insulting movie,” people claiming to be part of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters [said].

Some security researchers believed the attacks to be so sophisticated, they could’ve only been pulled off with government help. ”This isn’t consistent with what hacktivists are capable of,” Michael Smith, a security specialist at Akamai, said in September.

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Increased Airline Security Has Killed Far More Americans Than 9/11

Businessweek points out a staggering study suggesting that the delays and hassle caused by post-9/11 TSA airport screening procedures encouraged travelers to go by car rather than the far safer choice of flying  – resulting in thousands of extra road fatalities which would not have otherwise occurred, a death toll dwarfing that of the attacks on the Twin Towers:

Created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Transportation Security Administration has largely outlived its usefulness. These days, the TSA’s major role appears to be to make plane trips more unpleasant.

The inconvenience of air travel is pushing more people onto the roads. Compare the dangers of air travel to those of driving. To make flying as dangerous as using a car, a four-plane disaster on the scale of 9/11 would have to occur every month, according to analysis published in the American Scientist. Researchers at Cornell University suggest that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month—which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day.

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FBI Begins $1 Billion Face Recognition Project

Expect plastic surgery to be a booming field starting in 2014. Via New Scientist:

As part of an update to the national fingerprint database, the FBI has begun rolling out facial recognition to identify criminals.

It will form part of the bureau’s long-awaited, $1 billion Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme, which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit. A handful of states began uploading their photos as part of a pilot programme this February and it is expected to be rolled out nationwide by 2014. In addition to scanning mugshots for a match, FBI officials have indicated that they are keen to track a suspect by picking out their face in a crowd.

But privacy advocates are worried by the broad scope of the FBI’s plans. They are concerned that people with no criminal record who are caught on camera alongside a person of interest could end up in a federal database, or be subject to unwarranted surveillance.

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The Psychology of Mass Denial: 9/11 Truth and Cognitive Dissonance

“Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out” by the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

Join 23-year architect Richard Gage, AIA, in this feature length documentary with cutting-edge 9/11 evidence from more than 50 top experts in their fields — high-rise architects, structural engineers, physicists, chemical engineers, firefighters, metallurgists, explosives experts, controlled demolition technicians, and more. Each is highly qualified in his/her respective fields. Several have Ph.D’s — including National Medal of Science awardee Lynn Margulis. She, along with the other experts, exposes the fraud of NIST and discusses how the scientific method should have been applied and acknowledges the “overwhelming” evidence of high temperature incendiaries in all dust samples of the WTC. High-rise architects and structural engineers layout the evidence in the features of the destruction of these three high-rises that point inevitably to explosive controlled demolition.

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The All-Seeing Eye Of Target Stores’ Investigation Unit

You may not have known of the alliance between law enforcement and Target; authorities turn to the forensics lab at the retail chain’s national headquarters to crack difficult cases involving the analysis of surveillance footage. Now I Know writes:

The first Target store opened in the U.S. in 1962. Today, there are over 1,700 locations throughout the United States…Target found itself having to investigate things like slip-and-falls, shoplifting, theft by employees, and the like. To do so, they created a centralized investigation unit in their Minneapolis, Minnesota headquarters.

Over time, this unit became more and more advanced. Today, it and a sibling outfit in Las Vegas are, combined, one of the more sophisticated crime labs out there, as described by Forbes. And even that may be an understatement. In 2006, an FBI agent familiar with the labs told the Washington Post that “[o]ne of the nation’s top forensics labs is located at Target’s headquarters building in downtown Minneapolis.

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The Government Thinks You Should Focus On The Adversary, But Who Is The Adversary?

Meghan Kelly reports from the Black Hat security conference for VentureBeat:

After 9/11, the FBI needed to change the way it operated. It switched its focus and looked toward identifying the enemy — a change former FBI assistant executive director Shawn Henry says needs to translate to the information security world.

Henry spoke at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas today and explained that one of the main problems with the security industry is the lack of focus on the enemy, with most of the focus on the networks themselves. Corporations, according to Henry, only pay attention to the bullets flying by their heads, not the people shooting the bullets.

“In the FBI since 9/11, we made significant changes in our organization,” said Henry. “You’ve got to assume that the adversary is on the network. I assume there are terrorists in this country… I know there are spies in this country… they’re here, what do you do?”

Henry suggests companies start dedicating resources toward intelligence gathering.

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