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Tag: technology

Virtual Surveillance Towers Show Promise As Alternative to Steel, Concrete Border Walls

Construction of a border wall, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steel and concrete border walls get all the media hype, but a new mobile technology may prove to be a far more effective and inexpensive way to combat illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is trying out telescoping surveillance towers on the Arizona border that can track illegal crossers with infrared and daytime cameras, along with laser range-finders, NPR reports. Capable of tracking a target miles away, the autonomous surveillance towers can be mounted on a pickup truck and operated remotely.

“The camera sees something, it’s going to alert and send that information to an agent in the field. So my iPhone will have an app on it and that information will come directly to me,” Kelly Good, deputy executive director of CBP’s Program Management Office Directorate, says.

Steel and concrete walls, however, appear to be the Trump administration’s priority.

“We now are in a time where we can build this virtual border wall technology. We have that already. I mean, you got the autonomous surveillance towers,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat from a border district, says. “But there’s political pressure from the White House. They’re saying, ‘Build me the wall. Get me miles.’ “

FBI Suspects Chinese Consulate in San Francisco is Harboring Scientist Charged with Visa Fraud

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI suspects the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is harboring a Chinese scientist accused of visa fraud.

Tang Juan and the three other researchers have been charged with visa fraud for allegedly lying about their ties to the Chinese Military to receive applications to work in the U.S.

Three of the researchers have been arrested, while the FBI believes Tang has been hiding for weeks in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

In an interview with the FBI, Tang insisted she did not serve in the military, despite evidence to the contrary.

The Justice Department suspects the researchers are trying to steal research from American universities.

“This is another part of the Chinese Communist Party’s plan to take advantage of our open society and exploit academic institutions,” John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

CBP Considers Affixing Body Cams to Some Border Patrol Agents

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Some Border Patrol agents may soon be wearing body cameras to record their interactions with the public.

CBP is looking for body cameras for agents who work at checkpoints and ports near the border, which often are in remote areas without telecommunications and other basic technology.

CBP on Wednesday posted a request for information for body cams, video-management systems and cloud storage.

“CBP anticipates storing most footage in CBP-owned data servers, but is also interested in cloud storage for evidentiary footage requiring long-term retention—defined as longer than two years,” the request for information states. “Footage stored will be secure, law enforcement sensitive data and should comply with all relevant federal laws, regulations and requirements. CBP also anticipates its users will require a cloud storage platform for frequently accessed files.”

CBP is asking for bids by Oct. 31.

Seven Years of FBI Records Exposed in Massive Government Data Leak

FBI cyber crime agents, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A massive data leak exposed millions of sensitive files, including records of FBI investigations, emails and bank transaction histories.

Three terabytes of unprotected data from the Oklahoma Securities Commission was available to anyone with the internet because they contained no passwords, Forbes reports.

“It represents a compromise of the entire integrity of the Oklahoma department of securities’ network,” said Chris Vickery, head of research at UpGuard, which discovered the leak. “It affects an entire state level agency. … It’s massively noteworthy.”

Vickery said “all sorts of archive enforcement actions” from the FBI were exposed.

Included was detailed information on subjects and witnesses of FBI investigations over the past seven years.

Suspects Thwart FBI Hostage Rescue Operation with a Swarm of Drones

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

FBI agents trying to rescue a hostage last year were thwarted when they spotted a swarm of drones that suspects were using to keep an eye on the raid.

The encounter involved  “high-speed low passes at the agents in the observation post to flush them,” reported Defense One’s Patrick Tucker, citing FBI chief Joe Mazel, head of the bureau’s operational technology law division, who was speaking at a conference this week.

Authorities wouldn’t disclose the location, saying the incident remains “law enforcement-sensitive.” But Defense One indicated the encounter happened “on the outskirts of a large U.S. city.”

The FBI said the suspects likely carried the drones in backpacks and then streamed the video on YouTube for the criminals to monitor.

FBI Tries to Become Hip to Attract Elite Coders to Crack Down on Cyberattacks

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of the FBI’s biggest challenges is hackers who are targeting political and financial groups and personal computers.

To combat cyberattacks, the FBI is looking for elite coders who have the technology background to help.

“One problem? A culture clash between elite coders who are attracted to casual — or even rebellious workplaces — and the agency’s bureaucratic reputation,” the Washington Post reports. 

FBI Director James Comey is trying to make the agency hip enough to attract recruits.

“We’re working very hard inside the FBI to be a whole lot cooler than you may think we are,” he said during his remarks at a Symantec Government Symposium last week.

That doesn’t mean the FBI has added “beanbags and granola and a lot of whiteboards,” Comey said.

“But we’re working very hard at marching in that direction, so that when this talent comes into our organization we are open to having them make us better — in a way that connects us and them to our mission more closely,” he said.

The Washington Post wrote:

Despite outreach at high profile hacker conferences like Black Hat and DefCon, recruitment of tech whiz kids by law enforcement and intelligence agencies has been hampered in recent years. One issue is that they have to compete with private sector gigs that can offer better salaries and benefits.

But fallout over surveillance programs revealed in Snowden documents and the FBI’s legal battle to get Apple to help it break into a locked iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino, Calif., attacks has also made government work a hard sell to some.

Developer of Anonymous Tor Software Leaves Country to Avoid FBI

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of Tor’s core software developers has left the United States because she doesn’t want to expose users to potential spying.

CNN reports that the FBI wants Isis Agora Lovecruft to testify in a criminal hacking investigation.

But fearing she’ll be coerced to undermine Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their locations, she left the U.S. for Germany.

“I was worried they’d ask me to do something that hurts innocent people — and prevent me from telling people it’s happening,” she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney.

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI Actually Paid Less Than $1.3M to Unlock San Bernardino iPhone

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Despite a suggestion from FBI Director James Comey that it cost the FBI about $1.3 million to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the price tag was a lot more inexpensive.

Business Insider report that the FBI paid under $1 million for the technology to unlock the phone.

Investigators won’t need to pay extra money to use the technology to open other iPhone 5C models running on iOS9.

The FBI paid a contractor to bypass the phone’s encryption features.