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Intelligence

Have We Gone Down the Rabbit Hole?

September 1, 2013
By Kent R. Schneider

Do you ever find yourself trying to reconcile with your environment? That is where I am now with regard to national security and reaction to leaks and programs designed to protect against terrorist threats.

In 2010, Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks organization got themselves on the world stage by publishing large volumes of classified documents, many provided by Pfc. Bradley Manning, USA, an intelligence analyst. At that time, and since, both Assange and Manning have been held up as villains by some and as heroes and whistle-blowers by others.

In May of this year, Edward Snowden, a computer analyst hired by Booz Allen Hamilton to work on U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) programs, leaked massive classified data to the British newspaper The Guardian concerning NSA intelligence-gathering programs. Again, Snowden is a traitor or a hero, depending on whom you talk to. A recent USA Today poll found 55 percent of Americans felt Snowden was a whistle-blower and hero.

The government continues to address these massive leaks, their implications to national security and the changes to law that may be needed. In the Manning case, the administration consistently has been determined to prosecute him for treason and aiding the enemy. On July 30, USA Today reported on its online front page with the headline, “Manning verdict redefines meaning of traitor.” While the military court ruled that Manning was guilty of a number of the charges, including parts of the Espionage Act, he was found not guilty of “giving aid to the enemy,” the most serious of the charges, because the prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had “a specific intent to aid or assist the enemy.” Legal analysts now are saying that Congress should review the Espionage Act in light of the pervasiveness of technology and its new role in warfighting and terrorism.

Defining 
Spatial 
Privacy

September 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

 

The exponential expansion of geolocation technology throughout all levels of society is presenting a range of challenges for policy makers eager to take advantage of the benefits while protecting personal privacy. Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the challenges is fragmented or lacking in authority.

The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy aims to change all that by representing legal considerations within the geospatial community. Kevin Pomfret, executive director of the center, served as a satellite imagery analyst for the government for six years before attending law school. During his studies, he remained interested in remote sensing and representing clients in that area. The field is fraught with potential because of the many issues surrounding geolocation especially. People increasingly are using the technology for a variety of applications, meaning legal and policy concerns will grow in number over concerns such as privacy, data ownership, data quality and national security. “I started to attend trade shows and saw there weren’t any lawyers there, which was unusual,” Pomfret explains.

When he realized the community was underserved from a legal standpoint, he set out to educate its members on concerns that do and will impact them legally. The center he established also aims to give stakeholders a seat at the table as laws and policies are developed as well as to educate policy makers.

Policy making often involves weighing risk against benefit. Unfortunately, many of the people in a position to make decisions lack the background to fully understand the value of spatial data. By connecting them to the experts in related industries, awareness of the important facets grow.

NSA and University to Create Big Data Laboratory

August 16, 2013

 

North Carolina (NC) State University has announced a new partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) to create the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences (LAS) on the university’s Centennial Campus. The lab will bring together personnel from government, academia and industry to address the most challenging big data problems and will be a cornerstone of the emerging advanced data innovation hub at NC State.

NC State researchers will assist NSA scientists in establishing priorities and conducting research for the LAS. A key goal of the LAS is to promote new advances in the science of analysis through innovative collaborations between industry, academia and government.

The NSA grant funding of the LAS is the largest sponsored research contract in the university’s history.

Intelligence Experts Meet in Brussels

August 15, 2013

The AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum takes place at the Le Plaza Hotel, Brussels, Belgium, December 10-11. This unclassified conference features keynote speakers Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and chairman, Kaspersky Lab; Maciej Popowski, deputy secretary general, European External Action Service, European Union; and Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, deputy secretary general and smart defense envoy, U.S. mission to NATO.

Cyber Threats Abound, but Their Effects Are Not Certain

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Protecting the nation from cyber attack entails deterring or preventing marauders from carrying out their malevolent plans. But, while government and the private sector endeavor to fight the menace jointly, evildoers constantly change their approaches and learn new ways of striking at vulnerable points. So many variables have entered the equation that even the likelihood of attacks—along with their effects—is uncertain.
 

SCADA Systems Face Diverse Software Attack Threats

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems face numerous threats from cybermarauders coming at them from any of a number of directions. Some systems could suffer malware attacks even though they are not the intended targets, according to a leading security expert.

Cyber Sabotage Attacks the Century’s Worst Innovation

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

One of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity calls cyber sabotage attacks “the worst innovation of this century.” Cyberweapons have become too dangerous, and cyberattack can lead to visible and important damage to the critical infrastructure or telecommunications. And, attribution is almost impossible.

Democracy Is Doomed Without Effective Digital Identification

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Democracy has only 20 years left to live if an effective means of digital identification is not developed before that deadline. As young people growing up with social media reach voting age in increasing numbers, they will lead a major shift to online voting. A lack of identity security will throw open the gates to massive voter fraud that will destroy the fidelity of elections, and with it, true representative government.

That gloomy assessment came from one the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity. Speaking at the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive officer and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, warned that this will be a consequence of the failure to secure the Internet.

“Kids today are always online,” he pointed out. “They will want to vote online. We need a 100-percent, biometric-based digital identification card.”

Issuing this type of identification will help secure the Internet if it is restructured, Kaspersky continued. He suggested splitting the Internet into different components: One would be highly secure, where financial transactions would take place, and another would be totally open for noncrucial activities with no identification required. Other segments with varying degrees of importance and security would be located in between these two extremes, he offered.

Armageddon by Cyber Not a Likely Scenario

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

A “digital Pearl Harbor Armageddon” that inflicts catastrophic damage on the United States is not likely soon or in the foreseeable future. The worst cyber attack that could be expected would have less of an effect for a shorter period of time, said an expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the National Intelligence Council, ODNI, told the audience at the second day of the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that predictions of destruction that would bring the United States to its knees are unnecessarily pessimistic and unlikely to materialize.

The worst cyber event that could be expected would be regional, not national, in terms of its effects. It would not be enduring, instead lasting days at most. It probably would afflict familiar targets such as oil and gas distribution networks, power grids and transportation.

The financial sector could be damaged by a cyber attack that causes substantial losses. Right now, the U.S. government does not have a baseline or a metric for determining remediation expenses or financial losses, Kanuck said.

The Most Capable Cyber Attackers Are Less Likely to Attack

July 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The most damaging cyber attacks possible are among the least likely to happen, because the powers capable of undertaking them are unlikely to launch them, according to an expert with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Sean Kanuck, national intelligence officer for cyber issues at the National Intelligence Council, ODNI, told the audience at the second day of the AFCEA Global Intelligence Forum in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., that cyber attack capability need not translate to immediate threat.

Kanuck explained that the most sophisticated players in cyber are powerful nations that know it would run counter to their interests to inflict a damaging attack on the United States. They will—and do—conduct cyber espionage, but they would not want to bring down the United States except possibly in an existential military conflict that threatens their regime or as a part of a major war.

On the other hand, some less capable cyber nations might be willing to launch a devastating attack. Nations such as Iran, for example, might see benefits from inflicting great harm on the United States.

Non-state players would join the major powers in eschewing a crippling attack on the United States. Kanuck pointed out that these non-state entities use cyber to their advantage, such as for criminal activities. “They do not want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” he noted. “They want to profit, but they don’t want to bring down the law upon themselves.”

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