Our picksDrone surveillance is here; efforts to prevent violence backfire; red-teaming the biological sciences, and more

Published 11 June 2018

· This is the week that the drone surveillance state became real

· What if police use “Rekognition” without telling defendants?

· Compounding violent extremism? When efforts to prevent violence backfire

· Chinese hackers stole sensitive U.S. Navy submarine plans from contractor

· We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change

· Report: Florida skipped background checks on concealed-carry applicants for over a year

· Flash zero-day shows up in Qatar amid geopolitical struggles

· Red teaming the biological sciences for deliberate threats

This is the week that the drone surveillance state became real (Dave Gershgorn, Defense One)
Not only do local police now have access to drones, but footage from those flying cameras will be automatically analyzed by AI systems not disclosed to the public.

What if police use “Rekognition” without telling defendants? (Sarah St. Vincent, Just Security)
At least two US law enforcement departments — and Motorola, which sells equipment to the government — have already purchased access to Amazon’s “Rekognition” system. This technology combines facial recognition and artificial intelligence to identify people and track their movements, including in crowds.

Compounding violent extremism? When efforts to prevent violence backfire (Jessica Trisko Darden, War on the Rocks)
As America’s global campaign against terrorism continues to evolve, the U.S. government has increasingly adopted non-military tools to complement its military efforts. As part of a joint strategy with the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding development programs designed to undermine the rise and expansion of violent extremist activity in key countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Known as “countering violent extremism” or “preventing violent extremism,” these civilian-led programs are designed to counter extremists’ efforts to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize followers to violence through youth empowerment, social and economic inclusion, and improved local government responses. Programs have ranged from youth leadership training to partnerships with moderate religious leaders who enhance their communities’ understanding of the risks of extremism. Despite their good intentions, these programs are riddled with problems. In some cases, they do not do enough to ensure that participants are actually at risk of radicalization, while other programs foster wasteful spending on activities with no proven link to the problem. The result is that USAID programs may be exacerbating the very problem they are trying to solve by increasing support for violence in places where extremist groups are operating.

Chinese hackers stole sensitive U.S. Navy submarine plans from contractor (Chris Bing, Cyberscoop) A Chinese intelligence agency was able to successfully hack into a Navy contractor around February, stealing more than a half terabyte worth of highly sensitive documents about U.S. submarine technology and plans. The hackers, according to the Washington Post, employed by China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), targeted a Rhode Island-based company that was actively working on a Navy development project known as “Sea Dragon.”

We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change (David Roberts, Vox)
The models that inform climate policymaking are fatally flawed.

Report: Florida skipped background checks on concealed-carry applicants for over a year (Mairead McArdle, National Review)
The state of Florida skipped background checks on concealed-carry-permit applicants for over a year because the employee in charge of them was unable to log into the system.

Flash zero-day shows up in Qatar amid geopolitical struggles (Chris Bing, Cyberscoop)
A zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash was recently used to infect a likely diplomatic target in Qatar with malware, new research from Seattle-based cybersecurity company ICEBRG and Chinese tech firms Qihoo and Tencent shows.

Red teaming the biological sciences for deliberate threats (Lisa Zhang and Gigi Kwik Gronvall, Terrorism and Political Violence)
Thes article describes the use of “red teaming” to analyze and forecast biological threats to U.S. national security. Red teaming is a method whereby participants adopt an adversarial perspective, and is used to stimulate critical and creative thinking without some of the flaws of other types of threat assessments, including mirror-imaging. Red team analysis is prevalent in the military, security, and commercial realms. There have been widespread calls from government and private organizations to analyze biological threats with a red teaming approach, in order to prioritize resources and to counter a wide array of biological agents. This paper includes a timeline of historical examples of both biological red team simulations and vulnerability probes, and discusses the challenges of conducting realistic, cost-effective modeling of biological agents. Finally, we propose additional analytical tools to the UK Ministry of Defense’s red team framework for the future development of structured, biological red team exercises, and discuss other existing future-oriented threat assessments in this realm.