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PHNO SCIENCE & INFOTECH NEWS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports)

CYBER-SAFE: TERRORISTS HIDE PLANS BY  A TECHNOLOGY APP CALLED 'GOING DARK'


NOVEMBER 16 -Terrorists hide plans by 'going dark' Police worry they won't be able to prevent next attack UPDATED 3:51 PM CST Nov 16, 2015 WISN ABC NEWS USA By Jose Pagliery
NEW YORK, - Preventing terrorist plots is harder than ever. Violent extremists meet in the open on Facebook or Twitter. Then they take the conversation private, using technology called encryption to encode their messages. It's called "going dark." And it's the most alarming concern for police worldwide right now. They worry they can't prevent the next terrorist attack. In recent weeks, FBI director James Comey has repeatedly told Congress that surveillance is getting harder. "Encryption is nothing new. But the challenge to law enforcement and national security officials is markedly worse," Comey said during a speech at a Washington, D.C. think tank last month. "If the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place." Terrorists are using a two-part strategy: Connect from afar, then plot in private.This is how it typically plays out. An Islamic State jihadist schemes a plot from inside captured territory in Syria or Iraq. Using public social media networks, he finds possible partners in Europe or the Americas. Then they move into direct person-to-person chatting apps that encrypt conversations. WhatsApp and Telegram encrypt text. Signal encrypts phone calls. Wickr sends self-destructing messages. FaceTime, the video chatting app for iPhone, is encrypted too. For email, there's a tool called PGP. The popular, legal options are numerous.
All of these programs turn words into jumbled computer code. Government spies can't break that code fast enough. READ MORE...


ALSO: An app called Telegram is the 'hot new thing among jihadists'


NOVEMBER 17 -An app called Telegram is the 'hot new thing among jihadists' - Nov. 17, 2015
This app is popular with ISIS. When ISIS terrorists want to hide what they're saying, they are increasingly turning to an app called Telegram.It's "the new hot thing among jihadists," said Laith Alkhouri, director of Research at Flashpoint Global Partners. The Berlin-based startup boasts two layers of encryption and claims to be "faster and more secure" than its competitor WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. Users can securely message friends and send pictures and files. They can also create group chats with up to 200 members or opt for "special secret chats" where messages, photos, and videos will self-destruct. ISIS is also using Telegram to broadcast big messages on the app's "channels," which are devoted to a variety of topics. It was on the official ISIS channel that the group said the Paris attacks would be the "first of the storm."  ISIS also used Telegram to claim responsibility for downing a Russian airplane on October 31. "A lot of people are now seeing Telegram advertised on ISIS supporter Twitter accounts," said Alkhouri. He said the official ISIS channel distributes between 10 and 20 ISIS statements and videos a day. Some terror groups are using Telegram to fundraise. On certain jihadi-related channels, users are asked to donate and pick where their money would go. For example, users can pick out the type of weapons their money would be spent on. "You can choose whether to donate your money to an AK-47," Alkhouri said. Because Telegram isn't yet widely known, there's less scrutiny. It launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who has been dubbed "the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia." Pavel Durov created the popular Russian social network Vkontakte, and fled Russia after refusing to hand over user data to the government, according to reporting by the New York Times. On Telegram's FAQ page, it says profits will never be a goal for the company. The company says it has "quite enough money for the time being." Telegram is a reaction to what the makers of the app believe are shortcomings of other mainstream networks. "Big Internet companies like Facebook or Google have effectively hijacked the privacy discourse in the recent years," the site says. READ MORE...


ALSO Fighting ISIS online: What Google and Facebook Can Do to Fight ISIS


DECEMBER 10 -Fighting ISIS Online FROM MYWEBMEMO.COM
When Hillary Clinton called on tech companies to help “disrupt” ISIS, major players like Facebook were quick to point out that they forbid terror-related content on their sites. That’s true. But there’s more they can do. ISIS has succeeded in part because of skillful leveraging of the Internet industry’s tools to spread medieval messaging, disseminate videos of atrocities, and recruit new adherents. Victoria Grand, Google’s policy director, conceded last summer that “ISIS is having a viral moment on social media” and added that Google was trying to figure out how “not [to allow] ourselves to become a distribution channel for this horrible, but very newsworthy, terrorist propaganda.” But in some ways, Google remains a major ISIS vector. Yes, the company does a good job of scrubbing terrorist content (and copyrighted music videos) from YouTube. But all anyone has to do is visit another Google property: its search engine. Type “Watch ISIS Drowning Video” or similar; and in milliseconds Google’s algorithms will point you to an otherwise obscure website hosting the most horrific material imaginable. Policymakers might ask for the data: who refers Web traffic to the sites hosting terrorist propaganda and depictions of atrocities? And the followup question: could more be done to protect youth and others from being exposed to it—and prevent the victims from being revictimized? Then there’s Facebook. Like Google, Facebook works hard to remove terror content from news feeds. But Facebook has lots of tools at its disposal, much of it going on behind the scenes. The $300 billion company has a data science division that slices and dices what users write, link to, view online, whom they befriend, and much more.READ MORE...

ALSO: Hillary Clinton Urges Silicon Valley to ‘Disrupt’ ISIS


DECEMBER 6 -Hillary Clinton addressed guests at the Saban Forum held by the Brookings Institution in Washington on Sunday. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that the Islamic State had become “the most effective recruiter in the world” and that the only solution was to engage American technology companies in blocking or taking down militant websites, videos and encrypted communications.
“You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech,’ ” Mrs. Clinton said in an hourlong speech and question-and-answer session at the Saban Forum, an annual gathering at the Brookings Institution that focuses mostly on Israel’s security issues. In a reference to Silicon Valley’s reverence for disruptive technologies, Mrs. Clinton said, “We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS,” an acronym used for the militant group. It was the second time in two weeks that Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, had thrown herself into the brewing battle between Silicon Valley and the government over what steps should be taken to block the use of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and a range of encrypted apps that are adopted by terrorist groups. Mrs. Clinton’s comments echo recent White House calls for what would amount to a cease-fire with technology firms after the revelations by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, that the government had gotten inside the firm’s communications technology. But Mrs. Clinton is also risking putting herself at odds with technology executives and entrepreneurs crucial to her campaign’s fund-raising. And in Iowa and New Hampshire, states important early in the campaign, there is still considerable suspicion of the government and its demands for greater access to daily electronic communications. Mrs. Clinton used the forum to continue staking out a harder line on Iran than President Obama has in public. She repeatedly threatened to take what she called “harsh” steps at the first sign that Iran seeks to violate commitments it made in the July nuclear agreement, which sharply limits its ability to possess or produce nuclear fuel for the next 15 years. She said there should be “no doubt in Tehran” that if the United States saw “any violations in the deal” or an effort to procure or develop nuclear weapons technology, “we will stop them,” including, she added, “taking military action.”  At one point, responding to a question, she referred to using the “nuclear option” against Iran — usually interpreted as using a nuclear weapon — before her attention was caught by a prominent member of the audience, Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court. “Oh, the military option, thank you, Justice Breyer. He’s a careful listener,” Mrs. Clinton said, reiterating that she meant a military option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It was a rare moment: a sitting member of the court rescuing a political candidate from a mistaken comment. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

Cyber-Safe: Terrorists hide plans by 'going dark'


Terrorists hide plans by 'going dark' Police worry they won't be able to prevent next attack UPDATED 3:51 PM CST Nov 16, 2015 WISN ABC NEWS USA By Jose Pagliery

NEW YORK, DEC. 7, 2015 (CNN MONEY) Jose Pagliery @Jose_Pagliery -Preventing terrorist plots is harder than ever. Violent extremists meet in the open on Facebook or Twitter.

Then they take the conversation private, using technology called encryption to encode their messages.

It's called "going dark." And it's the most alarming concern for police worldwide right now. They worry they can't prevent the next terrorist attack.

In recent weeks, FBI director James Comey has repeatedly told Congress that surveillance is getting harder.

"Encryption is nothing new. But the challenge to law enforcement and national security officials is markedly worse," Comey said during a speech at a Washington, D.C. think tank last month.

"If the challenges of real-time interception threaten to leave us in the dark, encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place."


Terrorists hide plans by 'going dark'. ISIS. The technology is an encryption called 'going dark'

Terrorists are using a two-part strategy: Connect from afar, then plot in private.

This is how it typically plays out. An Islamic State jihadist schemes a plot from inside captured territory in Syria or Iraq.

Using public social media networks, he finds possible partners in Europe or the Americas. Then they move into direct person-to-person chatting apps that encrypt conversations.

WhatsApp and Telegram encrypt text. Signal encrypts phone calls. Wickr sends self-destructing messages. FaceTime, the video chatting app for iPhone, is encrypted too. For email, there's a tool called PGP. The popular, legal options are numerous.

All of these programs turn words into jumbled computer code. Government spies can't break that code fast enough.

READ MORE...

A recent report from European police says it: High-tech criminals have figured out how to elude cops. "The right to privacy is gaining ground at the expense of the right to protection," Europol says in the report.

But it goes beyond privacy rights. Encryption is cheap, free technology that's easy to replicate. It's necessary to keep modern day email, business plans, banking and everything else private. And even if it's banned, Islamic extremists have their own brand called "Mujahideen Secrets 2." And mathematicians say it's surprisingly robust.

It's still unclear what method ISIS attackers used to plot the Friday the 13th attacks in Paris.

This year alone, ISIS attacks on foreign soil included the attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the shooting at the Tunisian museum, the bombing at the Yemen mosques, the Tunisian beach massacre, the Russian Metrojet flight, the recent Beirut bombing, and now Paris. In all, some 819 people have been killed in those surprise attacks, according to the Washington Post.

In the U.S., at least 52 Americans have been charged with terror-related crimes for allegedly supporting ISIS, according to public records. Intense surveillance by FBI plays a significant role.

Still, the problem is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. And there are a daunting number of haystacks, said Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography and computer security at Johns Hopkins University.

"Nobody can afford to read every email. There's too much communication for us to listen to it all, even if none of it is encrypted," Green said.


CNN MONEY

An app called Telegram is the 'hot new thing among jihadists' By Laurie Segall @LaurieSegallCNN  - Nov. 17, 2015


An app called Telegram is the 'hot new thing among jihadists'

This app is popular with ISIS. When ISIS terrorists want to hide what they're saying, they are increasingly turning to an app called Telegram.

It's "the new hot thing among jihadists," said Laith Alkhouri, director of Research at Flashpoint Global Partners.

The Berlin-based startup boasts two layers of encryption and claims to be "faster and more secure" than its competitor WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.

Users can securely message friends and send pictures and files. They can also create group chats with up to 200 members or opt for "special secret chats" where messages, photos, and videos will self-destruct.

ISIS is also using Telegram to broadcast big messages on the app's "channels," which are devoted to a variety of topics. It was on the official ISIS channel that the group said the Paris attacks would be the "first of the storm."

ISIS also used Telegram to claim responsibility for downing a Russian airplane on October 31.

"A lot of people are now seeing Telegram advertised on ISIS supporter Twitter accounts," said Alkhouri.

He said the official ISIS channel distributes between 10 and 20 ISIS statements and videos a day.

Some terror groups are using Telegram to fundraise. On certain jihadi-related channels, users are asked to donate and pick where their money would go. For example, users can pick out the type of weapons their money would be spent on.

"You can choose whether to donate your money to an AK-47," Alkhouri said.

Because Telegram isn't yet widely known, there's less scrutiny. It launched in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who has been dubbed "the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia."

Pavel Durov created the popular Russian social network Vkontakte, and fled Russia after refusing to hand over user data to the government, according to reporting by the New York Times.

On Telegram's FAQ page, it says profits will never be a goal for the company. The company says it has "quite enough money for the time being."

Telegram is a reaction to what the makers of the app believe are shortcomings of other mainstream networks. "Big Internet companies like Facebook or Google have effectively hijacked the privacy discourse in the recent years," the site says.

READ MORE...

A number of startups have popped up looking to make secure, encrypted communication mainstream -- a reaction to the revelations in the Edward Snowden leaks about the NSA's oversight of private communications. But now there's a debate: How much oversight should the government have? And how much privacy can be expected while still ensuring security?

While ISIS members often meet and relay their messages on social networks like Twitter, they often then "go dark," using apps with encryption.

And law enforcement agencies are grappling with the trend.

"Encryption is one of many ways that an adversary, whether that's a criminal, a terrorist, a rogue nation, one of the many ways that they might use to hide their activities," former NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis, told CNNMoney. "I saw dozens of times -- more than that, likely -- across my career that, in fact, was an obstacle for us."

Telegram did not respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday afternoon, Pavel Durov said he showed support for those who lost their lives, though he also pointed blame at the French government: "I join all those who mourn deaths in the most beautiful city of the world. I think the French government is as responsible as ISIS for this, because it is their policies and carelessness which eventually led to the tragedy."


MIT T4ECHNOLOGY REVIEW

What Google and Facebook Can Do to Fight ISIS By David Talbot  December 10, 2015


VIEW
David Talbot

Facebook intervenes to prevent suicide.

How about to prevent radicalization?

And let’s face it: Google and others make it easy to find videos of people being murdered.


Fighting ISIS Online FROM MYWEBMEMO.COM

When Hillary Clinton called on tech companies to help “disrupt” ISIS, major players like Facebook were quick to point out that they forbid terror-related content on their sites. That’s true. But there’s more they can do.

ISIS has succeeded in part because of skillful leveraging of the Internet industry’s tools to spread medieval messaging, disseminate videos of atrocities, and recruit new adherents.

Victoria Grand, Google’s policy director, conceded last summer that “ISIS is having a viral moment on social media” and added that Google was trying to figure out how “not [to allow] ourselves to become a distribution channel for this horrible, but very newsworthy, terrorist propaganda.”

But in some ways, Google remains a major ISIS vector. Yes, the company does a good job of scrubbing terrorist content (and copyrighted music videos) from YouTube. But all anyone has to do is visit another Google property: its search engine. Type “Watch ISIS Drowning Video” or similar; and in milliseconds Google’s algorithms will point you to an otherwise obscure website hosting the most horrific material imaginable.

Policymakers might ask for the data: who refers Web traffic to the sites hosting terrorist propaganda and depictions of atrocities? And the followup question: could more be done to protect youth and others from being exposed to it—and prevent the victims from being revictimized?

Then there’s Facebook. Like Google, Facebook works hard to remove terror content from news feeds. But Facebook has lots of tools at its disposal, much of it going on behind the scenes. The $300 billion company has a data science division that slices and dices what users write, link to, view online, whom they befriend, and much more.

READ MORE...

It’s reasonable to ask whether the same firepower that micro-profiles users, seeks clues in text, identifies patterns, and figures out who should get which ads might also help identify which young people are most at risk of radicalization (even if they aren’t yet posting brutal content and buying ammo).

Then it’s conceivable that one might test and deploy methods of intervention for the most isolated and vulnerable young people. We could even perhaps identify ways to initiate of one-on-one conversations between such vulnerable youth and caring peers and adults (a concept explored recently in a limited study by the Institue of Strategic Dialogue, with some help from Facebook).

Outlandish?

Not when you stop to consider that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made clear that Facebook can, and should, intervene on a number of fronts: to reduce bullying, prevent suicide, encourage organ donation, and promote voter turnout.

In a particularly striking example of how these interventions can pay dividends in the real world: Facebook’s voting suggestion meant 340,000 more people actually went out and voted.

Answering the call from Clinton and other policymakers won’t be easy. But given the tech industry’s remarkable achievements on so many fronts, it is worth asking: what other results can the well-honed data science tools of this industry achieve?

How can we better protect young people, reduce violence, limit the reach of terrorist propaganda, and promote peace?


NEW YORK TIMES

Hillary Clinton Urges Silicon Valley to ‘Disrupt’ ISIS
By DAVID E. SANGERDEC. 6, 2015
 


Hillary Clinton addressed guests at the Saban Forum held by the Brookings Institution in Washington on Sunday. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images
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WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that the Islamic State had become “the most effective recruiter in the world” and that the only solution was to engage American technology companies in blocking or taking down militant websites, videos and encrypted communications.

“You are going to hear all the familiar complaints: ‘freedom of speech,’ ” Mrs. Clinton said in an hourlong speech and question-and-answer session at the Saban Forum, an annual gathering at the Brookings Institution that focuses mostly on Israel’s security issues.

In a reference to Silicon Valley’s reverence for disruptive technologies, Mrs. Clinton said, “We need to put the great disrupters at work at disrupting ISIS,” an acronym used for the militant group.

It was the second time in two weeks that Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, had thrown herself into the brewing battle between Silicon Valley and the government over what steps should be taken to block the use of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and a range of encrypted apps that are adopted by terrorist groups.


While the power shift toward Silicon Valley is significant, it should not be altogether surprising. The tech industry's millionaires and billionaires are ready to take their place as political powerbrokers. Published: July 16, 2015 | Authors: David Sirota | NationofChange | Op-Ed PHOTO FROM NATIONOFCHANGE.ORG

Mrs. Clinton’s comments echo recent White House calls for what would amount to a cease-fire with technology firms after the revelations by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, that the government had gotten inside the firm’s communications technology.

But Mrs. Clinton is also risking putting herself at odds with technology executives and entrepreneurs crucial to her campaign’s fund-raising. And in Iowa and New Hampshire, states important early in the campaign, there is still considerable suspicion of the government and its demands for greater access to daily electronic communications.

Mrs. Clinton used the forum to continue staking out a harder line on Iran than President Obama has in public. She repeatedly threatened to take what she called “harsh” steps at the first sign that Iran seeks to violate commitments it made in the July nuclear agreement, which sharply limits its ability to possess or produce nuclear fuel for the next 15 years.

She said there should be “no doubt in Tehran” that if the United States saw “any violations in the deal” or an effort to procure or develop nuclear weapons technology, “we will stop them,” including, she added, “taking military action.”

At one point, responding to a question, she referred to using the “nuclear option” against Iran — usually interpreted as using a nuclear weapon — before her attention was caught by a prominent member of the audience, Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court.

“Oh, the military option, thank you, Justice Breyer. He’s a careful listener,” Mrs. Clinton said, reiterating that she meant a military option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It was a rare moment: a sitting member of the court rescuing a political candidate from a mistaken comment.

READ MORE...

Much of Mrs. Clinton’s speech was closely aligned with Mr. Obama’s recent arguments about confronting the Islamic State. She spoke of the need to make sure that anyone on a “no-fly” list also could not purchase a gun — a position several Republican candidates took issue with on Sunday — and to explicitly avoid blaming the American Muslim community for the acts of a small number of extremists.

“Declaring war on Islam, or demonizing the Muslim community, is not only counter to our values; it plays right into the hands of the terrorists,” she said.

Her critique of American technology companies was impassioned but vague on the specifics of what she was asking them to do. A senior campaign official noted that Facebook regularly deletes incendiary posts and has blocked the accounts of people believed associated with the Islamic State. But for most social media companies, keeping up with suspected radical postings — much less removing them — is a major challenge.

It is also a question with considerable First Amendment implications. Company executives say removing YouTube videos of beheadings is an easy call; removing critiques of the West, or calls for religious purity, is not.

Over the past year, technology firms have made clear they do not want to be in the position of ideological censors. And Mrs. Clinton herself was a major advocate, as secretary of state, of programs that expanded Internet access to get around the censorship of repressive societies, starting with China.

Encryption poses an even more difficult problem, and Mrs. Clinton appeared to be calling for discussion among the technology companies, intelligence agencies and law enforcement groups. But that discussion has been underway, in public and private, for nearly a year now.

She had strong words as well for America’s Arab allies, calling on them to crack down on the financing of ISIS and other extremist groups, and to think about military contributions far beyond what they are now committed to. “We will do our part, but it is their fight too, and they need to act like it is,” she said.

On Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Mrs. Clinton’s successor, appeared in front of the same group and warned against allowing the Palestinian Authority to collapse. He argued that that would place Israel in the position of having to occupy and administer the West Bank, which Mr. Kerry just visited. He said that was not viable and would kill any hope of a two-state solution.

Mrs. Clinton did not discuss the Palestinian Authority’s future in her speech. But with some of the most right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet in mind, she said, “A one-state solution is no solution — it is a prescription for endless conflict.”


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