Tag Archives: MI6

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.

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On the first day

On Friday Jonathan Freedland published an article on the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/01/disaster-texas-america-britain-yemen), the article is excellent. He is speaking his mind and rightly so. All the facts are correct and he is not playing some word game. Like other stuff he wrote top notch. Yet, I oppose him. Why?

Well, we can go from “it surely represents the most fundamental form of discrimination one can imagine: deeming the lives of one group of people to be worth less than those of another – worth less coverage, less attention, less sympathy, less sorrow“, he is right and it would be easy to just blame the media, like I have done on several occasions in the past. Yet the quote “The scale of the suffering in the Arab world’s poorest country is clear. Since it became the site of a proxy war in March 2015, 10,000 people have been killed, with 7 million made homeless. The UN is especially anxious about cholera, which has already killed 2,000 people and infected more than 540,000. It threatens to become an epidemic. That’s no surprise, given that sewage plants have been among the infrastructure bombed from the sky“. This is followed by “On the contrary, the Saudi government is armed to the hilt with weapons supplied by the UK and the US: £3.3bn worth of British firepower in the first year of this vicious war alone. And yet Yemen has barely registered in the western consciousness, let alone stirred the western conscience“. These two matters are merely the top of the iceberg. When we go back to 1957, we get the attempted assassination by MI6 and what was then laughingly known as the CIA. They fail. All British and French assets are nationalised. The UK intervention in early peace processes between Israel and Egypt. Iran 1953, we might see two sides in the story, one side is that US interventions caused the creation of the Islamic revolution and the blood baths that came afterwards. Is this the correct version? There are too many events involved, but it is a given certain that the events followed. It is merely a factor in a sea of events. Sudan 1998, here the Clinton Administration justified the attack by falsely claiming that it was a chemical weapons factory controlled by Osama bin Laden. Though the United States blocked the United Nations from investigating, independent reports leave little doubt that the plant was solely used for civilian medical items and there was no connection with the exiled Saudi terrorist. All speculations go out of the window; I find it interesting how it was the US that stopped the investigation. Equally the Obama administration refused to properly investigate the chemical attacks in Syria, willing to accept half-baked excuses, unwilling to get to the bottom of it all. This all is now starting to give us a pattern that related to the story.

So when we see “warnings that Yemen risks becoming the next Syria: its soil soaked in blood, rendered fertile for the next generation of violent jihadists” as well as “the children of Yemen are dying cruel deaths, while the rest of the world ignores them. They are not drowning in Texas or Mumbai. They are dying under a hot desert sun, killed by our allies – and by our inattention“, Jonathan is speaking the truth, yet I oppose!

You see, when we see in addition to the previous parts: “The collapse of leftist and nationalist Lebanese forces as a result of the U.S. intervention and the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion led to a power vacuum filled by extremist Islamic groups from below and an overbearing presence of the anti-American Syrian government from above. Combined with resentment at the enormous human costs of these interventions, Lebanon has turned from a staunchly pro-Western country to a center of anti-American sentiments“. Now, we must be honest in that when a glass is half full, it is equally half empty, so we can focus on one side or the other side. Yet the overbearing knowledge from the past is that the UK and US have been in a war for control. Either they were or no one else was. This is the setting we have seen for decades. As such we need to be aware of the ‘other’ side of the equation, but in my view the interventions of decades have been nothing but a failure and soon we will see that US and UK public opinion will shift against Saudi Arabia, merely because any long term success they book now will be counterproductive to anything these two players are trying to achieve. The UN has been privy and part of it to some extent. We could focus on resolution 425, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, later it did it again in 1982, I personally remember those days, I was in Israel when it happened. The interesting part was that the acts of the terrorist organisation and their movements were largely ignored by the UN and certain other officials, as well as the press. The report from Director Nahum Admoni of Mossad in 1983, who was seen as the ‘bad boy’ as the British press got a whiff of the Israeli nuclear plan, yet the fact that the Jonathan Pollard debacle where “Pollard was the only American who has received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the U.S. In defense of his actions, Pollard declared that he committed espionage only because “the American intelligence establishment collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information”. Israeli officials, American-Israeli activist groups, and some American politicians who saw his punishment as unfair lobbied continually for reduction or commutation of his sentence. The Israeli government acknowledged a portion of its role in Pollard’s espionage in 1987, and issued a formal apology to the U.S., but did not admit to paying him until 1998“, He was eventually released on Released November 20, 2015, after 28 years. Beyond that he had been denied basic rights between 19:00 and 07:00 every day since. In this we can draw two conclusions, not only that this involved a case with what the US calls ‘an ally’, it gives rise that on one side actual traitors have way more rights and that those actually in assault of the US like Bradley Manning, served less than 4 years and Edward Snowden who is still not in prison, not prosecuted or convicted. So either we can go all out and see how weird the US system is, or we can accept that the US (and UK) have been playing a very dangerous game in the middle east and anyone interfering there is locked up for life. So this is not about espionage, it is not about terrorism, it is about holding part of the power of the middle east, and so far the USA and the UK have shown just how illusionary it is to be involved in matters in the Middle East. Even if we start to consider the damage caused and inflicted, the game goes on there.

So on the first day of September Jonathan correctly shows us how little the media and all others care about Yemen, whilst in the same air partially ignores that Yemen is not even a player for the power plays on who has the right to speak at the power table of the Middle East. Both the USA and the UK want to have a permanent seat at that table and anything opposing that will be dealt with or ignored. By the way, when we look back at the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings and the optional Mossad report, who in the end had been dealt with for that? Perhaps one of them became the current Minister of Defence for Iran (Hossein Dehghani Poudeh)? Yes, when it comes to terrorism and Hezbollah, we need to make certain that we have all the facts, so as we are told how bad things are in Yemen, we concur and do not disagree, but the 241 U.S. and 58 French peacekeepers who got blown up are perhaps sitting on a cloud wondering why France, the UK and the USA are talking to the current Defence minister of Iran. In addition, why a certain report from their ally Mossad director Nahum Admoni was just as easily cast aside and forgotten a little over 33 years ago.

I am merely speculating here!

So as we see certain changes in the alliance between Iran and Qatar, we see also that the game played there is becoming slowly but certainly a more hazardous situation, not just locally there, as Qatarians (or: stake holders from Qatar) seems pushed to sign over bank stakes to China (read: Chinese investors) we see that one wave is feeding another one, in what way? That I cannot really predict, the data is presently missing to make any speculation or assumption in that direction. What is a given is that the people with a seat at the table will be part of the profits when the Saudi privatisation waves hit and that is where actual power and wealth is handed out. An event that both the USA and UK are desperate to attend as it will dwarf what happened in Russia, the hundreds of billionaires created in Russia were nothing compared what Saudi Arabia will bring and the power players in the west hopes that those hundreds are friends of the west, not those embracing a strict Islamic way of life.

Greed is the eternal opponent of opportunity, never more so than at present.

So on that first day, who do you think will be trying to advise others on where to place their privatisation bets, it won’t be in Yemen, that’s for sure!

 

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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.

 

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Room for Requirement

I looked at a few issues 3 days ago. I voiced them in my blog ‘The Right Tone‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/21/the-right-tone/), one day later we see ‘MI6 to recruit hundreds more staff in response to digital technology‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/21/mi6-recruit-digital-internet-social-media), what is interesting here is the quote “The information revolution fundamentally changes our operating environment. In five years’ time there will be two sorts of intelligence services: those that understand this fact and have prospered, and those that don’t and haven’t. And I’m determined that MI6 will be in the former category“, now compare it to the statement I had made one day earlier “The intelligence community needs a new kind of technological solution that is set on a different premise. Not just who is possibly guilty, but the ability of aggregation of data flags, where not to waste resources“, which is just one of many sides needed. Alex Younger also said: “Our opponents, who are unconstrained by conditions of lawfulness or proportionality, can use these capabilities to gain increasing visibility of our activities which means that we have to completely change the way that we do stuff”, I reckon the American expression: ‘He ain’t whistling Dixie‘ applies.

You see, the issue goes deeper than mere approach, the issue at hand is technology. The technology needs to change and the way data is handled requires evolution. I have been in the data field since the late 80’s and this field hasn’t changed too much. Let’s face it, parsing data is not a field that has seen too much evolving, for the mere reason that parsing is parsing and that is all about speed. So to put it on a different vehicle. We are entering an age where the intelligence community is about the haulage of data, yet in all this, it is the container itself that grows whilst the haulage is on route. So we need to find alternative matters to deal with the container content whilst on route.

Consider the data premise: ‘If data that needs processing grows by 500 man years of work on a daily basis‘, we have to either process smarter, create a more solutions to process, be smarter on what and how to process, or change the premise of time. Now let’s take another look. For this let’s take a look at a game, the game ‘No Man’s Sky’. This is not about gaming, but about the design. For decades games were drawn and loaded. A map, with its data map (quite literally so). Usually the largest part of the entire game. 11 people decided to use a formula to procedurally generate 18 quintillion planets. They created a formula to map the universe with planets, planet sized. This has never been done before! This is an important part. He turned it all around and moreover, he is sitting on a solution that is worth millions, it could even be worth billions. The reason to use this example is because games are usually the first field where the edge of hardware options are surpassed, broken and redesigned (and there is more at the end of this article). Issues that require addressing in the data field too.

Yet what approach would work?

That is pretty much the ‎£1 billion question. Consider the following situation: Data is being collected non-stop, minute by minute. Set into all kinds of data repositories. Now let’s have a fictive case. The chatter gives that in 72 hours an attack will take place, somewhere in the UK. It gives us the premise:

  1. Who
  2. Where
  3. How

Now consider the data. If we have all the phone records, who has been contacting who, through what methods and when? You see, it isn’t about the data, it is about linking collections from different sources and finding the right needle, that whilst the location, shape and size of the haystack are an unknown. Now, let’s say that the terrorist was really stupid and that number is known. So now we have to get a list of all the numbers that this phone had dialled. Then we get the task of linking the information on these people (when they are not pre-paid or burner phones). Next is the task of getting a profile, contacts, places, and other information. The list goes on and the complexity isn’t just the data, the fact that actual terrorists are not dumb and usually massively paranoid, so there is a limit to the data available.

Now what if this was not reactive, but proactive?

What if the data from all the sources could be linked? Social media, e-mail, connections, forums and that is just the directly stored data. When we add mobile devices, Smartphones, tablets and laptops, there is a massive amount of additional data that becomes available and the amount of data from those sources are growing at an alarming rate. The challenge is to correctly link the data from sources, with added data sources that contain aggregated data. So, how do you connect these different sources? I am not talking about the usage, it is about the impaired data on different foundations with no way to tell whether pairing leads to anything. For this I need to head towards a 2012 article by Hsinchun Chen (attached at end), Apart from the clarity that we see in the BI&A overview (Evolution, Application and Emerging Research), the interesting part that even when we just look at it from a BI point of view, we see two paths missing. That is, they seem to be missing now, if we look back to 2010-2011, the fact that Google and Apple grew a market in excess of 100% quarter on quarter was not to be anticipated to that degree. The image on page 1167 has Big Data Analytics and Mobile Analytics, yet Predictive Interactivity and Mobile Predictive Analytics were not part of the map, even though the growth of Predictive Analytics have been part of BI from 2005 onwards. Just in case you were wondering, I did not change subject, the software need that part of the Intelligence world uses comes from the business part. A company usually sees a lot more business from 23 million global companies than it gets from 23 intelligence agencies. The BI part is often much easier to see and track whilst both needs are served. We see a shift of it all when we look at the table on page 1169. BI&A 3.0 now gets us the Gartner Hype Cycle with the Key Characteristics:

  1. Location-aware analysis
  2. Person-centred analysis
  3. Context-relevant analysis
  4. Mobile visualization & HCI

This is where we see the jump when we relate to places like Palantir that is now in the weeds prepping for war. Tech Crunch (at https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/24/why-a-palantir-ipo-might-not-be-far-off/) mentioned in June that it had taken certain steps and had been preparing for an IPO. I cannot say how deep that part was, yet when we line up a few parts we see an incomplete story. The headline in July was: ‘Palantir sues investor Marc Abramowitz for allegedly stealing company secrets‘, I think the story goes a little further than that. It is my personal belief that Palantir has figured something out. That part was seen 3 days ago (at http://www.defensenews.com/articles/dcgs-commentary), the two quotes that matter are “The Army’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) is proof of this fact. For the better part of the last decade, the Army has struggled to build DCGS from the ground up as the primary intelligence tool for soldiers on the battlefield. As an overarching enterprise, DCGS is a legitimate and worthwhile endeavour, intended to compute and store massive amounts of data and deliver information in real time“, which gives us (actually just you the reader) the background, whilst “What the Army has created, although well-intentioned, is a sluggish system that is difficult to use, layered with complications and unable to sustain the constant demands of intelligence analysts and soldiers in combat. The cost to taxpayers has been approximated at $4 billion“, gives us the realistic scope and that all links back to the Intelligence Community. I think that someone at Palantir has worked out a few complications making their product the one winning solution. When I started to look into the matter, some parts did not make sense, even if we take the third statement (which I was already aware of long before this year “In legal testimony, an Army official acknowledged giving a reporter a “negative” and “not scientific” document about Palantir’s capabilities that was written by a staff member but formatted to appear like a report from the International Security Assistance Force. That same official stated that the document was not based on scientific data“, it would not have added up. What does add up (remember, the next part is speculative), the data links required in the beginning of the article, have to a larger extent been resolved by the Palantir engineers. In its foundation, what the journal refers to as BI&A 3.0 has been resolved by Palantir (top some extent). If true, we will get a massive market shift. To make a comparison, Google Analytics might be regarded as MSDOS and this new solution makes Palantir the new SE-Linux edition, the difference on this element could be that big. The difference would be that great. And I can tell you that Google Analytics is big. Palantir got the puzzle piece making its value go up with billions. They could raise their value from 20 billion to 60-80 billion, because IBM has never worked out that part of analytics (whatever they claim to have is utterly inferior) and Google does have a mobile analytics part, but limited merely as it is for a very different market. There have always been issues with the DCGS-A system (apart from it being as cumbersome as a 1990 SAS mainframe edition), so it seems to me that Palantir could not make the deeper jump into government contracts until it got the proper references and showing it was intentionally kept out of the loop is also evidence that could help. That part was recently confirmed by US Defense News.

In addition there is the acceptance of Palantir Gotham, which offered 30% more work with the same staff levels and Palantir apparantly delivered, which is a massive point that the Intelligence groups are dealing with, the lack of resources. The job has allowed NY City to crack down on illegal AirBnB rentals. A task that requires to connect multiple systems and data that was never designed to link together. This now gets us to the part that matters, the implication is that the Gotham Core would allow for dealing with the Digital data groups like Tablet, mobile and streaming data from internet sites.

When we combine the information (still making it highly speculative) the fact that one Congressman crossed the bridge (Duncan Hunter R-CA), many could follow. That part matters as Palantir can only grow the solution if it is seen as the serious solution within the US government. The alleged false statements the army made (as seen in Defence News at http://www.defensenews.com/articles/dcgs-commentary) with I personally believe was done to keep in the shadows that DCGS-A was not the big success some claimed it to be, will impact it all.

And this now links to the mentions I made with the Academic paper when we look at page 1174, regarding the Emerging Research for Mobile Analytics. The options:

  1. Mobile Pervasive Apps
  2. Mobile Sensing Apps
  3. Mobile Social Networking
  4. Mobile Visualization/HCI
  5. Personalization and Behavioural Modelling

Parts that are a given, and the big players have some sort of top line reporting, but if I am correct and it is indeed the case that Palantir has figured a few things out, they are now sitting on the mother lode, because there is currently nothing that can do any of it anywhere close to real-time. Should this be true, Palantir would end being the only player in town in that field, an advantage corporations haven’t had to this extent since the late 80’s. The approach SPSS used to have before they decided to cater to the smallest iteration of ‘acceptable’ and now as IBM Statistics, they really haven’t moved forward that much.

Now let’s face it, these are all consumer solutions, yet Palantir has a finance option which is now interesting as Intelligence Online reported a little over a week ago: “The joint venture between Palantir and Credit Suisse has hired a number of former interception and financial intelligence officials“, meaning that the financial intelligence industry is getting its own hunters to deal with, if any of those greedy jackals have been getting there deals via their iPhone, they will be lighting up like a Christmas tree on those data sets. So in 2017, the finance/business section of newspapers should be fun to watch!

The fact that those other players are now getting a new threat with actual working solutions should hurt plenty too, especially in the lost revenue section of their spreadsheet.

In final part, why did I make the No Man’s Sky reference? You see, that is part of it all. As stated earlier, it used a formula to create a planet sized planet. Which is one side of the equation. Yet, the algorithm could be reversed. There is nothing stopping the makers to scan a map and get us a formula that creates that map. For the gaming industry it would be forth a fortune. However, that application could go a lot further. What if the Geospatial Data is not a fictive map, but an actual one? What if one of the trees are not trees but mobile users and the other type of trees are networking nodes? It would be the first move of setting Geospatial Data in a framework of personalised behavioural modelling against a predictive framework. Now, there is no way that we know where the person would go, yet this would be a massive first step in answering ‘who not to look for‘ and ‘where not to look‘, diminishing a resource drain to say the least.

It would be a game changer for non-gamers!

special_issue_business_intelligence_rese

 

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Was there a clear failure?

There was an article that crossed my eyes as I was preparing to have another go at Microsoft (likely tomorrow). With Paris clearly on the retina of all who open their eyes, those who hear the word Paris, will not think of Miss Hilton (except for one Journalist), they will not think of the city of love, or the city of lights. They will think of the 6 terror attacks that have dealt a massive blow to France and those living in Paris, which is to be expected. The French have nothing to be ashamed of, they have a proud heritage and a few mad man tried to deal it a body blow.

Now round two begins and the Guardian gives us: ‘How French intelligence agencies failed before the Paris attacks’, and article by Ewen MacAskill (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/19/how-french-intelligence-agencies-failed-before-the-paris-attacks). Of course the title woke me up, because it is interesting that the limited Intel is already leading to the blame game.

The first blame part is given: “In other words, the failure of the French intelligence agencies is not that they did not have enough data – but that they did not act on what they had“, yet is that correct? Let’s take a look at a few facts.

  1. The lack of cooperation between France and Belgium, where some of the attackers were based“, so is that a failing for France or Belgium? Let’s not forget that Belgium houses the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), so as blame goes, the fact that these extremists could decently freely plot next to one of the biggest military big wig places in the world is reasonable cause for alarm.
  2. The police had a file on Omar Ismaïl Mostefai even before he traveled to Syria in 2013“, there are two issues here. In the first not every Islamic person is a terrorist, so there is one issue, yet what was known of his move to Syria and how did he get back? Did he get back to France or was he also in Belgium, or did he return via Lyon from Stockholm? There are loads of questions and not enough data. I know at least half a dozen ways to not create flags whilst travelling. In all these situations Omar Ismaïl Mostefai would not have landed on the grid and as such French Intel would remain in the dark for a longer time frame, was this properly investigated by Ewen MacAskill?

Now for his jab against data collection: “Tracking such suspects does not require the collection of the communications data – phone records, emails, Facebook postings, chat lines – of every French citizen, only the suspects“, the problem is that there is no way of knowing, who was in contact with whom else. That data is lacking, in addition, the way the average boy and girl regards their mobile phone, the simple act of stealing a mobile phone is not that much a stretch, so how will data then be available?

  1. lack of cooperation between European intelligence agencies“, which is actually a fair point, yet it is not just the lack of cooperation here, in addition there was the statement by Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, which is still remaining unattended by journalists all over the place. Now, in my view the statement was stupid, but was it incorrect? The danger that Jihadists are getting into Europe vie Greece or Italy is a realistic threat, but how to deal with them? The fact that one has a Syrian passport is also a tinderbox as it could light up many national borders at present. Which goes far beyond the French borders.

In addition the last paragraph is also an issue: “Such failures are where the French and US intelligence agencies should be looking, rather than exploiting the tragedy to make the case for bulk data surveillance“, let’s take this to the rationale. 150,000 refugees have declared asylum in Europe, finding 10-20 people within that lot is impossible without a massively improved data capturing system, as well a good support system from their partners all over Europe. That list becomes a lot more complex once we look beyond for these people on less stable parameters, so the French can’t really continue without a massive overhaul of DGSE and I don’t mean this in a negative way. The UK has a much more compartmentalised system. The UK, just like Australia is ‘home is girt by sea’, which gives them an advantage. France does not have this and as we realise that Belgium intelligence is not that operational, additional methods must be employed. Even as GCHQ is in service towards both MI5 and MI6, the French system (DGSI and DGSI) need to merge with a more powerful version of their ‘upgraded’ version of GCHQ. So as Ewen MacAskill, as the intelligence correspondent of the Guardian fails to enlighten its readers of that part, as well as smooth over the European terrain by leaving out the Panos Kammenos we must all consider these parts. Now in this case it is not about having a go at Panos Kammenos (even though it is good fun to do that), the issue Greece does have is not one they can counter because of their weakened economic state. It is a side we cannot ignore. Greece is not alone, as hundreds of thousands of refugees cross the borders all over Europe, the reality of hundreds of Islamic state passing the borders in similar ways is a given. The first issue is data, it starts with collected papers and biometrics. Ewan fails in addition with the statement “rather than exploiting the tragedy to make the case for bulk data surveillance“, I am willing to entertain the thought, but data is key here. Not just on the people involved, but also on the people they interact with.

That part can be found when we consider the events around the honourable Mr. Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Banks. In his YouTube speeches, in one of them we see: ‘Microenterprises projects due to the importance of these enterprises in the future of the Arab region‘, which is an essential need, because all nations need growth, and if the Arabian nations become stagnant, we will see an escalation that Europe cannot counter. Yet there is another side here. This was shown by the Egyptian Daily News (at http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2015/09/19/concerns-over-islamic-state-funds-entering-arab-banks-for-terrorist-operations-uab-secretary-general/), where we see the quote: “The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) is worried about militant ”Islamic State” (IS) funds entering banks and being used to attract young people to carry out terrorist operations, said Wissam H. Fattouh, Secretary-General of the UAB“, in addition there is “the movement of funds across the border is uncontrolled, due to a lack of international laws to regulate this process“, so again, here is where Ewen failed. In all his rhetoric regarding French Failure, the fact that this needed serious funding, the fact that the funding crossed several European borders, an issue given to us by at least two white haired lame duck presidents who did not achieve ANYTHING regarding serious overhaul of banking and finance laws. They cannot be held responsible for Europe, but Europe took their pages from Wall Street, where the US presidents (plural) could have made a massive impact (but did not), in the state of debt the US is, this would never be a successful venture. These elements are all affecting France, because the money flows and it flows in many unmonitored ways, which is also part of the problem.

So after one week, we see pain, anguish and blame, the only resolve is coming from the French who are standing up proudly for THEIR France, Christians and Muslims alike, or did we all forget that it was 24 year old Muslim Lassana Bathily who kept the customers safe during the Charlie Hedbo attacks!

Yes, I believe that France must overhaul its systems and data is at the centre of it all, because if both DGSI and DGSE are working on the premise that their neighbours are unable to keep their streets clean, France better get prepared with a better data system, in that bulk data surveillance will be an essential need. In addition, that need is escalating because there is a second side to all this. There was a reason that Mr. Wissam H. Fattouh and Wall Street were mentioned. You see, three weeks ago the Financial Times reported on the break-up powers regarding banks (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/06d6f790-7e53-11e5-a1fe-567b37f80b64.html). The quote “A controversial European Union bid to hand regulators more power to break up big banks has been given a shot in the arm after Brussels legislators agreed a preliminary deal following months of deadlock and fierce lobbying from the financial industry“. This is a problem on a few sides when we regard the lack of scruples bankers tend to have. If they are pushed in a corner they will take any deal that brings them wealth. If that requires an ISIS brokerage, the chance that some banker will take his 13% is not that far-fetched and as ‘easy’ as it was not for those funding ISIS, it seems to me that they will get additional options in the future, something Ewan did not reveal (which was not what his article was about), yet in light of the French events that item is a lot more important and visible than the emotional fishing expedition regarding a French failure, something I am not convinced of, even less when we watch the Belgium intelligence failure (the fact that Belgium never detained some of the French terrorists, nor did the Belgians inform French authorities of their concerns), a fact that we get from the quote: “We knew they were radicalized, and that they could go to Syria,” said Eric van der Sypt, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office. “But they showed no sign of possible threat. Even if we had signaled them to France, I doubt that we could have stopped them” (source: politico.eu), I reckon that a hundred plus fallen French citizens might disagree with Mr van der Sypt there.

My assessment is that there was no clear failure from France, there was a European Failure to properly communicate issues across borders, which is a lot more dangerous when we consider the 150,000 refugees all over the place, not to mention the 2 million plus in refugee centres all over the Middle East. So when I stated in 2014 that there is a clear and present danger in Jordan, I was not kidding. Too bad certain elements are not considering the whole picture, just the part that can be fingered for a few quick points, which will get plenty of other people killed sooner rather than later.

 

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Perception from the outside

It is hard to write about this. Not because of the topic, but because of the implications that derive from the thoughts I have. You see, I have thus far always had faith in the intelligence branch. When we look beyond the implied Hollywood drama of all matters, the intelligence branch is a dedicated underpaid group trying to keep its nation and its citizens safe. Yet, what lies beneath the veneer when we look deeper into certain matters. Are they for real or are we all played by the press to some extent?

This is at the foundation, as we cannot rely on any first-hand information, especially when the press is part of it, we are left with a question mark. One that might not need answering, but one that should not be ignored, this is at the core of me, for better or worse, I seek answers.

This all started yesterday when I got wind of a Guardian article at the earliest of dawn, as a final paper was due, I just left it to look at later (that later is now). The article is ‘Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message – report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says).

Now, this should be a shock, especially to the family members of Lee Rigby, so why is this even a story? It starts with the first paragraph “Internet companies face intense demands to monitor messages on behalf of the state for signs of terrorist intent after an official report into the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby said one of his killers wrote on a website – later named as Facebook – of his desire to slaughter a soldier, without the security services knowing“, was this written by someone who had a clue? If we consider CNet (at http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-processes-more-than-500-tb-of-data-daily/), we see that Facebook processes 500 Tb a day, now this is all manner of data, yet consider another indirect connection when we see ‘Tesco director facing questions about lobbying government over dirty chicken report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/-sp-tesco-director-facing-questions-lobbying-government-dirty-chicken-report), the first paragraphs says it all (as far as information goes) “Former FSA chief Tim Smith understood to have warned Department of Health that revealing food poisoning contamination rates could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when we add the text “Tim Smith is understood to have warned the Department of Health in June that FSA proposals for publishing results, which included naming and shaming individual supermarkets, could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when was all this released to the media? how much delay was there? Consider the implication of the statement in there that “it kills around 100 people and makes an estimated 280,000 sick each year“, now we get back to the implied message that might have saved Lee Rigby, if we take that a message in total is no more than 60Kb (it is a lot smaller, but could include graphics), we are looking at 8 billion messages each day (those we make, we forward or share, those we get offered as advertisement). Now, there is more, Facebook has applications with within that application message options. Not one or two, but a few dozen, which means additional messages, like simple online messengers, all that data, now also consider the implied message that the Guardian mentioned. “The report said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, wrote of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in May 2013 in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him“, so finding the message, investigating it and acting on it. In well over 2.5 billion optional threats, the National lottery in the UK has better odds of winning a big price in it, so how did all this come about?

Here we get to the issue “The ISC chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, accused internet companies of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists but said a despite a string of failings by the security services, which had repeatedly monitored both men before the attack, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the murder of Rigby“, here I start having an issue, particularly with Sir Malcolm. Consider one sincere threat in a place where there are millions of threats, boasts and pranks, all claiming something pretentiously grandiose. It is my believe that Sir Malcolm is all about trying something different and he going about it the wrong way, he is trying to get to Damascus, via Washington and Los Angeles. Not the brightest route to take. Apart from the approach he is implying to take, he is also forgetting about a series of events that he needs to take, which will fail and in the process will enable commercial companies to actually hammer down on consumers in the wrong way. Does Sir Malcolm realise that, or did he intentionally forget about that part?

What did I mean by that? You see, the intelligence branch has access to enhanced statistical algorithms; they match it via other created profiles. Now, normally such a profile is only created when a person has too many flags in his/her name. For example members of an extreme faction, people with links to organised crime and those with additional political agendas. There is a bunch of reasons which will result on the eye of the intelligence community on you. For the most they are checked every now and then and if nothing happens, nothing happens, it is that simple, which an accumulative approach to sifting data tends to be. This is all good and proper; it is a way to protect national interests. For the most they end up verifying that you are not a threat, or not a concern to them, it comes with their territory.

The intelligence branch has resources, they are there, but they are finite. Sir Malcolm seems to be pushing for a change that is extremely dangerous, you see, at some point, Facebook, Google and others will all be shanghaied into becoming ‘volunteers’ in data oversight. They will get all kinds of tax breaks, so there will be interesting benefits for these data farms, but now we get to the real dangers. At one point, they want more and push for a change that will allow these farms access to those advanced algorithms, now we get a new problem, now we see a change where those farms will get to analyse US ALL! they will have the algorithms and the linked data no commercial enterprise should ever be allowed to have, now we will all be set into those who get access (viable as retail commodity) and those who do not matter, we will get marketed into oblivion, but now directly into the realms we use to love, it will be a push to sway us into a direction we never wanted to go, our freedom becomes a point of pressure. Consider, you might love ‘the Office’, once social media digs deep, how much will you enjoy getting 10-20 sales pitches a day on your personal interests? How long until you stop sharing interests?

Now consider the following:

The ISC said in its report: “Whilst we note that progress has started to be made on this issue, with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Drip) and the appointment of the special envoy on intelligence and law-enforcement data-sharing, the problem is acute. The prime minister, with the National Security Council, should prioritise this issue”.

The part not mentioned or looked at is data retention. I wrote about it on October 2nd 2014 in ‘Advice from the press?‘ there I wrote “I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!“, now we see a push that social media will do more scanning.

The next two paragraphs illustrate certain dangers down the track: “Adebolajo, the more dominant of the two, had featured in five MI5 investigations and Adebowale in two, but none found evidence of an attack. The ISC said MI5 made errors and was plagued by delays, but even if corrected none of this would have helped the security service to spot the level of danger posed by the attackers before they struck“, so how could we have kept Lee Rigby alive? The information to the better extent is stating that this would not have been the case and I am not the only one thinking this.

When we consider “The Guardian understands senior figures in MI6 expressed anger at the criticisms in the report. One source familiar with the committee’s work said: “It is fair to say that the chaps across the river are not happy at all.”“, we see another part. This is not just within the UK, the UK needs to protect itself, especially with the ISIS acceleration we see all over North Africa and in the Middle-East; this all requires a new strategy. Data is at the centre of it, that part is correctly seen by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the ISC. Yet, my issue is the view the man seems to have in regards to integrity. Commercial enterprises have no integrity and to a larger extent, neither do internet providers. So we have an upcoming issue. The next part you the reader might observe is the part that was not clearly seen in the article and it has been part of the events that miss one item as we see these discussions.

What time is it?

Yes, the timeline! That is part of all this. No matter how lovely that ‘donut’ looks in London, the people there have been delaying with an increased amount of data. I personally would consider it to be in excess of 30% in growth per year, which means that the data collectors and analytical group grows over 100% in size in a little over 3 years, the accumulated requirement for the UK, and beyond that the Commonwealth requires growth beyond that. In my view, letting places like Facebook crunch that data and giving them access to some of these algorithms is clearly a bad idea. In addition, consider that these firms could harbour ‘sympathisers’ to chaos. Once these algorithms gets into other hands, how long until those supporting ISIS and like-minded extremists will get a handle on lowering their profile even further, making this entire approach pointless?

That danger is twofold, storage, which is the non-essential part. As storage seems to become cheaper and cheaper, that part will be decently manageable overall, the other part is the issue, processing power. We can want for all the processors we can, but the power processors of tomorrow are less and less equipped to deal with such a growing load of data. Now consider that this is just Facebook, how much additional data will we need to see mail providers, twitter, Instagram and loads of other multi Gigabyte collecting options. There is no denying that data needs to be looked at, yet direct data crunching is less and less an option. The question becomes how to tackle it, can or even the question should it be tackled like this at all?

That is the dangerous side, isn’t it? When we are confronted with such an abundance of data, why seek the pressured solution? Let’s not forget that the example taken here, namely Lee Rigby, would not have been saved. So why try to seek a solution in such a pressured environment? Consider the lottery example; if 1,000 out of the 5 billion are death threats, we get a number one in 5 million, now we need to tackle these 1000 messages, which ones are genuine? Consider that some are below the radar, which means that some could be WRONGLY disregarded. Add to that the danger of a prank jest where a group and all THEIR friends send one threat regarding a VIP, politician or regent. It would drown out intelligence resources in mere minutes.

So yes, no one denies that something must be done, yet giving social media these responsibilities is not the best idea, giving them access in some way to other algorithms is less a solution, we are in a shift of dimensions, an interaction of data dimensions and profiling intelligence. Consider the NSA data center in Utah, costing over 5 billion in total, in addition, the cost of electricity, manpower and other costs, taking it to an additional 50 million a year (for just one location). Now consider that this centre will need to grow processing power in excess of 50% within two years, how much additional costs will it require? Add to this the energy needs, well over 60 Megawatts, yet within 2 years, that could be closer to 80 megawatts. That means in excess of 10 wind turbines, just for one location, the equivalent of 15,000 households of energy. I think that certain parties are not thinking in the right location, if we disregard the lack of expertise and an offer (in abundance) of revenue based (read commission seeking) expertise, it seems to me that even though data should never be ignored, certain approaches will require a different hand.

Perhaps it is not a new solution they need, but to reinstate a very old one.

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Enabling cybercrime!

Yes, we are all in the unintentional habit to enable cybercrime. Yet what complications do we face when the one enabling it is not you, me or Joe Worker, but Microsoft or Apple? Where do we stand when we are confronted by companies, so driven by what I consider the useless drive of greed through Marketing, whilst ignoring the technical support department? Do not claim that it does not happen, because I have been witness to such events (though not personally at Microsoft or Apple).

It did not just start with the affair of the 101 nude celebrities, yet it is at the core of the visibility that it drives. It is not with the push by so many to get forced towards Google Search and Facebook Messenger, but that is definitely the debatable event pushing the worry, fear and quite honestly the total distrust of greed and marketability that is overtaking what some seem to laughingly refer to as ‘technological improvements‘.

In this age, we see a growing drive for ease and ‘comfort’, yet a lot seems to be enabling cybercrime and exploitation.

We got the ‘Fear Google‘ event and the expose with a non-dressed Jennifer Lawrence has been cancelled (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/jennifer-lawrence-and-kate-upton-nude-photos-exhibition-cancelled-after-artist-finally-concedes-the-images-were-stolen-property-9723751.html).

Perhaps I am too much of a cynic, but the text “Though not, says the artist behind it, due to legal reasons. But instead because he’s had a moral change of heart“, how about the truth (as I consider it to be), ‘the pressure of Jennifer Lawrence has given my expose ALL the publications I needed‘. Seems to be more honest, also, the fact that her lawyer Lawrence Shire, especially if he is the Shire related to Grubman Shire, might have taken away whatever courage he thought he had to continue. I leave it up to the reader to form their own mind.

Yet this is not about that, but it could be.

Consider the following issue, which I witnessed myself today. The setting is simple. She uses her smartphone and for the most never ever uses Skype. Yet, she has a Skype account on her notebook. She needed Skype on her mobile, which was easy enough, yet after installing it, we have lost 4 hours and half a dozen attempts to reset her password.

Skype1

 

 

 

 

 

  1. We enter Skype.
  2. Password lost, which means another browser.
  3. We enter mail details.
  4. We use the received code to enter a new password
  5. We go to Skype, yet the linked identity does not work.
  6. We start again from step 2.

As you can see in the diagram, for some reason, the Skype name and the android Skype are not updated or linked. Even as a technologist it took me a while to see through this and Microsoft is not much help either. If we consider I had dozens of attempts without any repercussions, how long until someone starts trying to get into someone that actually matters?

The issue I showed two days ago (at http://thenextweb.com/apple/2014/09/01/this-could-be-the-apple-icloud-flaw-that-led-to-celebrity-photos-being-leaked/) gave some indications of what is going on. Now we see another level on Skype that calls certain matters into question, more important that the Skype android cannot get updated for some reason, so there is even more going on now, especially as the issues surrounding android Skype seem to have been around since 2012.

This is not the only issues that are out on the works; it seems that Microsoft OneDrive has similar issues of security. There we see that you cannot limit the one drive to be ONLY accessible by certain devices, with cyber-crime on the rise to this degree, we see another mass collecting point, where the people behind it seem to be dancing to the music of Marketing and the mere simplistic need of the matter, as a technologist would mention it is not there. It is likely the same kind of answer I heard in the past “We will get to that in the next edition” or “Let’s get this ‘solution to’ (read revenue from) the customer first“, solutions where the technologist is not at the centre of it all.

Only AFTER some got to admire the Jennifer Lawrence’s chest section do we now see the headline “Apple Says It Will Add New iCloud Security Measures After Celebrity Hack” (at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/04/apple-says-it-will-add-new-security-measures-after-celebrity-hack/), so is this Marketing waking up, or was IT slamming their fist on the table? Either way, those pushing people and business alike to cloudy places of automatic public revelations should now seriously wake up and smell the intrusion on their networks.

Several of these solutions are still not completely up and running, and the ‘patch’ like solutions in place now, are likely no more than a temporary option, whilst the cyber-criminal goes on exploiting other venues of weaknesses. Let’s not forget that the 101 celebrities list sounds nice, but there are globally at least 399 more women who are beautiful beyond believe, and those not into that kind of information are likely interested in the files of Sir Iain Robert Lobban (GCHQ), Andrew Parker (MI5), John Sawers (MI6). Guess what! They are likely to have very secure solutions in their possession, yet can the same be said for Ewen Stevenson (CFO-RBS) or Simon Henry (CFO Lloyds Banking group)? These people all use solutions for presentations, memo’s and other items. In some cases they need connections to keep up and running. How long until we see the power of Cyber criminals as they influence the market? It just takes one unconfirmed message to make a shift in any direction. If people are scared of what a Lone Wolf can do by blowing up things, think of the damage of disclosed financial events bring. We have seen the smallest of restraint in the press in the case of Jennifer Lawrence (but only by using a super computer and exposing the deeds of the members of the press to the Lyapunov stability algorithm), but is that enough?

There is a growing sense of fear and massive distrust. We have seen it start with Facebook Messenger on the mobile, we have seen some people whisk it all away, yet not unlike the laughable Sony Troll, as they mentioned the ridiculousness of the changed terms of service from Sony, we have seen too much blatant abuse from the greed driven data collectors and now, as trust is gone, more people are starting to wonder why their own local governments aren’t truly looking into it and they fear the same flaccid indecisiveness from them when the Financial sector left a large group of the population (not just in America) in utter destitution.

It goes beyond mere ethics; it is an absolute absence of dedication towards consumer protection for the prospering board of directors, which is at the essential fearing heart of many, both wealthy and utterly non wealthy alike.

This all is getting now more and more visibility as we see the growing amount of people in their ‘right to be forgotten‘, yet as we see at the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/10/google-europe-explain-right-forgotten-eric-schmidt-article-29) we see the following quote “Google is currently conducting a grand tour of Europe, with the ten members of its Advisory Council touring seven cities to gather evidence on the developments in the so-called “right to be forgotten” ruling“, in addition we see “The one thing that everyone agrees about this case is that the label it has been given – the “right to be forgotten” – is a very poor descriptor. More accurately, it is about the right to obscure or suppress personal information“, so is that it, or is there more? Well we can consider the part where the absence of any legal obligation on Google to reveal its processes, which renders Google judge, jury, and executioner. So in combination that it is not about forgetting (read deleting), but about obscuring (read less easy to find) will leave an open field for those with better data comprehension. A market where Google is trying to cash in, so instead of everyone finding it, only those paying for certain levels will more easily acquire information. That is not what ‘right to be forgotten‘ was about. Now again we see the press, yet in this case they are not really placed in any blame, however there is a (sizeable) missing level of clarity on what EXACTLY is requested from more than one side, the un-clarity leads to uncertainty with that leading to nothing getting done. So what is in play?

We know that Google’s fortunes are also linked to data, which means that any additional ‘forget me now’ request is impacting the business of Google, not the one, or the 5, but consider every postcode in the world and 5-10 requests from each of those to be forgotten, now it becomes a massive task, requiring thousands of people, working thousands of hours, paid from the at that point medium slim lined coffers of Google, whilst at the same time having to hold onto those records for later reasons, likely including journalistically and/or juridical. So as we look at all these escalations, then Skype, OneDrive and iCloud are not just three identities, they become three entities of threat of the collected data of all, the privacy of them and whether forgotten or not, they are aware of where they kept their information, passwords and snapshots.

The view of technology every person needs to start comprehending, because they all forgot that ease and comfort come at a price, they just did not consider the currency that was linked to that price. Some of this can be seen in the Lifehacker who in February 2013 (at http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/02/why-cloud-services-are-so-easy-to-hack/) write “In most cloud environments, there’s no concept of intrusion detection or prevention, and if they are there people don’t know how to use them“, in itself not that amazing a quote, even though it is a year old and in one year many people tend to not educate themselves that much because of the declining comfort levels. Yet at the end he states a more powerful issue: “This week, I’m in London for Data Centre World, paying particular attention to how to maximise efficiency and lower costs in the data centre“, which is at the heart of my issue. Often these factors involve automation and scripting, which when it comes to issues like speed and the prominence of reduced cost tends to leave security in the backdrop. So if you had any reason to fear any of these solutions, then consider one issue “If all your cloud data became public knowledge at 23:00 and in the 8 hours following you had ZERO control“. Would you be worried? If not then sleep on and sweet dreams, if the answer is ‘Yes’, then you need to take some serious time and get educated on the risks and the consequences. I cannot answer the question for you, but when was the last time you actually had such a conversation with your IT person, or with the sales engineer of the sales person who sold you the cloud solution?

Data is currency, when it is open knowledge for all; you end up only having goodwill and an empty hard drive, which is valued at the price of the empty hard drive.

 

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