US to create independent military cyber command
Cyber Command and the National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers
testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin,
Lolita C. Baldor
Washington (AP) - After
months of delay, the Trump administration is finalizing plans to revamp
the nation’s military command for defensive and offensive cyber
operations in hopes of intensifying America’s ability to wage cyber war
against the Islamic State group and other foes, according to U.S.
Under the plans, U.S. Cyber Command
would eventually be split off from the intelligence-focused National
Details are still being worked out,
but officials say they expect a decision and announcement in the coming
weeks. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter
so requested anonymity.
file photo shows the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in
Fort Meade, Md., where the US Cyber Command is located. (AP
Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
The goal, they said, is to give
U.S. Cyber Command more autonomy, freeing it from any constraints that
stem from working alongside the NSA, which is responsible for monitoring
and collecting telephone, internet and other intelligence data from
around the world - a responsibility that can sometimes clash with
military operations against enemy forces.
Making cyber an independent
military command will put the fight in digital space on the same footing
as more traditional realms of battle on land, in the air, at sea and in
space. The move reflects the escalating threat of cyber attacks and
intrusions from other nation states, terrorist groups and hackers, and
comes as the U.S. faces ever-widening fears about Russian hacking
following Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 American election.
The U.S. has long operated quietly
in cyberspace, using it to collect information, disrupt enemy networks
and aid conventional military missions. But as other nations and foes
expand their use of cyber-spying and attacks, the U.S. is determined to
improve its ability to incorporate cyber operations into its everyday
Experts said the command will need
time to find its footing.
“Right now I think it’s inevitable,
but it’s on a very slow glide path,” said Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity
expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But, he
added, “A new entity is not going to be able to duplicate NSA’s
The NSA, for examples, has 300 of
the country’s leading mathematicians “and a gigantic super computer,”
Lewis said. “Things like this are hard to duplicate.”
He added, however, that over time,
the U.S. has increasingly used cyber as a tactical weapon, bolstering
the argument for separating it from the NSA.
The two highly secretive
organizations, based at Fort Meade, Maryland, have been under the same
four-star commander since Cyber Command’s creation in 2009.
But the Defense Department has been
agitating for a separation, perceiving the NSA and intelligence
community as resistant to more aggressive cyber warfare, particularly
after the Islamic State’s transformation in recent years from an obscure
insurgent force into an organization holding significant territory
across Iraq and Syria and with a worldwide recruiting network.
While the military wanted to attack
IS networks, intelligence objectives prioritized gathering information
from them, according to U.S. officials familiar with the debate. They
weren’t authorized to discuss internal deliberations publicly and
Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter
sent a plan to President Barack Obama last year to make Cyber Command an
independent military headquarters and break it away from the NSA,
believing that the agency’s desire to collect intelligence was at times
preventing the military from eliminating IS’ ability to raise money,
inspire attacks and command its widely dispersed network of fighters.
Carter, at the time, also pushed
for the ouster of Adm. Mike Rogers, who still heads both bodies. The
Pentagon, he warned, was losing the war in the cyber domain, focusing on
cyber threats from nations such as Iran, Russia and China, rather than
on countering the communications and propaganda campaigns of
Officials also grew alarmed by the
growing number of cyber attacks against the U.S. government, including
several serious, high-level Defense Department breaches that occurred
under Rogers’ watch.
“NSA is truly an
intelligence-collection organization,” said Lauren Fish, a research
associate with the Center for a New American Security. “It should be
collecting information, writing reports on it. Cyber Command is meant to
be an organization that uses tools to have military operational effect.”
After President Donald Trump’s
inauguration, officials said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis endorsed much
of the plan. But debate over details has dragged on for months.
It’s unclear how fast the Cyber
Command will break off on its own. Some officials believe the new
command isn’t battle-ready, given its current reliance on the NSA’s
expertise, staff and equipment. That effort will require the department
to continue to attract and retain cyber experts.
Cyber Command was created in 2009
by the Obama administration to address threats of cyber espionage and
other attacks. It was set up as a sub-unit under U.S. Strategic Command
to coordinate the Pentagon’s ability to conduct cyber warfare and to
defend its own networks, including those that are used by combat forces
Officials originally said the new
cyber effort would likely involve hundreds, rather than thousands, of
Since then, the command has grown
to more than 700 military and civilian employees. The military services
also have their own cyber units, with a goal of having 133 fully
operational teams with as many as 6,200 personnel.
Its proposed budget for next year
is $647 million. Rogers told Congress in May that represents a 16
percent increase over this year’s budget to cover costs associated with
building the cyber force, fighting IS and becoming an independent
Under the new plan being forwarded
by the Pentagon to the White House, officials said Army Lt. Gen. William
Mayville would be nominated to lead Cyber Command. Leadership of the NSA
could be turned over to a civilian.
Mayville is currently the director
of the military’s joint staff and has extensive experience as a
combat-hardened commander. He deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan,
leading the 173rd Airborne Brigade when it made its assault into Iraq in
March 2003 and later heading coalition operations in eastern
Global tech leaders to gather in Bangkok
for “Techsauce Global Summit 2017”
Techsauce Media Co. Ltd.,
Thailand’s leading technology-oriented content provider, predicts 2017
is likely to be the golden year for Thai startups thanks to the growing
trend of corporate venture capital (CVC).
The company is also set to organise
Techsauce Global Summit 2017, one of the biggest startup and tech
conferences in Southeast Asia, with the aim of strengthening the
country’s technology ecosystem as well as pushing Thailand forward to
become one of ASEAN’S technological hubs.
Chief executive officer and
co-founder Oranuch Lerdsuwankij said technology and startups are playing
a key role in ways of doing business. Big corporates across the globe in
many industries have tremendously changed their business practices by
setting up accelerator programmes and venture capital arms to foster
strategic investment, making direct investments themselves and investing
in funds that support startups.
“The vital factor helping to grow
the number of CVCs is that the companies and startups’ respective
strengths and weaknesses help to fulfill each other, which creates
massive business opportunities,” Ms. Oranuch said.
Giant companies hold expertise in
their respective business areas and access to funding, as well as large
customer bases, but they have little to no flexibility to create
innovation. On the other hand, startups are able to take advantage of
their company’s small size to invent solutions to solve problems in
those industries, but lack funding support.
In Thailand, companies in several
new industries such as the property and energy industries have jumped on
the bandwagon to set up their venture capital arms, which is a step
forward from what in we previously saw the past few years which was only
companies in the telecom and finance industries getting involved. In the
first four months of this year, there already have been 6 companies
launching their venture capital arms. According to Ms. Oranuch, she
expects there will continue to be a number of venture capital firms
introduced by big corporates throughout the rest of the year.
Thailand’s venture capital value
has risen to $261.28 million since 2012. In late 2016 alone, Thai
startups raised funds worth more than $86.02 million.
Ms. Oranuch added that the company
will organize Techsauce Global Summit 2017 on July 28-29 at Bangkok’s
Centara Grand Convention Centre at Central World. The venue is able to
support more than 6,000 participants, doubling the amount of conference
participants from last year.
Techsauce is also hosting roadshows
across more than 10 countries in the region. The conference hopes to
expand and fortify Thailand’s technology ecosystem, bringing big
corporates and startups to connect with foreign investors and technology
experts around the world, including those from the US, China and Japan.
Previously, Thailand was a
production hub for many industries, but it still lacks value-added
services that would make it more attractive to investors such as
bringing in digital technology support. However, at this critical
juncture there have been signs of substantial backing from the private
and public sectors to provide funding to develop innovative products
that serve market needs and champion further growth.
“Techsauce Global Summit 2017
intends to resolve what Thailand lacks, including know-how and business
networks. Famous startup founders, investors and accelerators around the
globe will join the event. We hope that the conference will create an
international platform for the Thai startup ecosystem, enabling Thailand
to literally become an investment hub as well as a technology
development base for ASEAN,” Ms. Oranuch said.
More than 250 key speakers from
around the world ranging from CEOs and investors to technology
specialists will join the event to share their knowledge, experiences
and thinking methods. For instance, Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Vitaly
M. Golomb from HP Tech Ventures, Mike Peng from IDEO Tokyo, Kei Shimada
-the Global Director of Innovation and Business Development from Dentsu
Inc., Japan, Hiroshi Saijo from Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory
Silicon Valley, Fintech expert Roy Teo from the Monetary Authority of
Singapore and Alvin Ng from GE Capital.
Co-founder Amarit Charoenphan said
8 stages will be provided at the Summit, focusing on global trends, what
happens in Asia across industries and how to deal with these trends. The
broad content of the Summit will also cover digital manufacturing,
UrbanTech, FinTech, InsurTech, EnergyTech, EdTech, Automotive, FoodTech,
BioTech, how to run startups and more than 100 other topics.
Additionally, not to be missed are the cutting edge innovations like
Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, IoT and
Biometrics which will be showcased through tangible, hands-on
illustrations that make them simple to understand.
“The main concepts of all 8 stages
and more than 100 featured seminar topics will derive from upcoming
technology trends. Participants will receive up-to-date know-how on a
variety of topics; they can select from keynotes which suit their needs
for generating their own business innovation and startup growth,” said
The event is also supported by
Thailand’s giant corporates who are paying closer attention to
technology development and investment through startups, such as
AddVentures – Corporate Venture Capital of SCG, Ananda Development, dtac
accelerate, Digital Ventures – a subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank and
Techsauce Global Summit 2017 is
suited to companies and entrepreneurs who are looking for technology and
innovation, brands in the processes of preparing themselves for digital
transformation, as well as startups and those who are interested in
For further information and ticket
reservations, please browse to
Microsoft, Trump administration clash over email searches
Photo Ted S. Warren, File)
- On the surface, the investigation was
persuaded a judge to issue a warrant for a Microsoft email account they
suspected was used for drug trafficking.
Microsoft kept the emails on a server in Ireland. Microsoft said that
meant the emails were beyond the warrant’s reach. A federal appeals
Late last month,
the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
The case is among
several legal clashes that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and other
technology companies have had with the government over questions of
digital privacy and authorities’ need for information to combat crime
and extremism. Privacy law experts say the companies have been more
willing to push back against the government since the leak of classified
information detailing America’s surveillance programs.
highlighted in the appeal is the difficulty that judges face in trying
to square decades-old laws with new technological developments.
In the latest case,
a suspected drug trafficker used Microsoft’s email service. In 2013,
federal investigators obtained a warrant under a 1986 law for the emails
themselves as well as identifying information about the user of the
over the information, but went to court to defend its decision not to
hand over the emails from Ireland.
The federal appeals
court in New York agreed with the company that the 1986 Stored
Communications Act does not apply outside the United States.
administration’s Supreme Court appeal said the decision is damaging
“hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes - ranging from
terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud.”
The emails, the
administration noted, may reside on a server somewhere, but said
Microsoft can retrieve them “domestically with the click of a computer
president, Brad Smith, said in a blog post following the high court
appeal that the administration’s position “would put businesses in
impossible conflict-of-law situations and hurt the security, jobs, and
personal rights of Americans.”
companies and privacy experts are among those watching the case closely.
“This is a big deal
in an era of a global internet. Servers are not just in the United
States. They’re all over the world, and figuring out the rules for
foreign-stored data is really important, not just for us, but for
foreign governments,” said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law
professor whose work is cited in the appellate ruling.
identified by Kerr and other privacy scholars is that courts might not
be the best place to resolve these issues.
Should the same
rules apply to the emails of an American citizen and a foreigner? Does
it matter where the person is living?
“The Supreme Court
can’t answer these questions in the nuanced way that’s needed,” said
Jennifer Daskal, an American University law professor.
Even Judge Gerard
Lynch on the New York panel that sided with Microsoft called for
“congressional action to revise a badly outdated statute.”
Communications Act became law long before the advent of cloud computing.
To the extent personal information was kept online, it was mainly on
build data centers around the world to keep up with their customers’
demands for speed and access.
Members of Congress
have introduced legislation to update the law, but nothing has been
Sen. Orrin Hatch,
R-Utah, opposes the administration’s appeal, but said in a statement
that “Congress can and should modernize data privacy laws to ensure that
law enforcement can access evidence in a timely manner.”
supports revising the law. The company also is among those challenging
“gag orders” that prevent service providers from notifying customers
that their data have been turned over to the government under court
Companies have been
more willing to assert their customers’ and their own privacy interests
since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leak
of classified U.S. material about America’s surveillance programs, Kerr
companies wield enormous power, perhaps more than governments do, in
shaping the scope of digital age privacy rights, Daskal said.
decide “what to retain, where to keep it, for how long, and whether to
encrypt it,” she said. And when governments produce court orders for
customers’ information, it’s the companies’ call about “when to comply
and when to resist,” Daskal said.
The justices won’t
decide whether to hear U.S. v. Microsoft, 17-2, before the fall. If they
do, argument wouldn’t occur until next year.
Founder of Russian messaging app defies official ultimatum
Moscow (AP) - The founder of
a Russian encrypted messaging app is defying the government’s request to
provide information about his company.
The head of the Russian
communications regulator on Friday in an open letter to Telegram founder
Pavel Durov threatened to block Telegram unless Durov hands over details
about the app. The move would require Telegram, which prides itself on
privacy, to keep and share users’ chat histories and encryption keys
with the government.
Durov said in a post on his social
media page Friday that the threat to block Telegram was “sabotage of
He says that if Telegram is banned
in Russia, the private chats that Russian officials and their friends
currently conduct via his messaging app will be conducted through apps
that store their data abroad.
UK Parliament investigates cyberattack on user accounts
According to a statement released from the House of Commons Saturday
June 24, British officials are investigating an alleged cyberattack on
the country’s Parliament after discovering “unauthorized attempts to
access parliamentary user accounts.” (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE)
London (AP) -
British officials were investigating a cyberattack Saturday, June 24, on
the country’s Parliament after discovering “unauthorized attempts to
access parliamentary user accounts.”
A statement from the House of
Commons said that as a precaution, remote email access for members was
disabled in order to protect the network from hackers.
“As a result, some Members of
Parliament (lawmakers) and staff cannot access their email accounts
outside of Westminster,” it said, adding that IT services at Parliament
itself are working normally.
It was not immediately clear how
many people were affected or what the extent of the damage was.
An email sent all those affected
described a “sustained and determined attack on all parliamentary user
accounts in an attempt to identify weak passwords,” according to The
Guardian newspaper. “These attempts specifically were trying to gain
access to our emails.”
Liberal Democrat Chris Rennard said
on Twitter that urgent messages should be sent by text message because
parliamentary emails may not work remotely.
The National Cyber Security Center
and the National Crime Agency are looking into the incident.
Liam Fox, Britain’s International
Trade Secretary, told ITV News that the attack was “a warning to
everyone: We need more security and better passwords. You wouldn’t leave
your door open at night.”
Google to stop reading your Gmail to help sell ads
is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to sell
ads. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
San Francisco (AP) -
Google is going to stop reading your Gmail in search of opportunities to
The change announced Friday will
end a practice that Google has embraced since the company introduced
Gmail in 2004. The practice has raised concerns among privacy watchdogs
and creeped out some users.
To help finance the free service,
Google has been scanning through what Gmail users were discussing and
then showing ads connected to some of the topics. Someone writing about
running, for instance, might see ads for Nike or Asics shoes.
Google still plans to show ads
within Gmail. But instead of scanning through email content, the
company’s software will rely on other signals to determine which ads are
most likely to appeal to each of its 1.2 billion Gmail users.
The Mountain View, California,
company said it would stop the ad-driven scanning of Gmail later this
Google says it’s changing course so
its free Gmail service operates more like the subscription version that
it has sold to more than 3 million companies. The paid Gmail doesn’t
include ads, so the company has never tried to scan the content of those
users’ emails for marketing purposes.
Despite that, Google said some of
its business customers incorrectly assumed the company was scanning
those accounts as well. By ending all scanning, Google hopes to end the
confusion and sell Gmail to even more businesses.
Gmail now ranks as the world’s
largest email service, an indication that most people didn’t care about
Google’s scanning methods. Both Microsoft and Apple have publicly
skewered Google for having the audacity to mine users’ emails for ad
sales, but those attacks didn’t undercut Gmail’s popularity.
Government websites hacked with
pro-Islamic State rant
(AP) - United States Government websites,
many of them in Ohio, were hacked Sunday, June 25, with a message that
purports to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.
A message posted on
the website of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “You will be held
accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood
flowing in Muslim countries.”
The message, left
by “Team System Dz,” also ended, “I love the Islamic state.”
The same message
also infiltrated government websites in the town of Brookhaven, New
York, according to news reports in that state, as well as the website
for Howard County, Maryland. In the past, the group also claimed
responsibility for similar hacks in the past in Richland County,
Wisconsin, and in places such as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sweden.
government websites were hacked in Ohio, including that of first lady
Karen Kasich, Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction and the Casino Control Commission.
Tom Hoyt, chief
communications officer for Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services,
was among Ohio officials who confirmed the hack.
servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these
hackers were able to deface these websites,” he said. “We also are
working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”
The websites in
Brookhaven and Howard County also remained down on Sunday. When asked
about the outage on the Brookhaven site, a spokeswoman who answered the
phone at the New York town’s police department simply offered a “no
The hack is part of
ongoing cyberterrorism that has impacted governments and corporations
across the globe.
Some see these
types of hacks - sometimes called “defacement” - as simply a nuisance,
though in some instances, they have been disruptive to work and
But others see
cause for alarm. “Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam
infiltrating the heartland,” Josh Mandel, the Ohio treasurer and a
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a tweet Sunday.
Authors of the
website “Cryptosphere,” which tracks hackers worldwide, have detailed
dozens, if not hundreds, of similar hacks in recent years by the
so-called Team System DZ, which they called a “pro-ISIS hacker crew” and
claim are based in Algeria.
they said, have included those for a synagogue in Florida, the student
union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, for UK Rugby and a
number of websites on Wordpress.
Facebook deploys AI to fight terrorism on its network
Thursday, June 15, 2017, Facebook said it’s using artificial
intelligence to help it combat terrorists’ use of its platform. The
company’s announcement comes as it faces growing pressure from
government leaders to identify and prevent the spread of content from
terrorist groups on its massive social network. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke,
San Francisco (AP) -
Facebook has started deploying its artificial intelligence capabilities
to help combat terrorists’ use of its service.
Company officials said in a blog
post Thursday that Facebook will use AI in conjunction with human
reviewers to find and remove “terrorist content” immediately, before
other users see it. Such technology is already used to block child
pornography from Facebook and other services such as YouTube, but
Facebook had been reluctant about applying it to other potentially less
In most cases, Facebook only
removes objectionable material if users first report it.
Facebook and other internet
companies face growing government pressure to identify and prevent the
spread of terrorist propaganda and recruiting messages on their
services. Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May called
on governments to form international agreements to prevent the spread of
extremism online. Some proposed measures would hold companies legally
accountable for the material posted on their sites.
The Facebook post - by Monika
Bickert, director of global policy management, and Brian Fishman,
counterterrorism policy manager - did not specifically mention May’s
calls. But it acknowledged that “in the wake of recent terror attacks,
people have questioned the role of tech companies in fighting terrorism
“We want to answer those questions
head on. We agree with those who say that social media should not be a
place where terrorists have a voice,” they wrote.
Among the AI techniques used in
this effort are image matching, which compares photos and videos people
upload to Facebook to “known” terrorism images or video. Matches
generally mean that either Facebook had previously removed that
material, or that it had ended up in a database of such images that
Facebook shares with Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube.
Facebook is also developing
“text-based signals” from previously removed posts that praised or
supported terrorist organizations. It will feed those signals into a
machine-learning system, over time, will learn how to detect similar
Bickert and Fishman said that when
Facebook receives reports of potential “terrorism posts,” it reviews
those reports urgently. In addition, it says that in the rare cases when
it uncovers evidence of imminent harm, it promptly informs authorities.
But AI is just part of the process.
The technology is not yet at the point where it can understand nuances
of language and context, so humans are still in the loop.
Facebook says it employs more than
150 people who are “exclusively or primarily focused on countering
terrorism as their core responsibility.” This includes academic experts
on counterterrorism, former prosecutors, former law enforcement agents
and analysts and engineers, according to the blog post.
Google intensifies campaign against online extremism
Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Newark, N.J. (AP) - Google is
intensifying its campaign against online extremism, saying it will put more
resources toward identifying and removing videos related to terrorism and
The renewed efforts arrive in the wake
of violent attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere. A van struck a crowd of people
outside a London mosque Sunday, the second time an automobile was used as a
weapon in that city this month, and less than a week after a gunman attacked
GOP lawmakers on a baseball field.
“While we and others have worked for
years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the
uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more
needs to be done. Now,” Google said in a blog post.
Anti-hate groups like the Southern
Poverty Law Center have been critical of Google and social media sites,
saying that they have done little to curtail hate groups online.
Facebook and Google “have done little
to counter the use of their platforms to spread hateful, false
“information,” from conspiracy theories accusing various minority groups of
plotting against America to websites promoting Holocaust denial and false
“facts” about Islam, LGBT people, women, Mexicans and others, the
organization said in a report earlier this year.
Google, along with other companies such
as Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, recently agreed to create an
international forum to share and develop technology, support smaller
businesses and speed up their joint efforts against online terrorism.
On the same day of the most recent
attack in London, Google said it would escalate those efforts.
Google will nearly double the number of
independent experts it uses to flag problematic content and expand its work
with counter-extremist groups to help identify content that may be used to
radicalize and recruit extremists.
It will also train more people to
identify and remove extremist and terrorism-related content faster.
Google Inc. said it will also take a
tougher stance on videos that don’t clearly violate its policies, like those
that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content. That content may
still appear, but with a warning.
It is also increasing resources for
engineering to identify extremist videos and teaming with Jigsaw to use
targeted online advertising to reach potential Isis recruits and shift them
toward anti-terrorist videos.