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Archive for June, 2015

Congressmen: FBI Plan Would Make American Phones Vulnerable to Hackers

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Congressmen with computer science degrees said the FBI is making Americans vulnerable to hackers, and any suggestion otherwise is ignorant, CNN reports.

U.S. Reps. Will Hurd of Texas and Ted Lieu of California are criticizing FBI Director James Comey’s insistence that cell phone companies allow a “backdoor” for the bureau to see what’s on the phones of Americans during investigations.

The elected officials said such a move would allow hackers the same access as the FBI and that terrorists are using software tools to conceal their communication anyway.

“We strongly, but respectfully, disagree with the FBI’s proposal to force privacy sector companies to weaken the security of their products and services,” Hurd and Lieu wrote. “As computer science majors… we strongly urge the FBI to find alternative ways of addressing the challenges posed by new technologies.”

The FBI declined to comment.

Teen Impersonates FBI Agent to Take New Dodge Charger from Dealership, Crashes

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A teenager from Michigan crashed a new Dodge Charger after he convinced a car dealer that he was an FBI agent and wanted to test drive the car, the Associated Press reports.

The Ann Arbor 17-year-old, who was carrying what appeared to be a firearm on his hip, told the dealership in Ypsilanti Township that he was testing the car for the bureau.

The teen drove the car all the way to Toledo, Ohio, before heavily damage it in a crash.

When police in Ohio questioned him, he repeated his story that he was an FBI agent, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

The teen is expected to be charged soon in both Ohio and Michigan.

Border Patrol Agent Rescued Following ATV Crash in Texas

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent is recovering from traumatic injuries after his ATV plunged over a ledge near the Rio Grande in Sanderson, Texas.

Agents from the Office of Air and Marine boarded a helicopter and rescued the agent soon after the crash.

“The safety of our officers and agents is critical. These men and women put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. We are glad to say that our air crew was able to successfully extract this individual from an extremely remote location to safety,” Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent Clay Tippit said in a press release.

The agent was treated and stabilized and then sent to a hospital via helicopter.

“We work closely with other agencies in the area especially Border Patrol. When an agent, or any individual, is injured we do everything we can to ensure an outcome such as this. Everyone worked together and got this injured agent the care that he needed. Because of that, I can gladly say that the agent has been released from the hospital and is doing well,” said Tippit.

 

 

TSA Director Carraway Removed from Helm After Serious Security Flaws

Melvin Carraway

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In an effort to improve security at U.S. airports, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson has reassigned the acting TSA head.

Al Jazeera English reports that the move comes after the embarrassing discovery that checkpoint scanners miserably failed to detect mock explosives and weapons in 95% of the cases.

Johnson said Melvin Carraway will be reassigned to the Office of Local Law Enforcement at Homeland Security headquarters, while TSA acting Director Mark Hatfield takes the helm.

“The numbers in these reports never look good out of context but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security,” Johnson said. “We take these findings very seriously in our continued effort to test, measure and enhance our capabilities and techniques as threats evolve.”

Other Stories of Interest


The Double Steal — The Right and Wrong Way to Steal Trade Secrets

Bill Davidson

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It took about 5,000 years from the discovery of glass until a process was developed to economically mass produce flat glass, and only a few years before the technology was stolen.

Glass is one of the great fundamental inventions – not at the level of the wheel or fire, but up pretty high on the list. Glass is chiefly made from relatively common and inexpensive raw materials: sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate) and lime.

No one knows when glass was first invented or by whom. It does occur in nature when lightning strikes sand or sometimes from volcanic eruptions (obsidian). Its first use seems to have been as a glaze for ceramic vessels in about 3,000 BCE. It wasn’t until about 1,500 BCE that glass vessels were produced in Egypt (ultimately used to hold beer, one of my favorite inventions). The use of a pipe for blowing superheated glass wasn’t invented until circa 30 BCE.

Through the ages uses for glass have multiplied and are as diverse as flat glass to optical lenses which enabled the development of telescopes and microscopes. But this story is about the technology to produce flat glass, and why some people would go to great lengths to steal it.

Flat glass is used primarily for windows and doors on homes, buildings and vehicles. Until relatively recently there wasn’t an economical way to produce large quantities of quality flat glass.

Flat glass was originally made by blowing cylinders of glass that were cut open and flattened then cut into panes. Most window glass up until the early 1800s was made using the cylinder method. The cylinders were limited in size. They were 6-8 feet (2-3m) long and 10-14 inches (~30cm) in diameter, thus limiting the size of the panes that could be cut. Large windows had to be made of multiple panes.

In 1848 Henry Bessemer, an English engineer, designed a system that produced a continuous ribbon of flat glass by forming the ribbon of molten glass between rollers. This was an expensive process as the surface of the glass had to be ground and polished. This did overcome the size limitations of the cylinder method. Beginning in the 1920s, a continuous ribbon of glass was passed through a lengthy series of inline grinders and polishers, reducing glass loss and cost.

The major breakthrough in the production of flat glass didn’t come until the late 1950s. Sir Alastair Pilkington and Kenneth Bickerstaff of Pilkington Brothers, Ltd. in the UK developed the first successful commercial float glass process.

Bill Davidson

Float glass uses common glass-making raw materials. The materials are mixed with cullet (waste glass) in a furnace where it is heated to ~2,800 degrees F (1,500C). When the mixture becomes molten, it is allowed to pour onto a “tin bath,” a bath of molten tin about 2.3 inches (6cm) deep, 3-4 feet (3-4m) wide and 150 feet (45m) long.

The glass enters via a canal. The speed and volume of glass flow is controlled by a gate called a twill. The glass literally floats on top of the tin with uniform thickness. (The molten tin does not adhere to the glass, but an oxygen free atmosphere has to be maintained to keep the tin from oxidizing and adhering to the glass.) As the glass flows along the tin bath, the temperature is gradually reduced. At the end of the bath, the glass has cooled to approximately 1,100F (600C). At that temperature the glass can be lifted from the bath onto rollers. The glass ribbon is pulled by the rollers at a controlled speed. The speed at which the glass is pulled determines its thickness.

As the glass is pulled from the bath, it passes through a lehr (a type of kiln) where it gradually cools so that it anneals and does not crack from more rapid temperature change. After exiting the lehr, the glass is cut by machines.

Read more »

Stejskal: The Double Steal — The Right and Wrong Way to Steal Trade Secrets

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It took about 5,000 years from the discovery of glass until a process was developed to economically mass produce flat glass, and only a few years before the technology was stolen.

Glass is one of the great fundamental inventions – not at the level of the wheel or fire, but up pretty high on the list. Glass is chiefly made from relatively common and inexpensive raw materials: sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate) and lime.

No one knows when glass was first invented or by whom. It does occur in nature when lightning strikes sand or sometimes from volcanic eruptions (obsidian). Its first use seems to have been as a glaze for ceramic vessels in about 3,000 BCE. It wasn’t until about 1,500 BCE that glass vessels were produced in Egypt (ultimately used to hold beer, one of my favorite inventions). The use of a pipe for blowing superheated glass wasn’t invented until circa 30 BCE.

Through the ages uses for glass have multiplied and are as diverse as flat glass to optical lenses which enabled the development of telescopes and microscopes. But this story is about the technology to produce flat glass, and why some people would go to great lengths to steal it.

Flat glass is used primarily for windows and doors on homes, buildings and vehicles. Until relatively recently there wasn’t an economical way to produce large quantities of quality flat glass.

Flat glass was originally made by blowing cylinders of glass that were cut open and flattened then cut into panes. Most window glass up until the early 1800s was made using the cylinder method. The cylinders were limited in size. They were 6-8 feet (2-3m) long and 10-14 inches (~30cm) in diameter, thus limiting the size of the panes that could be cut. Large windows had to be made of multiple panes.

In 1848 Henry Bessemer, an English engineer, designed a system that produced a continuous ribbon of flat glass by forming the ribbon of molten glass between rollers. This was an expensive process as the surface of the glass had to be ground and polished. This did overcome the size limitations of the cylinder method. Beginning in the 1920s, a continuous ribbon of glass was passed through a lengthy series of inline grinders and polishers, reducing glass loss and cost.

The major breakthrough in the production of flat glass didn’t come until the late 1950s. Sir Alastair Pilkington and Kenneth Bickerstaff of Pilkington Brothers, Ltd. in the UK developed the first successful commercial float glass process.

Bill Davidson

Float glass uses common glass-making raw materials. The materials are mixed with cullet (waste glass) in a furnace where it is heated to ~2,800 degrees F (1,500C). When the mixture becomes molten, it is allowed to pour onto a “tin bath,” a bath of molten tin about 2.3 inches (6cm) deep, 3-4 feet (3-4m) wide and 150 feet (45m) long.

The glass enters via a canal. The speed and volume of glass flow is controlled by a gate called a twill. The glass literally floats on top of the tin with uniform thickness. (The molten tin does not adhere to the glass, but an oxygen free atmosphere has to be maintained to keep the tin from oxidizing and adhering to the glass.) As the glass flows along the tin bath, the temperature is gradually reduced. At the end of the bath, the glass has cooled to approximately 1,100F (600C). At that temperature the glass can be lifted from the bath onto rollers. The glass ribbon is pulled by the rollers at a controlled speed. The speed at which the glass is pulled determines its thickness.

As the glass is pulled from the bath, it passes through a lehr (a type of kiln) where it gradually cools so that it anneals and does not crack from more rapid temperature change. After exiting the lehr, the glass is cut by machines.

Read more »

U.S. Government Loses Terrorism Fighting Tools As Patriot Act Provisions Expire

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government has fewer tools to fight terrorism after key provisions of the Patriot Act expired late Sunday despite a last-minute push by some Senators.

CNN reports that the expiration ends the NSA’s controversial bulk data collection program. The NSA had been collecting phone metadata on millions of Americans.

Law enforcement also won’t be able to get roving wiretaps to track suspects who frequently change phones. Now they will have to get individual warrants – a timely, burdensome task that could mean some suspects slip away, law enforcement officials said.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch warned last week that the U.S. would face a “serious lapse” in national security without these tools.

The Senate is expected to debate restoring some of the expired authorities later this week.

Deadly Police Shootings Reach Nearly 400 Through May of This Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Police killed at least 385 people nationwide during the first five months of the year, far more than the rate tallied by the FBI, the Washington Post has found.

The tally shows that more than two people are killed on average a day, a rate that is more than twice the one tallied by the federal government over the past decade.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

Because of rising tension between police and African Americans, the Post is detailing every use of deadly force by police.

In the first five months of the year, about half of the victims were white. When adjusting for population, black people were killed at rates three times  that of white people or other minorities.