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Decius
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"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

International Law and Cyber Attacks: Sony v. North Korea | Just Security
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:32 am EST, Dec 20, 2014

This is the most informed view you'll find anywhere regarding the legality of a "proportional response" by the United States to the SONY breach.

The commission of an internationally wrongful act entitles an injured State to engage in “countermeasures” under the law of State responsibility, as captured in Article 22 and 49-54 of the Articles on State Responsibility. Countermeasures are actions by an injured State that breach obligations owed to the “responsible” State (the one initially violating its legal obligations) in order to persuade the latter to return to a state of lawfulness. Thus, if the cyber operation against Sony is attributable to North Korea and breached U.S. sovereignty, the United States could have responded with countermeasures, such as a “hack back” against North Korean cyber assets. Indeed, it may still enjoy the right to conduct countermeasures, either because it is reasonable to conclude that the operation is but the first blow in a campaign consisting of multiple cyber operations or based on certain technical rules relating to reparations. It must be cautioned that the right to take countermeasures is subject to strict limitations dealing with such matters as notice, proportionality, and timing. Moreover, they are only available against States and the prevailing view is that a countermeasure may not rise to the level of a use of force.

International Law and Cyber Attacks: Sony v. North Korea | Just Security


FYI I'm speaking at: ShmooCon 2015 - January 16-18
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:21 pm EST, Dec 18, 2014

Deception for the Cyber Defender: To Err is Human; to Deceive, Divine
Tom Cross, David Raymond, and Gregory Conti

Since the first conflict between man, deception has played an integral role. Today on the network battlefield attackers enjoy many advantages and frequently employ deception as a powerful tool to accomplish their objectives. In this talk we discuss how to turn the tables on the attacker and employ deception strategies that deceive both human attackers and the code they employ to best defend your assets. This talk isn’t about social engineering or honeypots, but instead carefully analyzes dozens of deception techniques and how they can be woven together into a deception strategy that increases your defensive posture. We do so by mapping traditional and well-developed military battlefield deception techniques and principles onto the cyber domain. We’ll intersperse historical examples from military deception operations as well as provide new concepts for deception on the geographic, physical (OSI Layer 1), Logical (OSI Layer 2-7), persona, and supervisory planes that comprise the operational cyber environment. You’ll leave this talk inspired and armed to better defend your networks, systems, and people while forcing your attackers off balance.

Tom Cross is CTO at Drawbridge Networks. Previously he was the Director of StealthWatch Labs at Lancope and manager of X­Force Research at IBM/ISS. He has spoken at numerous security conferences, including Black Hat, DEFCON, CyCon, HOPE and RSA.

David Raymond is an Associate Professor at West Point where he teaches cybersecurity and coaches the CTF Team. He is an Army officer with a unique mix of experience in armored maneuver warfare and Army automation.

Greg Conti is Director of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point. He has spoken at Black Hat, DEFCON, ShmooCon, and RSA.

FYI I'm speaking at: ShmooCon 2015 - January 16-18


Eric Garner, criminalized to death - The Washington Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:22 pm EST, Dec 10, 2014

The scandal of mass incarceration is partly produced by the frivolity of the political class, which uses the multiplication of criminal offenses as a form of moral exhibitionism. This, like Eric Garner’s death, is a pebble in the mountain of evidence that American government is increasingly characterized by an ugly and sometimes lethal irresponsibility.

George Will seems to be optimistic that something is going to change. I wish that I shared his optimism. I do not.

Eric Garner, criminalized to death - The Washington Post


Chris Rock Stopped Performing for Students Because Everything Offends Them - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:28 pm EST, Dec  1, 2014

I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.

In their political views?

Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

When did you start to notice this?

About eight years ago. Probably a couple of tours ago. It was just like, This is not as much fun as it used to be. I remember talking to George Carlin before he died and him saying the exact same thing.

Chris Rock Stopped Performing for Students Because Everything Offends Them - Hit & Run : Reason.com


Reading between the lines of the UK leadership's call for mass surveillance.
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:17 pm EST, Nov 28, 2014

This is how the case for mass surveillance is being made in the UK.

Facebook is used by millions in the UK, but they paid not a single penny in UK tax in 2012.

First, a cheap shot. Does the UK expect every website in the world that their citizens use to pay them taxes?!

Even worse, they refuse to recognise UK legislation requiring them to provide our agencies with the content of communications on their networks when served with a UK interception warrant.

Then, a lie. Of course Facebook responds to UK intercept warrants.

The problem that this story is complaining about is the fact that Facebook doesn't perform mass monitoring of the content of private communications between users and report those conversations to the authorities.

As we have seen with the killers of Lee Rigby, this stance can have disastrous consequences.

Apparently the killers of Lee Rigby discussed their extremism in private conversations on Facebook.

Facebook and the other providers like to defend their non-compliance with excuses about the need to protect privacy and maintain the rights of their users. But this kind of pseudo-libertarianism is profoundly unconvincing.

After all, in cases of child pornography and exploitation, these internet companies are only too willing to pass on information to law enforcement authorities. So why is the same logic not applied to terrorist activities, where innocent lives are also at stake?

Indeed Mark Field MP, a member of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, has rightly said this week that ‘if Adebowale had been preparing a paedophile attack, not a terrorist one, the authorities would have been alerted’.

Internet companies like Google and Facebook monitor the content of private communications for file transfers, and they check the hashes of those files against a list of known child porn images for matches. This practice is defended based on its narrowness, but it raises a variety of concerns, and you're looking at one of them. Once you pierce the veil of private conversations and start reporting their content to the government, you open up a slippery slope that many people are eager to slide down. If Google and Facebook monitor private conversations for this one thing, then people might ask why they don't monitor those conversations for other things. General searches of language that seems extremist is much more broad than file hash comparisons for known child pornography, and much more prone to false positives and misinterpretations.

If Facebook and Google are shamed into complying with this kind of demand, they will have to set up an infrastructure for sifting through everyone's private conversations and flagging discussions for police based on their content. Once that system is established, there is no limit to the purposes for which it might be put. This will be the end of the sanctity of private communications.

Reading between the lines of the UK leadership's call for mass surveillance.


Invest in a second passport | GulfNews.com
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:15 am EST, Nov 21, 2014

“The popularity (of citizenship-by-investment programs) has been on the rise for the past few years,” says Munaf Ali, CEO of Range Developments. 

Invest in a second passport | GulfNews.com


The End of the Snowden Affair
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:08 am EST, Nov 19, 2014

This will mark the moment, in retrospect, when any real hope of meaningful surveillance reform died.

The End of the Snowden Affair


The good news about the 'death' of NSA reform: surveillance supporters may have dug their own grave | Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:44 am EST, Nov 19, 2014

The failure of the USA Freedom Act, no matter how incomplete the bill was, certainly isn’t something to celebrate. But now we will see multiple courts potentially ruling NSA surveillance unconstitutional. Now we will have a chance to force the government into potentially gutting key provisions of the Bush-era Patriot Act...

I think this is overly optimistic. I think support for renewing Section 215 of the Patriot Act will magically appear in the next 6 months.

The good news about the 'death' of NSA reform: surveillance supporters may have dug their own grave | Trevor Timm | Comment is free | The Guardian


The Senate rejected a bill to limit NSA spying. Here's what you need to know. - Vox
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:46 pm EST, Nov 18, 2014

41 Republicans voted in opposition, enough to block supporters from reaching the 60 votes they needed to end debate on the legislation

I'm surprised.

Either, they think they won't loose in court, or they want to.

The Senate rejected a bill to limit NSA spying. Here's what you need to know. - Vox


The purpose of the USA Freedom Act is to manage public perceptions.
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:05 pm EST, Nov 17, 2014

The USA Freedom Act will likely be passed in the next few days or weeks. Its important to understand the over-arching purpose here - which is management of public perceptions.

The Whitehouse wants the public to think that the NSA never did anything wrong, and that Edward Snowden is a punk who violated his oath to protect national secrets. Perception IS reality, so maintaining that narrative is the most important priority.

The problem is that Edward Snowden's disclosures have created a situation where the Whitehouse is going to have to answer for the NSA's activities in a court of law, and they stand a considerable risk of losing those lawsuits, because there are a variety of pretty strong arguments that the NSA programs in question are not lawful.

So, the Whitehouse set out to preempt that process, by appointing a blue ribbon President's Review Group staffed with notable academics to take a look at the situation and make policy recommendations. I must admit that I was originally surprised when the President's Review Group recommended that the mass metadata collection program be shut down, but in retrospect it makes sense now.

The Whitehouse needs to moot the lawsuits, because they can't lose in court. If they lose in court, they'll lose control of the narrative. It will be clear that the NSA did something illegal.

The recommendations of the Presidents Review Group buttress the USA Freedom Act. When Congress passes it, the program will be shut down. If the program has been shut down, the lawsuits are moot. If the lawsuits are moot, the Whitehouse won't lose in court. If the Whitehouse doesn't lose in court, then it can continue to claim that the NSA never violated the law, and only people who are very savvy will know better.

The USA Freedom Act is being passed in a lame duck session, which seems to imply that politicians who plan to vote in favor of it didn't want to have to explain their votes on the campaign trail. Perhaps they didn't want to be accused of being soft on terror, but on the other hand, the only way to respond to that allegation is to say, to the voters, that you supported the bill because you thought that balance needed to be restored. If the NSA didn't do anything wrong, then why does balance have to be restored?

I don't think the powers that be wanted this conversation to be a part of the political dialog at all. Thats why it hasn't come up on the campaign trail - even with people like Mark Udall. Despite the deafening complaints out of the left about the Patriot Act leading up the 2008 election and the fact that their loss in this midterm election makes NSA reform slightly more difficult, they didn't make an issue out of it, and its not as if they were afraid to criticize the President, so they weren't holding back for the benefit of his image. The were holding back for the benefit of the NSA.

The USA Freedom Act will pass. The program will be shut down. The lawsuits will be moot and they'll get tossed out. The narrative will be that the NSA never violated the law. The narrative will be that Edward Snowden is a punk. The Whitehouse will control the narrative. Thats what they do.


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