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The Military

Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot 194

WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: 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. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.

China Confirms New Generation of ICBM 224

Taco Cowboy (5327) writes with news of the Chinese military's latest toy, an ICBM capable of delivering multiple warheads across the Pacific. From the article: The DF-41 is designed to have a range of 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles), according to a report by Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, putting it among the world's longest-range missiles. ... It is "possibly capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles", the U.S. Defense Department said in a report in June, referring to a payload of several nuclear warheads. It also quoted a Chinese military analyst as saying: "As the U.S. continues to strengthen its missile defense system, developing third generation nuclear weapons capable of carrying multiple warheads is the trend." China's previous longest range missile was the DF-5A, which can carry a single warhead as far as 12,000 km, according to Jane's.
The Military

Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So 165

New submitter IMissAlexChilton (3748631) writes Frank Malina masterfully led the World War II effort to build U.S. rockets for jet-assisted takeoff and guided missiles. As described in IEEE Spectrum, Malina's motley crew of engineers and enthusiasts (including occultist Jack Parsons) founded the Jet Propulsion Lab and made critical breakthroughs in solid fuels, hypergolics, and high-altitude sounding rockets, laying the groundwork for NASA's future successes. And yet, under suspicion by the Feds at the war's end, Malina gave up his research career, and his team's efforts sank into obscurity. Taking his place: the former Nazi Wernher von Braun. Read "Frank Malina: America's Forgotten Rocketeer". Includes cool vintage footage of early JPL rocket tests.
The Military

MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures 454

Lasrick (2629253) writes In a controversial article last week, MIT physicist Ted Postol again questioned whether Israel's vaunted Iron Dome rocket defense system actually works. This week, he comes back with evidence in the form of diagrams, photos of Iron Dome intercepts and contrails, and evidence on the ground to show that Iron Dome in fact is effective only about 5% of the time. Postol believes the real reason there are so few Israeli casualties is that Hamas rockets have very small warheads (only 10 to 20 pounds), and also Israel's outstanding civil defense system, which includes a vast system of shelters and an incredibly sophisticated rocket attack warning system (delivered through smart phones, among other ways).

Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.

DARPA's Cyber Grand Challenge Offers $3.75 Million In Prizes 10

An anonymous reader writes "Computer security experts from academia, industry and the larger security community have organized themselves into more than 30 teams to compete in DARPA's Cyber Grand Challenge, a tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyberattacks as fast as they are launched. The Challenge plans to follow a 'capture the flag' competition format that experts have used for more than 20 years to test their cyber defense skills. The winning team from the CGC finals stands to receive a cash prize of $2 million. Second place can earn $1 million and third place $750,000."
The Military

Norway Is Gamifying Warfare By Driving Tanks With Oculus Rift 106

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Look at Norway, where the Army has started using Oculus Rift to drive tanks with increased visibility, according to the Norwegian TV station Four VR cameras are mounted on the sides of the tank to give the soldier inside donning the headset a full 360 degree view of what's going on outside, like X-ray vision. Using cameras to 'see through' a vehicle isn't a new concept; when the hatches are down tanks are notoriously hard to navigate. But the Oculus Rift dev kit is just a fraction of the price of traditional 360-degree camera equipment: Lockheed Martin's F-35 helmet for pilots can cost tens of thousands of dollars."
The Military

US War Machine Downsizing? 506

mrspoonsi writes "BBC Reports: 'Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel — from 520,000 currently. The U.S. currently spends more on defense than the combined total of the next 12 countries, as ranked by defense spending.'"

DARPA Training Cadets and Midshipmen As Cyber Warriors 65

An anonymous reader writes "DARPA officials say the Defense Department must train 4,000 cybersecurity experts by 2017. Meeting that goal requires building a pipeline for training and education, especially for future officers who'll oversee protection of the cyber domain. During a winter weekend in Pittsburgh, more than 50 cadets and midshipmen from three service academies sat elbow to elbow at nine round tables in a packed room. They'd been training since November to compete in a pilot program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called the Service Academy Cyber Stakes. From the article: 'This involves skills such as being able to reverse engineer binary, or machine-readable, files and, Ragsdale said, finding source-code-level vulnerabilities that could be exploited, and doing so with software source-level analysis and with automated tools that perform functions such as fuzzing, the informal name for automatic bug finding."

Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon 202

Zothecula writes "In another step forward for laser weapons that brings to mind the Death Star's superlaser, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a 30-kilowatt fiber laser produced by combining many lasers into a single beam of light. According to the company, this is the highest power laser yet that was still able to maintain beam quality and electrical efficiency, paving the way for a laser weapon system suitable, if not for a Death Star, for a wide range of air, land, and sea military platforms."
The Military

Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War? 317

Lasrick writes "This is a great read — from the article: 'Today, emerging military technologies — including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Swiss War Game Envisages Invasion By Bankrupt French 245

An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Hordes of bankrupt French invade Switzerland to get their hands on their "stolen" money — such is the imaginary scenario cooked up by the Swiss military in simulations revealed over the weekend. Carried out in August, the apparently outlandish army exercise was based on the premise of an attack by a financially stricken France split into warring regions, according to Matin Dimanche, the Lausanne-based daily. ... Operation "Duplex-Barbara" went as far as imagining a three-pronged invasion from points near Neufchâtel, Lausanne and Geneva, according to a map published in the Swiss newspaper. Behind the dastardly raid was a paramilitary organization dubbed BLD, the Dijon Free Brigade bent on grabbing back "money that Switzerland had stolen from Saônia". "For its credibility, the Swiss army must work (to ward against) threats of the 21st century," Antoine Vielliard, Hauate-Savoie councilor, told Matin Dimanche. However, Daniel Berger, captain of the Swiss armored brigade, sought to play down the specificity of the threat. "The exercise has strictly nothing to do with France, which we appreciate" he told the Swiss press. ... "French towns were cited to provide soldiers with a real scale," he said. ... Neutral Switzerland has not been invaded since the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century. '"
The Military

Syrian Rebels Claim Hundreds Killed By Poison-Gas Attack 222

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Haroon Siddique reports for The Guardian that opposition activists have accused forces loyal to the Assad regime of using chemical weapons in towns in the eastern Ghouta. Accounts of the death toll vary wildly. The British based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights put the number killed at 'dozens.' Others put the figure much higher. The Local Coordination Committees said 'hundreds' were killed, the majority of them civilians. Graphic videos purporting to show the victims of the attack have been posted online (WARNING: graphic) showing chaotic scenes of people, including children, having seizures, being treated, and dead bodies lined up. 'Symptoms of the patients include nausea, hallucinations, suffocation, hard coughing, high blood pressure, seizures etc,' says the Syrian Revolution General Commission (SRGC). 'There is still no clue of the chemical weapon/toxic gas that was used by the regime's forces to target the innocent civilians.' Ake Sellstrom, the Swedish scientist who heads the U.N. inspection team in Syria, told the Swedish media that he had seen only the television images of the alleged attacks. 'But the high number of wounded and dead they are speaking about sounds suspicious,' Sellström told Swedish news agency TT, via telephone from Damascus. 'It sounds like something one should take a look at.'. The official Syrian news agency called the reports 'untrue' and designed to derail a United Nations inquiry into charges of chemical weapons in the conflict."

Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War 139

Zothecula writes "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain."

Former NSA Chief Warns Hackers Will Attack US If Snowden Is Captured 413

Okian Warrior writes "The Guardian is reporting Michael Hayden speculating that hackers and transparency groups are likely to respond with cyber-terror attacks if the United States government apprehends whistleblower Edward Snowden. Hayden called the potential attackers 'Nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years.'"

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato