• Syrian opposition shoots down Israeli “spy” eagle near Idlib

    Opposition forces in Syria the other said they had captured a dead eagle which had a camera and surveillance equipment strapped to its belly. Arab neighbors of Israel have occasionally accused the Jewish state of using trained animals for surveillance and disruption purposes. In December 2010, the Egyptian tourism minister accused Israel of training sharks to attack European tourists at Egyptian Red Sea resorts in order to deter European tourists from coming to Egypt.

  • “Stalking software”: Surveillance made simpler

    The controversial Snap Map app enables Snapchat users to track their friends. The app makes it possible for users to monitor their friends’ movements, and determine – in real time – exactly where their posts are coming from (down to the address). Many social media users expressed their indignation, referring to the app as “stalking software.” This is the latest in a series of monitoring tools to be built on social media platforms. A new study assesses the benefits and risks associated with their use.

  • The real costs of cheap surveillance

    Surveillance used to be expensive. Even just a few years ago, tailing a person’s movements around the clock required rotating shifts of personnel devoted full-time to the task. Not any more, though. Governments can track the movements of massive numbers of people by positioning cameras to read license plates, or by setting up facial recognition systems. Private companies’ tracking of our lives has also become easy and cheap too. Advertising network systems let data brokers track nearly every page you visit on the web, and associate it with an individual profile. It is worth thinking about all of this more deeply. U.S. firms – unless they’re managed or regulated in socially beneficial ways – have both the incentive and the opportunity to use information about us in undesirable ways. We need to talk about the government’s enacting rules constraining that activity. After all, leaving those decisions to the people who make money selling our data is unlikely to result in our getting the rules we want.

  • Minority Report? Wisc. company replaces ID cards, badges with microchips implants

    River Falls, Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market has become one of the first in the world to implant microchips in staff so they can clock-in or enter secure areas by waving their arm instead of using swipe cards or ID badges. The implanted microchip would also allow employees to order food at the cafeteria and open the parking garage doors. They can also log in to their computer without a password.

  • Smart quadcopters find their way on their own -- without human help or GPS

    Phase 1 of DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program concluded recently following a series of obstacle-course flight tests in central Florida. Over four days, three teams of DARPA-supported researchers huddled under shade tents in the sweltering Florida sun, fine-tuning their sensor-laden quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the intervals between increasingly difficult runs. The quadcopters slalomed through woodlands, swerved around obstacles in a hangar, and reported back to their starting point all by themselves.

  • Mexican government used anti-terrorist surveillance tool to spy on politicians

    Israeli firm NSO Group sold the spy software it has developed – called Pegasus – to the Mexican government for use against terrorists and criminals, but Mexican government agencies deployed it against Mexican anti-corruption crusaders, journalists investigating the president, and various political and social activists. “Espionage is a common practice [in politics] and we know it’s done,” said the opposition party’s spokesman. “But it has to be said this is expensive software. It’s only sold to governments to be used against criminals and terrorists.”

  • Growing opposition in Germany to new surveillance measures

    In the aftermath of the Christmas 2016 market attacks in Berlin last December, the German government written several sweeping surveillance and data retention laws, which were narrowly passed by the Bundestag. Many of these laws will go into effect 1 July. Civil libertarians, opposition parties, and some security experts have criticized the new powers as diminishing privacy without adding much to security. These politicians and NGOs say that a spate of security measures just go too far.

  • Australia: Five-Eyes nations should require backdoors in electronic devices

    Australia attorney-general George Brandis said he was planning to introduce a proposal to Australia’s four intelligence-sharing partners in the Five Eyes group — the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada – to require technology companies to create some kind of a backdoor to their devices. Australian leaders have emerged as strong proponents of allowing law-enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain access to the information and communication records on devices used by terrorists and criminals.

  • Mossad launching investment firm to benefit from Israel’s high-tech prowess

    Israel’s foreign intelligence agency is creating its own investment firm in order to cash in on the success of Israel’s new startups. Mossad will invest its own money in this project, forgoing additional investment from foreign capital and domestic venture capital firms. Unlike a traditional investment firm, Mossad doesn’t plan to control any shares of the constituent startups in exchange for funding. Instead, in a new model, Mossad will obtain rights to the technology produced by these startups.

  • Navy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

     

  • Germany considering spying on children suspected of radicalization

    Germany is debating the question of whether the country’s intelligence and law-enforcement agencies should out under surveillance minors radicalized by extremist Muslim clerics. The law currently bars the country’s intelligence agencies to save any data on anyone under the age of 18 when the data was collected. Bavaria’s interior minister Joachim Herrmann said it is “divorced from reality” to argue that investigators should look the other way when they learn about a radicalized minor.

  • Bringing transparency to cell phone surveillance

    Modern cell phones are vulnerable to attacks from rogue cellular transmitters called IMSI-catchers — surveillance devices that can precisely locate mobile phones, eavesdrop on conversations or send spam. Security researchers have developed a new system called SeaGlass to detect anomalies in the cellular landscape that can indicate where and when these surveillance devices are being used.

  • Israeli data startups driving N.Y. ecosystem

    The ability to interpret big data and find the needle in the haystack of information to help in decision-making is crucial. Israel startups thrive at finding needle-in-the-haystack information in order to make sense of the data and help in decision-making. “Data is a natural resource. Data by itself is like bricks. It’s all about what you do with it,” says Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense.

  • Extracting useful insights from a flood of data is hard to do

    A mantra of these data-rife times is that within the vast and growing volumes of diverse data types, such as sensor feeds, economic indicators, and scientific and environmental measurements, are dots of significance that can tell important stories, if only those dots could be identified and connected in authentically meaningful ways. Getting good at that exercise of data synthesis and interpretation ought to open new, quicker routes to identifying threats, tracking disease outbreaks, and otherwise answering questions and solving problems that previously were intractable.

  • Tech firms urge Congress to enact surveillance reforms

    More than thirty leading internet companies have sent a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee asking for reforms to the law used for carrying out mass surveillance. The letter concerns Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The act must be renewed by Congress before the end of the year. Over the years, the U.S. security agencies have creatively interpreted the law to allow them to store information on potentially millions of U.S. citizens – even though the law specifically requires the opposite.