07JAN14 EXSUM

IIRExecutive Intelligence Summary (EXSUM) – 07JAN2014

Coming to Location Near You?

In the early days of the Iraq War, the U.S. military pumped millions of dollars into non-lethal weapons projects intended to stop people without killing them…
There is perhaps no greater example of this than the Active Denial System, the directed-energy “pain ray” weapon that turns electricity into a painful ray of millimeter waves targeting people up to 1,000 meters away…
The article goes on to say that many of these “non-lethal” (actually less lethal) systems were never even used in the Iraq or Afghan theaters, despite being specifically designed to deal with unruly crowds.  Considering the US Goverment’s (USG) seemingly increasing levels of preparedness for civil unrest, one indicator and warning we can’t overlook is the manufacture and distribution of these systems to local law enforcement.  As if MRAPs, MATVs, and Bearcat armored vehicles weren’t obvious enough, the introduction of less lethal weapons would mark a significant shift in expectations of future unrest.
Mesh Networks.

The internet is weak, yet we keep ignoring this fact. So we see the same thing over and over again… deliberate attempts by the government to shut down the internet (most recently in Egypt and Iran), or NSA surveillance.

After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last month, several towns were cut off from humanitarian relief because delivering that aid depends on having a reliable communication network…  [T]he implementation of an emergency “mesh” network could have saved lives.

Compared to the “normal” internet — which is based on a few centralized access points or internet service providers (ISPs) — mesh networks have many benefits, from architectural to political. Yet they haven’t really taken off, even though they have been around for some time. I believe it’s time to reconsider their potential, and make mesh networking a reality. Not just because of its obvious benefits, but also because it provides an internet-native model for building community and governance.

Mesh networks – even darknets – could offer a solution for localized communications in the event of an internet shutdown or any other SHTF event.  If these networks aren’t connected to the larger internet, then passive NSA surveillance is no longer an issue, and the only way for the regime to shut down your mesh network is to disrupt every node on the network.

Source: Wired

 

Cracking Encryption.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.

… Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.

“It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In the past week, several news outlets reported on the NSA “quantum computer” that would be able to crack most encryption algorithms.  Consensus seems to be that NSA doesn’t currently have the capability to crack public key encryption, so end-to-end efforts, we feel, should be considered ‘secure’ with few caveats (such as inherent vulnerabilities with operating systems, malware such as key-stroke loggers, and other targeted collection efforts).

Source: WaPo

 

Tradecraft Lessons.

The Russians knew the NSA was listening to [notorious spy, Aldrich] Ames, so they didn’t use phones – or even typewriters, whose telltale click-clacks could be picked up by NSA microphones, former CIA officer Colin Thompson tells Newsweek. “The KGB didn’t trust anything that could be intercepted,” he says. “They didn’t trust typewriters, even manual typewriters. Everything had to be handwritten. There were practically no files. They worked out of notes. God forbid they’d use an electronic typewriter.”

Osama Bin Laden famously stymied the $80 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence apparatus for a decade by staying off the air and relying on couriers. And today, any terrorist with a brain knows he might as well order a hearse when he picks up a phone.

This article contains a ton of useful tradecraft information.  Your phone is not your friend.

Source: Newsweek

 

Will the Real Iron Man Please Stand Up?

U.S. Special Operations Command is using unprecedented outreach and collaboration to develop what its commander hopes will be revolutionary capabilities: a suit that’s been likened to the one worn by the “Iron Man” movies superhero that offers operators better protection, enhanced performance and improved situational awareness.

The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is the vision of Navy Adm. William H. McRaven… He challenged industry and defense representatives at a Socom conference in May to come up with the concepts and technologies to make the suit a reality.

Admiral McRaven – yes, the US SOCOM commander – is challenging a real life Iron Man suit to be engineered by the defense industry.  Just like many military weapons and vehicles end up in arsenal of law enforcement, RoboCop could be your children’s reality.

Source: Wireless Design Magazine

 

Dodging NSA Flags.

We know the NSA flags encrypted messages for later analysis.  The Tinkerer/Linux INFOSEC blog outlines a method of steganography (that we teach in the ICAC, ahem) that could be successful in skirting the red flags NSA marks when it identifies encrypted electronic messages.

Source: Tinkerer

If you learn from these EXSUMs, please consider contributing news stories.  See anything of interest?  See something, say something.  Shoot it to me.

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