Tag Archives | Security

Fighting Monkeys With Monkeys…

The more we train our fellow primates for tasks once relegated to human beings, the closer we are as a species to seeing the Statue of Liberty half-submerged in a shoreline. Sara Sidner writes on CNN: Grey Langur Monkey
New Delhi, India — Chotu is not happy to see visitors. He is busy scratching himself and intensely surveying his surroundings when he's approached.
He and his buddies Pinki and Mangu are in the middle of their eight-hour shifts. They have important jobs to do. They are some of more than 100,000 security forces protecting people during the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
But Chotu and his gang are a special force trained to put a stop to any monkeying around near the stadiums. Chotu, Pinki and Mangu are langur monkeys. Their trainers said each one has the ability to scare off 50 potential attackers — namely the wild smaller macaque monkeys that roam the streets and buildings of Delhi. The wild monkeys are known for some naughty habits. You can't blame the macaques; they're just being themselves. The wild monkeys are in a densely populated city where they occasionally have run-ins with humans — especially if there is a chance to snatch some food.
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Internet Eyes Citizen Spy Game – The New Stasi?

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it…
- Judge Learned Hand, ‘The Spirit of Liberty’ speech (1944)

The launch of Internet Eyes on 4th October (as part of a three month trial) marks another disturbing chapter in Britain’s surveillance society.

Internet EyesIn the autumn of 2009 Internet Eyes Limited hit the headlines when they announced their desire to launch a CCTV game that they were keen to claim was not a game. Private individuals would subscribe to private camera feeds connected to the internet and spy on people going about their business, with a cash prize each month for the person who reports the most infringements. The game is now being launched as part of a three month trial at 12 shops (including Costcutter and Spar franchises) in towns including Reading, Wokingham and Newton Abbott.

The UK’s Information Commissioner has put private profit above personal privacy in allowing a private company to launch its Stasi style citizen spy game rather than defending the rights of British citizens.… Read the rest

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Speed Cameras, ANPR and Project Columbus

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

Photo: Kaihsu Ta (CC)

- The expansion of automated checkpoints around the UK

Data Protection expert Chris Pounder of Amberhawk Training[1] has warned that moves by UK local authorities to remove speed cameras could lead to an increase in Automatic Number Plate Recognition or ANPR cameras. In a recent blog post ‘Data Protection and surveillance: swapping the speed camera for ANPR?’[2] Pounder suggests that as speed cameras are removed, more accidents could occur so that over time, there will be increased public pressure to do something to counter the rising accident rate, and he says: “ANPR installations (which only need a few cameras) will be the technological fix of choice”. Pounder goes on:

In this way, specific surveillance of an accident black spot by a speed camera (which only captures the image of speeding cars breaking the law) is replaced by general surveillance of all vehicles passing the cameras (where records of date, time, driver details, location are all retained for possibly up to 5 years).

Read the rest
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Body Scanner Vans: Are They In Your Neighborhood?

Via Allen Greenberg's blog at Forbes:
As the privacy controversy around full-body security scans begins to simmer, it’s worth noting that courthouses and airport security checkpoints aren’t the only places where backscatter x-ray vision is being deployed. The same technology, capable of seeing through clothes and walls, has also been rolling out on U.S. streets. American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.
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Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief

Joshuah Bearman writes in Wired:
The plane slowed and leveled out about a mile above ground. Up ahead, the Viennese castle glowed like a fairy tale palace. When the pilot gave the thumbs-up, Gerald Blanchard looked down, checked his parachute straps, and jumped into the darkness. He plummeted for a second, then Koechert Pearl Diamondpulled his cord, slowing to a nice descent toward the tiled roof. It was early June 1998, and the evening wind was warm. If it kept cooperating, Blanchard would touch down directly above the room that held the Koechert Diamond Pearl. He steered his parachute toward his target. A couple of days earlier, Blanchard had appeared to be just another twentysomething on vacation with his wife and her wealthy father. The three of them were taking a six-month grand European tour: London, Rome, Barcelona, the French Riviera, Vienna. When they stopped at the Schloss Schönbrunn, the Austrian equivalent of Versailles, his father-in-law’s VIP status granted them a special preview peek at a highly prized piece from a private collection. And there it was: In a cavernous room, in an alarmed case, behind bulletproof glass, on a weight-sensitive pedestal — a delicate but dazzling 10-pointed star of diamonds fanned around one monstrous pearl. Five seconds after laying eyes on it, Blanchard knew he would try to take it.
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Alex Jones Exposes Agenda To ‘Blacklist’ Dissenting Websites

By Aaron Dykes & Alex Jones for Prison Planet.com:
The Western world, from Australia to the United States, UK and parts of Europe, are moving in a unified front toward dictatorial Internet censorship. Australia has led the way, despite outcry from its populace, by “filtering” out certain banned content. In the United States, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in continuing his family’s tradition of oppressing free humanity, has pushed forward Cybersecurity legislation that has already passed the House. He has done so in the name of warding off ghastly cyber “attackers” conceivably fronting for al Qaeda while ushering in a means to restrict free speech and expression online for the general population. With Obama’s support, most of the developed world has accepted plans for government-approved online activity...
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Google And The NSA, Together At Last

NSA logoThose on the lookout for Orwellian developments, start your engines: dominant Internet search company Google is teaming up with the NSA (a/k/a No Such Agency), according to the Washington Post:

The world’s largest Internet search company and the world’s most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.

Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google — and its users — from future attack.

Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google’s policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans’ online communications.

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Naked Scanners, Naked CCTV And Barefaced Lies

How digital strip searches got fast tracked…

Back in 2002 when biometric ID cards were first being suggested by UK politicians many of those of us that opposed their introduction pointed out that fingerprinting is associated with criminal suspects and that treating citizens like criminals is unacceptable in a free society. Now the proposed digital strip searching of airline passengers in the UK raises similar concerns. The UK government is suggesting that passengers should stand with their hands up and submit to a scanning technology that reveals their naked body to airport security staff. If the public submits to this demand and accepts this technology then it raises serious concerns about people’s understanding of what privacy and freedom are and will not bode well for the future. It is up to the people of this country to take a stand and to say no to digital strip searches.

The pants incident

The current media hype around airport security has been sparked after an incident in the US on Christmas Day 2009.… Read the rest

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Oops: Backscatter X-Ray Machines “Tear Apart DNA”

At Yahoo Tech:

The latest airport security trend is the backscatter x-ray machine, touted as a powerful way to virtually frisk a traveler for contraband without the embarassment of a strip search.

Though touted as completely safe because the level of radiation is so low, travelers have been nervous about the devices — and not just because it shows off a nice outline of their privates to the people manning the machines — but because they remain scared of the health problems they might propose.

Looks like a little healthy paranoia might have been a good thing. While the conventional wisdom has held that so-called “terahertz radiation,” upon which backscatter x-ray machines are based, is harmless because it doesn’t carry enough energy to do cellular or genetic damage, new research suggests that may be completely wrong.

Specifically, researchers have found that terahertz radiation may interfere directly with DNA. Although the force generated is small, the waves have been found to “unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication.”

I’m not a doctor, but that just doesn’t sound good…

[continues at Yahoo Tech]

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Are Photo IDs a Waste of Time?

Security expert Bruce Schneier argues that checking photo IDs at the airport is a waste of time. “If you think about it, everybody has a photo ID. All the 9/11 terrorists had a photo ID. The Unabomber had one. Timothy McVeigh had one… We pretend there’s this big master list of bad guys and if we look you up against the list, we’ll know if you’re a bad guy and we won’t let you on the plane. It’s completely absurd. We have no such list!”

“The no-fly list we have is full of innocent people. It catches nobody who’s guilty and everybody’s who’s innocent…”

He argues that except hardening the cockpit doors, nothing else done since September 11 has increased security. “Everything else is window dressing – security theater. It’s all been a waste of money and time….”

“The way to spend money on security – airport security, and security in general – is intelligence investigation and emergency response.… Read the rest

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