Tag Archives: Chinese

Bells of Duty and Death

We have all heard it before, the clarion call, the bells are ringing and of course in 1983 the bells of St Mark were all ringing for Sheila E. So what happens, when you make that one mistake where your moment of non-concentration gets people killed, optionally a lot of people! That is what the Washington Post gives us (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2019/03/06/hundreds-immigrant-recruits-risk-death-sentence-after-army-bungles-sensitive-data/?utm_term=.d381e6f9d0ff)

The starter “Army officials inadvertently disclosed sensitive information about hundreds of immigrant recruits from nations such as China and Russia, in a breach that could aid hostile governments in persecuting them or their families, a lawmaker and former U.S. officials said.” is not a soft one. What the never explainable bloody hell is going on? When I see: “A spreadsheet intended for internal coordination among recruiters was accidentally emailed to recruits and contained names, Social Security numbers and enlistment dates. The list was sent out inadvertently at least three times between July 2017 and January 2018.” So over a period of 6 months, we see an optional 50% failure. I can see at least 4 solutions that could have prevented that. The issue of mailing spreadsheets with names is just a joke. If it is sensitive data, we can argue that it might be in a spreadsheet, yet the mailing of sensitive data has always required the need of vetting before pressing send. It is the one time when the military looks more evolved (‘used’ to being the operative term) than the leaking baboons of Wall Street.

So when we see: “more than 900 Chinese Mandarin speakers and dozens of Russian speakers are on the spreadsheet, according to a copy obtained by The Post.” We need to realise that some people are highly overdue for the loss of rank and even worse. It goes a lot further when we consider the quote: “Abhishek Bakshi, an Indian recruit, said he received the list by accident in July 2017 from an Army recruiter in Wisconsin who asked whether he wanted to schedule a security interview. The spreadsheet was disturbing, said Bakshi, whose name is on the list“, this sets the stage where people can be coerced and even blackmailed in several ways. When we also vet “received the list in December 2017, among other documents related to enlistment, after it was forwarded among a chain of recruiting officials“, we see a larger danger when we consider ‘a chain of recruiting officials‘, where we consider not only the validity of the people, the fact that it was a list of people, we need to worry on who they shared their list with. A chain implies the setting of multiple links, each and every one of them weaker than the preceding link.

The dangers actually exceed what the Post gives us. In case of Russian, Pakistani and Chinese setting, it is not out of the question that the acquired names and Social Security numbers can be used to create a trigger database to change the parameters of having a valid life. When those numbers are used to track locations (housing), assets (cars) and even financial gains (educational scholarships) the future of these people could be undone within a year creating all kinds of security hazards, not to mention a financial mess that the victim is unable to undo for months, even years.

It is even worse when we consider the quote: “In 2018 under the Trump administration, the Army began discharging soldiers who had enlisted under the MAVNI program. Most were reportedly not given notice of why they were being discharged, but their citizenship status was jeopardized as a result. Many of them had served honorably in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the world” showing that the United States has no intention of honouring its commitments, as such, when the next escalation comes, how will the US Military solve it? They are unlikely to be ever trusted again. Not only are hundreds in danger of being ‘chased’ out of the US, many of them with a honourable military roll call. the fact that these veterans are shipped out will set a most dangerous precedent down the line, and it does not stop there.

The homeless soldier

The issue that is rearing its ugly head is not new, there is more news now, but this has been going on for a long time, getting a lot of limelight in 2018. As we see (at https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/03/07/senator-involve-doj-military-housing-scandal.html), we see a dangerous stage with: “The U.S. armed services should consult with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the conduct of private companies hired to manage military housing“, I see absolutely no issue if the DoJ would start annexing these properties and making them part of the DoJ asset database. When we are confronted with “The contractors, he said, provided substandard, unhealthy and inadequate housing and ignored pleas to repair or service the homes“, I see a stage where it has become the responsibility of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn to move towards confiscation of property if a 100% adjustment has not been achieved within 60 days. So when I see: “in February, a survey of more than 14,500 residents of base housing found that 56 percent said they had “negative or very negative experiences” with their houses on military installations. Now we all have issues with housing at times, yet when that impression gets to be a zero positive view for 56% a much larger issue is in play and changes are essential. These soldiers are often underpaid, under-acknowledged and now even below substandard housed, we see the clear need to clean that mess up, annexing housing and removing ownership from these owners has become an essential first. So when we accept: ‘a baby who lived in the home developed pneumonia and later had a stroke‘ we see a clear case of reckless endangerment of life and that can never be accepted, I do agree that the establishment of guilt, as well as the need to ascertain whether the tenants had taken serious steps to diminish risk. In addition to all that these landlords need to be put into a database, the people have a right to know when soldiers get housing that a dog on a junkyard would not accept on a rainy winter day. The final straw is seen with ‘other concerns raised by senators was the relationship between base housing offices and the private management companies‘, in my view it does not matter whether it is a case of corruption or nepotism, it is the direct stage where the fighting force is disabled through greed driven facilitation and that cannot be allowed to exist in any way, shape or form. So when we see Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona giving us: ‘the two parties appear to be “in cahoots.”‘ we see an optional prosecutable form of what could be regarded as corruption. It is not always stated to be money that funds the prosecution corruption, enabling economic benefits, facilitation towards non accountability of services and quality are all issues that can be translated into monetary value, making it a larger issue for prosecution and in that case anyone found guilty will (read: should) be stripped of the land titles, the housing and the deeds to these places and placed directly with the Defence department at that stage. In that context there is one part I do not agree with. It is found at the end of the article where we see: “Air Force Chief of Staff David Goldfein said he has lived in base housing for more than 50 years, including his childhood, and he wanted airmen to have safe communities where they don’t have to worry about their children’s health or about retaliation if they complain about the condition of their housing“, from my personal point of view, his actions are well over a decade late (even as we accept that he might not have been in an operational place to act earlier on, his predecessor clearly was).

In this day and age when the military needs to catch up on several fields, the last thing they should ever have to concern themselves with is the fact that their details are spread like wildfire by someone who has no clear regard for proper email and cyber security issues, besides that being in reliable housing is the clear responsibility of their CEO (aka the general of defense housing). It is not important whether your house is Air force blue, Army green or Naval grey, there will be a General, Air Marshall or Admiral in charge of that division and ringing their bell should at this point be the right of every enlisted man that is part of the US defense forces, however I might have oversimplified the matter.

We will have to see what extent Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut is willing to take the baton, if he does not make it to the final stretch, we can consider that the next senatorial elections are in 2020, so either he has a following of a million+ in 2020, or he could optionally consider his next job to be with Uber (yes, I do have a flaky sense of humour).

I personally think that making quick cash at the expense of servicemen needs to be looked at in much harsher ways and it is our duty to expose those who would want to exploit this group for personal gains to a much larger degree than has been done until now. It does not matter what country you are in, we do not merely have a decent responsibility to thank them for their service; we all have a partial a duty of care that they do not have to deal with this kind of shit in any way shape or form ever.

 

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A linguistic joke

The British Metro came with a hilarious article a mere 12 hours ago. The quote is not enough; it already starts with the title. With: ‘British children aren’t learning foreign languages after the Brexit vote‘ is just too funny. We can clearly state that they were not learning foreign languages before Brexit either. To be more precise, not for decades! And, why should they? Now, let’s be fair, there is a benefit to learning languages. For the Dutch it is essential, because only the Dutch (and perhaps the Flemish) can understand the Dutch. So they (me in my youth) got to learn German, French and English in our first year of secondary school. I dropped French in favour of Physics and continued. In the years that followed I learned a few more languages, and as such I can get by across the planet. It was only in Asia where I learned that English is not a language that was used much, yet until that moment, I had learned that nearly everyone spoke English (except the Americans, they have a weird variation on it). So from that point of view, and when you see “The council claims the lack of language skills is holding back international trade performance by nearly £50 billion each year and worries there could be a gulf once the UK leaves the EU“, I merely reply that I want to see evidence here! I want that the British council to show actual data proving this, because at present, the British council is showing to be a joke. This joke is personified in Schools advisor Vicky Gough who stated “At a time when the UK is preparing to leave the European Union, I think it’s worrying that we’re facing a language deficit“, well Vicky, for your information the Brits have always been language deficit since before World War 1, so we can agree that your logic is faulty at best. This is followed by “And I think without tackling that, we stand to lose out both economically, but also culturally. So I think it’s really important that we have a push for the value of languages“, I will agree that she has a case on the cultural side. There has always been a cultural benefit to knowing languages that much we can all agree on. But in this day and age, should we focus on the local languages (German, French and Spanish), or should we concentrate on the global economic area languages (Hindu, Chinese, Arabic and Japanese)? That is a much harder consideration to make. You see do you cater to your local setting or are you catering to a workforce to become global. This is not an easy question to answer, because the planet is in flux and what is now wisdom might be folly in 5 years, so after 6 years to truly have linguistic skills in some areas; those areas are no longer viable as international players, so how does that pan out? So when we see “A report by the British Council claims Spanish, Mandarin, French, Arabic and German are the top five languages the UK will need post-Brexit“, my view seems to be correct, yet in what setting? The Spanish only speak Spanish (for the most), so why adhere to that side? So why would the UK need German and French? Most of them speak English and hiring a foreign national in your company is likely cheaper and more productive, that is if you have quality business with that nation, if not, why bother? At that point, the article comes with an interesting view “One pupil studying Mandarin at London’s Alexandra Park School said: ‘We can’t just presume that countries are going to learn our language, because if we don’t do the work why should they?’” It is a good point, but those people also realise that Mandarin is one of the most complex languages in the world and if you are not born in that environment you start with a large disadvantage. Now, there are plenty of reasons to study Mandarin and learn the language, but on the premise that it might lead to a job is long term folly, taking the language up when you are to be in China, perhaps even after you arrive makes a lot of sense, perhaps more sense. Now, we can see that the only way to do business in Saudi Arabia is to learn Arabic and plenty of brits trying to make quick bucks are up to the challenge, but that nation has its own set of rules, customs and culture and those all need to be taken in, merely learning the language will not get you there, so in my view, not only is the article to some part a joke, it is merely another jab at giving stress in relation to Brexit. So, until Metro publishes clear evidence from the British council that the UK is missing out on 50 billion, the entire matter is hilarious and folly at best.

And it is merely one of several articles. the Guardian with ‘Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit‘, Computer Weekly with ‘We must avoid the Brexit risks to London’s tech community‘, and Clean Technica with ‘Current State Of Brexit Likely To Leave UK Environment Worse Off‘, all fearmongering, and Social Europe is giving the people: ‘Reversing Brexit: Legal Route Via Vienna Convention‘. Social Europe is actually setting the premise to protect bankers and the IMF. I have not seen such levels of what I regard to be deceptive and naive conduct since the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, who stated on September 30th 1938 that the British people would have “Peace in our Time“. Do you remember what happened after that? In the end, on the Allied side alone, up to 3.7% of a population of 2.3 billion ended up dead, both military and civilian, excluding 7 million Germans and 26 million Russians. I think that fearmongering and the naive approach to all this needs to stop.

It was never said that there was not going to be a hard time, but it seems to me that the financial sector has now become so afraid of losing the ability to fulfil their greed driven needs that they are using every media outlet to spread the fear and see if they can get a recount whilst getting at least 4% into the Bremain group.

In all this, the Guardian article makes a decent point, but does so by keeping certain parts unmentioned. With: “Manufacturers were unable to make things cheaply, reliably or efficiently enough against the headwind of a high-value currency, forcing many to give up. An economy that boasted 20% of its income coming from manufacturing in the 1980s found it was the source of barely 10% at the beginning of this decade” they are telling you the truth, but they do not tell you that opposing this were China, India and Japan, with almost no labour laws, whilst both India and China had no protection for child labour, so these nations made goods with 90% less costs, giving them a large advantage. Even now, in 2000 some sources gave us that there were approximately 11,500,000 children at work between the ages of 10 to 14 in China. This violates article 32 of the Convention of Rights of The Child. So if the Guardian article was being fair, why not mention these parts that clearly impact it all in a negative way?

So as we see the linguistical joke that Metro brought and the additional articles that raises questions as they go overboard not mentioning things, we need to consider why such presentations are not clearly shown by the media. Even the IMF is involved in all this, whilst their prediction have been wrong regarding the UK three times, so should they be given any level of reliability as they try to downgrade the UK, whilst upgrading the other European Nations for 2018? I know that this might be a hard year for the UK, yet as the stimulus train called ‘the Draghi Disaster‘ is running its final stage, the moment that ends, will spell even harsher environments for Europe and particularly France who could see a downturn of their economy for 0.5%-0.75%, this implies that they will barely be above 0% for the three years that follow. In this I might be equally wrong. Even as France24 (at http://www.france24.com/en/20180122-macron-hosts-140-business-leaders-versailles-investment-france-economy), predicts “Economic growth has been forecast to rise to 1.9 percent in 2018 by the central bank”, which is already slightly too positive. Even as it books the Toyota move into the positive, France will soon realise that at this point Toyota is likely to push for additional rebates beyond the 25% corporation tax (as is Microsoft for 4 new data centres), which will closer to the end of this tax year will show up in the news as ‘unfortunate bad news on the economy due to a miscalculation’, it is not the first time and the French are not the first to do this. Yet in that, we can see that the IMF boast is overly positive towards Europe, implying that the view from that point shows the UK economy as stated to be overly negative. I personally see it as another ploy to undermine Brexit that could bite them in much harsher ways down the track, if the media is actually able to show some balls standing up to large corporations.

So even if I see the linguistic joke as a large one, there is no denying that France is clearly opening its doors to certain people and in only that moment there is a sense of truth in the words Vicky Gough, yet what is equally not given is that this is the first time since I started my first job in 1979 that such a view is given by France. With the graying population they are not the only ones doing that and as such the working population will make a drastic change, I cannot predict how it will filter out for France, but at least Emmanuel Macron is making active changes to an ancient unyielding protocol and that might be the best news of all for France, that alone could spell my realistic numbers to be slightly less positive than the actual numbers will turn out to be.

 

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Who are the real watchers?

It is 02:00, SpyHardwareI slowly move into the building that is owned through puppet corporations. The true owner is no one less then Vladimir Kumarin, the most powerful man in St. Petersburg. Entering the building is relatively simple. I avoid the guards, one almost saw me. It is tempting to use sentry killing, but the body will be found. There can be no trace. I install the small remote webcam. Hacking into his wireless router is relatively simple. It is military grade, but my link to the Cray Titan in Langley soon has that fixed. The router got hit by 400,000 requests a second. It cries for its mamma in less than 7 seconds, a new record. I am in and ghost accounts are set up less than 15 seconds later. The scripts run without a hitch. a low tech wireless microphone is set up 3 minutes later. That is the one they will have issues finding, but it will be found, so the rest remains invisible. I leave silent as the night, no trace left and less than 2 hours later I look like a drunk American exchange student studying in Sweden, on a train to Helsinki.

Yes, it reads like such a nice story, but none of it is true! Thinking of Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher, I am not even that good a spy writer, so I will leave that skill to Mr Clancy. The closest I get to action is the Xbox360 edition. Suits me just fine!

If we look at today, then all we need is a little box that fits into the palm of our hand. We sit in a coffee shop where the ‘privileged young executives’ tend to show off their expensive mobile, laptop, slightly overcharged suits and they look for that young lady dressed to… ‘Impress’. He then logs in does some basic wizardry stuff and considers himself in the running for a possible afternoon of great sex. That was his plan, will she bite? Nearby is a guy who no one notices. He wears a polo-shirt, likely cargo pants too, has a crossover bag and is typing on his laptop. He looks like many Uni students that get casually ignored. He was waiting for the guy (or anyone like him) to show off. He did just that, and less than 3 seconds after the information is typed in, he has link and login details. He now knows what network he can invade. Perhaps the young executive is lucky and he is of no value. If not, his account is broken down and thousands of dollars on internal communications, price agreements, customer’s details and many more details are now duplicated. It would be worth quite a few coins for the right competitor. As such the quiet student will have all his Uni debts paid off long before he gets his degree. So, what is this about?

You see, the Guardian today is having another go at the intelligence industry. I am referring to http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa. Here they discuss several acts that GCHQ has allegedly involved in. My issue is with this part of the sentence “process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people“. Is that any different from what Social media and market research is doing? Let us not forget it is all about the latter part of that same sentence “as well as targeted suspects“.
If there was a way to just focus on that 0.0003% of that population, then it would be easy. But life is not that easy as we learn ourselves on a very daily basis. The only issue I truly have with that article is “Snowden told the Guardian. ‘They [GCHQ] are worse than the US’”. Really Mr Snowden? Let us go over those facts again. First he betrays his country. He is not some guy who got into the thick of it. He first does not make it past basic training. He then gets a chance to serve in the CIA (whomever gave him that brake is truly regretting that act I reckon). He then walks away and joins the NSA. Is there anyone not having any questions at present? So, he knows what is required and then he walks away and not just to anybody. He runs off to Hong Kong. In my mind, he must have thought that the Chinese cyber division would want to offer him a cushy job. But these boys would see through him in no time. Those savants know every in and out of every bit a Cisco system routes, how it does that, why it does that, and where the threats are. Snowden does not instil that level of ingenuity to me. So again, he did not go to some non-extradition country out of conviction (like Ecuador), no he went straight for the ‘enemy’ and is now allegedly enjoying Borsjt and Blackbread in Russian company.

Let us get back to the issues that really matter. This is not about those who claim to be ‘entirely innocent’. This is not even about your average criminals that much. GCHQ is one part to keep England safe. As described earlier, security is no longer done through a backpack full of tricks. The bulk of today’s danger comes to individuals we know not where, and it arrives to them in the simple form of a message. It could be an e-mail, an SMS or even a chat message left on a gaming site. To find them GCHQ needs to get to them all. Do you think they read these messages? That is not humanly possible, every second internet information is created that would take one person a lifetime just to get through. So it becomes about flagging. We can look at two flags. 1 flag is green and is zero threat. That is well over 95% of all communications. This also includes all the dicey and spicy spam messages we get. In effect, they know where it came from, where it is going to. The people they seek are of a different variety. They are all about not being able to detect, or to detect the origin. That is already less than 0.3% of all these messages. Then we go on and on. 1% out of that 0.3% is now a possible threat. Is it? They do not know yet, but the amount is now so small, they can actually start taking a look at the facts. Even then it could be harmless, yet many millions were crunched into less than 1000. That group might be part of the second flag. Even that number is still too high. As time progresses more is crunched and then those people at GCHQ will really go to town and pass on what might be a threat. So, was there an issue? You might think that it is, but if you are entirely innocent then the chance that they saw your data is actually so small that winning the lottery has a much better chance. Do I worry? Hell no. My usage is even less than that. Many download movies, some download pirated games. None of that interests the Intelligence community. They want to learn one thing. Where is the threat to us coming from?

The bulk of us will not even register on their radar. If we rely on the numbers in the article “By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.” that is 550 people to sift through amounts of data that is so much that 1 minute of generated internet traffic will require them all to work their entire careers to sift through that much. Reading our emails? We are just not that important and we likely never will be.

If you are worried, then worry about real threats. The real non-terrorist threat out there today, are the many normal people, not using Common Cyber Sense as they use free internet to do what they need to do from the comfort of their non-desk. Those are the people endangering YOUR data, because they are out to get some personal gain.

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