Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Local SWAT training amid recent kidnappings - How you can help them and you

Local SWAT training amid recent kidnappings - The Monitor: Local News

This is excellent training, and a great way to address an issue we are seeing all to often here in the Valley.  The use of the team perhaps has not been called for yet.  But training like this is very forward looking and will probably save lives as well as injuries if they are called upon.

Training like this also allows the Departments to see what works and what does not.  Great job, all Departments involved.

Now how can we citizens help. Basically it is to be aware of what is going on around us.  The lady found dead was taken in broad daylight, on a fairly busy street.  But most of the time the abductors will plan a little better, but still if people are aware they may well notice more subtle more professional attempts.

Keep aware of vehicles following another, with an unusual amount of attention.  You have a better chance of noticing it that the victim probably does.  They do not want to spook the victim, but usually do not realize others may detect them.

In fact most Executives I have taught security awareness training, have detected other surveillance of cars around them very often.  When you have been trained to look for the out of place actions of a surveillance team, you tend to find them even when they are not directed at you.

This is true of purse snatchers, pick pockets, every type of crime.  All the perpetrators, tend to be very successful of masking their intentions from the victims, but not people nearby trained in awareness.

I have walked into a Bar/Restaurant to pick up a carry out order in the Mission area.  In the short time I was waiting, I noticed two men trying to hide interest in  a young lady sitting at the bar, obviously drunk.  The interest of the men around her, where obvious and predictable, the two sitting away from the girl had obviously been attracted, but were trying hard to hide their interest.

It was to obvious to me, so I asked the Host-es, if she knew the young lady, they did.  I suggested they take care of their client and call a friend to take her home.  They did.

Being aware, makes us safer, but also make those around us safer.  If you notice an abduction in progress even if in the surveillance stages, report your suspicions,  It will give a highly trained team like these Police Officers the time they need to act.

Monday, November 10, 2014

FBI,Crime Statistics for 2013 Released, Is it time to rethink crime reports

FBI — Crime Statistics for 2013 Released

I disagree with these figures, as we have seen here in the valley the FBI really needs to update it's crime stats forms and allocations of crime into groups.

The Texas DPS, in their Texas Public Safety Threat Overview 2013. Which can be found on line here http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/media_and_communications/threatoverview.pdf   In that report they found that many crimes, and perhaps as important if not more so, was the effect on the victims, which really exceed the grasp of the FBI stats and even reporting.  The Texas DPS actually did develop names and broad categories for the the new direction crimes are taking.  It also took into its nomenclature a stab at a broad class of victims.

Which when taken into account even under the FBI URS forms, would make the numbers expand immediately.   Perhaps the shift all criminology needs to take is looking at victims not the perpetrators.  This would be a very big shift, and change our crime numbers for years, but I think is a better reflection of what crime actually encompasses. IE the number of  people effected other than the criminals that cause the problems..

Is it time to rethink crime reporting to more reflect the victims effected than totally focusing on the criminals them selves.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gov. Perry: Americans are 'substantially concerned' about the border | Hannity | Fox News

Gov. Perry: Americans are 'substantially concerned' about the border | Hannity | Fox News

This video was taken about 40 feet from where the Gov. and Mr. Hannty are sitting.  They where there on a rainy day, this was taken a few days after when the sun was out.  But is shows you two things, one the river is not that wide, with parks and boat slips on both sides.  Two, fences will not work on this part of the border.  But if enforcement is being done correctly, this border does work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

KSA and the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Terrorist Narrative

KSA and the Wahhabi Salafi Takfiri Terrorist Narrative

This is a good write up and follows what I know of the links.  The key to me is that the Wahhabi sect was a loosely held group of armed and very dangerous group of tribal wanderers of the Saudi Peninsula  sort of the Gypsy's of the desert.

The House of Saud, wanted to make a kingdom of the Arab Peninsula, but did not have enough power to do so, so they made a deal with the Wahhabi sect to use their warrior's and in return the sect, would get the religious and educational duties of the new kingdom, and the house of Saud would rebuild and protect the great shrine's of Islam.

Part of the deal was evangelical work would be by the sect, paid for by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is why so much of the spread of Islam is by this very militant side of the religion.

But do not forget most of the princes of the House of Saud are not as wealthy as some would believe and have been at these schools run by the sect, and are pretty much indoctrinated by their version of Islam.

Another problem is that many Saud Prince's are not in the real power and wealth of the tribe, and always have had turf wars over the running of the KSA.  Often they try and make side deals with the religious sect to take over and run the Kingdom as a true Islamic country, or at least their version of it.

Many of these mini take overs have been beaten back over the years, but it is always simmering under the surface. Any time an ISIS is coming to power, it makes the House of Saud and for that matter all the Kingdoms in the area at risk.   That is why Osama was banned when he became powerful, AQ became a risk to the rulers in the region, but the not in power Prince's saw this as a way to take over, which is another reason they tend to back the ISIS's of the world.

Monday, September 15, 2014

ISIL is heating things up and is bringing together the tactics and modes of operation from all types of the AQ terrorist groups

ISIL Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been rumored to have tweeted he will draw the US into war by attacking Kuwait.  It appears his game plan is to provoke a US response.  His belief is that it is the only way he will be able to draw in a reluctant Obama administration.

The game plan between ISIL and Al Qada are disturbingly similar, both are focused on the US and how to make it pay for it's dealings in the Mid East.

AQ is a more low key but very heavy into long term planning, it is not even evident that ISIL is capable of the planning needed to carry off a plot like AQ has in the past.  with the Embassy bombings, or the London train bombings let alone the 9/11 plot.

There appears to be an affiliation with the AQ remnants in Yemen, and some belief that  the fairly sophisticated bombers that developed the underwear bomb and the printer cartridge bombs is now working with ISIL.
This is apparently the reason the head of TSA is worried about what this bomber will develop next.  It should be pointed out that the printer cartridge bombs both had been cleared at least once by security screeners at airports, it was an informant that led to them being found. So this bomber has already developed some pretty tough bombs, and TSA is probably correct in it's concern.

Where there is not at this time any real ties of ISIL to the Pakistani group that planned and executed the Mumbai attack, it is apparent that the high profile attack is more to ISIL's method of operation.  Pakistani influenced staff have been reported to have joined ISIL, not as leaders but more as youth that see the ISIL as the new leaders of the jihadist movement.

This same new leaders of the jihadist movement is also what attracts so many wanna be fighters from the EU and America.  It was what made the Yemeni version of AQ or AQ lite as it is often called so appealing to the same crowd.  It is a faster more in your face group.  It operated under a Fatwa that pretty much allowed any type of attack, by even lone attackers to be condoned, where the Fatwa issued by the Main AQ group led by Osama was much more restrictive and in fact had a requirement of a 75% success rate before the plan would be approved.  (This is from the AQ manual from the Osama group)  This restriction and other controls by the AQ Osama, left a lot of wanna be jihadist's feeling left out.

When the AQ Yemeni group started printing a slick online magazine of how to carry out attacks, this fed right into the loosely affiliated lone wolf jihadist's, so you could be a part of the movement by just trying attacks, like we have seen in Dallas, New York's Times square bomber among others.

ISIL has developed a similar online magazine now as well, that caters to the wanna be jihadist's located in virtually every City in the world, and most certainly in the US.   So we need to be on the lookout for more lone wolf attacks, and it will take all the eyes and ears we have to find these folks before they attack.

Monday, August 11, 2014

China is striking again, this time using a new phone they developed

Xiaomi Phones Secretly Sending Users' Sensitive Data to Chinese Servers

Chinese Espionage is virtually everywhere these days.  My first real data came from a joint FBI DOD case where Cisco routers are being both cloned and altered to provide China's spy hackers back doors into sensitive actually very classified systems.  The Air Force was one of the first to notice the problem.

Not all the case has ever hit the papers, but enough that it can be talked about.  As I understand it two brothers both holding some version of Chinese and US dual citizenship set up separate firms on both coasts of the US.  It was developed to get around some DOD procurement policies.  One brother would bid on a DOD contract for IT equipment, they would buy US, IE from the bother on the other coast, and they sell to the DOD.  Depending on the version of the story you hear ,the brothers would buy valid Cisco equipment and make changes to it, or as another story goes would just use Chinese provided equipment.  In either case now the equipment would end up in DOD and other US Government systems.  There are at least two power points provided by the FBI on this case, one, for Sensitive release and another for Classified release. Most IT security types have seen one or the other.

Now for the bad news, we the public never have been protected from this, in other words we are still buying altered routers and other IT equipment.   One expert says it is so prevalent that it would be next to impossible to catch it all, and if they tried it would drive IT prices over the moon.  Another recounts a story of an IT chip level expert, analysed three chips and picked the altered one as the good valid chip.

Now add to this the IP v4 vs IP v6 transition.  The easy version is that so many IP addresses are in use now,that we have run out of numbers to assign of the IP v4 addresses anymore.  To solve the problem the IT powers that be developed IP v6 addressing model.  To make it work the IP v6 equipment had to understand the old IP v4 and translate it to the new IP v6.  In fact if you look at your computer right now it will show two IP Addresses, on is a v4 the other is a v6.

China, came to the IT game late, and the majority of the IP v4 addresses had been assigned, and the US had well over half of them, so China jumped on the IP v6 model faster than the rest of the world, in fact 60% of the IP v6 addresses assigned at this point are held by China.  It is said that every square foot of the planet could have it's own IP address under the IP v6 model and we would have some left over.  The US over 10 years ago developed a mandate to move the US Government to IP v6, and it should have happen by now.  It has not, some say it is because of the China spying problem.

The part of a router, or virtually every piece of equipment that may use an IP address, needs to stay relevant when the transition happens, or even during the transition.   Which we are fully in at the moment.  Since China is the leader in IP v6 they developed the most used translation IP v4 to IP v6 chips, which are in just about everything.  So as a story I covered a while ago the American Chamber of Commerce was hacked by China and a very respectable IT Security firm, I am told assisted by the FBI teams worked for a month of so to clean the Chamber's system.   A few months after this cleaning took place, the Chamber was found to be hacked again.  The teams took a wider view of the problem, and found on smart thermostat and one HP printer had chips in them that allowed for the system to be hacked again.

So lets think for a minutes, and figure out what we are using that has an IP address.  We already know of the printers, the smart thermostat, the routers, what else.  The Black Hat conference is just winding down, but has put some new hacks out there.   Smart Home and Business Alarm systems have been found almost universally vulnerable, as are IP addressable video cameras, water heaters, light controllers, cars, airplanes, access control systems, baby monitors, the list goes on an one, and grows day by day.

So are we vulnerable, yes, can we stop it, probably not, but that is a qualified not.  If we are aware of the problem(s) we can do checks on the systems at times.  We can make sure the CCTV cameras at our homes never show private areas.  We can keep reading articles like this to keep us up on some of the new stuff.

Let's go to the CCTV first as a espionage agent would look at it.  First they could just monitor the outside that the camera sees to understand your movements, so they can enter the house when you are not around.  Two they could see if you bought any Pan Tilt and Zoom cameras, so they can move the camera around to spy on areas you did not want seen.  Three they can sell the data from the cameras to folks that may find a use for it.

Now the alarm system in your home, first now they will know when you are home or not by monitoring the alarm system.  Two there are a lot of options you could buy for your alarm system, that you may not be using, but are still there.  One of the biggest is the ability to monitor the audio in your home, it is sold as a way for them to understand the problem as they send police.  IE, you are being beaten up or forced to do something, or they can hear the burglar going through the empty house.  All valid reasons to allow for this type of monitoring, but in any case in most systems the ability is there it is just not turned on by your reputable alarm company.  This is not true of the bad guys, they will turn these on almost at once.

Now this is not to say it is happening at your home or business now, but could be.  Now you  say what would China want with my conversations in my home.  I would answer that China want anything they can get, but you maybe right, the vulnerability is there, but not being exploited by them.  The bad news in that many others know of these vulnerabilities, and can develop or buy ways to exploit them.  For instance Hackers now days often do not have to know much about computers, they can buy on line everything they need.

The FBI did a presentation a week or so ago that showed how some exploits are now free on line, you just down load them and then use them on unsuspecting friends, or enemies at will.  They downloaded, installed and then sent an email to a computer they had me sit at, I opened it, and they had everything I was doing, as well as everything that was on the computer, turned on the camera and microphone, and then just to cap it off sent from the computer I was on emails to people on my contact list (theirs actually) I read the whole email header, it came from the computer I was using,  They then had me send an IM to another computer, during the IM they changed what I wrote, and wrote their own, yet I never saw the changes.

This was all at no cost, just using available free hack software.  So the hack to turn on your alarm system, or monitor your CCTV system are out there, you may have to pay for them, but they are passed around so much probably not for long.

So you all be careful out there, but I will have to read this on someone else's computer to make sure it has not been hacked as I wrote it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

'Hungary’s Prime Minister, Pushing a new Political system Putinism

'Hungary’s Mussolini' Vows to Make the EU Member an 'Illiberal State'

In what should be one of the more disturbing moves in the last year, Hungary's Prime Minister Victor Orban has declared that traditional capitalism has failed.  That the democracy of US, England, and in fact the EU at large has proven to be a failed system based on the Economic problems of the last few years.  He points to Putin as the new leadership model going forward.  He also gives a nod to China, and has taken a far stricter control of the Press, and of any outside funds being spent in Hungary.  A lot of EU aid funds are drying up over the fact that Orban has taken funds supplied by the EU as aid, and has redistributed it to Government Projects he approves of.

Pointing to the USA in his speech he shows what he believes to be the perceived  weakness of our political system next to what Putin has accomplished in Russia.

There are a lot of inconsistencies in his speech, and really for this "illiberal state",  pointing to liberalism as a proven to be a failed system, that the Russia and China Governments have gotten it right. He brings none of the negatives of Russia or China into the mix, just the points those areas he says has failed in the USA system.

If some form of this new political systems gains hold, and it is almost sure to gain the approval of Russia, since it holds Putin up as the world as the new strong leader, it would point to Communism's resurgence in the world.  The EU has decided not to even talk about this speech, trying to make it go away.  The bad news is this is the second term for Orban, and he is rapidly taking control of the countries different areas of Government to insure his power and policies will be hard to turn back.

Prime Minister Orban's background and formal schooling was in communism, and this new political model looks more like an altered communism approach vs a democracy.   We and our Government leaders really need to pay attention here.  It has been said that the only way the USA can be brought down is from within, and this certainly would be a model that attempts to do that.

Now here is a real threat to the Security of the Free World that we all need to understand, and deal with.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ebola Outbreak, Security Implications of Victims Here in the USA

Ebola Outbreak “Worsening” in West Africa - Scientific American

We are all reading about the tragedy of the Americans that have comedown with the dreaded Ebola Virus.  Now some are coming to the US for both treatment and in one case burial. Both come with some very important security implications to all of us in the US.

I think the living patients are going to be well treated and secured, the question always becomes what happens to items and or bodies of patients with Ebola.  One family want's the body sent home, and is quoting religions grounds.  This can be a problem, the body will have the virus still associated with it and researchers are still not certain of the life of the virus in a body.  The family waiting for it's body will or has gotten the news that the body was cremated last Sunday.

The reasons for all this is a security issue we have dealt with before.  The only Anthrax terrorist attempt in the US that did not use weaponized Anthrax spoors developed in a lab, was by two disgruntled American's that wanted to bring down our Government.  They had researched and found where a number of animals had been buried that had died of anthrax and had dug them up and used the spoors they found to concoct their weapon.

Now Anthrax has an almost unlimited shelf life, and often needs only the moisture from you body to bring it into an active state. In this case the men, mixed it with a hand cream so it would penetrate the hands of people touching it.  The plan was to smear the concoction on the hand rails of a transportation hub, and as people grabbed the rails the anthrax would enter the body.  From what we know it quite possible that it would have worked.  Unfortunately for the two, a girlfriend got wind of the plan, and used it to get back at her boyfriend for some indiscretion.  She went to the police, who did find the mixture and it was disposed of.

So back to Ebola, in Africa they are trying to meet the religious and community needs, and are trying to disinfect the bodies for burial, there is no understanding if this will eliminate the problem, so they are also trying to find a separate burial site for the bodies.   This brings into the situation an issue with the security of the burial site.

Now bring the same situation to the US, the CDC and our Government is I think well versed in disposing of contaminated medical supplies, the issue will be the bodies.  If they are allowed to be buried they bring a risk of someone recovering the body or even a part of, our even fluids from it.  All could well be deadly in the wrong hands, actually any hands, but we are more worried about terrorist events.

This has been a threat vector the US has been worried about for years, almost any deadly biological incident that has happen in our past is a possible danger to our futures.  One worry has been that families do not want to disclose the sickness and death of a loved one due to a possible biological incident, due to religious or even civil liability grounds.

Our planning for this has always been from the health side, and is reactive to known events, with the enhanced turmoil in the world and the advent of the suicide bomber, the  suicide carrier of an infectious biological has to be part of our game plan.

So as you are dusting off those pandemic event plans, please add this to your planning.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Swindlers Target Kin of Migrants, Scams at the border on the rise - NYTimes.com

Swindlers Target Kin of Migrants - NYTimes.com

Probably the biggest scam is on the US, and its people.  For instance Children around the age of two are being found with their names, DOB and USA phone number of someone to pick them up are being found. ICE is being used so much for babysitting that drug interdiction's for the past two months in the Rio Grande area are 18% of normal, not down 18% down 72%.

Drug Cartels are forgoing payments for transporting kids, in fact they are hiring local kids on the Mexico Border to make the last transfer across the river.  They set them up ahead of time, and then when the the Border Patrol (ICE as they are now known) are taking care of all the children and families (another scam on us) they run record loads of drugs across just down or up stream.

The shootings from the Mexico side near, not usually at, our Border Security Folks (I say this because they are shooting at Wild Life Management folks as well as Local Police, as well as the Border Patrol)  are also an effort to control where the border patrol folks pay attention too, once again so they can move their drugs across in other areas.

In just one park area near Mission and McAllen Texas, that is right across from a park on the Mexico side, you can watch folks hang out and even swim away from the shore of Mexico to test the response of our Security, not to find when they are not around like before, it is to get as many in the Border Security in the area as they can, since they know with all the Border Patrol, taking care of Kids, not that many are out there looking for them. Once again so they can transport drugs and people ( high priced people ) in other areas not being watched.

Let's back up to the families for a second, we keep hearing about the unaccompanied children, which are some pretty high numbers, but there is also a much larger number of families coming across, that also get close to the same treatment.  In other words they are taken in detained and then given court dates, and then moved out into the communities.  That is all those families with children you seen getting off planes in Detroit and other US Cities. the also get to stay until they face court dates that they 90 +% of the time do not show up for.   Estimates are those family numbers are five times those of the unaccompanied children, where is the push to send them back immediately?

The only people really getting hurt here appear to be the tax payers.  When the fog is lifted, we see the Cartels, saw an opening and exploited it.  Talks with people coming over find that the Cartels are paying for the posters in these central american countries, promising great lives, free from work in the US.   We find they the Cartels are paying a lot of the costs for getting the families and children up here, taking what they can from them on the way, exploiting them as much as they can on the way, prostituting the women and girls,  even the young males.  They have even had groups stop and help harvest crops on the way up, sometimes the drugs they want to transport as well.

It is a game of numbers and everyone is making out except the US Tax payer, this identity scam the NYT's is reporting, being used is just another game of numbers, keep playing the kids and families  as long as you can.  If it plays out like in the past it is not over for these people.  The exploitation will continue, every once in a while the family will be told that if they do not pay more, then they will tell the US Border Agents where they are, and deportation proceeding will start.  Most will pay, some will not, but all will face the extortion.  If a person gets caught he will offer up his list of locations of illegal immigrants to the authorities to get a reduced sentence,so in the end paying off the bad guys really never helps, but it will continue.   Illegal factory owners will buy names from the bad guys to exploit the illegal immigrants for labor.  They know the workers will take what ever pay they get in what ever conditions they have to work.

If you do not want to work the scam continues, illegal immigrants are taught all the ins and outs of our welfare systems, how to exploit each one, how do use any child's name on the welfare lists to get even more money.  Then to top it off the names are used again in Tax fraud scams, where a family claims to be taking care of children for tax deductions.  Most of the tax scam folks know just what will most likely get thru with out raising suspicions.  They normally charge a fee for each name provided on your tax form, what you do not know is they probably have used the name before, so when you go back next year, it maybe a new firm you are dealing with, same folks just a different firm.  But your chances of getting caught keep going up.

There are no good numbers on how many illegal immigrants can or have transitioned into lives better than what they had, but guesses from groups that take care of them, are not encouraging.   Most never will make a real life and yet they still are required to send money back to their home countries, where the scam there continues. Everything from taking 50% of a check sent back by the check cashing scam artists, to out right extortion by criminal actors.  The countries are happy, it is all money coming home, no matter who gets it.  This money coming back is a major part of the economy of all four of the countries involved to include Mexico.  When it comes from you the tax payer, Mexico can laugh even harder.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Industrial espionage: Cyberspies and mincing rascals | The Economist

Industrial espionage: Cyberspies and mincing rascals | The Economist

Is your Thermostat Spying on you, quite possibly,

 If these guy get involved, it could already be happening.  These are Chinese hackers part of a team that has been charged with Espionage in a US Federal Court.

They are many reasons for Espionage and China really has gotten on board with it, in a big way. Espionage for a Country is a big thing, but also a fact of life.  It blurs the bounds when it is Cyber espionage, we can not hold a press conference and put some parts of a electronic eavesdropping device.  We rarely can entice a cyber agent into a meeting so he or she can be arrested and we can parade them for a photo shot.  Putting these Cyber Espionage Teams up for a federal court is not producing the results we the US had perhaps.  But we are facing a brave new world, I am sure the CIA is saying, we need to keep this hushed up, that would be for a number of reasons.  One is the CIA has dealt with Espionage Agents for ever and has ways to take it's retribution.  Two China like other countries know full well that the US has some of the, if not the greatest spies in the world.  I often laugh when I read how the great Spy's of the Soviet Union had been so effective.  Our spies have done some of the most amazing things, things that would make people watching TV shows blink.

The biggest difference between the US and them, mainly China is that there are no bounds, as our US Chamber of Commerce found out, when they where hit so bad, that months later when they thought all of it had been found and neutralized, it was discovered that a simple smart thermometer and a fairly cheap printer in their offices was sending information directly to China still.  By the way both had been made in China, in fact if the product is not, the chips inside it probably will be.  China has been making back doors and out right espionage devices into their micro chips they supply to the world, one expert recently chose a bogus corrupted chip as the good one over two that had nothing wrong.   Looking into a chip with thousands of micro, no, below micro circuits on them, finding a few circuit changes is close to impossible.

Then add the software end of the Chinese attack and you have a very tough and tenacious full out Espionage attack.

 Mandiant a very good software cyber security firm has recently written a extremely good report on the state of State Cyber Espionage.  They have recently released the report via a downloadable link.  https://dl.mandiant.com/EE/library/WP_M-Trends2014_140409.pdf  if is well worth the read.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Germany 'may revert to typewriters' to counter hi-tech espionage | World news | The Guardian

Germany 'may revert to typewriters' to counter hi-tech espionage | World news | The Guardian

Espionage has been around a long time, and continually evolved with the new technology.  It is kind of interesting to see the Russians and the Germans going back to typewriters.  All three of us Germany, Soviets, and the US, as well as Japan, France, England, almost any countries Intel could read what was being typed on a typewriter from a distance.  In fact if the target was important enough a system would be fine tuned to actually type out what the person was typing in real time.  One of the nice things about Governments is they tended to standardize on a typewriter, and the best typewriters would always go to the important folks, all the important folks.  You could actually get an idea of how important a target was at times by the sound the typewriter made.

I remember running around the White House and the rest of the 18 acres looking for typewriters that could be easily compromised.  Every Govt. Agency and the DOD was doing the same.  The reason we knew to do this is because we had so much success in these espionage attacks.  Even ones that are not electric could be hit with some fairly easy sound sensors.

I would imagine a lot of the intel agencies out there around the world are dusting off some old sound sensors, if fact some are probably checking to see if some of the old ones are still in place.  That is the nice thing about microphones, they last for ever, the biggest issue would be have they been painted over to many times to still work.

As always nothing I am talking about is new to the world at large, in this case an old book called Spooks, and two others including the Puzzle Palace have all gone quite deeply into these exploit's. Snowden is not one of my sources, but I will say it is irritating that he is telling the Russians and Chinese things when they are doing the same to us, his biggest naivety is that he seems to think only the US does this, when in actuality the Chinese and former Soviets had, have and are developing systems of their own.    It is like telling Merkle that we had her phone, if the Germans do not have Obama's phone, it is only because they have not succeeded yet.

The key is you do not talk about it, but Snowden thinks he is helping, helping who, the Soviets had folks in our State Department, CIA, FBI, in fact have had people in our NSA before.  Most of my espionage work in the government was more criminal than espionage, like wire taps and hidden microphones, tape recorders, cameras and  the needed alarm bypass and lock picking.  But it was all good background for my critical work of Counter Espionage.  If you ever want to know the business find an old Gene Hackman film called The Conversation.  A little dry, but you will never listen to a lonely saxophone the same way again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Palestine Rocket Attacks, limited effectiveness, but do what they are made for, they cause terror to Israel

First this graphic was provided by Stratfor, but it does represent the best description of the threat Palestine rockets are to Israel.   At this point only 15 large rockets have been fired,  But lots of the smaller built in Gaza rockets.  I personally have never seen the larger rockets fired, but Stratfor has posted some of the specifications of them.  They can handle a payload of around 200 pounds, which would or could do a lot of damage.  Stratfor reports Palestine sometimes fires them with out a payload, to get distance and thus increase the scare and terror factor.

I have been around the smaller rockets, which have a limited range, most barely make it out of Gaza if they do.  But they have made it to a good sized city to the north of Gaza along the sea.  There are a number of smaller cities, ones that where started as settlements many years ago.that are also in range.  When Gaza was occupied by Israel settlers, the rockets where the most effective. It usually carries less than 5 pounds of explosive, and the detonators are a bit iffy.  I have been driving along the outside of Gaza, which is mainly farm land on both sides.  These rockets are very visible and somewhat loud. So you can see them coming for the most part.  I have seen them land in fields being cultivated, and the children would stop with everyone else and listen and if possible watch them fly thru the air.  When they land in fields children will often run up to them, which is very dangerous due to the iffy detonators.

They are dangerous, and very scary for the children at times, but are not all that effective in anything more than a chance hit of a building.  People playing outside are in the most danger, and makeshift shelters are around most outside play areas like parks and playgrounds.  At night they are a cause for fear since they are harder to see, but people do hear them.

I am not sure if the Iron dome is used that much against the smaller rockets, but they are used against the larger ones.  They are large enough that if Israel makes a ground assault, they will probably find most of them. Knowing the Israel intel capabilities, I would not have a hard time believing they pretty much know where most if not all of them are.

When you study the graphic, please remember the thousands number often reported are the smaller rockets, and you need to look at the smaller foot print to see what they can hit.

The smaller rockets are often shot off stands made of re bar, and are fired in multiples.  One that just missed me as I was driving in Gaza, apparently with the third of three, and one of the first two,when going off knocked the stand over so it was skimming over the ground and over the hood of our car. ,

On the other side of the issue, you learn to know what an attack team of Helo's or fighter jets look and sound like.  You make turns as soon as you see or hear them coming, I have been near two cars blowing up by attacks, and have seen quite a few more.  Israel also tend to blow up roads at times, which made driving to work for me a bit of a challenge at times.. .

The great hope and my prayers is all the violence stops as soon as possible.  The number of actual active terrorists in Gaza is quite small, but there is a lot of inactive support, but even that number is pretty small.  Still Hamas runs Gaza now, I still worked there for a while after they gained control, but was limited to areas not under direct control of Hamas.  They are a threat to Israel, and can go active at anytime. They must be stopped, either by the vote or attacks, it may even take both.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple questions and answers on Heartbleed

Q: What is "Heartbleed", and why should I care?
A: Well, "Heartbleed" is a computer bug that allows a hacker to beat the OpenSSL encryption your browser uses to create a secure connection. It's similar to the SSL bug on Apple devices we mentioned six weeks ago, except this one affects everybody.

Q: Even me?
A: Everybody.

Q: Ok, so what do I do?
A: Normally I'd say change your passwords to all your sites, but it's not so cut and dried. Most of the big names have fixed their websites, but certain sites like Netflix and Tumblr haven't gotten around to patching the hole yet. And if you went to Netflix now to change your password, you'd still be just as vulnerable.

Q: No, seriously - what do I do?
A: If you use a password service like LastPass (which uses OpenSSL, but also multiple additional encryption layers) you can run their Security Check feature to see which ones are safe to change, and which ones you need to wait on.
Or you can visit the Heartbleed test tool at http://filippo.io/Heartbleed and enter the name of the website you want to test. If they haven't fixed it yet, DON'T visit that site. Just wait until it shows all clear, then go in and change that password.

-Trenton Higareda

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Confusion grows over missing Malaysian Airlines plane - CBS News

Confusion grows over missing Malaysian Airlines plane - CBS News

Looking at information, we can not say facts at this time, there are a number of things that can be said.  One if the plane turned as the Radar track shows, then it would almost have to be under control of the pilot, even an auto pilot would have a hard time holding everything together in that type of turn.  The engines would have to be advanced on a turn like that, it takes up to much air speed.  Then to get it to level off enough to head in a straight line would also be difficult.  Then there is the part about it crossing areas that had airports it could have landed, at, in fact if the military reports are true, virtually over two airports, that should have noticed the flight crossing their airspace.  This quick chart was developed by CTI analysts in DC and show airports that could handle this plane.  So the question is why did not anyone notice it, and if the pilot was still in charge, why did he not attempt a landing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lebanon: Lessons from Two Assassinations | Stratfor

Lebanon: Lessons from Two Assassinations | Stratfor

This is well worth the signup to Stratfor to get these. I could do a two day course on just this report. Very well done, There are available pictures of the aftermath of both attacks, as well as google earth and google maps, to set it up. I have had the experience of setting up an explosive ambushes, and then pulling a motorcade into the zone, and to have gone to a number of vehicle ambush points. With very few exceptions, if a proper route analysis, and or other security measures, both of these teams used, would have saved the day. As always it was a slip in the normal security protocols that seem to lead to this problem. The other part is the protective intelligence, intelligence is a key factor. Even one person just walking around or driving around can pick up those key tell's that surveillance is being conducted, and variances in time and routes, need to be in place.

Have at least three route options available, to include time delay points, like police stations, or other manned points, so that your protection teams can take a look at the parts of the route that are choke points, or must travel, usually those last two blocks to the destination.
In Paris one night, I was able to pick up the surveillance team during my walk around's, the Paris Police hassled them for me. The attack was still attempted, but they where so off on the timing, it was not successful.

Use Google earth and Google maps, to Analise your routes. Google maps actually has the ability to chose a number of different routes. Then look for the choke points, and plan for them. The US State Department has teams that do this for almost all personnel, it at least covers the home to work and work to home routes for them. Then a briefing is given to help the understand the problems along a route. As well as places to help detect surveillance.

I would suggest you or if you have a team, learn how to do this asap. It is not all that hard, but it could well save your life. Down here in the RGV, it should be a given for the majority of the people here. Yes, even people in the drug trade should know how to do it. It keeps random fire, from hurting innocent victims.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What the UMD Data Breach Means for Students

This also applies in large part to faculty and staff, as well as anyone whose data has been compromised.

On Wednesday morning the University of Maryland servers were the target of a sophisticated cyber-attack. The breach was not noted for several hours. In that time, over 300,000 records were accessed. The database in question includes anyone who received a University ID (like students/faculty/staff) since 1998. (See http://www.umd.edu/datasecurity/ for more information on this attack.)

There is good news and bad news for those involved. The bad news is your name, date of birth, and social security number were likely compromised. This opens the door for identity theft, as these records can be used by the hacker or sold to a third party. The typical scenario is financial fraud, where someone opens up one or more credit accounts in your name, then defaults on the debts, damaging your credit and potentially leaving you with a bill for thousands of dollars. Other scenarios besides financial include someone assuming your identity for criminal, immigration, tax, or medical reasons – which may lead to erroneous arrest records or warrants. They may also try to impersonate you on social media.

The good news is only about 2% of people whose data is compromised in a single breach become victims of identity theft, at least that we know of. Also, the University states that address information was not part of the breach – and current students may still be still young enough that their name and address may not be linked in public records. This is a double-edged sword, but it reduces the overall risk. If people act quickly to protect their financial identity after a breach, they can head off most potential problems.

The first step for students and staff is to contact the University IT department at 301-405-4440. They are open 24 hours a day, and they can open a service ticket under your name. This will not only provide you with updates regarding the breach, but also allow you to take advantage of free credit monitoring services.

The next step is to take full advantage of that credit monitoring as soon as its available. There are companies out there that offer to do this for you, and set up alerts if someone accesses your credit, but for a monthly/annual fee. Identity thieves count on your inattentiveness, so don’t leave yourself open. There are three credit bureaus that you need to track – Experian.com, TransUnion.com, and Equifax.com.

You can place a 90-day fraud alert on one of them for free, and they are required to notify the other two by law. This is not always 100% effective, but it’s a start. You can also place a credit hold or freeze on your account by providing each bureau with identifying information, and they will provide you with a password. You use this password to authorize release of credit information or to end the freeze at a later time. For younger students, it may be years before you need to use your credit – so don’t forget that password!

Even after your one-year of free credit monitoring runs out, you will still need to review your reports from these three bureaus several times a year. By law, people can obtain a free copy of their credit report once a year from each one. You order a free copy from one, then order a free copy the next one four months after that, and order a copy from the third one four months after that. This way, you get a free copy every four months. Look them over carefully for any unusual activity. This should be easy for younger people with less credit history, as any new accounts will stick out like a sore thumb. Older people with established credit will need to review them more closely.

As more of our personal information is captured and tracked by companies on computer systems, the more vulnerable we are to having it stolen. Even if you’re not part of a breach that you know of, personally identifiable information can be obtained in all sorts of ways, so no one is immune to the threat of identity theft. However by paying attention to our financial and credit information, we can mitigate at least part of the risk. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Proposal for low-income apartments a controversy in McAllen, CPTED is a solution

Proposal for low-income apartments sparks controversy in McAllen - The Monitor: Local News

This is an ongoing issue all over the US.  (to some extent the world)  The hope would be that a CPTED Consultant is working with the development team, from the start.  CPTED is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, when the principals set forth in CPTED, things like pathways between bus stops and higher income houses as well as the pathways from lower income housing and higher income housing needs to be defined.

In one case a simple 6 foot fence less than 10 feet long brought down crime dramatically, by eliminating a pathway, between a bus stop, thru a strip mall, and behind the mall parking.   In another case a pathway was made, to reduce the problem of theft.  With a few lights,(CPTED is normally a passive security science, lights are only as needed) and a camera, allowed for everyone to have a pathway to a bus stop, that was controllable.

Bottom line, there can be advantages to incorporating mixed income housing, and the disadvantage can be dealt with.  The key is to incorporate CPTED into the basic layout, and then continue through the building process.  Many community and some States even countries are making CPTED designs a must for all new development.  Florida for instance requires CPTED design in any new project, or major upgrade, as does Canada.  The county of Fairfax Va. has also incorporated CPTED Design into every government funded project.  CTI, my firm was their CPTED design consultant during it's roll out of the mandate.

Schools are an issue, but as studies have shown the incorporation of new housing that brings in students can be the answer to keeping schools open.  As a community matures so does the make up of citizens in in the community, so less young children, more adults, makes keeping student levels a problem.  I am not sure that type of study has been done, but it would be hoped, it has.

By the way CPTED is often called the green security program, because it stresses passive low or no maintenance or energy costs.  This is why many communities are incorporating it into their communities.  As communities try and keep a lid on government costs, CPTED can be of great advantage.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

EDITORIAL: Advocate for the valley - our economy relies on travel, to, from Mexico - The Monitor: Editorials

EDITORIAL: Advocate for the valley - our economy relies on travel, to, from Mexico - The Monitor: Editorials

This is an interesting editorial, when we have a chance to try and convince a Home Land Security Official to give the Valley more help, instead the writer in this editorial is trying to gloss over the problem.  If you read anything the the Texas DPS put out last year on its threat assessment, you see the UCR by the FBI does not reflect the true crime here in the Valley, on both sides of the border.

Shining a light on problems and issues, is the way to moving to a solution, not just denying the problems exist.  We have a problem, we can solve or mitigate the problems, but only by facing up to them, not by hiding them.

The City leaders on both sides have a lot they can do to help the problems, then really watch the commerce grow.  The criminal element known as the Knights Templar, have started to threaten in both letters and by word of mouth businesses across the border.  This in turn effects cross border business, and in a big way.  The Trucking, and more to the point the trucking dealing with cloth and clothing of used merchandise has seen an criminal increase of more than 200% by extortion and attempted control.  This started in Mexico, where the criminal element, is in control, but now has moved to the US, and can be seen (if you look) in fires and threats to everyone involved in the industry.  None of which seem to make it into the Sheriff's crime reporting to the FBI, or UCR stats.

I can go on to other industries, like criminal elements from Mexico buying and intimidating their way into Bar's and Restaurants on the US side of the border.  Everyone seems to know it is happening, but it does not fit into a slot on the FBI's UCR stats as well.

Now take our Law Enforcement, by threats and huge offers of cash some (not many)  have been corrupted into working with the Cartels and other criminal elements across the border, once again this does not fit into a neat slot in the FBI's UCR reporting stats.  We know this because not only is the Valley involved, Miami, and virtually every big city has seen this at one time or another.  But the answer is to solve the problem, by confronting it, not hiding from it.

This can go on and on, but I will address one more issue that really effects the people on both sides of the border.  That is kidnapping, it is happening, and has happened for years.  The Law Enforcement on the US side of the border use virtually ever trick they can to hide the problem, and more importantly the FBI URC report.  If a person is coerced by threats to family on either side of the border to walk over the border, and then be kidnapped.  This allows the Law Enforcement on this side of the border to claim no kidnapping or reduced kidnapping is going on over here, when everyone effected know it is happening.

Read the DPS threat assessment of 2013, they point out that this crime not only exists, but has a very damaging secondary effect on the Citizens on both sides of the border,that no one is listening, which creates a fear, that also does not show up on the FBI's URC stats.   Here is a quick link to the DPS report, and an overview. http://www.ctic.co/2013/03/texas-public-safety-threat-overview.html