Archive for February 2014
Now we see why the FBI archived Nikola Tesla’s great discoveries and notes in the 1940s, including his impressive laser technology.
SINGAPORE – An Israeli state-owned arms company developing a laser-based missile shield that evokes “Star Wars” style technology says its deployment over the country is closer to becoming a reality.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said development of the system was advanced enough for the company to be comfortable with publicizing it at this week’s Singapore Airshow, which is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition.
The laser technology behind the missile shield called Iron Beam is not that far removed from fiction.
“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” said company spokesman Amit Zimmer. “You see the lasers go up so quickly like a flash and the target is finished.”
Iron Beam is designed to intercept close-range drones, rockets and mortars which might not remain in the air long enough for Israel’s current Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept.
Iron Dome batteries have shot down hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip at Israeli cities. With no peace deal in sight and also threatened by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel wants to beef up that system and develop further protection.
Avnish Patel, an expert in military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said Iron Beam is potentially an effective addition to Israel’s defenses rather than a drastic change.
“Essentially, its military and tactical utility will be particularly useful in complementing the already proven Iron Dome system in tackling very short range threats such as rockets and mortar fire and in close quarter engagements,” he said.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said test data show Iron Beam lasers are blasting away more than 90 percent of their targets. The new system can also be modified so that multiple lasers can be used to hit a target, according to the company. But officials remain tight lipped as to when and how the Iron Beam will be deployed.
We have serious doubts about this civilian NSA worker story. Seems like the perfect face-saving cover story to avoid admitting that the NSA network in question has a very serious hole in it that Snowden discovered and the NSA won’t publicly admit to.
Feb 14, 2014
by Stephen Braun
WASHINGTON – A National Security Agency employee resigned from the agency after admitting to federal investigators that he gave former NSA analyst Edward Snowden a digital key that allowed him to gain access to classified materials, the NSA has told Congress. Snowden has previously said he did not steal any passwords.
The unnamed civilian employee who worked with Snowden resigned last month after the government revoked his security clearance, according to a letter that NSA legislative director Ethan L. Bauman sent this week to the House Judiciary Committee. A military employee and a private contractor also lost their access to NSA data as part of the continuing investigation by the FBI, Bauman said.
Bauman’s memo, dated Feb. 10, provides some of the first details about what authorities said they have learned about how Snowden retrieved so many classified documents before passing them to news organizations. Top U.S. national security officials have acknowledged they do not know many files Snowden took before he fled the U.S.
Snowden has denied that he stole computer passwords or tricked some co-workers into giving him their passwords. The NSA letter suggested Snowden tricked at least one co-worker and copied the employee’s password without his knowledge.
The civilian NSA worker told FBI investigators last June that he allowed Snowden to use an encrypted digital key known as a Public Key Infrastructure certificate to gain access to classified information on NSANet, the agency’s computer network. The system connects into many of the NSA’s classified databanks. The memo said that previously Snowden had been denied access to the network.
In an attempt by fact to imitate fiction, the US military’s “Iron Man” armor will take an important step towards reality in June, when multiple prototypes will be revealed and tested.
According to a report by Defense Tech, Navy Admiral William McRaven said three prototypes of the TALOS – Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – are currently being put together in the hopes that they’ll be ready for testing this summer.
If everything goes according to schedule, McRaven said the TALOS could become operational by 2018.
“That suit, if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators,” McRaven said Tuesday at a military conference in Washington, DC.
Although the prototypes scheduled for June will be unpowered, the military’s wish list of TALOS features is ambitious to say the least. As RT reported last year, the suit is being designed primarily with defense in mind and will likely include liquid armor, a synthetic substance being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This material has the capability to shift from a liquid state to a solid within milliseconds, making the suit’s wearer essentially impervious to gunfire.
Should an operator suffer an injury anyway, the suit will be capable of monitoring the individual’s health vitals and other information using a built-in system that rests against the skin and provides its own supply of heat, air, and oxygen. There are additional plans to incorporate a “wound stasis” program that could stop bleeding by spraying some kind of medical foam onto an injury.
China is developing its first national single mobile payment platform. It’s been created to lift domestic information consumption and boost economic growth, and could replace cash, credit and debit cards.
The system has been undergoing trials since the end of last year, China Daily reports.
Very few countries possess an operating national payment platform, Colin Light, China Digital Consulting Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong told China Daily. China’s mobile platform based on Near Field Communication technology (NFC) has a bright future and potentially could abolish cash and plastic cards.
The platform enables communication between financial institutions that provide mobile payments, and mobile network operators, People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Li Dongrong revealed in an interview on Monday.
Li said 21st century mobile finance is undergoing a standardization process to integrate mobile payment providers into a single system. The NFC-platform “provides a solid infrastructure foundation to help China boost domestic information consumption and make the sector a new driver for economic growth.”
Mobile payment arms of China’s leading financial organizations, including China Construction Bank Corp, China CITIC Bank Corp Ltd, China Everbright Bank Co Ltd, China UnionPay have been connected to the country’s largest telecom operator China Mobile.
“The biggest obstacle for banks and mobile operators to operate in a unified way is to build scale. You need a scale advantage to reach wide acceptance of payments,” said Light.
Since Aaron Swartz’s death a lot of activists realize they’re facing huge battles, but everybody can be doing something to fight back in a way to address that, Parker Higgins from the Electronic Frontier Foundation told RT.
RT: ‘The Day We Fight Back’ protest scheduled for Tuesday coincides with the anniversary of internet activist Aaron Swartz’s death. How has privacy legislation progressed following his suicide, allegedly prompted by severe charges for unlawfully downloading academic journals online?
Parker Higgins: Obviously, a year ago we knew much less about the NSA, GCHQ and other Intelligence Agencies. In the last six to seven months we’ve learned things from Edward Snowden’s leaks that of course were issues that Aaron was himself very interested in. The privacy legislation has advanced a lot because of that and so we’ve seen things that are directly related to Aaron with move forward on cyber-crime law in the US, for example, but then there are a lot of things that he couldn’t really foresee a year ago.
RT: Swartz’s suicide has made him a martyr in the eyes of many internet freedom activists. Do you feel authorities effectively drove him to take his own life, with an impending potential 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines?
PH: I think suicide is very complex and there is no way to point at any single issue. Even if you don’t go as far as they’re saying: that the authorities drove him to this, it was an unjust and unnecessary display of power and a way to hound somebody, and they actually hounded him to death – we can’t know. But I do know that when you talk to the people that were close to him, that seems to be something that they think.
RT: How has what Aaron Swartz achieved and stood for motivated others to continue his cause?
PH: Aaron gave a great speech a couple of years ago now, just after we had won the SOPA battle, tactically. So the reason we won this was that people were inspired to become heroes of their own story, it really takes activism to their own hands. I think that this message has really resonated not just since his death, but especially in a year since his death, I think we’ve seen a lot of activists realize that we’re facing very large battles, but everybody can be doing something, everybody can be fighting back in a way to address that.
New York’s financial regulator will adopt rules to govern virtual currency firms with a view to combatting money laundering. The move comes in the wake of a series of hack attacks that have halted bitcoin transactions across the globe.
The state currency regulator announced on Tuesday that current regulations governing currency transmissions would be adapted to suit new digital currencies. The rules would make New York the first US state to legislate for alternative cyber-currencies such as bitcoin.
“Our objective is to provide appropriate guard rails to protect consumers and root out money laundering – without stifling beneficial innovation,” Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, said at a speech Tuesday in Washington.
As part of the regulations New York businesses wishing to use cyber-currencies would have to obtain a “BitLicense.” Lawsky highlighted the main obstacles in the fight against money laundering and fraud with the new currencies. In particular, he spoke about a possible ban on “tumblers” used to hide the record and source of virtual currency transactions.
However, he argued that a blanket ban on “tumblers” was a complex issue, because they could also have legitimate uses in the online marketplace. Lawksy also said other issues would have to be dealt with, such as the measures capital requirements firms should take to absorb unexpected losses and whether firms should be permitted to invest in cyber-currencies.
The discussion on virtual currency regulations comes after the value of bitcoin plummeted on a big, Japan-based exchange on Friday. Bitcoin lost 20 percent of its value, dropping to $960 per unit and prompting the exchange to halt customer withdrawals.
The volatile functions in the value of the currency had a knock-on effect in Slovenia on Tuesday, where a Bitstamp also froze customer withdrawals, blaming DDoS hack attacks.
Since Israel’s retrieval of Judea and Samaria in 1967, the Jordan Valley has been considered key to Israel’s security. Among its strategic features are the hills and ridges at the western edge of the valley which constitute a natural barrier to conventional ground forces.
A large swath along the border between Jordan and Israel (or a future Palestinian state), it is also the point at which weapons or other illicit materials will be smuggled into the country.
Because of its strategic value, alongside negotiations and concessions for peace, almost every prime minister for the past 20 years has said that Israel must remain in the Jordan Valley.
Perhaps none have talked about the importance of the Jordan Valley as much as the current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who routinely declares that Israel must “remain” in and “will never cede the Jordan Valley.” Netanyahu has thus called for a “long term” Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley under any final-status arrangement with the Palestinian Authority.
Yet under Netanyahu’s stewardship, Israel’s ultimate withdrawal from the Jordan Valley has become a fait accompli.
The erosion of Israel’s position on the Jordan Valley under Netanyahu appears to have begun with a reported meeting between Netanyahu and US officials toward the end of 2010 during which the US proposed that Israel lease the territory from the future Palestinian state. Netanyahu reportedly responded, “Seven years is not enough. An arrangement like this needs to last for dozens of years.”
Later, in January 2012, Ma’ariv reported that Netanyahu’s envoy Isaac Molho told Palestinian negotiators that Israel was willing to cede sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. In October 2013, Ma’ariv similarly reported that Israel proposed that it cede sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and then lease it for decades.