Update for March 26, 2014

  • There are reports of Russian armor and air power massing all along the Russian land border with Ukraine, including (in a significant escalation) near Kiev.

  • The G8 is now the G7. Surprise!

  • The US will be exporting more energy to Europe. This will help Europe gain energy independence from Russia, which will make sanctions that actually hurt the Russian economy easier for major European economies to adopt. Fracking FTW!

  • There are rumors that the initial invasion of Crimea was missed by US intelligence because of a SIGINT gap. What could have caused the SIGINT gap? Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Edward Snowden has taken up residence in Moscow under the protection of the FSB.

  • Obama is rolling back NSA telco metadata collection. Moving forward records will be kept by telcos and accessible only with a FISC order. This is meaningful progress, but it looks like the government will demand programmatic records access which means that in a few years this could be a distinction without a difference. One can even imagine programmatic issuance of FISC orders in the future!

  • Bitcoin is now considered “property” by the IRS. They helpfully issued this ruling mere weeks before the filing deadline.

  • Turkey has blocked Twitter. The first block was at the DNS level and there was graffiti of DNS server IPs painted over political posters. So cyberpunk! Within days the block moved to the network level. TOR usage has shot up and apparently Twitter usage in Turkey has… increased.

  • Iran is building a massive barge that looks a lot like a US Nimitz-class carrier. Apparently it’s going to be a movie set.

Look carefully at the photo. Carefully. Those are Russian attack helicopters. They are mere kilometers from the Ukrainian border. There are reports of Russian armor massing all along the Russian land border with Ukraine, including (in a significant escalation) near Kiev.

Look carefully at the photo. Carefully. Those are Russian attack helicopters. They are mere kilometers from the Ukrainian border. There are reports of Russian armor massing all along the Russian land border with Ukraine, including (in a significant escalation) near Kiev.

hipsterlibertarian

hipsterlibertarian:

Woah, woah woah, let’s not get ahead of ourselves (and our congressional vote).

Is it too much to ask that the executive branch even pretends like it cares what Congess decides?

The decision to seek a Congressional authorization to attack Syria theoretically puts America’s war on hold for another nine days, but the Obama Administration isn’t sitting back during that time.

Instead, officials say that the USS Nimitz and its entire carrier strike group have been ordered out of the Indian Ocean toward Syria, with an eye on adding “capabilities” to the potential US attack.

The US had a handful of warships in the area around Syria in anticipation of a war last week, but this deployment is a dramatic escalation of forces in the area. It also hints that the US may be intending to use warplanes in the attack instead of just missile strikes.

Prepositioning forces is just smart. It doesn’t cost much extra and saves you a ton of time and headache later.

rickwebb
National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said. The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.

The “LOVEINT” examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.
parislemon
The competition has been aggressive during this period of uncertainty, but we are, as we have always been, determined to prove to you why Dell is the best solutions provider to meet your needs.

Michael Dell, in an open letter to Dell’s “customers and partners” about his ongoing efforts to take the struggling company private. 

Just how bad is the PC industry right now? Focus on the “solutions provider” part. IBM doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being way ahead on this move.

(via parislemon)
hipsterlibertarian

Testifying to Congress, National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis discussed how the NSA might use a “three-hop” query to decide who to investigate. What this means is that the NSA can examine people who communicate with the terrorists (one hop) and then everyone who communicates with that person (two hops) and then everyone who communicates with anyone in that second circle (three hops).

Here’s how that might play out in the real world. Let’s say your buddy’s a journalist who interviews—not a terrorist—but the friends and family of a dead terrorist (as the New York Times did when they ran a story on Samir Khan). That right there is two hops. So they’ll automatically investigate your buddy’s data, even though he didn’t actually talk to a terrorist. But because the NSA uses a three-hop system, they would then examine your data, as well as that of anyone else your buddy happened to call, email, or IM.

But let’s take this farther. Let’s say that your buddy happened to actually interview a suspected terrorist. That’s one hop. You’re the second hop, along with everyone else your buddy spoke to. The third hop is all of your friends and family, and the friends and family of everyone else who ever spoke to your buddy. 

Washington’s Blog lays out the math: “If the average person calls 40 unique people, three-hop analysis could allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans when investigating one suspected terrorist.”

soupsoup
To create additional motivation, the NSA incorporated various features from computer games into the program. For instance, analysts who were especially good at using XKeyscore could acquire “skilz” points and “unlock achievements.” The training units in Hesse were apparently successful. ECC analysts had achieved the “highest average of skilz points” compared with all other NSA departments participating in the training program.

Spiegel (via soupsoup)

This is amazing.