Tag Archives: GCHQ

View from a balcony

On one side I feel like I am missing out on certain matters. On the other side there is the view that is not comprehended by me in light of certain revelations. Now, this is not a new feeling, I have always had certain issues with certain dilemma’s. Mostly they do not make common sense, so I write about them and let you decide. In a western world we get to see the illuminated part and as such we give light to the BS matters that politicians and media cling to. Yet, it is not always that simple. I would like to state that this is always the case in every matter, but that is stretching several levels of truth.

Now, I get shown a Reuters story on CNBC that gives equal doubt. Not on CNBC or Reuters mind you. The setting that is given to us is somewhat of an issue and it needs to be exposed.

With ‘Saudi Arabia, Arab allies in Cairo talks on Iran, Hezbollah’ (at https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/19/saudi-arabia-arab-allies-in-cairo-talks-on-iran-hezbollah.html), we might consider certain matters, but it is the quote “Discussions will focus on confronting Iran and its Lebanese Shi’ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs” that sets the matter. The second quote makes sense and is equally important the quote “Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran“. We can agree that Iran might be an issue, yet when looking at the first part. How does Hezbollah have the pull to get any decent level of interference up and running in places like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait? Iran yes, there is no denying that part. But in all this Hezbollah seems to be a facilitating annoyance at best, with their power-base remaining North of Israel. Now, some might wonder why it matters, why we need to look into this. You see, it does matter, if we cannot properly categorise and analyse the actions of Iran and the more extreme parts of the Iranian military, clergy and VAJA, we cannot paint the opponents in the right colour and classes they need to be in. Do you think for one moment that the youthful Gadi Eisenkot is unaware of not merely who the actual players are, and to what degree they are active? Now, we can argue that we do not need to know (and that might be very valid), but as others are painting the image differently, we are being misled. Not misled in the way that we are sold the wrong package, but misled that we are not told just how dangerous the situation is. As I forgot where I saw the original image, lets take the example. There is a 40×60 portrait that shows an estate by the fields, the actual image is 60×60 and shows that the ocean on the right side was cut off for ‘aesthetic’ reasons, but the tragedy is that this shows that the person living there has no escape, if the fields catch fire, he is literally with his back to the water, he might live but the water will not safe his house, there will be no aid coming from there.

Iran is painted in the same way now. Iran is shown to be moderate and that view cannot be dis-proven by the views the media gives on President Rouhani. You see, there is a slowly growing hill of evidence implying that Rouhani has less power than we think he has and behind the curtains the less moderate generals in Iran are beefing Hezbollah and other elements up to be more and more aggressive against the state of Israel as well as the Arabian Nations that are not willing to sing the song of extremism that they want to hear. This is becoming more and more an issue. And as Iran is willing to use the PKK as cannon Fodder they are getting more and more support from Turkey, which now makes Iranian extremism a European issue as well. We might now ‘suddenly’ decide to hide behind the UK Telegraph ‘truths’ (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/19/irans-growing-military-threat-blind-spot-british-politicians/), yet that is equally simplifying an image that has been pushed and tweaked for the longest of times by all kinds of parties (and the UK intelligence branch is not innocent in that part either, most notably GCHQ and MI6). You see they might come out with guns blazing stating: “British MPs have a “blind spot” when analysing Iran’s growing military powers and destabilising influence through it support for terrorism in the Middle East, a senior Conservative politician has warned“, but that is short sighted as some layers of filtering will always be there, some for essential security reasons, some for other reasons and only the second one should bear scrutiny and the media themselves have been part of the second layering for the longest of times, so there!

Yet the issue remains, the painting we see and the one that is a viewing of framed reality are exceedingly different. As we tend to expect something like a ‘Edouard Cortès Pont Au Change Au Crepscule‘ to give a certain view of reality of what we see, it becomes more of a worry when the image shown is something resembling the works of Albert Gleizes and that is what we are starting to face more and more. As Hezbollah is shown as a lot more than a facilitator because Iran played it that way and we are not shown the evidence as such, we tend to get pushed into a mindset that is starting to question a few more items than we should and that is how I saw myself trying to see the light in the Reuters article. Now, the article is not wrong and not inaccurate. Yet the view pushed by the parties in these Cairo talks are making a similar mistake by not colouring the opposing parties in the right light, at the right size representing them as the annoyance they actually are. It is almost like there is a play where Iran is the bogeyman and as soon as the facilitators have been taken care of, we can focus on the real evil, yet there is the issue! As the players have been shown as less evil, too many other players who want to try and sit at the grown up table will suddenly come with political options that will only make things worse. Even as we are wiling to see Iran as not evil, we need to acknowledge that the moderates have a vacuum where others dictate strategies and tactics, and there is the danger. The danger for Saudi Arabia, the danger to a much larger extent to the state of Israel and as the European players are unwilling to face up to the dangers we see, they end up facilitating for Iran through Turkey sooner rather than later which will be disastrous for a few more reasons than most are willing to face the reality of and that is a much larger danger. It is a much larger danger not just to the PKK (regardless of their validity and political play wherever they are). The danger is seen in the Sunday Times with ‘President Erdogan: Let Turkey join to save EU’s reputation‘, so when we see: “President Erdogan has told the EU that allowing Turkey to become a member could save its reputation in the Muslim world“, so is that the story, or should they have stated “Europe ready to embrace the Iranian tool into the EEC for Europe“. The Times of all places might report one side, but the dangers that we are not seeing printed at present are still up for debate, because as I see it, at present, if we need to see a decent approach towards Turkey, we might best call the Butterball hotline, you know, as Thanksgiving is an upcoming event after all.

In all this we still see the same old polarisation. As newspapers report on the Arab nations uniting calling Hezbollah a threat and a terrorist organisation, we see the same response we expected. With “Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reports that terror group Hezbollah has raised its alert level in all of Lebanon for fear that Israel will start a war” we see the sad reality of what is happening in the Middle East, players like Hezbollah can always blame the state of Israel, that whilst we have it on good authority that this youthful young chief of the Israeli Defense Forces (read: Gadi Eizenkot) has not even flexed his muscles at present. How easily and ill prepared can Hezbollah get? in that I will avoid going deep in on the the Dahiya Doctrine that shows how to deal with terrorist organisations in an asymmetrical war. What is important is that there is a conflict between Gadi Eizenkot and Richard A. Falk, the American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. I take Gadi’s side when we see Professor Falk’s side of “the civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets“, which he opposes, yet the truth is that a terrorist organisation has no ‘civilian infrastructure‘, it is a plain occupied target that can be destroyed if need be, collaborators and all. In this by colouring ‘parts’ of any terrorist organisation as out of bounds is just not on. If an organisation can indiscriminately fire hundreds of missiles on civilian targets, all bets are off and as such whatever infrastructure they have becomes part of the terrorist organisation and a valid option for targeted killing and/or demolition.

So as we are looking at the view from whatever balcony we think we are on, we need to consider what we think we see, what we are told to see and what the actual size of the frame is supposed to be, three elements, all of them in flux through media, our own perception of what we think we see and the mirror image of what we comprehend we are shown. It is a biased view and we are all (me inclusive) part of what we perceive to see. That is often more troubling than we realise, but as long as we are aware that we cannot see the whole picture, we would be able to set our minds to consider what an actual represented danger is, which is a good first step.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Military, Politics

Want to bet on that?

The Guardian released a story last night, it released something a lot more important than you and I initially considered. You see, it intersects with articles I wrote in 2014, yet until today, and as we recently saw the issues that the Bank of England reported on, I now see a part I never considered, because, unless you are a banker it would not make sense. I admit that from the mere consumer point of view it seems like dodgy, even counterproductive to good business. So, I did not consider it, I did not inform you and for that I apologise. The writer of this story did not inform you either, but it was not the focus of her story so Mattha needs not apologise at all. Yet what is happening is a lot more important than you and I think and if I grasp back at what I found in 2014, there is every indication that GCHQ is actually aware of the situation, yet they decided to do nothing, endangering the sanity and social security of thousands of Britons, so should they apologise? Should Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ apologise? I believe so, he should also get grilled in both houses (Lords and Commons), but that is not for me to decide (life would be so much fun if it was).

So as we are set in this path, let me explain what happened as per last night. Mattha gave us (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/31/gambling-industry-third-party-companies-online-casinos) the issue ‘how gambling industry targets poor people and ex-gamblers‘ the start is already an explosion of question by themselves. With: “The gambling industry is using third-party companies to harvest people’s data, helping bookmakers and online casinos target people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling, the Guardian can reveal” we need to ask questions, but let me continue and give you a few more parts on these goods. the next items are “The revelations will add to calls for tighter regulation of the gambling industry more action to address problem gambling after the news on Thursday that online betting firm 888 had been penalised a record £7.8m because more than 7,000 people who had voluntarily banned themselves from gambling were still able to access their accounts“, as well as “The data is often gathered from raffle sites that offer cash prizes and gifts in weekly giveaways, he said. To apply for the prize draws, users must usually provide their name, date of birth, email and address. He claimed raffle companies would then sell the data, something customers have sometimes unwittingly consented to in lengthy terms and conditions agreements. One such site states: “The following sectors [including gambling] are the industry types you can expect to receive products, information, services or special offers from.”“. With these three quotes we have the first part of the equation filled. The article gives a lot more, but for now, here, that is what we need. So we see that people sign up for things they do not understand (we all do that), and for the most the initial thought was harmless enough. I have signed up for free premiere movie tickets, some of us for fashion items or even something as innocuous as a free bottle of perfume or after shave. It seems so harmless and when it comes to products it usually tends to be. Yet when it comes to free trips to certain destinations, for some of us, red flags go up, but at that point it is usually too late, we have already given out our details.

Now, we go back to January 2014. In my blog ‘Diary for a wimpy President‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/18/diary-for-a-wimpy-president/) I set the stage that includes GCHQ. The setting was theft of IP on a massive scale, yet it was on equal terms the issue we see more common, the theft of personal data. The questions I posed were:

  • Have you identified your organisation’s key information assets and the impact it would have on your organisation if they were compromised or your online services were disrupted? [Alternative: what data is bankable?]
  • Have you clearly identified the key threats to your organisation’s information assets and set an appetite for the associated risks? [Alternative: what data is accessible?]
  • Are you confident that your organisation’s most important information is being properly managed and is safe from cyber threats? [Alternative: the value management of data you think you own]

it came with the footnote: “The alternative are not just views I opt for, consider that the data collection field goes into open commercial hands as it could be presented by March 31st, what are your options to purchase certain buckets of data?

We are now on par in the two sides, my blog three years ago and the new iteration that the Guardian shows. I admit, the Guardian shows a side I never considered before last night. You see, with the quotes we saw mentioned by me, we need to add the third side to what is not a pyramid, but optionally the specific view on a cube, or even more disturbing a buried dipyramid. Now, we cannot expect people to realise that this is happening, but GCHQ knew, there is no way it did not know, and missing that is a career breaker plain and simple. You see, to give you that part, we need to add the following items. The first was seen on August 21st with ‘UK credit and debit card spending ​growing​ at fastest rate since 2008‘. We need to keep a check on the quote “The number of card transactions increased by 12.3% over the year to the end of June, according to the banking trade body UK Finance, coming amid a boom in consumer debt that has been raising alarm bells at the Bank of England. The pace of growth in card payments was 10.6% in the 12 months to the end of December“, the second quote comes from two days ago in the Guardian. Here in the article ‘Credit card lenders ‘targeting people struggling with debt’‘ we see the two parts “Citizens Advice finds almost one in five people struggling with debts have had their card limit raised without request” as well as “Unsecured lending is returning to levels unseen since the 2008 financial crisis, raising alarm bells at the Bank of England that consumers may struggle to repay loans in another economic downturn, thus putting financial stability at risk“. I believed this to be a bad business practise, yet until last night I did not give it the merit it should have had. You see commercial bankers are for the most without a moral compass at best, what if they are joining hands with gambling places that do not care how they get the money? The banker gets the bonus because business was booming and his (or her) moral compass is limited to the cash leaving the door without the use of criminal activity, beyond that they will not care. Yet with hundreds of thousands getting into this scrap. How many gambled the gained credit? How many pushed a chance for instant wealth into a decade of depression without options? The weird part is that GCHQ had to be aware, they are our (mainly the UK) watchdogs and they let this just go on. The questions I asked three years ago show that GCHQ should have been aware and monitoring. If they did not do that, then we have a case of negligence that surpasses the age of MI5 and the Cambridge 5. the funny part in this is that those 5 “were contemporaries at Cambridge University in the 1930s, and were attracted to communism mainly because of the Wall Street crash” and now we see that the same thing is happening for merely the same bloody reason (but those tend to be on the other side of the exploitative equation nowadays), yet now every gambling capitalist gets to enjoy the fallout, or is that out falling?

The evidence?

Yes, some elements will demand the evidence. In my view we merely have to compare the two lists, one showing the unrequested credit rises and the second list are those on the gambling marketing list, with any surpass of 5% being enough to be seen as significant evidence. This now gives two issues, the one is speculative when we go with ‘Is this a shady move for banks to push Brexit out of the way?’ You might think this is conspiracy theory, but is it? How many setbacks can the UK deal with before the banks cry foul and beg for Brexit to be delayed because they are too big to fail? Is it that farfetched? I don’t believe so. The second part is on the location of the location of the gathered online betting location and how these ‘marketing lists‘ all made it out of the UK and in several cases out of the European Union, which now puts the actions (read: non actions) of GCHQ on the firing line of enquiries and inquisitive questions on how they are keeping the people of the UK safe. We might argue (and I would) that people who gamble only have themselves to blame, yet when we see ‘more than 7,000 people who had voluntarily banned themselves from gambling were still able to access their accounts‘, we see that the odds are intentionally stacked against them and I believe that ‘Gambling firm 888 penalised record £7.8m for failing vulnerable customers‘ is a joke, I consider that giving them a £78 million penalty would have been too soft for them, especially as their growth surpassed 63% in 2016. And that is merely ONE gambling holding. The issue is growing at an alarming rate, even as we see how in Australia councils are drawing lines on ‘out of bounds areas‘ whilst with such amazement that the new casino that is currently being built on the order of bad boy jimmy Packard is (with surprising amazement) to be exactly outside certain zoning issues, just like Star Casino, giving him all the freedom he needs and get to play without any level of limitation. Let’s just mark that one up to ‘coincidence‘ shall we?

That example shows a certain complacency between councils and certain playing players and we now see that such levels are apparently happening in the UK for online gambling and we see that there is no way that GCHQ was unaware, we merely need to wonder why there was no political intervention, because that question is becoming more and more important.

Issues, shown from 2014 onwards give rise to non-protectionism of an unacceptable shady character. The act that the Guardian now shows that certain players are given a wide berth of that gives them degrees of freedom that no company in the UK ever gets is also giving questions to the status of banks and lenders and whether we should allow them to operate in the UK. If you wonder about this statement you only have to consider the triggers of bankruptcy, personal insolvency and how it is that these lenders will get paid either way, through either collection or write offs. What happens when they are no longer allowed to write off these bad business actions? What happens when it needs to come from their own ‘profits’ and ‘bonus schemes’? How long until suddenly the online casino’s and lenders walk away and continue that in places where they can exploit all they like?

Can you now see that you are placed in an increasingly difficult place to grow the stability of your family? If not, consider that you might not be the gambler, but you are a member of that bank or lending corporation. If they cannot write off, they will charge you through the services you receive, either through administration fees or interest percentages. You would (and rightly so) complain about these fees, so you want no change, which is what they are banking on and that should not be allowed. The final statement in the article is also important. With “In a longer statement to its investors, the company said it had taken action to fix its self-exclusion systems, which it said arose when customers who self-excluded from some of its brands were able to gamble with others” we are confronted with the question that seeing ‘fix its self-exclusion systems‘. You see, I believe that they never properly worked in the first place; leaving us with the intent that they had too much to lose enforcing ‘self-exclusion‘ which in my book makes them guilty of intentional and reckless corporate negligence.

You see when we consider that courts are less willing to cut off liability due to intent, the scope of Liability in Intentional Torts is now a given. The plaintiff would be entitled to see the entire engineering part of the ‘self-exclusion system’ and with the failing it holds whoever goes after house 888 might have a legal setting to regain all their losses. Yet that is merely one online gambling house. The fact that none of them want to truly cooperate gives rise to the notion that too many players don’t want the broken system to be fixed, not until after they got out of it whatever they could and such a knowledge tends to give consideration that the burden on GCHQ will be higher and needs to be higher. Yet will the burden be unjustly set too high? Because that is the clear direction we seem to be going to and that is equally unjust. In the end it will turn out to be a counterproductive situation.

Are you willing to place a bet on any outcome here?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Gaming, Law, Media, Politics

Oh La L’argent

Reuters is giving us the news yesterday that there is trouble brewing in France. The article titled ‘France’s Macron says defense chief has no choice but to agree with him: JDD‘ (at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-defence-idUSKBN1A00TE). The best way to trivialise this is by going on the fact that the world’s 6th most spending nation on defence is cutting the defence of France back by almost a billion. Now, for the number one and two spenders in this field, that is a laughable amount. In the national terms it is a little below 2% of that total budget. In light of the UK NHS and other players needing to trim the fat and handover a pound of beef that amount is equally laughably low, yet for France? The article gives us in addition ““If something opposes the military chief of staff and the president, the military chief of staff goes,” Macron, who as president is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, told Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD)“, we can see this as hard talk and a kind warning to any opposition, or we can accept that this former financial advisor is setting up the board. He is placing certain pieces in reflection of the events coming in 2018. I wonder if it is merely about defence spending. Even as we see the other quote “General Pierre de Villiers reportedly told a parliament committee he would not let the government ‘fuck with’ him on spending cuts“, the questions are rising on two fronts, fronts that are not them by the way. You see, when we see another source (at http://www.iiss.org/en/militarybalanceblog/blogsections/2017-edcc/july-c5e6/franco-german-cooperation-1efd), we see ‘Can Franco-German cooperation deliver a new European defence?‘, yet the question is not merely the side that matters, it is the quote “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has committed her government to meeting the symbolic 2% defence-spending threshold” as well as “Germany remains far off the 2% spending mark – it is projected to spend 1.2% of GDP on defence in 2017 – and the Chancellor’s main opponent in this September’s federal election, Martin Schulz, has poured cold water on Germany’s commitment to that goal“, this is where the cookie starts to crumble. Is there a consideration that France is cutting costs, to remain on par with Germany, mainly because that would simplify a European Army where the ‘pound’ of all power is based on France and Germany? It works for President Macron, because at that point he could spend it somewhere else, in some form of local Quantative Easing (read: funding economy projects) as well as highly needed infrastructure overhauls. Although, 1 billion will not get this too far, but overall one or two larger issues could be resolved to a better degree, depending on whether he goes for roads or waterworks as a first priority. In all this there is a second issue, which is the combined design of a new 5th generation fighter jet, which will impact both German and France’s defence spending a lot more than anything else.

So as General Pierre de Villiers is contemplating the impact of 2% less, whilst a new jet is on the design table and 2018 will become the year of whatever EU army is up for initial presentation, the amounting costs of that infrastructure change, the General is confronted not with a president, but with a former investment banker that relies on Excel and predictive analytics to set the possible options of a virtual reality against a person who deals in real time events, idle time strategy impacts and an need towards an affirmation of hierarchy whilst having a complete operational army. In all this there is no telling when France gets attacked next and for that the DGSE will need 5 high powered computers with access to a cloud system. With a new encryption that surpasses the current 1024-bit RSA encryption that is used. So yes, that is also going to cost a bundle.

This is not just ‘all about the money’, you see, the IISS article seems to give rise to the Nuclear planning part, but that is not the actual issue that will play. As in any war and any intelligence operation, it will be about the data and intelligence that is acted on, and whilst there is data going back to 2007, that the growing issues becomes a shifting one. With: “Arjen Lenstra, a cryptology professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, says the distributed computation project, conducted over 11 months, achieved the equivalent in difficulty of cracking a 700-bit RSA encryption key, so it doesn’t mean transactions are at risk — yet“, the growing deadline was set to roughly 5 years, with the growth of Ransomware and other criminal cyber solutions, we have gone passed the deadline of 2012 and as such, the is now a growing need for matters a lot more secure. when we consider the added quote: “the University of Bonn and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone in Japan, researchers factored a 307-digit number into two prime numbers“, this might be a breakthrough in some ways, yet it still took 11 months to get to the solution, with other solutions like distributed calculating (example the famous Seti@Home program) and the cloud, as well as the fact that the bulk of PC users leave their computers on and way too unsecured, we are facing a combination that could spell cyber disaster. Just consider all those kids working their DDOS attack games. What happens when the computer is not aware because it is no longer attacking places (that can actually register these events), but just silently mulling over data? The person is asleep or at work, now we get that shared options gives us for example 50,000 calculators, changing an 11 month gig into a mere 10 minute job. Now, there is no precedence for this, yet the amount of people that have an infuriating lack of common cyber sense is still way too high (well over 75% too high), so getting to 50,000 computers silently is not the greatest task. It had been made easier by the Microsoft security flaws all over the place and the users not being adamant in upgrading their system when needed, as well as the need from Microsoft to keep on pushing some version of blue (read: Azure), my speculation is not that far away, moreover, it could actually already slowly being used in one way or another (read: extremely speculative suggestion).

Yet, the gist must be clear, the governments, pretty much all over Europe are due a large overhaul of data collectors and data storage systems. Even as we see on how Russia and the US are so called collaborating on quantum computing, those who comprehend the technology will know that whomever has that technology would be able to gain access to any data, it like you using a PC XT, whilst others are all about the Pentium 2, the difference will be that severe.

Yet, this was about France (read: actually it is not). The issue is not just the small disagreement that was going on between two important players within a Western European nation; the fact that it was on a subject and amount that is not that drastic, but Reuters is going with it on the front of its pages. In all this France is also getting the forefront of visibility trying to become the facilitator for the Qatar, which comes with the added danger that France will become more of a target for extremists because of it. Not a given, but it is more likely than not that there is a danger that this will happen.

On the coming year, we see that it will be all about the money, that has always been a given, so it is just telling people that there is water coming out of a water tap, yet it will be growing in the coming year as several nations have overly neglected infrastructures and there is a decent prediction that some part will have to give in, which will require additional budgets. France and Belgium are taking the top ratings on the need to improve their roads and as some roads have been neglected for too long, the road repairs bill could become exceedingly large for those two players. As such, the total debt of France will take a rising hit (one part that France cannot really afford at present) and Belgium would be in a similar predicament. These are the additional elements that President Macron will need to deal with.

Does that not make defence cuts more important?

Well, that is one way to look at it, which is a valid one, yet the rising projects and the growing chance of a European Army start would give rise to either more spending needs in the French defence budget or the French Ministry of Defence could end up having to deal with additional pressure points soon thereafter, in this other nations (including the UK have similar complexities to deal with)

Why the reference to France?

Well, that will become a little more obvious in about a moment, yet it was important to show that the cost cutting on Defence in France is a first mistake (read: blunder) by President Macron.

The article ‘Government offers £2m for scientific research into counter-terrorism‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/17/government-offers-2m-for-scientific-research-into-counter-terrorism), is showing us a first step in regards to solve possible extremist behavioural issues. In my personal view it is a competition that Israel could win hands down as they have been employing certain parts of that with success at Ben Gurion Airport and other places for close to a decade. Yet, doing it in some automated way through data gathering is a new side to that and here is where all the hardware and DGSE comes into play, or in the UK terms, this is where GCHQ could be starting to earn the big bucks (read: £). The quote “The threat from terror does not stand still, so neither will we, which is why we are calling on the best and the brightest from the science and technology sector to come forward with their ideas and proposals to support our ongoing work to keep people safe” is the one that matter, yet overall, even beyond the £2M price, the costs will be decently staggering. You see, this is no longer about intelligence dissemination; it will become the field of real time parsing, gathering and analysing. Yes, the sequence is correct! You see, it requires the analyses of gathered information, parsing new data and overlaying the results, all that in real time. So as I stated earlier by relating this to Paris (and the attacks), it is the applied use of General Pierre de Villiers with the added parsed intelligence in real time. For the non-military trained people. It is like watching a Command and Conquer videogame, yet now seeing the entire map and knowing how the opposition is moving next, whilst in reality you are not seeing the map at all. Look at it as a version of blind chess, Hi-Octane style. Now consider that this is happening in real time at this very moment in London, with all the information of CCTV, facial recognition and back tracking the first attack and then back tracking the faces where it happened, seeing where they came from and seeing how the next event would likely happen and how soon. The computational power would be close to unimaginative large. So when you see ““In light of the horrific attacks in London and Manchester, the government has committed to review its counter-terror strategy,” Wallace will say. “Further to this I am announcing today that we are making up to £2m available to fund research into cutting-edge technology and behavioural science projects designed to keep people safe in crowds.”” we need to consider not just doing that, yet as I stated encryption, it will also require the collected data to remain safe, because the first one to have the manpower and the skill to hit not just in extremist ways with weapons, yet to hit their opponent with a cyber-assault to corrupt the initial data, will not merely have the advantage, it could cripple that forecasting system, implying that crowds will suddenly no longer be safe when an actual attack occurred.

So when we consider “Counter-terror agencies are running 500 investigations involving 3,000 individuals at any one time as they confront an unprecedented threat“, we aren’t being told the entire story. You see, it is not just that, in a crowd event, there would be the need to be able to scan 50,000 people and be able to flag as many and as fast as possible those who are not a threat. To teach a system where to look is one way, where not to look and what to overlook is equally a required skill. To do this in real time, requires loads of data and might not be entirely feasible until quantum computing is a realistic option. When someone tells you that 50,000 people can be easily scanned, we could concur, yet when every person needs to be checked against 200 sources? Consider the lone wolf (or wannabe extremist). Having an initial harmless person in the crowd is one thing, having one that came all the way from Grantham, whilst there is no data that this person has ever attended such an event becomes an issue, now correlate that against the event (like a concert, a humanitarian event or a political rally), how often has this person attended? It might be the first time, which does not make that person a worry, merely a flag that it is out of character. So how many people would have a similar flag setting? Now you get to see the need of exiting gathered data, which gives a rise to knowing those who are merely vested interest people, and optional worries. When you consider that it could require 100 additional flags that give rise to danger, you will now see the need for the computing power required. So how has Israel been successful? Well, they have observers, people who see people walk by, their stance, and their actions, how they look around, levels of nervousness, the way they walk, the luggage they have. The human brain is the most powerful computer there is, the eyes are camera’s that can see more detailed in 3D than nearly any given camera on the market and those persons can read the people walking by. I believe that there is a future where devices can do similar things because they can look different (read: infra-red), not better.

I think that the approach by Ben Wallace, the security minister, is brilliant. He is opening the doors towards out of the box thinking and perhaps set a new stage of technology. There will always be people outside the government who are more brilliant that those within, he is merely inviting them to cast the stone of innovation, I reckon that in light of the technology changes we will see in the next 2 years, the timing is great, time will tell us whether the solutions were real ones too. At least the ball has started to roll and in light of the cut backs by France, the United Kingdom could have a technological advantage that might be a long term solution all others want, which is great too for several reasons of economic growth, which keeps the commercial solution providers interested.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Military, Politics, Science

About that glass of water

As we see Brexit make the cover pages again, the Guardian gives us ‘UK caves in to EU demand to agree divorce bill before trade talks‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/19/uk-caves-in-to-eu-demand-to-agree-divorce-bill-before-trade-talks). There are a few issues here and it is not on what is decided on. You see “capitulated to key European demands for a phased approach to Brexit talks, agreeing to park discussions on free trade until they have thrashed out the cost of the multibillion-euro UK divorce settlement” is fair enough. It can be debated in several ways, yet in honesty, as we see the issues that the ECB have pushed upon the UK and the payments the UK have made, it can be clearly stated that the 60,000,000,000 Euro a month that Mario Draghi has been dishing out every month will go to the Euro nations MINUS the United Kingdom. If there is a divorce settlement, the impossibility of the ECB petulant child is a spending tantrum the United Kingdom should be set away from, for the mere reason that it is up to the other parents to contain the credit spending spree engaging youngster.

So as the article makes reference to that half-filled glass, let’s take another look at the options.

The optimist is stating that Brexit will only have used 50% of the opportunities. This is debated as we see that not just governments, but banks and financial institutions are all about keeping the EU inclusive and forever growing so that it can be milked more efficiently.

To support this view, from last year (Nov 2016) we got this part: “Rome has argued that the tight fiscal measures are stifling some economies and should be loosened to allow EU members to invest more money in order to boost growth. This stance has set Italy, Greece and other southern European countries on a collision course with Germany and other northern European member states, who have warned that increasing public spending and subsequently, public debt, is a risky proposition for a bloc still suffering the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis“, so as we have seen, these investments have for the most not made any impact. Italy showed a deficit of 2.4% ($45B), France -3.4% ($84B), Spain -4.5% ($55B), Poland -2.4% ($11B), Belgium -2.6% ($12B), Denmark -.9% ($2B), these are merely the annual 2016 numbers. The list goes on and apart form 1-2 none can keep a correct budget, and they have not been able to do so for well over a decade. In addition there is the 60 billion a month EU spending spree. It seems that the opportunities will be limited to banks.

The pessimist states that Brexit comes with 50% additional fees. Part of that was raised by little old me through the overspending of Mario Draghi. The EU has a debt that is now surpassing 12 trillion Euro, which is including the 1.7 trillion of the UK at present, so the UK, one of the 4 large EU economies is merely 14% of that. The other three (Germany, France and Italy) each have a debt almost 50% larger than the UK. These 4 represent 80% of the EU debt. There is no containing this level of irresponsibility, and getting out was from my point of view the best option. The benefit is that the UK could end its austerity in 5-10 years if proper steps are taken. The EU will be in deep debt for a very long time after that and the smaller nations are realising this and that is why they were complaining so loudly (as I personally see it).

The opportunist drank the Brexit cocktail. This is seen in the growing partnerships, the Netherlands has kicked it off by sharing ‘UK and Netherlands sign defence cooperation agreement‘, it increases defence and security when we consider the Ferry services between the two nations, in addition, the countries will also share personnel and work towards a UK-Netherlands Amphibious Force. This should also bring additional opportunities to the Dutch as the have the most modern navy in the world, a military branch an Island like the UK could benefit from. In addition, the overall high levels of technology in the Netherlands would give additional benefits to cyber security operations. GCHQ has skills that the Dutch AIVD would love to get a better grip on, an option that should become available in this defence cooperation (source: http://www.army-technology.com).

The practical politician does not see that Brexit is half good or half bad, he or she puts them together and both are true. Yes, that is one way of looking at it. The issue is not the political view, it is that the view that they offer is on a sliding scale of change, and it always change towards the need of the politician, which is at times nowhere near the recorded metrics. Sean Whelan, the economics correspondent for RTE gives us “The good news is that almost a third of Irish exports to the UK would face no tariff whatsoever. The bad news is those products (and this report is all about products) are almost entirely produced by the foreign multinational sector – in particular, the pharmaceutical industry“, leave that situation to politicians to evolve into personal ‘opportunity’, is in not interesting that we haven’t seen this element before? All the scaremongering and the ‘one benefit’ will be for the large corporations. Is it not weird that only they seem to have a leg up on the benefit range?

So when we talk about the Brexit glass, we get more and more views and more and more pointed news that gives us a scary story. The reality is that in all this, I stumbled on 2 positive developments, directions I pleaded for as early as late 2015. So as we now see the evolution of nations working together, we might get additional proof on the economy.

That part was initially given by City AM, where we see “UK economy will grow by 1.7 per cent this year, faster than the previously forecast expansion of 1.6 per cent, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW)“, which sounds good, yet the UK is not out of the fire. When we also read “Michael Izza, ICAEW chief executive, said: “I would like to see the new government put business and the economy at the top of its agenda, doing more to create a climate of optimism and certainty which will help build confidence“. This is more of the banter we have seen too often, that is given by me in such a statement as the UK has no coffers to invest with. This has been the issue all along, as the previous labour government went all out on spending, we are in a stage of culling these debts, so as we see ‘need for investment’, we better realise that Labour wasted £11.2 billion that went straight down the drain. It will take some time to overcome this in addition to the deficit and the debts. It’s not rocket science and relying on the forecasts as they have been wrong by too much all over Europe, we need to consider which sources to trust. A mere reality of what came before and also a reality as Brexit will have an impact; there was never any denying that. It is just that from my point of view, the UK recovery would be faster outside of, than within the EU. That part has already been shown to some degree, to some mind you, not to the full extent. We can only speculate on that part until Brexit is final.

So no matter how we relate this to a glass, how it is seen. The glass merely is. It is the consequence of long term European injustice. Their convoluted presentation, where big business gets a free pass again and again, not tax accountability of any kind. By allowing the EC gravy trains to be running smooth they also sunk their own options of long term survival.

Yet, the gravy train is ignored. So when I refer to the Times (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/kinnocks-on-the-brussels-gravy-train-xcxbdkx6r) with reference to June 2016, here we see: “The former Labour leader was responsible for transport and then became a vice-president with responsibility for administrative reform. By the time he left in 2004 Lord Kinnock was earning £163,453 a year alongside a housing allowance and an entertainment budget. He received a payment of nearly £273,000 on leaving office. He has an EU pension thought to be worth more than £60,000 per year alongside the pension he receives for…” and we have not looked at the other 750 members! Still think that I lost my marbles, or are you seeing a spending spree above the 60 billion Euro a month that is too ludicrous to consider?

By trivializing this I am not making it any better, talking about glasses and water, but it aids you to consider that within the European community, the consideration of water can be whatever they want it to be, which means that transparency is pretty much gone. Is that not the first requirement of the European Community? Is Brexit still such a bad idea? This is supported by the Financial Times as they published in May 2017 (at https://www.ft.com/content/7d1eea08-3be8-11e7-ac89-b01cc67cfeec), the article ‘Call for transparency on ECB corporate bond buying‘, now it is important to consider that nothing wrong was done (as far as we can tell), yet when we see ‘MEPs want to dispel any concerns of benefits to small group of favoured companies‘, the question becomes, why was this not done from day 1? The quote “So far, about €75bn of corporate bonds has been bought as part of QE, a small part of the €1.8tn that the ECB has spent overall. Most is spent on bonds issued by Eurozone governments” gives view that it is not a massive amount compared to the complete spending spree, yet €75B is massive, 0.001% of that could secure my financial future, settle my bills have a decent house to live in, so it adds up to a lot, fast! Still the article shows a concern and that is why I went there. The quote “While the actual amounts are not disclosed, the ECB has explained that it buys proportionally to outstanding issues, and market capitalisation provides a weighting.“, yet weighting depends on factors, which factors and how are they applied? Invariable, weighting is done to either ‘regress to the centre’, as a means to present it as an accepted part (by whom is still the question), or to obscure the view of the amount of outliers in the balance of the matter, neither of these is a good thing. In addition, the request “disclose greater detail on this programme’s operating guidelines, in order to explain to citizens how the corporate bonds are being selected“, is a worry as there could be a unbalanced support to corporations with bonds and in addition, the mention “Another request from the MEPs is that other central banks follow the lead of Germany’s Bundesbank in publishing the names of companies with bonds, rather than just the ISIN number, a code used to identify them on the financial markets” gives out that hiding behind an ISIN number gives weight to other issues too. Part of this is in the attached PDF ‘a proceeding under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 54 of the EEA Agreementattached here, where several issues are shown, the quote ‘by requiring European financial firms and data vendors to pay licensing fees for their use‘. So not only is the EC hiding behind these numbers, but there is an additional fee? Well, apparently that was negated to some extent and that agreement ended in 2016, so are there fee’s now, all issues of non-transparency. All these issues chipping away the assumed ‘premise’ towards the ‘validity of existence’ of the EC and even the ECB.

So when we talk about the glass it is not just the size, not about the water that is in it, but the fact that the glass is too opaque in many instances, the fact that some members have known the lack of transparency and in this we see a system that seems to have been intentionally hiding behind non-transparency. If there is one part that proves it, than it is the existence of Grexit and Brexit and more over the time it took for these politicians to give clarity on how proceedings were supposed to go and how the media left the people in the dark on the actual issues. All that, with the confusion we see as the EC seems to be in the dark on how to deal with an exiting nation gives more worries than confidence, because the actions and threats shown is not that of some economic alliance, it is the foundation of some tyranny where the freedom of choice becomes the burden of blackmail, threats and intentional miscommunication.

I’ll let you decide on how much you enjoy being blackmailed and threatened and where the freedom of choice remains in all of that.

Commission decision COMP39.592

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media, Politics

How to get yourself killed

On the edge of the elections, we see new developments in a few areas. The issue is not the people trying to keep others safe; it is now to some extent the law that is aiding people getting killed. Here we see the first of a few issues, that first one being the Human Rights Act 1998. Now, let’s be clear! I am not against the HRA. The issue is that it is now protecting terrorists in completing their goals, which was not what it was intended to do. That issue is seen at the very beginning of article 2.1. Here we see: ‘Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

This gives us that Terrorists cannot be hunted down; the first rule is to capture them alive, whilst knowingly endangering the lives of many. In addition we see articles 6, 7 and 8 messing things up (in light of terrorism); still it is not a failure of the law.

The issue is that these laws were never designed with the abundance of terrorism to the amount we see nowadays. The fact that any armed police action, aimed on capturing terrorists is placing them in harm’s way, but in an unrealistic and unacceptable way. A policeman’s life is set to a higher degree of danger, whilst giving the terrorist a prolonged time to act out the acts of terrorism. It is in this light that we should see ‘May: I’ll rip up human rights laws that impede new terror legislation‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/06/theresa-may-rip-up-human-rights-laws-impede-new-terror-legislation). There is a growing concern that the laws of our nations have been a hindrance in dealing with acts of terrorism. In addition we see another return with “It is possible May’s plans could involve seeking further derogations from the ECHR. This is the way the government is seeking to prevent human rights claims against soldiers in future military situations“, the question is not just in the laws, the issue we see with “May was then repeatedly challenged about how the Home Office, police and intelligence services dealt with the information relating to the attackers, after Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary, said MI5 had questions to answer. One of the attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, had been reported to the anti-terror hotline in 2015 and a third attacker, Youssef Zaghba, 22, had been detained by Italian authorities in 2016”, there are questions for MI5 to answer, yet it is not just them. The UK needs to establish to with level SIGINT (GCHQ) has been missing the ball.

Now there are two problems with that assumption of mine. The first is whether the European intelligence services have been keeping its allies and NATO partners up to date on movements. The second is how some allies classify certain people of interest (Youssef Zaghba). Without that knowledge we end up kicking both MI6 and GCHQ without actual cause. So it is not just MI5. We can wonder how certain borders were passed as well as how we will stop certain events from happening. So Boris Johnson is correct that there should be questions and answers, yet in the first only to the smallest degree and in the second, I would want to ask GCHQ a few questions before knocking on the door of Andrew Parker. The fact that he goes straight to the door of MI5, gives an implicit lack of knowledge on the address of Boris Johnson which is not the way we know him, so I wonder what he is playing at, at present. This now gets us to ‘Police and MI5 face further scrutiny after third attack since March’ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/police-and-mi5-face-further-scrutiny-after-third-attack-since-march). The part that matters here is “MI5 has a staff of 4,000, with up to 1,000 more promised by 2020, to keep tabs on a list of 3,000 people classified as “subjects of interest”, who included Butt, and to engage in other activities. Counter-terrorism accounts for just over 60% of what MI5 does”. We can hide behind the numbers to some extent as we consider that 1650 keep tabs on 3,000 people. This implied two people to watch per agent, this in a situation where it is about resources. In addition when we consider “Another of the London attackers, Rachid Redouane, was not known to the police or MI5, the police said”. The numbers show the impossibility of the task. In opposition we get that either the UK becomes an unlivable police state, or we take the war to them and prune the HRA to a larger extent. Weirdly enough, that gives us the headache that the HRA is losing potency, something that none of the players want. We basically move a nation into a place where we end up getting ourselves killed. As Richard Barrett, former director of global counter-terrorism operations at MI6 states: “I do not want to live in a state like that”. So even the agencies want a non-police state system, as such we need to consider other evolutions.

So how to go forward?

Until we get an actual union of interest in the Intelligence industry there will be an age of uncertainty. As SIGINT departments unite to set forth the first need of identifying the dangers and replicate that knowledge we are at an impasse. If this reads weird, then let me explain it. The function of GCHQ is to monitor and report to the UK agencies. This is how it should be in the past. In this age of ISIS/ISIL we need to consider that SIGINT agencies set the data in one common database when it concerns terrorists. So basically GCHQ forwards Intel directly to NSO (Netherlands), DGSE (France), SAIC (Germany) and so on. After that (or actually at the same time) the obtained data goes to MI5 and MI6. As filters are removed the whole gets more and quicker intelligence on movements. There is no issue with Brexit or Bremain, this is about European security, and as Europe becomes safer, so will the UK be safer. This path has never been walked because the trouble is with containing intelligence going into the open. In this setting we have intelligence filters this is not a bad thing, but the need in light of the attacks require us all to rethink the issues. There is an additional benefit that the union of data could give additional clusters of information, clustering’s we did not have in the past. It gives voice to not just paths of interests, but a path of people that are a justifiable target in this situation. A path that is partially hindered by the Human Rights Act in a way that was never the intent of the Human Rights Act in the first place.

The issue becomes a larger issue when we see certain media. Now as we exclude the tabloids on mere grounds of inferior intellect and increased factors like being clueless and greed driven through the expanse of emotion, we do get some media that should have known better. So when we see “Dame Stella Rimington, the first female director general of the agency, spoke out this week (6 June) during a keynote speech at 2017’s Infosecurity conference. The former spymaster took the time to urge for a calm response in the wake of recent London terror attacks” (at http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/former-mi5-chief-nobody-really-knows-how-deal-cyber-espionage-1625025), we see in addition “We are facing a world where there’s cyber-espionage now, which nobody really knows how to effectively deal with. We are facing a world of very complex communications which make it very difficult [for] our intelligence services to keep pace with changes taking place.

This is a path that has a few additional repercussions. The first repercussion is seen in the need of new technology to meet the challenges. The second repercussion is seen in combined need to evolve HUMINT, FININT and GEOINT. As money can be transferred through alternative means in faster ways and new methods we see that the terrorists are equipped and given new means to which several intelligence paths have no way to counter at present. The simplest issue of funding terrorist infrastructure through international debit cards is a nightmare to get through. Ordering these debit cards with up to 5,000 euros is getting easier and payment via web becomes increasingly easy. Getting these cards in Western Europe and dispense them to the dangerous elements in the UK is an increased danger as we now have a situation where HUMINT and FININT walk two very different paths. If we do not get an evolved SIGINT solution, we will see an escalation of events whilst the intelligence will fail. At present when a student is found with 2,000 euro a flag is raised (not always), yet when a student is seen with a debit card and 300 Euro, no flag will ever be raised. The cyber path is intervening on several levels increasing the dangers of a successful attack as they just get what they need at their destination. Nowadays a student goes into a car rental place, has his international student ID, picks up a van, pays with the prepaid card and he is off to load it up with explosives. At this point, when properly done, SIGINT, HUMINT and FININT will all have failed to stop this. This is the danger that Dame Stella Rimington is warning us about. And whilst the tabloid jokes are all about the emotions and the blame game towards the intelligence service, we see that failure after failure stacks up, mainly because what the intelligence agencies need is not coming their way. It’s like giving Jenson Button the task of winning the F1 trophy whilst giving him an Edsel to get the job done, which seems a little too unfair on the poor lad.

The world evolved too fast in too many directions and in this terrorists, especially lone wolves could use the system to remain largely invisible until it is too late. It is a collection of what we used to perceive as unrealistic elements ion danger assessment that is now stopping police and agencies in finding the targets trying to hurt innocent civilians. The game has become too unbalanced, and for the most I agree with Richard Barrett. Yet, in equal measure, we see a lack of evolution in technology that the seekers need to classify disseminated information as well as being able to cluster a multitude of databases each filled with variable information to find that needle, hoping that you are even near the right haystack. Consider the scenario I just painted. Finding that person would be near impossible if the Lone Wolf kept to the ground. So where is the validation of blame? There is none and the people actually realise this. It does not change the job, or the challenge. It merely increases the pressure. So when I read: “The third attacker was named as Youssef Zaghba, an Italian national of Moroccan descent, who was living in east London” there is no concern to be elevated into some danger status, yet when we see in addition “is said to have told Italian authorities “I’m going to be a terrorist”, while officers reportedly found Islamic State-related material on his mobile phone when they intercepted him” makes it a different issue (apart from any person proclaiming to become a terrorist to the police). How long until that news reached the UK? In addition, what did the Italians do to stop this possible extremist? When we see a file on Youssef Zaghba in the areas of FININT and SIGINT, what do they reveal? You see, we might not stop all events, yet there is an increased chance that any previous success by these lone wolves will leave us with information that potentially stops the next attack. That will leave us with increased options when SIGINT will start sharing the data internationally.

We are in a phase where we get ourselves killed, not because of the failing of the agencies, but with our complacency regarding human rights and thinking that the agencies did not need certain elements. As we are bragging on Facebook and demanding the government does not collect data, we place ourselves in harm’s way, which is increasingly stupid.

Yet in equal measure spending irresponsibly (read: Jeremy Corbyn’s lame promise) is equally dangerous. You see we need to work on actual solutions, not buy 1000 staff members, 15 servers and hope it will work itself out. That is a recipe for a political pork pie that leaves us with indigestion.

There is a lot that requires doing, let’s not get ourselves killed whilst doing that.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics

In light of the evidence

We tend to accept facts and given situations whenever we have a reliable source and a decent level of evidence. The interesting side is that howling to the moon like a group of sheep hoping the lone wolf will not hear them is an equally weird revelation. The question becomes at that point, who is the lone wolf and who are the sheep, because neither position nor identity is a given. Now, for the first art, we have the Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/27/eu-theresa-may-combat-terror-brexit-europol), with the expected title ‘We need deal with the EU to combat terror, experts tell Theresa May‘, which of course gets them the DGSE, yet the usefulness of the rest becomes a bit of an issue. For this part we need to look somewhere else, and we will do that after the given quote in the mentioned article “Although our partnership with the US for intelligence sharing is extremely important, the fact is that the current terrorist threat is very much a European dimension issue. The Schengen database and knowing about who has moved where are all intimately dependent on European systems and we have got to try to remain in them“. This could be a valid and valued statement, yet is that truly the case? For this we need to take a little gander to another place of intelligence and Intel interest. The Cyber monkeys, or is that the cyber-mercenaries? The difference is merely a moment when you WannaCry 1.4. You will have heard, or perhaps read regarding the NHS as it was struck, here again we see: “However, it instead appears to be down to organisations and individuals failing to run keep Windows up to date“, which was actually voiced by NHS Digital, the failure of policies as they were not adhered to by IT staff, or at least those responsible for keeping those PC’s up to date with patches. The second quote given much earlier in the IT article is ““To be abundantly clear, the recent speculation concerning WannaCry attributes the malware to the Lazarus Group, not to North Korea, and even those connections are premature and not wholly convincing,” wrote James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT)“, which is where I have been all along. The one nation that has less computer and internet innovation than a Nintendo GameCube sets this level of hardship? It is just too whack for thought. It is the quote “At best, WannaCry either borrowed heavily from outdated Lazarus code and failed to change elements, such as calls to C2 servers, or WannaCry was a side campaign of a minuscule subcontractor or group within the massive cybercriminal Lazarus APT” that changes the game. In addition we see: “The publication referred to “digital crumbs” that the cyber security firm had traced to previous attacks widely attributed to North Korea, like the Sony Pictures hack in late 2014″, we will exclude the quote “Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has said Labour would invest an extra £5 billion into new IT infrastructure for the NHS, after hospitals and services were affected by the widespread Ransomware attack on Friday“, especially as Labour had in the previous government wasted £11.2 billion on an IT system that never worked, so keeping them away from it all seems to be an essential first.

The issue is now in several phases. Who got hit (those not updating their systems). It affected according to some sources thousands of systems, yet when it comes to backtracking to a point of origin, the Cyber Intelligence groups remain unclear. The IT article (at http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/28648/nhs-ransomware-north-korea-may-not-be-behind-wannacry), gives us a few things, yet the clear reference to the Guardians of Peace, the identity the hackers had given themselves in the Sony event gives a few additional worries. Either this is clearly a mercenary group without identity, or we have a common new issue on identity when it comes to Cyber criminals. You see, as we see more and more proclaiming the links between the Lazarus group and North Korea, we do not get to see a clear link of evidence. Many sources give us ‘could be linked‘, or ‘highly likely‘, which is an issue. It makes the evidence too shallow and circumstantial. The NY Times gives us (at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/22/technology/north-korea-ransomware-attack.html) yet they are basically stating what Symantec game us and mention that. My issue here is “But the hackers left behind a trail of digital crumbs that Mr Chien and his colleagues had traced to previous attacks by the Lazarus Group“, what if the crumbs were an intentional side? You see, the quote “another group of hackers that call themselves the Shadow Brokers published the details of National Security Agency hacking tools that the WannaCry hackers were able to use to add muscle to their attacks” give a different light. The fact that there is a team reengineering tools and flaws to get somewhere fast is one. We have seen the lack of actual cyberpower of North Korea in the past, the fact that they are regarded on the same level as Chinese Cyber forces is a bit silly. You see, any country has its own level of savants, yet the fact that North Korea, a nation as isolated as it is, gets to be on par with China, an actual superpower that has Cyber infrastructures, experts at the University of Shanghai (the white paper on cracking AES-256, 2001), as well as a growing IT technology base is just a little too whack.

This now reflects back to the European need of Schengen. The UK needs quality intelligence and with the US breaches of Manchester, the fact that no high quality evidence was ever given regarding the Sony Hack, the growing source of all kinds of hacker names and no validity or confirmable way to identify these groups leaves us with a mess that pretty much anyone could have done this. In light of the NSA flaw finders, there is now more evidence in the open giving the speculative hacker as one with skills that equal and surpass people graduating with high honours at MIT, than anything North Korea could produce. It does not put North Korea in the clear (well the fact that the generals there had no comprehension of a smartphone should be regarded as such), and as we see the entire Bitcoin go forward, we need to take more critical looks at the given evidence and who is giving that evidence. We all agree that places like Symantec and Kaspersky should be highly regarded, yet I get the feeling that their own interns know more about hacking then the sum of the population of all North Koreans do, which is saying a lot. We see supportive evidence in the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com/wannacry-ransomware-attack-oddities-2017-5). Here we see IBM with “IBM Security’s Caleb Barlow, researchers are still unsure exactly how the malware spread in the first place. Most cybersecurity companies have blamed phishing emails — messages containing malicious attachments or links to files — that download the ransomware. That’s how most ransomware finds its way onto victims’ computers. The problem in the WannaCry case is that despite digging through the company’s database of more than 1 billion emails dating back to March 1, Barlow’s team could find none linked to the attack“, one billion emails! That is what we call actual evidence and here IBM is claiming that the issue of HOW the malware spread remains a mystery. Now, can you see that the entire North Korean issue is out of touch with the reality of Common Cyber Sense and Actual Cyber Security? Two elements, both are essential in all this. It is the lack of actual evidence that seems to be the issue, giving us the question, who wants the North Korea issue propagated? Any answer here is more likely to be political than anything else, which now gives us additional questions on where for Pete’s sake the need of European Intelligence remains as they fall short of providing answers. In light of the Schengen database. Why would that not be shared? If the US has access as a non-European, non-EC nation, why would the UK, a clear European nation be barred from access? With all the flawed acts by the US, having actual professionals look at Schengen data, seems to be an elemental first, would you not agree?

An additional question would be on how these Bitcoins would be cashed, it is not like an isolated nation like North Korea ever had a flying business in Bitcoins in the first place. It is actually (yes, I am shocked too), that quality information comes from PwC. In this case Marin Ivezic, a cyber-security partner. He gives us “EternalBlue (the hacking tool) has now demonstrated the ROI (return on investment) of the right sort of worm and this will become the focus of research for cybercriminals“, which would be a clear focus for veteran cyber criminals, yet the entire re-engineering foundation gives another slice of circumstantial evidence that moves us actually away from North Korea. So in this we have two elements. As the FBI and CIA have been all about pointing towards North Korea, the question becomes, where do they not want us to look and whatever else do they not have a handle on? These points are essential because we are shown an elemental flaw in Intelligence. When the source is no longer reliable, why would they be around in the first place? We can agree that governments do not have the goods on Cyber criminals, because getting anything of decent value, tends to require inside knowledge, which is the hardest to get in any case, especially with a group as paranoid as cyber criminals. The second side is that China and Russia were on the list as one of the few abled parties to get through Sony, yet Russia has fallen of the map completely in the last case, that whilst they are actually strengthening ties with North Korea. That does not make them guilty, yet on the sale required Russia was one of the few with such levels of Cyber skills. The fact that we see in the NY Times that it is too early to blame North Korea is equally some evidence, it gives vision to the fact that there are too many unknowns and when IBM cannot give view of any mail that propagated the worm, gives additional consideration that there are other places who cannot claim or show correctly how the worm got started, which is now an additional concern for anyone altering the work for additional harm. As the point of infection is not known, stopping the infection becomes increasingly difficult, any GP can tell you that side of the virus. There is one more side I would like to raise. This comes from a source (at http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/59458/breaking-news/wannacry-linguistic-analysis.html), it is not a journalistic source, or a verified source, so please take consideration that this news could be correct. It is however compelling. The quote ““The text uses certain terms that further narrow down a geographic location. One term, “礼拜” for “week,” is more common in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore. The other “杀毒软件” for “anti-virus” is more common in the Chinese mainland.” Continues the analysis “Perhaps most compelling, the Chinese note contains substantial content not present in any other version of the note, is lengthier, and differs slightly in format.” The English note of the ransomware appears well written, but it contains a major grammar mistake that suggests its author is either not a native speaker or possibly someone poorly educated“, that would make sense, yet how was that source acquired?

The second quote: ““Given these facts, it is possible that Chinese is the author(s)’ native tongue, though other languages cannot be ruled out,” Flashpoint concluded. “It is also possible that the malware author(s)’ intentionally used a machine translation of their native tongue to mask their identity. It is worth noting that characteristics marking the Chinese note as authentic are subtle. It is thus possible, though unlikely, that they were intentionally included to mislead.” The Flashpoint analysis suggests attackers may have used the Lazarus code as a false flag to deceive investigators, a second scenario sees North Korean APT recruiting freelance Chinese hackers to conduct the campaign” gives us a few elements, the element of misdirection, which I had noted on from other sources and the element that North Korea is still a consideration, yet only if this comes from a freelance hacker, or someone trying to get into the good graces of Pyongyang, both options are not out of the question as the lack of Cyber skills in North Korea is a little too well set from all kinds of sources. The writer Pierluigi Paganini is a Cyber professional. Now even as Symantec’s Eric Chien is from California, did they not have access to this part and did no one else correctly pick up on this? As I stated, I cannot vouch for the original source, but as I had questions before, I have a few additional questions now. So, exactly how needed is European Intelligence for the UK? I think that data should be shared within reason. The question becomes, how is Schengen data not shared between governments? The Guardian gives us “After the Manchester attack, which killed 22 people and left dozens of others grievously injured, it was revealed that suicide bomber Salman Abedi had travelled back to England from Libya via Turkey and Dusseldorf four days before the attack“, so how reliable is Turkish intelligence in the first place? How could he have prepared the bomb and get the ingredients in 4 days? There is an additional view on ISIS support active in the UK, yet as we now see that this drew attention to him, why on earth was the trip made? Also, was Libya or Mecca the starting point (source: claim from the father in earlier Guardian article)? How would sharing have resolved this?

Now look at this in light of the US leaks and the Cyber Intelligence of a dubious nature. There is a growing concern that the larger players NSA, DGSE, GCHQ have flaws of their own to deal with. As they are relying more and more on industry experts, whilst there is a lack of clear communication and reliable intelligence from such sources, the thoughts now become that the foundation of fighting terror is created by having a quality intelligence system that recognises the need for Cyber expertise is becoming an increasing issue for the intelligence branch. Should you wonder than, then reconsider the quote: ‘demonstrated the ROI (return on investment) of the right sort of worm and this will become the focus of research for cybercriminals‘, if you think that cyber jihadists are not considering the chaos that they could create with this, then think again.  They will use any tool to create chaos and to inflict financial and structural damage. They might not have the skills, yet if there is any reliable truth to the fact that the Lazarus group is in fact a mercenary outfit, there would be enough critical danger that they will seek each other out, that is providing that ISIS could bring cash to that table. I have no way of telling how reliable or how certain such a union could be. What is a known is that Sir Hugh Orde is not answering questions, he is creating them, as I personally see it. The quote “UK membership of EU bodies such as Europol and Eurojust, which brokers judicial co-operation in criminal cases, not only allowed access to huge amounts of vital data, but also meant UK police could set up joint inquiries with German police or those from other national forces without delay“. You see, the UK remains part of Europe and Interpol existed before the EC, so as we now see the virtual creation of red tape, the question becomes why the EU has changed rules and regulations to the degree that the UK would fall out of the boat. Is it not weird that the EU is now showing to be an organisation of exclusion? Even if we laugh on the ridiculous promises that Corbyn is making, just to be counted shows that there is a larger problem in place. Why is there suddenly a need for 1,000 more intelligence staff? Can we not see that the current situation is causing more issues then resolve them? As such, is throwing money and staff on a non-viable situation nothing less than creating additional worries?

The last part is seen in “The Schengen database and knowing about who has moved where are all intimately dependent on European systems and we have got to try to remain in them“, yet this does require all players to enter the data accurately, in addition, that only applies to people entering Schengen, yet as has been shown in the past, after that getting locations on people is becoming an increasingly difficult problem. The fact that after the Paris attacks, some people of interest were found to be in Belgium is one side, the fact that these people could have met up with all kinds of contacts on the road is another entirely. The truth is that the intelligence branch has no way of keeping track in such details. In addition we have seen that the list of people of interest is growing way beyond normal means and organising such data streams and finding new ways not just to find the guilty, but to decrease the list by excluding the innocent is growing in complexity on a nearly daily basis. And that is before the cyber mess is added to the cauldron of nutrition. There is at least a small upside, as the technology stream will soon be more and more about non-repudiation, there will be additional sources of information that adds the branches by pruning the list of people of interest. The extent of pruning is not a given and time will tell how this is resolved.

It all affects the evidence that the parties hold and how it is applied, it remains a matter of time and the proper application of intelligence.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Military, Politics, Science

United Stupid

Update: This story is two days old. I was unable to post it yesterday, so it reads a little out of time.

We have all been there, we were in a position to state ‘I know something’, and there it was, the person speaking would suddenly get additional attention, because that person ‘was in the know’. This happens ever so often and for the most it tends to be just embarrassing for those exposed. We all tend to react to it differently. Yet what happens when that idiot has a high security clearance and works in the White House? Give me one situation when exposing the options of an allied intelligence operation benefits in any way when you spill the bacon whilst you don’t have actual skin in the game? The question at that point becomes, why was that person so utterly stupid? Whatever British Intelligence had in mind, their options went to zero when some retarded White House official decided to give out the name. There is of course a local upbeat. The US has been trying to bend over backwards to get their fingers on Julian Assange. It is not unlikely that the ‘cooperation’ in that regard could stop. Let’s face it, the US screws over the UK, yet still insists on having a person extradited who on the literal interpretation had not committed a crime. I still don’t like the dude, and what he did was stupid and irresponsible beyond belief, but when we look at the letter of the law, he broke none. So as one stupid act cancels another, the White House basically cut its own fingers. There is of course the outspoken and very publicised former US Navy Admiral Robert Gilbeau, who has been what some call: ‘a naughty boy’, my issue is with the dozen or so pending cases. Yes, the US would not like the visibility of certain construction companies to be out in the open because they are at a critical stage to close certain large deals that would surpass the 2011 bipartisan budget agreement by a lot. Yet here I state that the people have a right to know with what kind of firm they are (or rather would be) getting in bed with (that is apart from the prostitutes they might provide). You see, it is more than merely the overcharging by Glenn Defence Marine Asia. It is also the third parties that they introduce and we are entitled to know, are we not? So as the US is now going all out on what they have, we should ask the right people at GCHQ and DGSE on what they have in certain respect. I see it not as a tit for tat, but as a stern warning to those ‘blabbing’ and releasing photos allegedly from the alleged White House source, that there are consequences to this level of bungling.

You see, as we are now getting drowned on the issues of Salman Abedi, the fence is pretty much gone. Those who had links have either destroyed any evidence that could have been optionally found, burner phones all gone and even as some evidence remains it will be circumstantial at best. The other option is that those linked have faded into the background, not to be found. So as people start reading ‘What we know about him’, the reader better realises is that this is what he wanted people to see (for the most), some limelight seekers will come into the forefront to get their 15 minutes with a nice cash bonus and whilst most people will not care on what is and what is fake, the people who are trying to keep the others safe are now doing it will their hands tied, their options melted away, because someone blabbed. We can also ponder whether this was done so that the people would not look too closely to the US Budget as it was released. In that piece of work, we see that being poor in America will leave them with even less. The military get more and far beyond what the 2011 bipartisan budget agreement allowed for, so there is that to look ‘forward’ to, so whatever deficit reduction was in mind, or on the mindful pretty much goes out the window, in that side, with the ‘benefits for large businesses’, there is every chance that the USA would add 2-3 trillion to the debt within 15 months. Which is now also a driver for Europe as we see Macron and Merkel in ‘renewed’ Europe and Euro efforts (leave that to the president investment banker in the house). So are these elements linked? No, they are not (as far as I can tell)! The issue is on how certain things were released and the fact that it was an ‘unnamed source in the White House’ gives light to other issues, which we see in the guardian (athttps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/trump-administration-manchester-bomber-name-leak). The quote: “Perry Cammack, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, added: “I don’t think in and of itself this episode will do lasting harm; I sense this was a miscommunication. But the context is that we’re in the midst of a political crisis in Washington of the first order. The institutions are leaking at an unprecedented rate. It feels like things are under stress here.”“. You see, I agree for the most, yet there is one side I do not agree with is ‘things are under stress here‘, I think that the current administration has ‘accepted’ a collection of amateurs to get into the professional mix, which is not some version of ‘miscommunication’, but rather a collection of ‘tools‘ at best and at worst a group of individuals the house or representatives would not consider hiring under the most liberal of conditions.

As I see it there are two dangers. The first is that fictive evidence will come to the surface, carefully inclined voices on what they thought they heard, especially in light of the fact that ISIS claimed the attack, which is a possibility and not a given. It gives them the option to make a cloud of additional claims driving security levels to even higher setting. The second side is that as the actual intelligence gets muddier, the approach to quality intelligence becomes harder and it will be more of a challenge to keep places secure and to get a handle on who is an actual threat, who is the wannabe and who is utterly innocent. This is a complication in any Lone Wolf issue, yet as there is a path of intelligence flow, there is a decent chance on separating the wannabe’s from the innocents. That path becomes less clear, so as the people who need to get this done are focussing on the wrong groups, the actual threats have a less threatened path for a longer time. Just because someone wanted ‘friends in the media’ to know that they were ‘in the know’. It is that utterly United Stupid!

Yet in all this there is a second level of issues. This level would have happened no matter what. It now influences other timings, but it would have happened. We see this in another Guardian article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/manchester-attack-police-investigate-katie-hopkins-final-solution-tweet). People like Katie Hopkins, were never imbued with any quality level of intelligence, so when she called for a ‘final solution‘ she got reported to the police. Now, in her favour…. actually, I’ve got nothing, she is that dumb! You see, we can say for certain the the attack on Martin Place (Australia) a few years ago was done by a person with mental health issues. The attack in Paris on the cartoonist was clearly a terrorist. Yet what was Salman Abedi?

The attack should be seen as a terrorist attack, yet does that make this an attack by a terrorist? I am not stating that it is not, but consider, what happens if the attacker has clear mental health issues? It does not make the transgressor innocent, it merely makes it more important to find the people who got him to do this, they are without any doubt terrorists. You see, he was accepted into University, which gives us that the man was intelligent. Yet was he intelligent enough to make a suicide bomb? The Manchester Arena might not have bomb sniffers, but does it have metal detectors? Was there security at the entrance? It does not make the security guilty, it merely gives voice that the making of the bomb and the evasion of detection gives rise to intent. So, what if he did not make the bomb, what if it was handed to him? Again, it does not make Salman Abedi innocent, it merely gives voice that there is a support system in place making these events happen. There is a collection of intelligence, now possibly lost to British Intelligence as someone in the White House allowed this news to get out prematurely, and that makes it a much larger failure than some of the media is making it out to be.

As the information gets more and more blurred, the quality of knowledge diminishes. At present we cannot tell, because not enough is known for now, and later on, the media will obscure the clarity of vision, so that part is still there to deal with. A suicide bomber is not by definition a clear terrorist (although the act is). We know that Al-Qaida and ISIS will use whatever tool they can find and someone that can be easily impressed is a tool. The given fact that he was a University drop out, could be that he was under stress and could not hack it on that level. Such a person, depending on when he dropped out will have PTSD and depression to deal with. If you drop out on something like that, you would be depressed too, we all would. So as that news goes around, it just takes one person even from within the mosque to send the message pointing at him, for a wave of ‘reassurances that the world does not accept you‘ to come his way. Many of us all contributed to that with accepting anti-Muslim waves. Whether intentional or not, that was the outcome. So as the Intelligence Branch will have more issues trying to decipher who got to Salman Abedi, Salman Abedi ended up getting to 22 people and wounding 59 others. A media mess that would have been here no matter what. If there is one upside to it all then that would be “A Sun journalist was allegedly attacked while knocking on doors in Manchester to speak to families of those affected by the bombing“, as we have seen on the useless effect that IPSO has on the decency of the press, it is heart warming to learn that slapping such a person silly might still work. It is not a ‘final solution’ to the intrusive press, but it might be a start for them to stop and ponder their actions, before doing something this thoughtless.

So as the news cycles continue, we see another event happening. We see that there is more sadness as we wave goodbye to the suavest Bond of all. Sir Roger Moore passed away. He was my First Bond (Live and Let Die, 1973). Later I would see him in the Persuaders on a rerun. We would all admire his presence in several other movies too. I watch him as a kid in Ivanhoe, but not when it originally aired. You see, this impacts me a lot more than the events in Manchester. Not because of the severity, but because of the personal connection to the movies and TV series I watched. It will not mean anything to those directly affected by the events in Manchester, they will be in deep grief and so they should. For me there is a second realisation, it is the fact that Roger Moore had given joy to millions on the big screen, yet his visibility in the UK press seems to be a mere drop compared to all the speculations they are giving on Salman Abedi, is that not sad too? I get it, what is news? Yet, as I see certain news ‘unfold’ I remember my day at Dulles Airport 18th July 1999, Fox and others were all about the plane with Kennedy junior that crashed, which would be a sad day for many Americans. My issue is that for two hours in the department lounge I got to see a camera pointed at a sailor on a boat as the reporters were hoping to catch a first glimpse live on TV. I heard rambling and speculations, nothing more. It was like the other news that the world had, was paused. ISIS knows this and pushing this form of media is actually enabling ISIS. Would it not be a lot better to show the world what amazing feats Sir Roger Moore had done? How a collection of novels by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963 became the inspiration of a TV series done more than once, but largely identified with Sir Roger Moore as Simon Templar. He played James bond for the longest times playing the role many times. That is news that should matter, and to a lot it should matter more than the events at the Manchester Arena, that is unless you know someone there. We all need to realise that it is important to take the wind out of the ISIS sails as much as we can, it will not be possible to get that completely under control, because the events have taken place, but we could try to minimize the events by not being like US network news stations and point the camera at a sailor on the back of a boat, hoping to get the shot the instance it happens. that is equally United Stupid (as I personally see it) and that is seems to be a much larger global problem. For those not directly involved hearing it a little later is not the end of the world and so far all the latest revelations regarding Salman Abedi seems to be based on debatable sources, giving less value to what we read. A small fact that could just be my faulty view on the things that are currently being reported on.

Update: After this was written, there was additional news that the investigating parties were looking into an entire terrorist ‘network’. That news came more than a day after I had finished this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Media, Military, Politics