Category Archives: terrorism

Terrorists embracing new Android crypto in wake of Snowden revelations

Security researchers announced Friday that they have found new evidence to bolster claims from the National Security Agency that terrorists have altered their countermeasures in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.

"Al-Fajr, one of Al-Qaeda’s media arms, released a new Android encryption application [in] early June 2014 on their website, referring to how it follows the “latest technological advancements” and provides '4096 bit public key' encryption," intelligence firm Recorded Future said in a Friday report.

The report added that Global Islamic Media Front, another arm of Al Qaeda, just released a "new version" of Android crypto software.

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US State Department adopting social media to counter Al-Qaeda propaganda

The State Department unveiled Wednesday that it is widely employing social media as a method to counter online violent extremism from Al-Qaeda and others.

Buried in an intelligence report published Wednesday, the government said that the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC), established in 2011, last year produced more than 10,000 online postings globally, some of which included one of 138 government-produced videos.

"CSCC's programs draw on a full range of intelligence information and analysis for context and feedback. CSCC counters terrorist propaganda in the social media environment on a daily basis, contesting space where AQ and its supporters formerly had free rein. CSCC communications have provoked defensive responses from violent extremists on many of the 249 most popular extremist websites and forums as well as on social media," said the document, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 (PDF).

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In airport security scanning, ultra-rare items are harder to catch

In a simulation of airport luggage scanning, a team of researchers has found that the rarer an item is, the less likely a scanner operator is to spot it—that is, if fewer people come through with bomb materials or guns, it will be harder for the operator to spot them when they do.

The Duke University scientists set up the simulation in an “Airport Scanner” app where participants would check virtual suitcases for a set of 78 verboten items, like a stick of dynamite or a gun. Thirty of the items were “ultra rare,” appearing less than 0.15 percent of the time.

Drawing upon 20 million searches, the team found that these ultra-rare items were more difficult for participants to spot than more common things. The ultra-rare items were spotted only 27 percent of the time, while items that cropped up in one percent of suitcases were correctly spotted 92 percent of the time.

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NSA director addresses Black Hat, says there have been “zero abuses” of data

NSA Director General Keith Alexander.

LAS VEGAS—At the Black Hat security conference today, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Keith Alexander defended the NSA's data collection programs and described at a high level what data is collected and how it's used.

His presentation covered two programs, both revealed by Edward Snowden: telephone metadata collection and a program of collecting from the computer industry data relating to foreign nationals, of which PRISM is a component. According to Alexander, the phone metadata collection, authorized under FISA section 215, was both limited and tightly controlled. The NSA collects only the time and date of a call, the phone numbers involved in a call, the duration of a call, and the service provider that captured the information. Notably, he said that names, address information, and location information were not captured. Nor was any conversation data collected, such as the contents of voice calls or text messages.

While this data was collected, Alexander said that access to the information was tightly restricted. Free-for-all queries weren't permitted. Instead, numbers had to be individually approved by one of 22 people at the NSA, and only 35 analysts within the agency were authorized to run queries on those numbers. In 2012, he said that fewer than 300 numbers were added to the list.

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