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A VERY BAD IDEA: Transferring Control of the Internet to the UN

From an intelligence standpoint, it does not make sense to turn over control of the Internet to the UN. At a time when the US Armed Forces and the intelligence community are both trying to develop our national defenses against the threats of cyber warfare, to divest the nation of control of the Internet is not in the best interest of the nation. The Pentagon, White House, and other agencies of government have been signaling the onset of cyber warfare.

Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN is just another illustration of how he continues to weaken the Republic, his goal seems to move the nation to a post-modern utopian world. The Obama administration has been informing the world that Putin is on the wrong side of history, that Putin is living in the 19th Century of nationalism, not in Obama’s 21st Century vision of internationalism.

Obama believes anyone espousing nationalism in the United States is backwards, uneducated, and a danger to the “change” he envision for the United States. While Obama is degrading the strength of the US military to a level that existed before WWII, and is intent on seriously damaging the economic power of the nation, as he drives the Republic into unheard of levels of debt (soon the interest on the national debt will exceed the GNP).

Obama believes that the nation-state, and sovereignty must no longer be the basis for the foundation of the international system, in Obama’s new 21st Century world, he alleges Putin doesn’t understand, he wants to eliminate the US status as the only Superpower. It is rather apparent that Putin does understand Obama’s naive vision of the 21st Century and is taking full advantage of it, and of Obama’s leadership from behind. A destabilizing transfer of control of the Internet to the UN will not be in the best interest of the American people, the US Armed Forces, or for The Free Enterprise System. If control of the Internet is transferred to the UN, the American people can expect the UN to eventually levy taxes on use its use; the American public has been fortunate that ever since the US military created the Internet, it has been free for all Americans to use free of taxes.

Eventually the UN may allow certain restrictions to be imposed against certain member states that are not looked on favorably by the majority of member nations, like Israel, the United States, or any other nation the majority member states may disagree with. Internet privacy and computer security has always been protected by the United States, but can be abused by a new and unknown power structure at the UN.

The Republican leadership in the Congress that has done very little or nothing to oppose Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN, must take action to prevent the occupant of the Oval Office from effecting the transfer.

It appears Obama is transferring control of the Internet to the UN because he has had difficulty dealing with the open criticism of his administration on the Internet daily; that criticism, guaranteed by the freedom of speech, under provisions of the US Constitution has been difficult for him to accept.

It has been impossible for the Obama administration to control the American people’s freedom of expression, as they criticize the Obama administration’s multiple failures and scandals on Internet daily. Since the Internet would have to remain free and open if it were to remain under the control of the US Commerce Department, that must be changed. When the Obama administration turns control of the Internet over to the UN, he has full knowledge that a coalition of nations that restrict the freedom of expression of their own populations will endeavor to suppress the freedom of expression on the Internet.

Countries like China, Cuba, Iran, the Soviet Union, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Algeria, etc. will take aggressive action to change the Internet as we know it today. The American people will forced by the Obama administration to abide by new oppressive UN Internet regulations, and Americans will be forced to abide by new UN Internet restricted regulations be penalized if they do not, or even worse. The American people must be allowed to assert their freedom of expression on the Internet and their right to oppose any attempt to suppress their freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution, regardless of what any new UN Internet regulations may require.

The transfer of the Internet to UN control is not a small issue, it is about basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the US Constitution, and must be opposed by any and all means possible. We encourage you to contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they take whatever action is required to prevent the transfer of Internet control to the UN.

RELATED STORIES: 

U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet – The Washington Post
Why is American internet so slow?

US Regional electrical grids

Federal Study: America’s Electrical Grid Vulnerable to Sabotage/Terrorism

On February 9, 2014 we reported on the Wall Street Journal’s investigation into an apparent terrorist attack on the Metcalf Substation  of Pacific Gas and Electric  (PG&E) in Silicon Valley, “The Metcalf Incident: California Power Station Terrorist Attack Reveals Highly Vulnerable National Grid”.   We noted:

In the early morning of April 16, 2013, the Metcalf, California transmission substation in Silicon Valley was attacked by what federal investigators believe was a highly professional terrorist team.  That sniper assault caused 17 transformers to crash severing power to Internet Service Providers and other power users in Silicon Valley.  Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) was forced to increase and reroute power to the area served by the disabled transmission station.  Power outages were avoided.  It took 27 days for PG&E to repair and bring the transmission substation back online.

The question of the vulnerability of the national grid surfaced because of the relentless investigations conducted by the former Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission (FERC) head, Jon Wellinghoff, whose term ended November 2013.

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a follow up report on FERC simulation studies conducted  under  the sponsorship of  Wellinghoff that revealed how vulnerable the national grid could be to sabotage of less than 9 critical transformers,  “U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack.”  Among the concerning revelations in the WSJ investigative report were:

The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country’s 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.

The study by FERC concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse.

A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.

With over 160,000 miles of transmission lines, the U.S. power grid is designed to handle natural and man-made disasters, as well as fluctuations in demand. How does the system work?

“This would be an event of unprecedented proportions,” said Ross Baldick, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

Note these  comments of former FERC Chairman Wellinghoff:

The study’s results have been known for months by people at federal agencies, Congress and the White House, who were briefed by then-FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and others at the commission. As reported by the Journal last month, Mr. Wellinghoff was concerned about a shooting attack on a California substation last April, which he said could be a dress rehearsal for additional assaults.

“There are probably less than 100 critical high voltage substations on our grid in this country that need to be protected from a physical attack,” he said by email this week. “It is neither a monumental task, nor is it an inordinate sum of money that would be required to do so.” Mr. Wellinghoff left FERC in November and is a partner at law firm Stoel Rives LLP in San Francisco.

FERC has given the industry until early June to propose new standards for the security of critical facilities, such as substations.

This latest WSJ report on the vulnerability of the national electrical grid noted in conclusion:

While the prospect of a nationwide blackout because of sabotage might seem remote, small equipment failures have led to widespread power outages. In September 2011, for example, a failed transmission line in Arizona set off a chain reaction that created an outage affecting millions of people in the state and Southern California.

Sabotage could wreak worse havoc, experts said.

“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”

Watch this Wall Street Journal video  interview with National War College Professor Dr. Richard Andress:

In our February 2014   Iconoclast post  we cited the vulnerability of critical   transformer substations throughout the national grid, the lack of sufficient replacement manufacturing capacity in the US and the dependence on foreign manufacturers in China,  South Korea and Germnay.That more than 100 military bases were supplied by the civilian electrical grid.  We also revealed the differing attitudes of leading electrical industry groups and Congressional lassitude on the matter of passing enabling legislation. We said:

The  North American Electric Reliability  Corporation (NERC), the principal electric utility standard setting organization,  has opposed passage of the Shield Act calling the network “resilient”.  Au contraire  says  an official of Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) cited by the WSJ: “The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented” in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical  executive. “The motivation”, he said, “appears to  be preparation for an act of war.”  When we checked the websites of House Energy and Commerce Committee  Chairman  Fred Upton (R-MI ) and  Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) their major concerns as regards the security of the grid is vulnerability to cyber attack.  According to the WSJ  retiring  House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) raised concerns  about the lack of federal  authority to undertake protective actions regarding the safety of the national grid during FERC oversight hearings in December 2013.

The revelations of this follow up WSJ report buttress the conclusions of our earlier post:

Whether it is  a terrorist attack like the Metcalf substation incident, the threat of a massive geomagnetic storm during  an EMP caused by either North Korea or Iran , this latest WSJ report should embolden US taxpayers and electrical users to request serious  Congressional  consideration of HR 2417: The Shield Act .   If any of those events occurred  that would  bring us back to pre-industrial times. The estimates are that more than 200 million Americans could succumb to a  pandemic  virus from lack of food, water, sanitation  and  medical treatment caused by the breakdown of industrial , transportation and communications networks.

If you are concerned about this lack of security of the national  grid, you should consider signing  the Protect The US Grid  petition requesting Congressional consideration of the Shield Act, here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

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Bit9+Carbon Black and FL based Sylint Group partner to provide global cybersecurity services

WALTHAM, Mass.— Bit9, the leader in advanced threat protection for endpoints and servers, today announced the Bit9 Connect Alliance Partner Program. The program integrates the leading endpoint and server security solution from Bit9 + Carbon Black with top network security, analytics and SIEM, threat intelligence and security service provider solutions so organizations can choose best-of-breed solutions from different vendors to create a unified defense against cyber threats.

Companies participating in the program represent the best of the best in their respective segments of security. The end result is enterprises that deploy the Bit9 Security Platform with any or all of the alliance partners’ offerings will strengthen their security posture, decrease their total costs of ownership, achieve faster deployment times, and gain increased value from their integrated solutions. Participating vendors’ solutions are certified to fully integrate with the Bit9 platform.

The new program, which is being introduced a week following Bit9’s merger with Carbon Black, covers the complete security ecosystem, including:

  • Network Security–Bit9 and Carbon Black partner with vendors in the network security space to enable customers to correlate their network data with their endpoint and server data. As network security solutions detect malware on the network, Bit9 and Carbon Black consume the network alerts and automatically determine where the malware landed, if it executed, and how many machines were affected. This instant visibility enables security analysts to filter out non-actionable events, prioritize high-impact alerts, and rapidly respond to security incidents. Likewise, when Bit9 detects unknown or suspicious executable files on endpoints and servers, it can send the file to a detonation engine for analysis. If a risk analysis determines that the file is malicious, Bit9 can automatically ban it from spreading to other endpoints or servers within a customer’s environment. Certified network security solutions include Check Point Next Generation FirewallGeneral Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity SolutionsFireEye EXFireEye NX, and Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall.
  • Analytics and SIEM—Bit9 works with vendors in the data analytics and security information and event management (SIEM) space to enable customers to view all of their security information from one centralized data repository. Bit9 offers standards-based and proprietary integrations with leaders in this space so security analysts can view endpoint and server events alongside other security information. Certified analytics and SIEM solutions in the program include HP ArcSightIBM QRadarLogRhythm, and RSA NetWitness.
  • Threat Intelligence—Bit9 partners with threat intelligence vendors to bolster the power of the Bit9 Software Reputation Service (SRS). The Bit9 SRS is a cloud-based intelligence database that provides insight into known-good, known-bad and unproven software, giving IT and security teams actionable intelligence about the software installed within their enterprise. Our threat intelligence partners provide valuable feeds so Bit9 can provide customers with the most accurate and up-to-date software reputation data. Bit9’s threat intelligence partners include OPSWAT and Team Cymru. Bit9 will announce additional threat intelligence partners later this quarter.
  • Security Service Providers—Bit9 partners with managed security service providers (MSSP) to fully empower security analysts to detect, respond and remediate advanced threats that target their customers. Bit9 also works closely with incident response (IR) consulting firms to help clients gain immediate access to the Bit9 + Carbon Black solution to aid in remediation efforts. As IR teams identify the malicious files used to execute an attack, Bit9 can identify each endpoint and server on which the malware has landed. This immediate visibility enables IR teams to rapidly contain attacks and accelerate remediation. Certified security service provider partners in the Bit9 Connect program include AccuvantFishNet Security and Sylint.

Bit9 Executive Quote: Tom Barsi, vice president of business development
“Legacy security systems do not solve the problem for today’s advanced threats. Customers are defending themselves against advanced threats with a completely new approach across their security stack. I’m excited to announce that today, Bit9 is taking a step forward to create a holistic ecosystem of security partners that helps close the security gap and provides a 360-degree view of advanced threat security.”

Palo Alto Networks Executive Quote: Scott Gainey, vice president of marketing and programs
“Bit9 is setting the pace for Endpoint Threat Detection, Response and Prevention solutions. Since our partnership began in 2013, we have been consistently impressed with Bit9’s execution, and our customers have demonstrated strong interest in our integrated network and endpoint security offerings. The Bit9 Connect Program will only deliver further value as customers continue to build out next-generation security infrastructures.”

IBM QRadar Executive Quote: Jason Corbin, director of security intelligence strategy and product management
“With today’s increasingly complex threats, more network context helps security teams detect attacks and remediate breaches faster. The Bit9 Security Platform provides the QRadar Security Intelligence solution with in-depth visibility around endpoint security. Our joint solution identifies where files originate, any propagation to other machines, and whether they’re executable, malicious or involved in a current attack. We’re excited about Bit9 adding more intelligence and visibility around security threats such as malware and zero-day attacks to QRadar’s leading analytical capabilities.”

Sylint Executive Quote: Serge Jorgensen, chief technology officer
“The Bit9 team and product suite bring a strong new set of capabilities to any incident response toolkit. Bit9’s technology consistently increases the accuracy, speed and efficiency of our incident response process by precisely identifying key files and machines and allowing a more effective triage and mitigation.”

About Sylint

Formed in 1998, our firm has developed a national reputation as a leader in its field. We serve clients from Fortune 50 to small firms and municipalities. Our professionals combine experience from National Intelligence Agencies, Department of Defense, law enforcement, and corporate entities Sylint provides comprehensive cyber security and investigative services to keep our clients secure in a cost efficient manner. Our services include detection and remediation of corporate espionage, fraud identification, cyber security posture review, and regulatory compliance.

About Bit9 + Carbon Black

Bit9 and Carbon Black have joined together to offer the industry’s most complete solution for advanced threat protection for endpoints and servers. The merged company helps organizations protect themselves from advanced threats in two critical ways: by reducing their attack surface through new signature-less forms of prevention, and rapidly detecting and responding to threats. We do this by leveraging the powerful combination of Carbon Black’s lightweight endpoint sensor, which can be rapidly deployed with no configuration to deliver “incident response in seconds,” and Bit9’s industry-leading prevention technologies to continuously monitor and record all activity on endpoints and servers and stop cyber threats that evade traditional security defenses. Our lightweight real-time sensor and recorder, cloud-based services, and real-time enforcement engine give organizations immediate visibility into everything running on their endpoints and servers; real-time signature-less detection of and protection against advanced threats; a recorded history of all endpoint and server activity to rapidly respond to alerts and incidents; and real-time integration with network security devices such as Check Point, FireEye and Palo Alto Networks. 1,000 organizations worldwide—from 25 Fortune 100 companies to small businesses—use Bit9 and Carbon Black to increase security, reduce operational costs and improve compliance.

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The Cyber Attacks are coming, the Cyber Attacks are coming!

If you Google the words “cyber attacks” you will get 164 million results. So where is our government on defending you and me against this growing peril? According to experts like John Jorgenson, CEO and founding partner of  the Sylint Group, our government is woefully behind the times in capability and capacity to deal with the threat of cyber attacks let alone the cyber warfare being conducted on a global scale by nation states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Today the cry across America is the cyber attacks are coming, the cyber attacks are coming! But no one is taking action. No one that is except those few who, like Jorgenson, truly understand the catastrophic nature of the threat.

The most recent cyber attack was against our federal court system. Politico’s Tony Romm reports, “Unidentified hackers took aim at the federal court system Friday [January 24, 2014], blocking access to its public website while preventing lawyers and litigants from filing legal documents online. The incident affected uscourts.gov the federal court’s public hub, as well as most if not all federal court sites — not to mention the federal court system’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Friday.” The site remained down when this column was posted.

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John Jorgensen, CEO and a founding partner of the Sylint Group.

Jorgenson notes, “Since President Obama created a White House ‘cyber czar‘ position in 2009 there have been six appointed and then leave the position. The reason is a lack of support and funding for the program.”

In an email Jorgenson states, “The Cyber Czar count is difficult to do because of the people who temporarily held the post and the ‘Cyber Czar’ post being identified with the Obama Administration and DHS both. It is not easy to find the names of those who resigned. The press makes it out that there has been only one Cyber Czar under Obama, Schmidt. You have to really search to find the others.” The players since President Obama first took office are:

  • Rod Beckstrom – Resigned/Replaced, White House
  • Melissa Hathaway – Resigned. Hathaway was said to have been temporary, White House. But was she temporary because she resigned so quickly after making negative comments about the administration?
  • Howard Schmidt – Retired (Stated at RSA, 2010 or 2011, that there is no Cyber Warfare), White House.
  • Unknown – There was talk of a woman who took Schmidt’s place but soon resigned and Schmidt stayed on, White House.
  • Mark Weatherford – DHS / resigned.
  • Bruce McConnell – DHS / Temporary.
  • Michael Daniel – Current, White House.

“At issue is that a post as important as this, has had enormous turnover and turmoil, and we are only five years into the administration ‘leadership’. Nothing of substance to protect commercial industry, the countries infrastructure, or the citizen has come out of the White House. From the attacks being made on the United States on the Cyber Battlefield our advisories are taking Cyber Warfare seriously while we can’t find a credible Field Marshall let alone decide what needs to be done,” notes Jorgenson.

John Kelly from HowStuffWorks.com wrote, “In 2009, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that the U.S. ‘is under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day’ [source: Farrell]. He wasn’t joking. That year, computer spies gained access to files about the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, intruders breached the Air Force’s air-traffic-control system, Chinese hackers penetrated computers at Google, and Russian cyber-thieves stole tens of millions of dollars from Citibank.”

On June 23, 2009, the Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command to establish a sub-unified command, United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). Full Operational Capability (FOC) was achieved Oct. 31, 2010. The command is located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

NextGov.com reports, “In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed by House lawmakers last week, Congress required the Defense Department appoint a high level Principal Cyber Advisor with a broad oversight portfolio that includes offensive and defensive cyber missions, resources, personnel, acquisition and technology. A Senate vote on the bill is expected this week. The new cyber advisor will have ‘overall supervision’ of all Defense cyber operations and will oversee a team that will integrate the cyber expertise of the four services, combatant commands and Defense agencies.”

Jorgenson believes that “major government systems have been compromised, including the US electrical grid.” Jorgenson stated that other systems such as health care, hospitals and our food supply systems are targets of cyber attacks. These attacks are dangerous because according to Jorgenson, “they place malware on corporate and government computer systems with the intent of controlling manufacturing, distribution and information system processes.”

The danger is real, clear and present. However, it appears the federal government and Congress is less concerned with the threat as it is with making political points over the dysfunctional HeathCare.gov website. Which by the way has been compromised!

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Time to Amend the Florida Constitution to stop the NSA?

A column on World Net Daily has come to my attention. It deals with legislative proposals in the states of Missouri and Kansas changing their constitutions to protect the privacy, and liberty, of their citizens electronic communications and data. The following are excerpts from the column. Perhaps it is time for Florida to consider amending its constitution in the same way?

The National Security Agency may be able to spy on citizens by collecting data about their telephone calls and Internet usage, but at least two states are developing a strategy that would leave the data largely unusable without a warrant.

The newly revealed practices of the NSA to monitor all telephone calls made by American citizens could even be found in violation of the Missouri state constitution.

Several court cases that could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court have been filed since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information about the program.

Lawmakers in several states, however, aren’t waiting.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, lawmakers in Missouri are proposing to amend their state constitution. Their plan would add “and electronic communications and data” to the provision that provides privacy and security for residents.

If changed by voters, it would read:

“That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes [and], effects, and electronic communications and data, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing, or access electronic data or communication, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, or the data or communication to be accessed, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”

The Joint Resolution, pending before the state Senate, proposes allowing Missouri voters to decide next November whether or not to amend their constitution.

In Kansas, Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, pre filed a bill that would “ban all state agencies and local governments in the state from possessing data ‘held by a third-party in a system of record’ and would prohibit any such information from being ‘subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion for its release to any person or entity or be admissible in evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding.’”

The access the data, under the bill, government would be required to obtain “express informed consent” or a warrant.

Read more.

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Disneyland moves towards a Police State?

Jacob Sloan from DisInfo.com reports, “Who says the Panopticon has to be gloomy? Children will be thrilled to find that Mickey Mouse already knows everything about them.” ANIMAL New York writes:

In an effort to give its theme park patrons a more customized, interactive experience, Disney is adopting the tactics of law enforcement agencies everywhere: giving out wristbands embedded with tracking devices and information about the people wearing them.

Uses for the wristbands, dubbed “MyMagic+,” range from the pedestrian–like tracking purchases and attractions visited, presumably to serve up targeted advertisements–to the surreal. If a child wearing a MyMagic+ band approaches a Cinderella mascot, for example, Cinderella could be automatically informed of the child’s information, so she can greet him or her by name. Fortunately, the devices are strictly optional for now.

“We want to take experiences that are more passive and make them as interactive as possible,” said Bruce Vaughn, Disney Imagineering’s chief creative executive. “Moving from, ‘Cool, look at that talking bird,’ to ‘Wow, amazing, that bird is talking directly to me.”

The Disney World website states:

MyMagic+ will allow you to take control of your Walt Disney World vacation like never before.

You can personalize your experience … and even your MagicBand. Best yet, you’ll have the confidence of locking in incredible Disney experiences—while having the flexibility to make updates as your plans change.

There’s never been an easier way to experience a Walt Disney World vacation that’s all yours. Stay tuned for more Disney magic yet to be revealed!

There is no indication that visitors may opt out of wearing MyMagic+ wristbands.

 

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“Electronic Army Of the Caucasus Emirate” threatens Cyber War against Russia

On December 27, 2013, the website posted a video titled “Appeal by the Anonymous Caucasus #OpPayBackForSotchi2014.” The “Anonymous Caucasus” describes itself as the “electronic army of the Caucasus Emirate” and has a website and accounts on Twitter and Facebook. In this video it warns the Russian government to stop its “activities” in Sochi (presumably the preparations for the Winter Olympics), otherwise the group will launch a cyber war against it in retaliation for the “Circassian genocide” of 1864,” reports MEMRI.

The video, which is two minutes and 31 seconds in duration, shows still images of signs in English that read: “Putin, don’t build your credibility on Circassian graves”; “Sochi 2014 – the hidden genocide”; “You’ll be skiing on the mass graves”; “2014 Sochi Olympic winter games – Circassian genocide 150 anniversary”.

The message is delivered by an unseen announcer. The following are excerpts:

“Our message is addressed to the government of the Russian Federation and to all the supporters of the [Winter] Olympics in Sochi. You are spending millions of dollars to organize these games on the land of the Circassians, on the land where their entire people was cruelly annihilated, on the land of the 1864 genocide… 150 years have passed, but Russia has not recognized the genocide of the Circassian people, and continues to ignore the people who live on this land. But now Anonymous Caucasus has decided to carry out a new operation called “Pay Back For Sochi.” We will launch the largest cyber war [that ever was] against the Russian government.

You will pay for [the genocide]. You crossed the line of inhumanity by wanting to hold your games on the land of our ancestors. Our army is now stronger than it was yesterday and [even] a minute ago, and our activity will increase. We support all the peoples of the Caucasus [in the struggle] against our enemy and enemy of Islam – [namely] Russia. Stop your activities in the Sochi region and we will stop ours… [If you don’t], we will attack you, we will destroy you. We will get our own way and you will not stop us. We are the Anonymous Caucasus. We neither forgive nor forget…”

Read more here.

EDITORS NOTE: In the mid-19th century large numbers of Circassians were expelled from the northwest Caucasus following the Russian conquest of the area. An unknown number of deportees died during the expulsions.

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Danger: Your coffee maker may be spying on you!

In August Adam Levin from ABC News reported, “For Americans concerned about their privacy, the NSA data grabs are daunting, but what about the data grabs happening inside your own home, perpetrated not by the government, but by your coffee machine?”

Levin notes, “Consider every appliance and every piece of home electronics that you own. Does it gather data about how you use it? Does it connect to the Internet? If so, it could be used to spy on you. Your mobile devices, your TV, and now various other types of home appliances can be wired into a network that can track you. If those networks are hacked, information about your habits and behaviors could be available to people with nefarious goals. The same technological innovation that empowers us also makes us vulnerable to those who would exploit such advances against us.”

Levin list nine categories of ordinary home appliances that are now capable of collecting data on you including: your television, your cable box, dishwasher, toaster, your lights, your heat/AC and coffee maker.

Steve Watson in March 2012 on InfoWars.com stated, “CIA director David Petraeus has said that the rise of new “smart” gadgets means that Americans are effectively bugging their own homes, saving US spy agencies a job when it identifies any “persons of interest”.

“Speaking at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s technology investment operation, Petraeus made the comments when discussing new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems,” writes Watson.

“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said.

Simon Sharwood in his column “DON’T BREW THAT CUPPA! Your kettle could be a SPAMBOT” reports, “Russian authorities have claimed that household appliances imported from China contain tiny computers that seek out open WiFi networks and then get to work sending spam and distributing malware. St Petersburg news outlet Rosbalt reported last week that local authorities had examined kettles and irons and found “20 to 30 pieces of Chinese home appliance ‘spy’ microchips” that “sends some data to the foreign server”.

Finally Watson states, “Petraeus’ comments come in the same week that one of the biggest microchip companies in the world, ARM, unveiled new processors that are designed to give practically every household appliance an internet connection, in order that they can be remote controlled and operate in tandem with applications.

When you get your next appliance better check your privacy at you door.

RELATED COLUMN: Your Car Could be ‘Spying’ on You! US Report Reveals Carmakers are Collecting Data about Drivers’ Travel Habits

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Is Rumored Saudi – Israeli Collaboration on a “Super Stuxnet” Iranian Disinformation?

Photo source: FARS News Agency

There is lots of chatter in the media and on the internet speculating on a possible Israeli Saudi entente to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with a Super Stuxnet malware.  That speculation was triggered by an Iranian FARS agency report on November 30, 2013  concerning  a supposed alliance of convenience between the Jewish nation and the Wahhabist Saudi Kingdom, “Riyadh, Tel Aviv Cooperating to Sabotage Iran’s N. Program.”.  The report focused on  possible of  development a coordinated sabotage effort aimed at delaying and ultimately destroying Shiite Iran’s achievement of nuclear breakout.  Some seasoned observers considered this part of an elaborate Iranian disinformation campaign in the wake of the November 24th P5+1 deal struck with Iran in Geneva.

Here is what FARS reported that gave rise to the speculations:

“Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Tamir Bardo sent their representatives to a meeting in Vienna on November 24 to increase the two sides’ cooperation in intelligence and sabotage operations against Iran’s nuclear program,” an informed source close to the Saudi secret service told FNA on Saturday.

“One of the proposals raised in the meeting was the production of a malware worse than the Stuxnet (a comprehensive US-Israeli program designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear technology) to spy on and destroy the software structure of Iran’s nuclear program,” the source who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of his information added.

[…]

Bandar himself had also earlier met Bardo in Jordan’s Aqaba port city, a meeting which elicited outrage from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz who had already advised the Saudi spy chief to run indirect and clandestine consultations with the Israeli regime on strategic issues in the Middle East. In the wake of the secret talks, Prince Salman ordered the prosecution of the spymaster.

In addition to the Iranian disinformation campaign directed at exposing a possible Israeli -Saudi entente aimed at conducting cyber warfare against Iran’s  nuclear program there were other defensive moves by the US played out in Washington, Jerusalem and Bahrain this week.

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry began an intense public relations campaign this past week. That began Wednesday evening with a final Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in the White House. That event featured a Holocaust survivor lighting the final blaze of candles for the eighth evening of the Jewish holiday. This provided an opportunity for President Obama  to make a pitch to the American Jewish community that the interim deal would grant time for negotiations to perfect a permanent one  blocking Iran from achieving a nuclear breakout threatening Israel’ s existence. On Thursday in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Kerry briefed Israeli PM Netanyahu on the P5+1 interim deal that the latter had roundly criticized as an “historical mistake”.

According to the Washington Post, Kerry was suggesting that Netanyahu provide some ‘breathing room’ to permit the Geneva deal to proceed to a definitive final agreement forestalling Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Netanyahu’s objections were that the current negotiations track  would not lead to dismantling Iran’s nuclear program, let alone prevent it from achieving a nuclear capability.  Kerry was trying to prevent Netanyahu from emboldening bi- partisan Congressional allies in Washington from rushing to judgment and passing strengthened sanctions.  As this weekend began, another voice in  Administration’s PR campaign for the P5+1 interim deal  with Iran was heard.  Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, in his remarks, today, at the Manama Dialogue with the Gulf Cooperating Council States  suggested that a military option was a complement to the current diplomatic track with a nuclear Iran. Further, that arms and other support would still flow to America’s querulous allies in the Gulf. That may have sent a message to Netanyahu in Jerusalem that Israeli consideration of a unilateral action against Iran’s nuclear program was unwarranted.

Serious questions have arisen about unresolved arrangements and issues in the P5+1 deal. Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC Foundation for Defense of Democracies noted some glaring examples in a CNN report, “US and Iran See Nuclear Deal Differently”.

On the Arak heavy water reactor:

According to the White House Fact Sheet, this means that “Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track.”

[. . .]

According to Reuters, however, Iran could “build components off-site to install later.”  According to the Iranian Eghtesad Online website, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told the Majles that while “no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed… that “building and construction will continue because currently we are at this stage in Arak.”

On Iran’s rights to continue nuclear enrichment:

U.S. officials claim the Geneva deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. Iranian officials claim it does. According to Zarif, “Iran enjoys that right and it is important to recognize that right. This recognition is there [in the agreement].” Similarly, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted in Farsi, “Our enrichment program has been formally recognized.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also boasted that the “nuclear rights of the people of Iran and their right to enrichment was acknowledged by global powers.”Rouhani later declared that “enrichment, which is one part of our nuclear right, will continue, it is continuing today and it will continue tomorrow and our enrichment will never stop and this is our red line.”

On the reality of Sanctions relief under the P5+1 deal:

According to the White House Fact Sheet, Iran will receive approximately $7 billion in sanctions relief over six months. However, according to Araghchi, the Geneva deal will provide Iran with access to $15 billion over that time. Iranian officials have further reportedly claimed that the United States has unfrozen $8 billion in Iranian assets thus far. The math on the deal remains somewhat fuzzy in Washington.

President Obama stated that the “broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously.” Rouhani, however, claimed that “cracks in the sanctions organization have begun…and as time passes, the space between these cracks will increase.” And in other remarks, the ever-smiling Rouhani boasted that “we broke the structure of sanctions.”

The lack of transparency and appeasement at Geneva has aroused concerns in Washington, in Jerusalem and Riyadh. Thus giving rise to the speculations about an Israeli- Saudi Entente tilting towards covert sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program.  There are several cautionary notes. The first is the rumored accusations by the Administration that Israel may have leaked information about the Stuxnet malware joint development program with the US begun during the Bush Administration. Israel has contended it was the other way around.

The FARS report was clearly meant to widen the divide between the Administration and the Saudis. The Saudis are angry over the Administration  failures to actively support the Sunni Islamist opposition in the Syrian civil war.

There is also the sense that broad spectrum use of Malware like Stuxnet may incur  “collateral damage”.  Eugene Kaspersky,  principal at the Russian anti-virus Kaspersky Institute,  recently commented at an Australian conference that, “Stuxnet – the famous worm widely credited with crippling the Iranian nuclear weapons program for several years – also infected the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant. Unspecified malware has even reached the International Space Station”.

That point was amplified in a post by Luigi Pagnani,  Editor in Chief  of Cyber Defense Magazine in the on-line journal, Security Affairs, “Israel and Saudi Arabia aHudare plotting a cyber weapon worse than Stuxnet”.   We have edited his conclusions, as follows:

Israel and Saudi Arabia consider Iran an enemy to destroy.  Progress in the Iranian nuclear program is not acceptable to both governments and represents a dangerous threat.

The creation of cyber weapons is no less dangerous than the Iranian nuclear program.  The diffusion of such malware could cause serious damage to a critical infrastructure with unpredictable results, not to exclude the possibility of  directly affecting civilian populations.

It is absolutely necessary that there be development of a legal framework for using a cyber weapon with rules of engagement. A cyber weapon could have effects similar to a nuclear bomb.

The quixotic nature of the rumored Saudi – Israeli Entente endeavoring to disable if not stop ran’s quest for nuclear hegemony is problematic. Walter Russell Mead in a Wall Street Journal op ed, “A Riyadh-Jerusalem Entente”, elaborates on the dynamics of this suggested entente.   He notes in conclusion:

The two temporary allies could settle a few other scores. They could work jointly against Hezbollah and Hamas, perhaps with Egyptian help returning Fatah to power in Gaza. From Syria to Iran, the Kurds might suddenly find they’ve got more money and that their relations with their Sunni Arab neighbors might improve.

Those who think the Israelis and Saudis will have to accept whatever treatment the Americans dish out may be right. But if access to Saudi facilities changes the calculations about what Israeli strikes against Iran can accomplish, the two countries have some careful thinking to do. It would be an error for American policy makers to assume that allies who feel jilted will sit quietly.

The rumored momentary alliance between Zionists and Sunni Supremacist exemplifies the “enemy of my enemy” doctrine rising to the fore. It is only a temporary pact of convenience, at best. In Islamic doctrine it would likely be equivalent to the Treaty of Hudaibaya.  Israel is the convincing dominant techno-military power in the region.  It is able to undertake a possible sabotage program while the Saudis have the money and the pathways to perfect a meaningful threat.  If a victory occurs, courtesy of the alleged Saudi-Israeli entente, a big if, then the Islamic fundamentalists will still retreat to their primal doctrine of hatred toward its Jewish saviors. Saviors who lie frustratingly beyond the control of Wahhabist religious political doctrine. A doctrine of totalitarianism that like Fascism and Communism will crumble and ultimately fail. In this instance it will fail because regional Sunni tribal loyalties coupled with Islamic doctrine will inevitably trump civil polity and modernization.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.