• Consumers ignorant of tracking methods used by online advertisers

    The general public has a poor understanding of the workings of online behavioral advertising, and the privacy implications behind the information that advertisers gather. Researchers found that two-thirds of the consumers they interviewed in the study did not realize that most online advertising involved third-party entities and advertising networks that track a user’s browsing activities across websites to provide targeted ads.

  • Where did the idea of an ‘Islamic bomb’ come from?

    The heavily freighted idea of an “Islamic bomb” has been around for some decades now. The notion behind it is that a nuclear weapon developed by an “Islamic” nation would automatically become the Islamic world’s shared property – and more than that, a “nuclear sword” with which to wage jihad. But as with many terms applied to the “Islamic world”, it says more about Western attitudes than about why and how nuclear technology has spread. It’s true that prominent Muslim figures spoke rhetorically about a “bomb for the ummah”. But this was never more than rhetoric. Leaving aside all nuclear matters, internecine and sectarian differences and conflict mean that global Islamic political unity is unlikely in the extreme. The Islamic bomb has always been a convenient device with which to elide complex problems of religion, politics, and nuclear weapons. And sadly, it still is. Those who still casually bandy the term about would do well to think about where it really comes from.

  • Child from Pittsburgh admits to hack attempt of Brussels Airport after ISIS attacks

    A Pittsburgh child has admitted to launching a cyberattack against Brussels Airport in the aftermath of the 22 Mach 2016 suicide bombing by Belgian ISIS followers, which killed more than thirty people. The Belgian federal public prosecutor’s office said the suspect aimed to take down the website of the airport operator – the Brussels Airport Company — and “infiltrate the computer system,” but was unsuccessful.

  • Israel prepares for possible Hezbollah naval commando attack

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is preparing for a possible Hezbollah incursion using marines and other naval commandos in the country’s north. A group of commandos could try to infiltrate north of Nahariya while protected by mortar and anti-tank fire from Lebanon, the IDF believes. It also believes that Hezbollah will attempt to capture Israeli territory and hold it, even temporarily, in order to declare a victory against Israel.

  • Syrian refugees “detrimental” to Americans? The numbers tell a different story

    On 27 January President Donald Trump issued an executive order which stated that “the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The facts do not support this assertion. By the end of 2016, the total number of Syrian refugees settled in the U.S. was 14,761, about .0046 percent of the country’s population. In other words, the chances that a Syrian refugee would move next door to you are statistically zero. That’s true with or without Trump’s ban. Also, not one Syrian refugee in the U.S. has been arrested or deported on terror related charges. A 2016 report from the Cato institute, a think tank “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace” stated: “The hazards posed by foreign-born terrorists are not large enough to warrant extreme actions like a moratorium on all immigration or tourism.”

  • ISIS followers hack U.K. National Health Service

    ISIS-linked hackers have attacked and defaced several NHS (U.K. National Health Service) websites in a series of cyberattacks. The hackers, going by the name of Tunisian Fallaga Team, targeted six websites three weeks ago, replacing legitimate web pages with graphic photos of the war in Syria. The attacks said they were retaliating for the West’s interference in the Middle East.

  • TSA continues to use unscientific, unreliable program blamed for profiling

    Thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers use so-called “behavior detection” techniques to scrutinize travelers for yawning, whistling, being distracted, arriving late for a flight, and scores of other behaviors that the TSA calls signs of deception or “mal-intent.” The officers then flag certain people for additional screening and questioning. Documents the ACLU has obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that the TSA itself has plenty of material showing that such techniques are not grounded in valid science — and they create an unacceptable risk of racial and religious profiling. Indeed, TSA officers themselves have said that the program has been used to do just that.

  • Texas agriculture experts: Mexico may retaliate if U.S. imposes tariffs

    Texas agricultural experts say President Trump’s threatened tariff on Mexican goods could lead to retaliation that would hurt Texas farmers and ranchers — as well as consumers. The idea of a tariff on Mexican imports or a radical change to the North American Free Trade Agreement worries many Texas agriculture industry leaders, who say it is in the state’s best interest to continue fostering a positive trade relationship with Mexico rather than imposing tariffs on their imports.

  • How computer hacking is becoming Russia’s weapon of choice

    The Russian government has long been known to source its technology, world-class hacking talent, and even some intelligence information from local cybercrime rings. What’s more, this criminal fraternity probably receives state immunity for cybercrimes committed outside Russia in return for offering services to the Russian state. Russia’s clear long-term strategy is to use the internet to further its aims in information warfare. It has proved that this form of warfare is more potent than kinetic warfare and that it can reap the benefits quickly and without fear of a coordinated response from the United States or NATO. Its use of criminal cyber rings ensures that it benefits from no (provable) direct links to the Russian government. A further downside is that China, North Korea, and Iran seem to be copying this model and have already been active in attacks against other nation states. The internet has changed mass communication in countless positive ways. But it is becoming an increasingly dangerous tool for subversive activity. A re-think and a re-boot are looking increasingly necessary.

  • Secret campaign of mass hangings and extermination at Syria’s Saydnaya Prison

    A chilling new report by Amnesty International exposes the Syrian government’s calculated campaign of extrajudicial executions by mass hangings at Saydnaya Prison. Between 2011 and 2015, every week and often twice a week, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. In five years, as many as 13,000 people, most of them civilians believed to be opposed to the government, were hanged in secret at Saydnaya.

  • Remote-controlled terrorism

    On Saturday the New York Times published an analysis of what it calls “remote controlled” terrorism, or individuals coached in terror tactics online and from afar. These individuals are not “lone wolves,” bur rather terror agents trained and guided by terrorist organizations employing “virtual plotters” and “cyber planners” who keep in near constant contact with the individuals carrying out the actual terror plot. These terrorists are micromanaged in every decision, right down to the bullets they use to carry out their violence.

  • How political science helps combat terrorism

    Richard Nielsen, an MIT expert on Islamic terrorism, estimates that about 10 percent of Muslim clerics on the Internet are jihadists. “I don’t know if this number should strike readers as high or low; it’s higher than I expected,” he says. The question he tackles is the internet changing the nature of religious authority in Islam? “The problem of modern jihadism is rooted in an ongoing crisis of Islamic authority brought about by the rise of media — first print, then cassette tapes, and now the online Fatwa Bank.” He adds that data show that the odds of dying violently are lower now than they’ve ever been. “This isn’t to say that terrorism isn’t a problem, but we should keep the true level of threat posed by terrorism in perspective.”

  • The growing role of Indonesian women in Islamist extremist terrorism

    The arrest of two Indonesian women as would-be suicide bombers shows how their desire for action coincided with the decision of ISIS leaders in Syria that in emergency conditions, women could be tactically deployed in jihad operations. A new study looks at how the role of women in Indonesian extremist organizations has evolved over the last four decades.

  • Should we really be so afraid of a nuclear North Korea?

    The common thinking is that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a threat to global peace and diverts economic resources from an impoverished population. North Korean leaders are depicted in the Western media as a cabal of madmen who won’t be satisfied until Washington, Seoul, or some other enemy city is turned into a “sea of fire.” But it also pays to consider what sounds like a perverse question: could a North Korean bomb actually benefit both the country’s people and the world at large? As far as Pyongyang is concerned, its militaristic strategy has worked: It has kept the Kim government internally stable, the population dependent on the government, and the country’s enemies at bay. Accepting the country’s nuclear status, rather than trying to head it off with sanctions and threats, could bring it back to the diplomatic bargaining table.

  • House ends rule preventing mentally ill people from buying guns

    The House voted 235-180 to allow mentally ill people to buy and own guns. Lawmakers overturned a regulation which went into effect last year – and which affected about 75,000 people – which required the Social Security Administration to relay names of Social Security recipients diagnosed with mental health conditions, such as extreme anxiety and schizophrenia, and who are considered incapable of managing their own affairs. The names of these individuals were added to a database of citizens who are ineligible to purchase a firearm.