Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity
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The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country’s private, civilian-run infrastructure.
As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks.
Under last month’s White House executive order on cybersecurity, the scans will be driven by classified information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies — including data from the National Security Agency (NSA) — on new or especially serious espionage threats and other hacking attempts. U.S. spy chiefs said on March 12 that cyber attacks have supplanted terrorism as the top threat to the country.
The Department of Homeland Security will gather the secret data and pass it to a small group of telecommunication companies and cyber security providers that have employees holding security clearances, government and industry officials said. Those companies will then offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure customers that choose to participate in the program.
DHS as the middleman
By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency’s eavesdropping.
The telecom companies will not report back to the government on what they see, except in aggregate statistics, a senior DHS official said in an interview granted on condition he not be identified.
“That allows us to provide more sensitive information,” the official said. “We will provide the information to the security service providers that they need to perform this function.” Procedures are to be established within six months of the order.
The administration is separately seeking legislation that would give incentives to private companies, including communications carriers, to disclose more to the government. NSA Director General Keith Alexander said last week that NSA did not want personal data but Internet service providers could inform the government about malicious software they find and the Internet Protocol addresses they were sent to and from.
“There is a way to do this that ensures civil liberties and privacy and does ensure the protection of the country,” Alexander told a congressional hearing.
Fears grow of destructive attack
In the past, Internet traffic-scanning efforts were mainly limited to government networks and Defense Department contractors, which have long been targets of foreign espionage.
But as fears grow of a destructive cyber attack on core, non-military assets, and more sweeping security legislation remained stalled, the Obama administration opted to widen the program.
Last month’s presidential order calls for commercial providers of “enhanced cybersecurity services” to extend their offerings to critical infrastructure companies. What constitutes critical infrastructure is still being refined, but it would include utilities, banks and transportation such as trains and highways.
Under the program, critical infrastructure companies will pay the providers, which will use the classified information to block attacks before they reach the customers. The classified information involves suspect Web addresses, strings of characters, email sender names and the like.
Not all the cybersecurity providers will be telecom companies, though AT&T is one. Raytheon said this month it had agreed with DHS to become a provider, and a spokesman said that customers could route their traffic to Raytheon after receiving it from their communications company.
As the new set-up takes shape, DHS officials and industry executives said some security equipment makers were working on hardware that could take classified rules about blocking traffic and act on them without the operator being able to reverse-engineer the codes. That way, people wouldn’t need a security clearance to use the equipment.
Civil liberties implications
The issue of scanning everything headed to a utility or a bank still has civil liberties implications, even if each company is a voluntary participant.
Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that the executive order did not weaken existing privacy laws, but any time a machine acting on classified information is processing private communications, it raises questions about the possibility of secret extra functions that are unlikely to be answered definitively.
“You have to wonder what else that box does,” Tien said.
One technique for examining email and other electronic packets en route, called deep packet inspection, has stirred controversy for years, and some cybersecurity providers said they would not be using that. In deep packet inspection, communication companies or others with network access can examine all the elements of a transmission, including the content of emails.
“The signatures provided by DHS do not require deep packet inspection,” said Steve Hawkins, vice president at Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems division, referring further questions to DHS.
The DHS official said the government is still in conversations with the telecom operators on the issue. The official said the government had no plans to roll out any such form of government-guided close examination of Internet traffic into the communications companies serving the general public. source – NBC News
RELATED STORY: The Mark of the Beast
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Futurists have long proclaimed the coming of a cashless society, where dollar bills and plastic cards are replaced by fingerprint and retina scanners smart enough to distinguish a living, breathing account holder from an identity thief.
What they probably didn’t see coming was that one such technology would make its debut not in Silicon Valley or MIT but at a small state college in remote western South Dakota, 25 miles from Mount Rushmore.
Two shops on the School of Mines and Technology campus are performing one of the world’s first experiments in Biocryptology — a mix of biometrics (using physical traits for identification) and cryptology (the study of encoding private information). Students at the Rapid City school can buy a bag of potato chips with a machine that non-intrusively detects their hemoglobin to make sure the transaction is legitimate.
Researchers figure their technology would provide a critical safeguard against a morbid scenario sometimes found in spy movies in which a thief removes someone else’s finger to fool the scanner.
On a recent Friday, mechanical engineering major Bernard Keeler handed a Red Bull to a cashier in the Miner’s Shack campus shop, typed his birthdate into a pay pad and swiped his finger. Within seconds, the machine had identified his print and checked that blood was pulsing beneath it, allowing him to make the buy. Afterward, Keeler proudly showed off the receipt he was sent via email on his smartphone.
Fingerprint technology isn’t new, nor is the general concept of using biometrics as a way to pay for goods. But it’s the extra layer of protection — that deeper check to ensure the finger has a pulse — that researchers say sets this technology apart from already-existing digital fingerprint scans, which are used mostly for criminal background checks.
Al Maas, president of Nexus USA — a subsidiary of Spanish-based Hanscan Indentity Management, which patented the technology — acknowledged South Dakota might seem an unlikely locale to test it, but to him, it was a perfect fit.
“I said, if it flies here in the conservative Midwest, it’s going to go anywhere,” Maas said.
Maas grew up near Madison, S.D., and wanted his home state to be the technology’s guinea pig. He convinced Hanscan owner Klaas Zwart that the 2,400-student Mines campus should be used as the starter location.
The students all major in mechanical engineering or hard sciences, which means they’re naturally technologically inclined, said Joseph Wright, the school’s associate vice president for research-economic development.
“South Dakota is a place where people take risks. We’re very entrepreneurial,” Wright said. After Maas and Zwart introduced the idea to students this winter, about 50 stepped forward to take part in the pilot.
“I really wanted to be part of what’s new and see if I could help improve what they already have,” said Phillip Clemen, 19, a mechanical engineering student.
Robert Siciliano, a security expert with McAfee, Inc., minimized potential privacy concerns. ”We are hell bent on privacy issues here in the U.S. We get all up in arms when someone talks about scanning us or recording our information, but then we’ll throw up everything about us on Facebook and give up all of our personal information for 10 percent off at a shoe store for instant credit,” he said.
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, said fingerprint technology on its own raises security issues, but he called “liveness detection” a step in the right direction.
“Any security measure can be defeated; it’s a question of making it harder,” he said. The key to keeping biometric identification from becoming Big Brother-like is to make it voluntary and ensure that the information scanned is used exactly as promised, Stanley said.
Brian Wiles, a Miles mechanical engineering major, said it’s exciting to be beta testing technology that could soon be worldwide. ”There was some hesitation, but the fact that it’s the first in the world — that’s the whole point of this school,” said Wiles, 22. “We’re innovators.” source – NY Daily News
A little digging by Mashable has turned up a strange new initiative from Facebook. While you can already send a message for free to a friend — or a friend of a friend — the ubiquitous social network is now giving you the option to pay a hefty $100 to send a message directly to a total stranger’s inbox.
Without ponying up the cash, your message goes to the dreaded “other folder,” aka“Facebook’s dumping ground for all messages it guesses you won’t want to read urgently,” where it will likely be completely overlooked. (By the way, have you checked your “other” folder recently? Do so with caution.)
In December, Facebook announced it would be testing this pay-to-message feature, but for a much lower fee of just $1. Even that was met with mixed reviews. But bloggers discovered the new fee when testing a message to the founder himself, Mark Zuckerberg. And the fee prompt can be replicated with other popular accounts. The fee seems to jump from $1 to $100 when the person you’re messaging has a whole bunch of followers, or is a well-known public figure.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson says, “We are testing some extreme price points to see what works to filter spam.” In other words, the fee is an attempt to discourage people from sending annoying messages to people they don’t know. “But, it could also be seen as Facebook letting people pay to spam your inbox,” notes Josh Wolford at Web Pro News.
It will be interesting to see how long these fees stay in place, and who, if anyone, actually pays them. source – The Week
Preparing people to receive the mark of the beast
Let me start right off by saying that, while the bible teaches about the coming mark of the beast, it also teaches that the Body of Christ – the church – will be removed in the Rapture before any of the judgments of God are poured out in the Tribulation. The Pretribulation Rapture is also known as the blessed hope from Paul’s letter to Titus, and here it is:
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” Titus 2:13
The blood-bought believer in Jesus Christ never has to worry about the mark of the beast because we have been saved and sealed unto the day of redemption. But for those left behind, it will be a whole different story altogether. For those people will go through the Great Tribulation and will have to make the choice to receive or reject the mark of the beast under the rule of the Antichrist.
RELATED AUDIO: Watching The Mark Of The Beast World System Unfold
So with all this in mind, we would like to to take a look at the latest Droid commercial from Verizon, the smartphone is called the ‘DNA’ and the title of the commercial is ‘Extra Sensory’.
Droid DNA Commercial tagline: “It’s not an upgrade to your phone, it’s an upgrade to yourself…”
In this commercial as you will see, a man is being implanted, chipped, with various smartphone parts, so that his body and the phone merge to become one.
If you think about these things from the bible’s perspective, it will gradually become clear to you why there is such a push towards social media, web, and the unstoppable onslaught of new technology. The world is being prepared for the Man of Sin to take the stage, and when he does, he will force you to take his mark. This entire commercial is a hard-sell pitch to move your mind in that direction.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16,17
Be honest, how many of you, seeing this for the first time, said ” wow, check it out…this is really cool!”
Israel fights off massive web site hack attempts
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israeli government web sites since Wednesday when Israel began its Gaza air strikes, the government said on Sunday.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said just one hacking attempt was successful on a site he did not want to name, but it was up and running after 10 minutes of downtime.
Typically, there are a few hundred hacking attempts a day on Israeli sites, the ministry said.
Attempts on defence-related sites have been the highest, while 10 million attempts have been made on the site of Israel’s president, 7 million on the Foreign Ministry and 3 million on the site of the prime minister.
A ministry spokesman said while the attacks have come from around the world, most have been from Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“The ministry’s computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks,” Steinitz said. “We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerized defence systems.”
Steinitz has instructed his ministry to operate in emergency mode to counter attempts to undermine government sites.
Both sides in the Gaza conflict, but particularly Israel, are embracing the social media as one of their tools of warfare. The Israeli Defense Force has established a presence on nearly every platform available while Palestinian militants are active on Twitter.
“The war is taking place on three fronts. The first is physical, the second is on the world of social networks and the third is cyber,” said Carmela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer.
Last month, U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other financial systems. U.S. banks have been under sustained attack by suspected Iranian hackers thought to be responding to economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program. source – CNBC
Over the weekend, Facebook took down a message by the Special Operations Speaks PAC (SOS) which highlighted the fact that Obama denied backup to the forces being overrun in Benghazi.
The message was contained in a meme which demonstrated how Obama had relied on the SEALS when he was ready to let them get Osama bin Laden, and how he had turned around and denied them when they called for backup on Sept 11.
I spoke with Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc — the media company that handles SOS postings and media production. Ward was the one who personally put the Navy SEAL meme up, and the one who received the warning from Facebook and an eventual 24 hour suspension from Facebook because Ward put the meme back up after Facebook told him to take it down.
Here’s what Ward told me:
We created and posted this meme on Saturday after news broke that Obama had known and denied SEALS the backup they requested.
Once the meme was up it garnered 30,000 shares, approx. 24,000 likes, and was read by hundreds of thousands of people — all within 24 hrs. On Sunday, I went into the SOS Facebook page to post something else and found a warning from Facebook that we had violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities with our meme. So I copied the warning, put it on the meme as as caption, and re-posted the meme to the Facebook page.
Along with the re-posted meme, Ward put a link to the Facebook “feedback comment” inbox so visitors to the SOS page could send a message to Facebook if they were as outraged over the meme being jerked down as he was.
Ward said Facebook pulled the re-posted meme down within 7 or 8 hours and suspended the SOS account for 24 hours.
In other words, Facebook put the Navy SEALS in timeout in order to shield Obama.
How low can you go? source – Breitbart
The rage of Obama’s people
Why hasn’t President Obama spoken out against these threats?
From Weekly Standard: Twitchy reports that ”Post-presidential debate, Obama supporters renew vows to murder Mitt Romney.”
The threats are numerous–and explicit and graphic. Many call for Romney’s murder or assassination.
The Secret Service confirms it is “aware” of the threats against Romney, a spokesman for the federal agency confirms.
“The Secret Service is aware of this and will conduct appropriate follow up if necessary,” Brian Leary, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, says in an email.
Here is a small sampling, compiled by Twitchy:
I’m gonna murder Romney right now—
Weston Sebree (@WestonSebree) October 17, 2012
Somebody needs to asassinate This mofo Romney 16 Oct 12
If Romney is elected, I’m going to assassinate him #sniperstyle—
Erin (@erinheaven) October 17, 2012
@breeziedeeznuts if romney’s elected as president, I will personally assassinate him.— Rihanna Taught Me (@breeziedeeznuts) October 17, 2012
If Mitt Romney wins, which I doubt, someone should assassinate him before he ruins the lives of our generation & our children.—
The Black Goddess (@RitzyWavyTee) October 17, 2012