Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11207 on: Aug 13th, 2014, 08:19am »
Meet MonsterMind, the NSA Bot That Could Wage Cyberwar Autonomously
By Kim Zetter 08.13.14
Edward Snowden has made us painfully aware of the government’s sweeping surveillance programs over the last year. But a new program, currently being developed at the NSA, suggests that surveillance may fuel the government’s cyber defense capabilities, too.
The NSA whistleblower says the agency is developing a cyber defense system that would instantly and autonomously neutralize foreign cyberattacks against the US, and could be used to launch retaliatory strikes as well. The program, called MonsterMind, raises fresh concerns about privacy and the government’s policies around offensive digital attacks.
Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat.
Cryptographer Matt Blaze, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Pennsylvania, says if the NSA knows how a malicious algorithm generates certain attacks, this activity may produce patterns of metadata that can be spotted.
“An individual record of an individual flow only tells you so much, but more revealing might be patterns of flows that are indicative of an attack,” he says. “If you have hundreds or thousand of flows starting up from a particular place and targeted to a particular machine, this might indicate you’re under attack. That’s how intrusion detection and anomaly-detection systems generally work. If you have intelligence about the attack tools of your adversary, you may be able to match specific patterns to specific tools that are being used to attack.”
Think of it as a digital version of the Star Wars initiative President Reagan proposed in the 1980s, which in theory would have shot down any incoming nuclear missiles. In the same way, MonsterMind could identify a distributed denial of service attack lobbed against US banking systems or a malicious worm sent to cripple airline and railway systems and stop—that is, defuse or kill— it before it did any harm.
More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire—automatically, without human intervention—against the attacker. Because an attacker could tweak malicious code to avoid detection, a counterstrike would be more effective in neutralizing future attacks.
Snowden doesn’t specify the nature of the counterstrike to say whether it might involve launching malicious code to disable the attacking system, or simply disable any malicious tools on the system to render them useless. But depending on how its deployed, such a program presents several concerns, two of which Snowden specifically addresses in the WIRED story.
First, an attack from a foreign adversary likely would be routed through proxies belonging to innocent parties—a botnet of randomly hacked machines, for example, or machines owned by another government. A counterstrike could therefore run the risk of embroiling the US in a conflict with the nation where the systems are located. What’s more, a retaliatory strike could cause unanticipated collateral damage. Before returning fire, the US would need to know what it is attacking, and what services or systems rely upon it. Otherwise, it could risk taking out critical civilian infrastructure. Microsoft’s recent move to take down two botnets—which disabled thousands of domains that had nothing to do with the malicious activity Microsoft was trying to stop—is an example of what can go wrong when systems are taken down without adequate foresight.
Blaze says such a system would no doubt take the attribution problem—looking beyond proxies to find exactly where the attack originated—into consideration. “Nobody would build a system like this and be unaware of the existence of decentralized botnet attacks laundered through the systems of innocent users, because that’s how pretty much all attacks work,” he says. That does not, however, make so-called hackback attacks any less problematic, he says.
The second issue with the program is a constitutional concern. Spotting malicious attacks in the manner Snowden describes would, he says, require the NSA to collect and analyze all network traffic flows in order to design an algorithm that distinguishes normal traffic flow from anomalous, malicious traffic.
“[T]hat means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows,” Snowden told WIRED’s James Bamford. “That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time.”
It would also require sensors placed on the internet backbone to detect anomalous activity.
Although MonsterMind does resemble the Einstein programs to a certain degree, it also sounds much like the Plan X cyberwarfare program run by Darpa. The five-year, $110 million research program has several goals, not the least of which is mapping the entire internet and identifying every node to help the Pentagon spot, and disable, targets if needed. Another goal is building a system that allows the Pentagon to conduct speed-of-light attacks using predetermined and pre-programmed scenarios. Such a system would be able to spot threats and autonomously launch a response, the Washington Post reported two years ago.
It’s not clear if Plan X is MonsterMind or if MonsterMind even exists. The Post noted at the time that Darpa would begin accepting proposals for Plan X that summer. Snowden said MonsterMind was in the works when he left his work as an NSA contractor last year.
The NSA, for its part, would not respond to questions about the MonsterMind program.
Blogger Scott Waring, of UFO Sightings Daily, was one of the first to point out the Aug. 4 appearance while describing it as a "glowing disk."
"I took a screenshot of the UFO and enlarged it. It has a long line down its middle and a dome on its top, but is rectangle (sic) on its lower bottom," Waring wrote of the video on his website.
Adding to some believers' excitement is that halfway into the video clip — as the object appears to get nearer and nearer — the camera cuts to a blank, blue screen.
"Really neat that you caught them going to blue screen as the object comes closer you can almost imagine the person that sensors saying, 'oh-no not another,'" one impressed YouTube viewer commented on the video.
Putin Says The Petrodollar Must Die, "The Dollar Monopoly In Energy Trade Is Damaging Russia's Economy"On one hand, despite initial weakness following Europe's triple-dip red alert, futures declined only to surge higher after some headline or another out of Russia was again spun to suggest imminent Ukraine de-escalation (something which Russia whose only interest is to keep crude prices high, has absolutely zero interest in), perpetuating a rumor which was set off by a Russian media outlet tweet last week that has sent S&P futures over 50 higher in less than a week on... nothing.
On the other, Putin just said the following, which no matter how one spins it, shows precisely how Russia is inclined vis-a-vis future (un-de-counter) escalations.
PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD AIM TO SELL OIL AND GAS FOR ROUBLES GLOBALLY, AS DOLLAR MONOPOLY IN ENERGY TRADE IS DAMAGING ECONOMY
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia should aim to sell its oil and gas for roubles globally because the dollar monopoly in energy trade was damaging Russia's economy.
"We should act carefully. At the moment we are trying to agree with some countries to trade in national currencies," Putin said during a visit to the Crimea region, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine earlier this year.
Countries such as China, India, Iran, Brazil, and virtually every other non-insolvent, that is to say "developed, Western" country.
And now, bring on the Russian "isolation" (which is about to push Europe, not Russia, into a triple-dip recession) and further de-escalation.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11211 on: Aug 14th, 2014, 11:17am »
What It Takes to Win the World’s Highest Computer Science Honor
By Thomas Lin and Erica Klarreich, Quanta Magazine
One summer afternoon in 2001, while visiting relatives in India, Subhash Khot drifted into his default mode — quietly contemplating the limits of computation. For hours, no one could tell whether the third-year Princeton University graduate student was working or merely sinking deeper into the living-room couch. That night, he woke up, scribbled something down and returned to bed. Over breakfast the next morning, he told his mother that he had come up with an interesting idea. She didn’t know what it was, but her reserved older son seemed unusually happy.
Khot’s insight — now called the Unique Games Conjecture — helped him make progress on a problem he was working on at the time, but even Khot and his colleagues did not realize its potential. “It just sounded like an idea that would be nice if it was true,” recalled Khot, now a 36-year-old computer science professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
When Khot returned to Princeton, he mentioned the idea to Sanjeev Arora, his doctoral adviser, who advised him to hold off on publishing it. “I wasn’t sure it was going to be a good paper,” Arora said. “I thought it was maybe a little premature, that it was just a month since he had the idea.”
Khot wrote the paper anyway. “I was just a graduate student,” Khot said of the decision. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to take me seriously to begin with.”
In a sense, Khot’s insight completed an idea set in motion by another mentor, Johan Håstad of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. But even Håstad ignored Khot’s conjecture at first. “I thought it might get proven or disproven in a year,” he said. “It took us awhile to realize it had all these consequences.”
Over the next several years, what seemed a modest observation — that a particular assumption could simplify certain approximation algorithm problems — grew into one of the most influential new ideas in theoretical computer science. Today, for his “prescient” assumption and his subsequent leadership in “the effort to understand its complexity and its pivotal role in the study of efficient approximation of optimization problems,” Khot was awarded the 2014 Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, widely considered one of the top honors in his field.
In announcing the prize on its website, the International Mathematical Union also credited Khot’s work for generating “new exciting interactions between computational complexity, analysis and geometry.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11212 on: Aug 14th, 2014, 11:22am »
Second group of Amazonian Indians makes contact with outside world
A group of 24 indigenous men, women and children have emerged from their Amazon home - weeks after another group fled aggressors in Peru
By Harriet Alexander 2:35PM BST 14 Aug 2014
A second group of Amazonian Indians who have never before had contact with the outside world have emerged near the border with Brazil and Peru, heightening fears that the uncontacted tribes are being forced from their land and threatened with extinction.
The group of 24 men, women and children approached Brazilian government officials, reportedly after fleeing attacks in Peru. They are now resting at a Brazilian government base on the Xinane river – an area which is known for its smuggling routes between the two countries.
Settled relatives of the uncontacted tribe said that they were concerned about the forest-dwelling people leaving their homes.
"I'm sad to see that my uncontacted relatives are threatened with extermination, and that Peru has failed to take responsibility," said Nixiwaka Yawanaw, an Amazon Indian from Acre state. "Both the Brazilian and Peruvian authorities must provide the necessary funds to protect them, while there is still time, otherwise one more innocent people will be wiped out in full view of the international public."
Survival International, which campaigns to protect the lands in habited by "uncontacted people" – defined as peoples who have no peaceful contact with anyone in the mainstream or dominant society – estimate that there are about 100 uncontacted tribes in the world.
According to FUNAI, Brazil's indigenous authority, 77 of these uncontacted tribes are in the Amazon.
The latest emergence of the tribal members comes less than two months after seven Indians from the same tribe made contact with a settled Ashaninka indigenous community.
They told stories of how they had been attacked in Peru – possibly by loggers or cocaine traffickers.
"The majority of old people were massacred by non-Indians in Peru, who shot at them with firearms and set fire to the houses of the uncontacted," said an interpreter who worked with the first group. "They say that many old people died and that they buried three people in one grave."
Escalation over the Ukraine conflict, a/k/a Cold War 2.0, just took another major step forward. Because here comes the cavalry... literally.
While the world is focused on the first deployment of US marines in Iraq in nearly a decade, as "humanitarian advisors" of course so as not to destroy the Nobel peace prize-winning aura of the US president who is rapidly becoming a warmonger on par with his predecessor, a far more dangerous development took place overnight with nobody noticing, when the Pentagon announced that approximately 600 soldiers from the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy to Poland and the Baltic states to help reassure European allies who feel threatened by Russian military moves. And while most Americans may be geographically challenged, Russians know very well that all of these countries border on Russia. As such this very demonstrative military expansion by NATO powers to "pre-contain" Russian military agression will only lead to one thing: even more "defensive" escalation.
Some more detail on the latest US dispatch of troops in the area now defined by the second coming of the Cold War from Stripes.com:
The troops and their equipment — which include M-1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers — will go to Europe in October for a three-month series of training exercises.
The troops will originate out of Fort Hood, Texas (keep this in mind for a post later today) and will replace 600 paratroopers from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. "These land training exercises … help foster interoperability through small unit and leader training," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.
In addition to ground forces, the U.S. has also sent F-16 combat aircraft to Poland and participated in NATO air policing missions over the Baltics.
So why is the US sending military reinforcements at a time when every troop movement is scrutinized with a microscope around the globe:
The exercises came at the request of host nations that fear a resurgent Russia, which annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine earlier this year and continues to support a pro-Russia separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
So to summarize: the countries that are most worried about Russian military aggression, those which by definition border on Russia, have decided to preempt Russia and demand additional US military presence on their territory, believing that the Kremlin will not see this US military build up as one which threatens Russia with even further NATO expansion on its borders. .
Brilliant. Why? Because recall what happened in December 2013 long before the Ukraine semi-hot proxy civil war was raging:
It seems [Putin] had a Plan B in case things escalated out of control, one that fits with what we wrote a few days ago when we reported that "Russia casually announces it will use nukes if attacked." Namely, as Bloomberg reports citing Bild, Russia quietly stationed a double-digit number of SS-26 Stone, aka Iskander, tactical, nuclear-capable short-range missiles near the Polish border in a dramatic escalation to merely verbal threats issued as recently as a year ago.
This comes from an article titled "Russia Stations Tactical, Nuclear-Capable Missiles Along Polish Border", in which we explained how Russia has done precisely this when it stationed a "double-digit" of SS-26 nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad on the border with Poland, over "concerns" what NATO encorachment close to its territory could imply.
And now, NATO appears to have decided to find out just what Russia's response to such an incremental tactical arms build up will be.
Ps This could all be perfectly above board and a replacement for 600 there already and or the 400 akademi that are in the field advising the artillery gunners shelling the cities.
« Last Edit: Aug 14th, 2014, 3:38pm by Sysconfig »
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11215 on: Aug 14th, 2014, 4:33pm »
Text of the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities In Deep Space Act
This bill was assigned to a congressional committee on July 10, 2014, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole. The text of the bill below is as of Jul 10, 2014 (Introduced).
To promote the development of a commercial asteroid resources industry for outer space in the United States and to increase the exploration and utilization of asteroid resources in outer space.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11219 on: Aug 15th, 2014, 10:14am »
GOOD MORNING Z AND FELLOW UFOCASEBOOKERS
Scientists Program Largest Swarm of Robots Ever
By Marcus Woo 08.14.14
Alone, the simple little robot can’t do much, shuffling around on three vibrating tooth-pick legs. But working with 1,000 or more like-minded fellow bots, it becomes part of a swarm that can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape.
These are some of the first steps toward creating huge herds of tiny robots that form larger structures—including bigger robots. Building swarming robots can also help scientists understand collective behavior seen in nature, from bird flocks and fish schools to networks of cells and neurons.
In the past, researchers have only been able to program at most a couple hundred robots to work together. Now, researchers at Harvard University have programmed the biggest robot swarm yet.
“It’s really a big accomplishment,” said roboticist Hod Lipson of Cornell University, who wasn’t involved in the work. “It’s the first demonstration of this swarm robotic behavior at the scale of 1,000 physical robots.” Getting even tens or a hundred robots to work together is difficult, with a lot of algorithmic and technical challenges, he says.
Fancy robots with wheels, odometers, orientation sensors, and cameras can make self-assembly easier, said Mike Rubenstein, the roboticist who led the research team. “But if it’s too complicated, you can’t build a thousand robots.” That would be too expensive and difficult. At the same time, if you make your robots too simple, their capabilities become too limited. “So there’s a difficult trade-off.”
The researchers used robots they designed and built called Kilobots, which aren’t much bigger than a penny. Each one costs $14 in parts and only takes a few minutes to put together—you can even order some for yourself. To program them all at once, the researchers beam down instructions via an infrared light from an overhead controller. The robots communicate with one another by sending and receiving infrared signals. The team programmed 1,024 of these robots to gather into the shape of a star, the letter “K,” and a wrench (watch the robots at work in the video below).
The shape formation begins with four seed robots that act as the origin of a two-dimensional coordinate system. The other robots scurry one-by-one along the edge of the group toward the seed robots. Once the robots sense they’re behind another robot or at the boundary of the shape they’ve been programmed to form, they stop. The newly positioned robots then broadcast their locations so that their bot brethren know where to go. Each robot keeps track of its location and orientation relative to its neighbors.
These kinds of self-organizing algorithms have many applications, such as in driverless cars, Lipson says. Sooner or later, driverless cars will chauffeur us around, he says, and they’re going to need sophisticated algorithms to ensure smooth traffic flow and to avoid collisions.
Eventually, swarming robots could even lead to what’s called programmable matter. Imagine thousands of tiny robots forming whatever three-dimensional structure you want, whether it’s a hammer or a cell phone—a kind of 3-D printing that works like programmable, self-molding clay. “That’s the dream,” Lipson said.
Or, Rubenstein says, these tiny robots can act as biological cells, forming the building blocks for bigger, shape-shifting robots. The idea is that such a robot could take whatever shape is best suited for a particular task. It could assume the shape of a snake to slither across sand, form legs to crawl over rock, or even a wheel to roll up and down a hill. A swimming robot could become more aerodynamic to slice through water. It could even split into two if the task requires it. And, these collective robots would be easily fixed, since ideally every one of the tiny robots would be cheap and replaceable.
Of course, that’s still a long way away, Rubenstein says. For now, he’d like to design robots that can actually attach to one another and form rigid structures. Another area of improvement would be to refine the algorithm so that robots can arrange themselves more quickly. Right now, the robots scuttle around one at a time, taking hours to form a shape. But with an algorithm that allows them to assemble in parallel, then they can shape up faster.
A faster algorithm would also enable even larger swarms of 10,000 robots to self-assemble, which could otherwise take days. But first, there are practical issues. “I would need a bigger table,” Rubenstein said.