Later On

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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Another step down the path to a police state: Continuous surveillance of civilian population—with face recognition

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Just read it. This is beyond what Soviet Russia did (because they didn’t have the technology—naturally they would have done it if they had the technology. And we do have the technology. So that means we do it? Just like the Soviet Union except different national languages?

Isn’t there something wrong with that picture?

Update: See this brief video of the system in action.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 August 2016 at 5:06 pm

Twitter Makes Total Sense If You Understand It Properly

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When Kevin Drum is good, he’s really very good. Read this one.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 August 2016 at 4:10 pm

Worth reading, but first check out the 1967 five-minute IBM promo video

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Here’s the article (worth reading) and here’s the video (worth watching);

Written by LeisureGuy

22 August 2016 at 12:44 pm

Can big data stop bad cops?

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It can, but only if police departments want to stop bad cops. It’s unfortunately quite clear that some police departments have no interest at all in stopping bad cops (Baltimore, NYPD, Cleveland, Chicago, Albuquerque, LAPD, and on and on). Kimbriell Kelly reports in the Washington Post:

The Justice Department’s investigation of Baltimore police this month rebuked the agency for an entrenched culture of discriminatory policing. Deep within their findings, Justice investigators singled out a core failure: Baltimore’s system for identifying troubled officers was broken and existed in name only.

In Baltimore, Justice found that critical disciplinary records were excluded from its early intervention system, that police supervisors often intervened only after an officer’s behavior became egregious and that when they did, the steps they took were inadequate.

Justice highlighted the case of an unnamed officer who was criminally charged after he shot at a car as it drove toward him. When investigators looked into the officer’s background, they found that he had been involved in two prior shootings, had a history of complaints for harassment and excessive force, and had been flagged repeatedly in the early intervention system.

“The Department failed to respond to those alerts in a way that could have uncovered the officer’s condition or otherwise allowed for an intervention,” Justice reported.

The problems with Baltimore’s early intervention system are not isolated to police in that city. In numerous departments nationwide, police have failed to use early intervention systems effectively, Justice has found. Since 1994, 36 civil rights investigations by Justice discovered that local agencies had deeply flawed early intervention systems or no system in place at all, according to a review of those investigations by The Washington Post.

The Newark Police Department abandoned its early intervention system after just one year and lost track of more than 100 officers who had been flagged for monitoring, Justice found in 2014.

Justice told the Harvey Police Department in suburban Chicago to adopt a system in 2012 after its officers were accused of excessive force. The department’s system logged tardiness and grooming violations, but it failed to track lawsuits alleging misconduct or abuse, The Post found.

The New Orleans Police Department’s system was found in 2011 to be “outdated and essentially exists in name only,” Justice said. Rank-and-file officers mocked the system and considered inclusion a “badge of honor.”

Early intervention systems are supposed to collect a wide range of public and private information and use predictive modeling to determine whether officers are prone to misconduct. Once an officer is flagged, a supervisor is supposed to intervene, heading off potential problems.

Justice, which has investigated dozens of police departments nationwide for civil rights violations, considers early intervention systems critical to reforming embattled agencies. Some of the troubled police departments had early intervention systems and collected information about officers’ behavior but did nothing with the data, investigators found.

“There was nobody actually reading it, or looking at it and evaluating it, and then taking action thereafter,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “You can have a system and technology, but you actually need human beings to use the information, to act on it and to analyze it over time.” . .

Continue reading. It’s a lengthy article and there’s a lot more.

The fact is that many police departments simply do not care. It’s not merely that it’s not a high priority, rather it has no priority at all.

It would be interesting to learn why so many police departments have so little motive to stop bad cops. There must be some incentives at work to encourage leaving bad cops alone. Can it be that they are even encouraged?

Written by LeisureGuy

21 August 2016 at 7:28 pm

Gawker, Hating the Media, Free Trade, and F-35: Today’s Trips Down Memory Lane

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James Fallows’s column of the same title is well worth reading—and includes links worth following.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 August 2016 at 3:15 pm

The NSA leak is real, Snowden documents confirm

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Sam Biddle reports in The Intercept:

ON MONDAY, A HACKING group calling itself the “ShadowBrokers” announced an auction for what it claimed were “cyber weapons” made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide.

The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA’s virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency.

The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, “ace02468bdf13579.” That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE plays a specialized role inside a complex global system built by the U.S. government to infect and monitor what one document estimated to be millions of computers around the world. Its release by ShadowBrokers, alongside dozens of other malicious tools, marks the first time any full copies of the NSA’s offensive software have been available to the public, providing a glimpse at how an elaborate system outlined in the Snowden documents looks when deployed in the real world, as well as concrete evidence that NSA hackers don’t always have the last word when it comes to computer exploitation.

But malicious software of this sophistication doesn’t just pose a threat to foreign governments, Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green told The Intercept:

The danger of these exploits is that they can be used to target anyone who is using a vulnerable router. This is the equivalent of leaving lockpicking tools lying around a high school cafeteria. It’s worse, in fact, because many of these exploits are not available through any other means, so they’re just now coming to the attention of the firewall and router manufacturers that need to fix them, as well as the customers that are vulnerable.

So the risk is twofold: first, that the person or persons who stole this information might have used them against us. If this is indeed Russia, then one assumes that they probably have their own exploits, but there’s no need to give them any more. And now that the exploits have been released, we run the risk that ordinary criminals will use them against corporate targets.

The NSA did not respond to questions concerning ShadowBrokers, the Snowden documents, or its malware.

The offensive tools released by ShadowBrokers are organized under a litany of code names such as POLARSNEEZE and ELIGIBLE BOMBSHELL, and their exact purpose is still being assessed. But we do know more about one of the weapons: SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE is a tool designed to intercept web requests and redirect browsers on target computers to an NSA web server. That server, in turn, is designed to infect them with malware. SECONDDATE’s existence was first reported by The Intercept in 2014, as part of a look at a global computer exploitation effort code-named TURBINE. The malware server, known as FOXACID, has also been described in previously released Snowden documents.

Other documents released by The Intercept today not only tie SECONDDATE to the ShadowBrokers leak but also provide new detail on how it fits into the NSA’s broader surveillance and infection network. They also show how SECONDDATE has been used, including to spy on Pakistan and a computer system in Lebanon.

The top-secret manual that authenticates the SECONDDATE found in the wild as the same one used within the NSA is a 31-page document titled “FOXACID SOP for Operational Management” and marked as a draft. It dates to no earlier than 2010. A section within the manual describes administrative tools for tracking how victims are funneled into FOXACID, including a set of tags used to catalogue servers. When such a tag is created in relation to a SECONDDATE-related infection, the document says, a certain distinctive identifier must be used: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 August 2016 at 9:41 am

Former NSA Staffers: Rogue Insider Could Be Behind NSA Data Dump

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UPDATE: One clue: the poor use of English in the messages seems to be faked. /update

That the NSA data dump could have come from a disgruntled employee seems not at all unlikely, given Edward Snowden. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox report in Motherboard:

There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the shocking dump of a slew ofhacking tools used by an NSA-linked group earlier this week. But perhaps the biggest one is: who’s behind the leak? Who is behind the mysterious moniker “The Shadow Brokers”?

So far, there’s no clear evidence pointing in any direction, but given the timing of the leak, and the simple fact that very few would have the capabilities and the motives to hack and shame the NSA publicly, some posited The Shadow Brokers could be Russian.

But there’s another possibility. An insider could have stolen them directly from the NSA, in a similar fashion to how former NSA contractor Edward Snowden stole an untold number of the spy agency’s top secret documents. And this theory is being pushed by someone who claims to be, himself, a former NSA insider.

“My colleagues and I are fairly certain that this was no hack, or group for that matter,” the former NSA employee told Motherboard. “This ‘Shadow Brokers’ character is one guy, an insider employee.”

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that it’d be much easier for an insider to obtain the data that The Shadow Brokers put online rather than someone else, even Russia, remotely stealing it. He argued that “naming convention of the file directories, as well as some of the scripts in the dump are only accessible internally,” and that “there is no reason” for those files to be on a server someone could hack. He claimed that these sorts of files are on a physically separated network that doesn’t touch the internet; an air-gap. (Motherboard was not able to independently verify this claim, and it’s worth bearing in mind that an air-gap is not an insurmountable obstacle in the world of hacking).

Of course, as Matt Suiche, the CEO of Dubai-based cybersecurity company Comae,noted in a post analyzing the insider theory, a leading theory is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 August 2016 at 8:53 am

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