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Terrorist Attack In Brussels Airport and Metro Station: At Least 34 Dead ( 1011

SomeoneFromBelgium writes: This morning there was a double bomb explosion in Brussels, Belgium. In the National Airport entrance hall an estimated 13 people were killed by a big explosion; around the same time another bomb exploded in Metro station 'Maalbeek,' close to the financial district, killing an estimated 10 persons. Note: story updates bump this figure ot at least 34 deaths. Reader jones_supa adds Shots were fired and Arabic shouted before the blasts, suggesting a terrorist attack. Video and images on social media showed smoke rising from an airport building and shattered windows. Confused and shocked passengers fled the terminal to safety as they were evacuated by armed police. Footage showed rubbish littered across the floor. All traffic from and to the airport has been suspended. The airport is monitoring the situation closely and will deliver further announcements in Twitter. Update: 03/22 13:06 GMT by T : According to the New York Times and other sources, at least one of the explosions was set off by a suicide bomber. Slate has an actively updating stream of updates about the attack, too.

DOJ Threatens To Seize iOS Source Code ( 596

An anonymous reader writes from an article posted on iDownloadBlog: The DoJ is demanding that Apple create a special version of iOS with removed security features that would permit the FBI to run brute-force passcode attempts on the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has made public where he stands on the Apple vs. FBI case, which has quickly become a heated national debate. In the court papers, DoJ calls Apple's rhetoric in the San Bernardino standoff as "false" and "corrosive" because the Cupertino firm dared suggest that the FBI's court order could lead to a "police state." Footnote Nine of DoJ's filing reads:

"For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone without access to the source code and Apple's private electronic signature. The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers."

As Fortune's Philip-Elmer DeWitt rightfully pointed out, that's a classic police threat. "We can do this [the] easy way or the hard way. Give us the little thing we're asking for -- a way to bypass your security software -- or we'll take [the] whole thing: your crown jewels and the royal seal too," DeWitt wrote. "With Apple's source code, the FBI could, in theory, create its own version of iOS with the security features stripped out. Stamped with Apple's electronic signature, the Bureau's versions of iOS could pass for the real thing," he added.


Anonymous Claims Twitter Is Suspending 'OpISIS' Member Accounts ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: Anonymous has claimed that Twitter mistakenly shut down several of its activist accounts in a widespread cull of pages belonging to terrorist supporters. In an effort to rid the site of an extremist presence, Twitter has recently suspended over 125,000 accounts for 'threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.' However, the international activist group Anonymous is now reporting that among this number were multiple member accounts, which were actively supporting the fight against the Islamic State and helping to seek out terrorist supporters and recruiters online. Twitter has typically re-opened the Anonymous accounts within a matter of hours, bombarded with requests by hacktivists and the wider online community.

China Tries Its Hand At Pre-Crime ( 99

schwit1 writes: China's effort to flush out threats to stability is expanding into an area that used to exist only in dystopian sci-fi: pre-crime. The Communist Party has directed one of the country's largest state-run defense contractors, China Electronics Technology Group, to develop software to collate data on jobs, hobbies, consumption habits, and other behavior of ordinary citizens to predict terrorist acts before they occur. "It's very crucial to examine the cause after an act of terror," Wu Manqing, the chief engineer for the military contractor, told reporters at a conference in December. "But what is more important is to predict the upcoming activities." The program is unprecedented because there are no safeguards from privacy protection laws and minimal pushback from civil liberty advocates and companies, says Lokman Tsui, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who has advised Google on freedom of expression and the Internet.

ISIS Makes Direct Threats Against Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey ( 305

wjcofkc writes: A group of ISIS supporters have threatened to take down Facebook and Twitter, as well as their leaders. In a 25-minute propaganda video released by a group calling itself "the sons of the Caliphate army," photographs of both technology leaders are riddled with bullets. The video was first spotted by Vocativ. The threats are being made over the two companies' efforts to seek out and remove terrorist-related content on their respective platforms. The group is quoted as saying, "If you close one account, we will take 10 in return and soon your names will be erased after we delete your sites, Allah willing, and will know that we say is true."

Twitter Tackles Terrorists In Targeted Takedown ( 105

Mark Wilson writes: Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement. Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.

San Francisco Bay Area In Superbowl Surveillance Mode ( 95

An anonymous reader links to Wired's description of a surveillance society in miniature assembling right now in San Francisco: Super Bowl 50 will be big in every way. A hundred million people will watch the game on TV. Over the next ten days, 1 million people are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for the festivities. And, according to the FBI, 60 federal, state, and local agencies are working together to coordinate surveillance and security at what is the biggest national security event of the year.
Previous year's Superbowl security measures have included WMD sensors, database-backed facial recognition, and gamma-ray vehicle scanners. Given the fears and cautions in the air about this year's contest, it's easy to guess that the scanning and sensing will be even more prevalent this time.

The Widely Reported ISIS Encrypted Messaging App Is Not Real 113

blottsie writes: Despite widespread reports to the contrary, an app created for Islamic State militants to send private encrypted messages does not exist, a week-long Daily Dot investigation found. All of the media articles on the Alrawi app showed screenshots of a different app entirely, one that is a glorified RSS reader with a totally different name. The Defense One journalist who first reported on GSG's claims about the app told the Daily Dot that he hadn't seen any version of Alrawi at all, and the subsequent reports on the app largely relied on Defense One's reporting. The Daily Dot was the first media outlet to receive, on Jan. 18, what GSG claimed was the Alrawi encryption app. The app, called "Alrawi.apk," contained no ability to send or encrypt messages. It was created using MIT's App Inventor, a plug-and-play tool meant primarily for children.

French Conservatives Push Law To Ban Strong Encryption ( 246

Patrick O'Neill writes: The French parliament this week will examine a bill that would require tech manufacturers of computers, phones, and tablets to build backdoors into any encryption on the device. The anti-encryption bill is being presented by 18 conservative members of the National Assembly as part of a large "Digital Republic" bill. According to the article, The new French bill briefly praises encryption’s role in protecting user data but immediately pivots to criticizing the effects of strong encryption on state security forces. "France must take the initiative and force device manufacturers to take into consideration the imperative of access for law enforcement officers, under the control of a judge and only in the case of an investigation, to those devices," the legislation reads, according to a translation by Khalil Sehnaoui, a Middle-East security specialist and founder of Krypton Security. "The goal is to avoid that individual encryption systems delay the advancement of an investigation."
United States

Tokyo Rose 2.0: White House Asks Silicon Valley For Terrorism Help 184

theodp writes: While past U.S. Presidents have had to contend with radio propaganda, President Obama also has to worry about online propaganda. On Friday, U.S. national security officials met with leaders in Silicon Valley seeking ideas for ways to curtail terrorists' use of social media and to use technology to "disrupt paths to radicalization to violence." The closed door meetup, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook and top execs from Facebook, Twitter and Google, occurred on the same day the White House also announced the creation of the Countering Violent Extremism Task Force, which will focus on using social media to counter online propaganda by Islamic State and other terrorist groups, and the State Department promised to revamp its online counter-messaging campaign.

Domestic Terrorists Could Use OSINT To Pinpoint US Substations For a Blackout ( 97

An anonymous reader writes: A project called 'Gridstrike' found that free and publicly available information can be used to determine the most critical electric substations in the US, which if attacked, could result in a nationwide blackout. Researchers from iSIGHT Partners used a combination of publicly available transmission substation information, maps, Google Earth, and grid congestion documentation, and drew correlations among the substations that serve the top ten cities in the US. They ID'ed 15 substations that if attacked and knocked offline would result in a nationwide blackout, they say. Their research took the spin of whether a homegrown terror group with little funding could get this crucial information. The study was inspired by the 2013 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) study in 2013 that found that attacks on just nine electric substations in the U.S. could cause a blackout across the entire grid.

DHS Deployed Plane Above San Bernardino To Scoop Up All Phone Calls After Attack ( 147

schwit1 writes: Federal investigators looking into the San Bernardino massacre deployed a spy plane overhead after the attacks in an apparent attempt to find additional suspects. The Department of Homeland Security is said to have put up the single engine craft over the California city and ordered it to make repeated circles overhead. The craft would likely have been equipped with Dirtbox technology which can scan tens of thousands of phones in one go to identify suspects. The report adds to the intrigue about whether or not there were accomplices in the San Bernardino attacks, which took place last Wednesday and were the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11.

Spotting And Culling Terrorist Groups On Social Media: Pipe Dream, or Possibility? ( 69

An anonymous reader writes: Can Twitter Spot Terrorists and Put Them In Jail? Hany Farid, the chairman of the Computer Science department at Dartmouth University, thinks so. He told the New York Times that there's "no fundamental technology or engineering limitation" to spotting terrorists on the Intertubes. In other words, he's figured out how to tell the difference between bragging terrorists and kids who are just joking about being "da bomb." Can artificial intelligence make these distinctions? Or will it generate a ton of false positives? Or is Prof. Farid just trolling for more grant money to make Dartmouth the premier department for spying on social media?

Ex-CIA Director Says Snowden Should Be 'Hanged' For Paris Attacks ( 486

SonicSpike writes with this excerpt from The HIll: A former CIA director says leaker Edward Snowden should be convicted of treason and given the death penalty in the wake of the terrorist attack on Paris. "It's still a capital crime, and I would give him the death sentence, and I would prefer to see him hanged by the neck until he's dead, rather than merely electrocuted," James Woolsey told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Thursday. Woolsey said Snowden, who divulged classified information in 2013, is partly responsible for the terrorist attack in France last week that left at least 120 dead and hundreds injured. "I think the blood of a lot of these French young people is on his hands," he said.

NYT Quietly Pulls Article Blaming Encryption In Paris Attacks 259 writes: Inside Sources reports that the NY Times has quietly pulled a story from its website alleging the attackers used encrypted technology. The original piece, which has since been removed, can be found on the Internet Archive. It stated, "The attackers are believed to have communicated using encryption technology, according to European officials who had been briefed on the investigation but were not authorized to speak publicly. It was not clear whether the encryption was part of widely used communications tools, like WhatsApp, which the authorities have a hard time monitoring, or something more elaborate. Intelligence officials have been pressing for more leeway to counter the growing use of encryption."

A link to the NY Times article now redirects readers to a separate, general article on the attacks, which does not contain the word "encrypt." The Times later posted a second article citing an anonymous "European counterterrorism official" who was quoted saying authorities' "working assumption is that these guys were very security aware," but clarified officials "offered no evidence."

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