Headlines and Snippets Below the Fold with Phi Beta Iota Comment
Tapping into drones’ video feeds was just the start. The U.S. military’s primary system for bringing overhead surveillance down to soldiers and Marines on the ground is also vulnerable to electronic interception, multiple military sources tell Danger Room. That means militants have the ability to see through the eyes of all kinds of combat aircraft — from traditional fighters and bombers to unmanned spy planes. The problem is in the process of being addressed. But for now, an enormous security breach is even larger than previously thought.
The military initially developed the Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, or ROVER, in 2002. The idea was let troops on the ground download footage from Predator drones and AC-130 gunships as it was being taken. Since then, nearly every airplane in the American fleet — from F-16 and F/A-18 fighters to A-10 attack planes to Harrier jump jets to B-1B bombers has been outfitted with equipment that lets them transmit to ROVERs. Thousands of ROVER terminals have been distributed to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But those early units were “fielded so fast that it was done with an unencrypted signal. It could be both intercepted (e.g. hacked into) and jammed,” e-mails an Air Force officer with knowledge of the program. In a presentation last month before a conference of the Army Aviation Association of America, a military official noted that the current ROVER terminal “receives only unencrypted L, C, S, Ku [satellite] bands.”
So the same security breach that allowed insurgent to use satellite dishes and $26 software to intercept drone feeds can be used the tap into the video transmissions of any plane.
The military’s on a fast track to master every facet of the human mind. In the last year alone, we’ve seen attempts at boosting long-term memory, creating a new theory for intelligence and even replacing G.I.s with machines capable of complex reasoning. Next up: a computer system that can replicate – and then outdo – our own decision-making, by tapping into “relevant cognitive biases.”
The Pentagon’s national intelligence innovators, Iarpa, are behind this latest project. The agency is hosting a conference in January to offer up more details on the program, called Integrated Cognitive-Neuroscience Architectures for Understanding Sensemaking (ICArUS).
Iarpa hopes to create a computational model of human “sensemaking,” the process whereby we create hypotheses to explain a situation and predict likely outcomes. Intelligence analysts are often tasked with generating and evaluating explanations for data that’s sparse or deceptive. But, as Iarpa points out, they’re only human – susceptible to selective memory, bias and stress. The Pentagon and the spy agencies have tried to use software to replace the feckless fleshies. “Yet despite the centrality of sensemaking in intelligence analysis, current models of sensemaking remain descriptive and qualitative in nature and thus are of limited utility to the Intelligence Community,” Iarpa notes.
Until now, the agency points out, the human brain has remained “the only known example of a general-purpose sensemaking system.”
Dozens of U.S. agriculturists, legal experts and development-aid administrators pass through elaborate mock-ups of foreign courtrooms and bazaars here each week — part of training for nation-building work in some of Afghanistan’s most unruly provinces.
Idiocy #1: TSA won’t provide hard-copy to Congress now that softcopy is on the Internet
Idiocy #2: Congress and TSA are concluding contractors cannot be trusted, rather than the more obvious conclusion, that we have an information “control” system so stupid as to defy belief.
Phi Beta Iota: In 1993 and onwards we urged the US Government, and the National Security Agency (NSA) specifically, to embrace Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) and other Hacker groups that have honored us with acceptance such as the Chaos Computer Club in Germany, the Silicon Valley Hackers Conference, and so on. The bureaucracy does not LISTEN and therefore the bureaucracy does not COMPREHEND. It’s time we stop lying to each other about the idiot short-cuts we are taking, the false rationalizations for secret sources and methods as sweetheart deals, and so on.