Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stopping Internet Piracy or Stifling Freedom of Speech?

The measure of a person isn't the number of academic and professional credentials they display but by their willingness to stand up for what is good. I don't have too many causes which I openly support but I firmly believe SOPA and its clone are the most dangerous pieces of legislation. Your freedoms are protected against tyranny not by the threat of armed resistance but your voice. Stifle your voice and you have NO freedom at all.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Al-Shabaab vs The Security Dialogue: Round 2

Al-Shabaab (aka "The Lads") and I have continued our verbal contest of will and intellect.  As one might imagine, this has been quite entertaining.  My wife has told me I need a real hobby. Pfft! I told her some people have golf and I have making fun of transnational "designated terrorist organizations".  It's the simple things in life that are the most rewarding.

In case you haven't heard, al-Shabaab "nailed" the Kenyan military Twitter spokesperson who tweeted a photo of an execution which the Kenyans claimed happened in 2009.  Given the fact al-Shabaab was there when this execution took place because they were the executioners, it should come as no surprise al-Shabaab was able to note this glaring discrepancy in fact.  Massive embarrassment occurred prompting the Kenyans to apologize for the slight to al-Shabaab.  Sensing the mounting tension, I decided my commentary might be needed to mitigate this crisis.

Here's the commentary.  As you can see, this was a very entertaining series of tweets:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Deal or No Deal: Did The Obama Administration Sell Us Out To The Russians?

By United States Navy photo ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
During a recent discussion with a friend, I came across an article in the Washington Times which reported the Obama administration was going to give away nuclear secrets to Russia.  The President stated, in his signing statement of this fiscal year's National Defense Appropriation Act, his intention to go against legislation written which would require him to report to Congress any deals he made with foreign countries with regards to weapons information and development.  It included instructions he couldn't make such deals without Congress's approval.  While, the President asserted these limitations went against his executive authority to conduct foreign affairs and saw them as "nonbinding", he did promise through Undersecretary of Defense Robert Nabors' letter to Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), any such information would go through a "vigorous review" and he would seek advice from appropriate members of Congress.

Here's the question of the day: What information would the President be looking to exchange and with who.  Simply put, the limitations were put in place due to the administration's intention to exchange missile defense information with the Russians to reassure them our missile defense system was not offensive nor was it geared towards them.  The information entailed a single data point - the maximum effective range of the missile known as its burnout velocity. defines it as, "The range of a missile is essentially determined by the velocity it reaches when all its propellant has been used up (its ‘burnout velocity’)." The weapon system in question is the SM-3, a ballistic missile shipboard interceptor.  Imagine a Patriot missile launched from a boat for nuclear missiles.

So why would the Obama administration give up such information?  The first thing that should be noted is information exchanges occur with the Russians all the time involving various weapon systems and programs.  On December 1, 2010, the US State Department issued a fact sheet on the then-draft Defense Technology Cooperation Agreement which stated,
"U.S.-Russia and NATO-Russia cooperation on missile defense is intended to help improve our defensive capabilities, strengthen transparency, and reduce Russia’s concerns about the United States’ missile defense efforts by providing it with further insight into the nature of and motivations for U.S. and NATO ballistic missile defense plans and programs"

Most notably, defense information exchanges occur in compliance with our START II treaty requirements as well.  The amount of disclosure which has occurred with the Russians about our most lethal weapons is astounding.  Just because it happens all the time, shouldn't we be protecting our missile defense knowledge any way?  Not really.  This missile defense shield isn't being developed for the Russians entirely.  It was conceived with them in mind initially under the Reagan administration.  However, as our Iranian, Chinese, and Pakistani "friends" develop more sophisticated missile technology which could jeopardize American interests and our homeland eventually, the missile defense shield can no longer afford to be stationary with all its attention on Russia.

We could not afford to appear to the Russians as developing a weapon system directed towards them with offensive intentions.  This was the problem with the follow-up missile defense plan envisioned by the Bush administration.  It was difficult convincing the Russians that was not our intention when we wanted to park a bunch of missiles in their backyard.  So, the Obama administration nixed the idea for a mobile seaborne and airborne option.  The information they will exchange will only give them information about a single interceptor in the entire system.  The idea is to convince the Russians, even though the systems are mobile,  they pose no offensive concern for them absent an overt attack by them against us.

Given the nature of weapons development and testing cycles which are extremely lengthy before anything becomes operational and the Russians only recently (within the last 10 years) becoming active in new weapons technology, it would be a very long time before they developed a suitable countermeasure for this system which could see countless upgrades before then.  Seeing how the Russians, the Pakistanis, the Chinese, nor the Iranians have an SM-3 to test this information on, who says the data we provide has to even be correct?  It should also be noted this exchange goes along with former President Bush's plan that was suspended.  This is an extremely small price to pay when looking at being able to park a missile defense shield in the Persian Gulf or the Yellow Sea.

Here's a datasheet of the SM-3:

Here's video of it in action:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Government Insecurity: How Many Attack Vectors Do You See?

How many attack vectors do you see on this door? Not surprising, this door is an exterior door outside a government building which does a lot of cash transactions in a high crime area with minimal natural observers and limited lighting. In addition, there were zero cameras. I was able to stand by the door and watch loads of people use this door with the code for entry.  There were several wedge marks on the frame.  Through the window on the door, you can see the cash registers and other sensitive equipment.  What else do you see?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Turkish Airport Security Caught Playing FPS Game On-Duty

First person shooter games are all the rage now and have clearly defined a new era of gaming.  However, as this picture below from Istanbul demonstrates, there is a time and place for everything.  Perhaps, playing Call of Duty, while on-duty as an airport security officer in a major international airport, is neither the time or the place.

(Captured from user 26985's post on 1/2/2012)

Arms sales: Who buys our guns?

You ever wonder who we sell our guns and other weapon systems to? Turns out the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service conducted a study to find out.  The report is below.

Here is a table from that report you might find interesting.  Notice how dramatically sales have gone down in the last seven years.  While you're at it, let me know if you find any consistent leaders:

Here's the report as promised:

Pwned: Russian Rocket-maker Guards Caught Sleeping on the Job

Guard management is perhaps the most important entity in any security infrastructure.  If your on-site security personnel are led properly, they are more vigilant and duty-focused.  However, should your guard supervisors fail to properly lead and conduct regular checks on their personnel, inevitably you will find out just how important knowing the difference between leadership and supervision is.

In Russia, Energomash, the rocket manufacturer of the Soyuz capsules, learned this lesson when fellow bloggers  Lana Sator entered their manufacturing plant while guards were sleeping on duty.  As a former supervisor of security personnel, I can attest there is nothing like having a facility penetrated because your responders were asleep.  To make matters worse, Lana and several of her friends made five visits and each time the guards were asleep.  They gained access to several critical manufacturing sections and posted their exploits online.  As you can imagine, Russian defense and space bureaucrats were not happy and are looking at steep punishments for guards and I'm sure, managers.

Here are some pictures from Lana's blog:

The Russians aren't alone.  In 2009, guards from one of the largest guard companies in the world, Wackenhut, were caught dozing off at a nuclear facility.  Check out the video below:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

HOW-TO: Spot a Liar

If you're involved in investigations or ever have need to know if someone is deceiving you, then learning to spot a liar and their "tells" is paramount to your success.  "Tells" are those things in which we all do when telling a lie. Deception was man's first camouflage against other human enemies.  Just like camoflage, deception can be detected if you know what you're looking for.  I HIGHLY recommend watching the video below by Pamela Meyer, a lie detection expert.

According to her site, "Pamela Meyer is founder and CEO of Simpatico Networks, a leading private label social networking company that owns and operates online social networks. She holds an MBA from Harvard, an MA in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate School, and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has extensive training in the use of visual clues and psychology to detect deception."

Judging from this video, when they say a woman's intuition is almost always spot-on, I'm inclined to believe they may not be too off.

Click here to obtain a copy of her latest book - Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect.

Identity thieves tell their secrets...

Identity theft is a crime that every criminally-minded individual should participate in because it is one of the easiest crimes a person can commit with little to any experience and minute chance of being caught in the act.  This is largely in part to law enforcement agencies and financial institutions being deluged with requests to handle the investigations involved in these transactions to catch every thief.  While there was a significant drop in identity crimes reported, there were 8.1 million adults who reported being victims (myself included).  Moreover, very few victims file reports or know what it is that made them a victim in the first place.

In the report below, CBS News did something very few media outlets have done - interview real identity thieves.  The two ladies featured in this video describe how these crimes are committed and how they often get away with them.  They detail everything from how they obtained false fingerprints to using social engineering to withdraw large sums of money from victims' accounts.  They also provided some good information for banks and consumers.  

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