When outsourcing fails you

Microsoft’s South Korean MSN site, apparently very popular, more so than the US version, is operated by a third party. This vendor apparently did not patch their servers hosting MSN Korea, allowing for the malicious code to be inserted. On the technical side, disconcerting is the (currently) unknown (or not made public) duration the malicious code was operating.

Source: CNN.com – Microsoft:MSN site hacked in South Korea – Jun 2, 2005.

Microsoft acknowledges that hackers booby-trapped its MSN Web site in South Korea to steal passwords from visitors.

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Remote Sensing

Remote-control and remote-sensing warfare is advancing each day. Add to my previous post on remote cameras this nugget of information:

These ‘rocks’ … will be sent from an aircraft and will detect enemies by ‘listening’ to them from 20 to 30 meters. These sensors should be operational within 18 months and they should be cheap enough to leave them on the battlefield after they completed their tasks.

Source: Roland Piquepaille and DefenseTech

Closing and reducing the sensor-to-shoot window is but one element here, other dimensions are intelligence and security. Similar to the acoustic nets for submarines, these can be a force multipliers for recon and perimeter sentries, among other applications. We need to be cautious not to rely too heavily on technology to provide us the answer whether to shoot or not. The new asymmetric enemy will foil the best technology. We need to keep humans in the loop to give the human interpretation.

 

Criminal Funding of Terrorism Continues

Terrorist groups have frequently relied on criminal acts to fund their operations. The short-lived era of state-sponsored terrorism has apparently ended with the latest wave of globalization. Terrorist organisations are forcibly less dependent on state or Wahhabite funds, depending on the cause and benefactor. Pecuniary resources are, of course, necessary to further any operation and as Bruce Hoffman notes, "terrorist campaign[s] [are] like a shark in water: it must keep moving forward…or die."

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Ignoring history doesn’t change it

From: ABC News: U.S. Brochure Drops Arms-Control Deals.

The brochure…lists milestones in arms control since the 1980s, while touting reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. But the timeline omits a pivotal agreement, the 1996 treaty to ban nuclear tests, a pact negotiated by the Clinton administration and ratified by 121 nations but now rejected under President Bush.

I don’t have time to comment yet, will add to this later, but this seems a bit revisionist. It is one thing to disagree and debate with valid (your perception may vary) arguments, but to ignore something with the hopes people will forget and move along? So many anecdotes, so little time.

Make Law(fare) Not War(fare)

From: INTEL DUMP – Bring ’em on.

New Army War College journal piece says we should be worried about our enemies fighting us in our courts — I say "lawfare" is vastly preferable to "warfare".

An excellent article from a must-read site.

Remote (far and near) monitoring advances

Looking for some remote monitoring? Two really cool options: the Mini Unattended Ground Imager (MUGI) and Eye Ball R1.

First, the MUGI from Defense Tech: Buried Cameras for Hidden Foes. This neat device includes such hot features as a laser marker to "close the sensor-to-shooter cycle", the ability to leave physically unattended for long cycles, and of course, remote control. The notion of this forward air traffic controller is slick, but the in-place knowledge is still lacking, for those considering peppering the operational theatres with these. However, what if next to the fake rock hiding the camera in say an urban environment, there was a Batman-style cave garage for an RC car to go zooming in for a better look?

Now for the Eye Ball… Think of a bowling ball. Think of hurling it down stairs, through a hole, into a cave and you’ve got the new Eye Ball R1. Put the ball anywhere, even on a remote controlled car which the article mentions may have already been done.

Eye Ball R1’s omni-directional camera can rotate at 4 rpm until a
target is identified, and then give the operator a 55-degree horizontal
and 41-degree vertical field of view, as well as near-infrared (IR)
spectrum night vision capability for low-light deployment/night
operations.

BALL? STRIKE!: Throwable Spy Camera System.

The value, besides being able to know what is around the corner or in the room, is the future intersection of RC mobility, remote observation, lethal/non-lethal force, and communication toward those little spider things from Minority Report.

Guides to Britain, Iraq (for WWII GIs but also for today)

Before returning from a term at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, a friend gave me a book a great little book: Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942. This was issued to American GIs headed for the to-be-UK and is full of great little bits. Here are but a few of them:

  • "The British have theatres and movies (which they call "cinemas") as we do. But the great place of recreation is the "pub".
  • The English language didn’t spread across the oceans and over the mountains and jungles and swamps of the world because these people were panty-waists.
  • [The] British [are] reserved, not unfriendly.
  • It is always impolite to criticize your hosts; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.

This is a fun read that is appropriate to anybody traveling there even today. While I was trying to find the equivalent book on the French, which I remember was not as kind as the one above, I found this: A Short Guide to Iraq. Issued by the US War and Navy Departments servicemen (did any women go there?) going to Iraq to defend the oil fields. It is amazing how timeless this book is. You can read the whole thing here.

I never did find the French book, which I did see online two or three years ago. Maybe some French hackers took it offline.

Foreign Affairs – Pitch Imperfect – Sanford J. Ungar

In an era when public opinion and perceptionmatter, when social networks are more important than military networks,
and the resulting interconnections can form terrible insurgencies, why
are we not acknowledging the power of media? The demise — or cutbacks
if you’re an optimist — of the VOA inspite of a proven track record is
short sighted. A full frontal cultural and media attack, sublte and not
sublte, is necessary to counter perceptions and understandings of the
West.

Link: Foreign Affairs – Pitch Imperfect – Sanford J. Ungar.

Summary: The Voice of America — the United States’ best tool of public diplomacy — is being subjected to systematic cutbacks, even as the country’s international image is suffering. Washington must reverse the trend or face even greater hostility abroad.