Negligence at CBS: Unsafe Gun Handling in Chicago

In the following video clip, you will see every gun safety measure violated, and questions about guns that neither give insight nor judge the use of handguns by gangs.  References to "firepower" are inadequate to pin down exactly what is being used and how.  Without the right vocabulary, the script sounds childish and similar to dialogue from Beverly Hills Cop.

On August 7, 2017, CBS News published "The Gun of Chicago."  In the first 5 minutes of the roughly 14 minute video, we see little information about guns and reckless gun handling.  Spending a week in South Side, it appears the CBS team learned practically nothing about firearms and did not prepare well enough to learn the basic safety rules. 

Debriefing Charlottesville Part II: Helmets Worn by Protestors

Reviewing photographs and videos of Charlottesville civil unrest, and comparing and contrasting to other protests in the United States dating to 2015, there are a few trends we see that indicate the level of sophistication and preparation of organized groups:

  • One trend is use of helmets. 
  • We used to see cheap bicycle helmets to counter projectiles and perhaps falling down in the crowd.
  • Then we saw more expensive ones, and open-face motorcycle helmets (as opposed to full-face motorcycle helmets used in Ukraine). 
  • In Charlottesville, however, in addition to the military-issued Kevlar helmets worn by some of the organized nationalist groups, others brought tactical, police-style helmets.
  • Some brought baseball helmets, construction hats, rappelling helmets, and more robust motorcycle helmets.

Information Collection: NYT and O'Grady at AFGE

Breitbart recently criticized the New York Times for emailing potential sources.

Assuming the emails are authentic, the Time employee appears to have initiated contact with the President of an AFGE council.  We can glean a lot of tactical information from the contact and the content of the email.  Our analysis is that the Time reporter did an above average job of attempting to collect the priority information he was probably tasked with by managers.  Operations in law enforcement and military are very similar.

Low Visibility in Urban Settings: Backpacks

We spend about half our time on the street and half in the office.  While at home or abroad, the principles of blending into an environment remain stable: posture, acceleration and speed, clothing and shoes, and eye contact and engagement.  The short acronym is PACE (posture, acceleration, clothing, and engagement).  Having the right backpack for the environment is just as important as other signs.

Updated #Vault7 Leaks: More On Behavior

Wikileaks released documents on a program called Brutal Kangaroo.

We have little interest in the technical aspects of the program.  Our interest lies in what the program's final end requires in terms of human behavior.  Like human engineering, such as convincing someone on the phone to give up username and password, the scheme expects, "When a user is using the primary host and inserts a USB stick into it, the thumbdrive itself is infected with a separate malware."

The victim's "inserts" action is the necessary component.  We could haggle over the technology, but that is another discussion and one we're not equipped to enter.  But would the counter-measure to Brutal Kangaroo, logistically, be to refine one's computer security?  Or would it be to ensure that already existing security protocol in the "secure environment" be followed?  One is not supposed to plug an air gapped device into ground power, and equally important one should not use the same USB drives on connected and gapped devices.

This is the type of thinking criminals, police, and terrorists employ.  We just learned recently that credit card fraud in Fairfax County involves Apple Pay and Android Pay.  The suspects steal credit cards, upload into their own phones in Apple and Android "wallets," and shop at stores in Tysons Corner mall.  The police would need a warrant to search the phones, court orders to unlock with fingerprint or pin, and what state or county agency would invest in unlocking it as the FBI did?  This is a game of using the efficiency and resources of the courts.  The tech is the medium, but the behavior of concealing in a new way is where their ingenuity blossoms: the warrant requirement, the investigative process, and prosecution's willingness to fight for $500 purchased at Best Buy.  Technology advances sure allow for creative ways to work -- for anyone concerned with their safety, freedom, etc. -- but often, as we see the counter-measure for Brutal Kangaroo is to compartmentalize USB drives, the solution is behavior-based.  


Incompetence at The Intercept and Leaking Culture

In January 2015, Benjamin Wittes described The Intercept staff as amateurs.  "They are amateurs in a world of professionals."  He had the foresight to predict a major slip that would result in the capture of a leaking source.  About the same time, we spoke internally of the significant holes in their leaking plan "Become a Source," namely, the advise to leak from personal computers in public coffee houses.  That an organization would recommend this indicates lack of basic understanding of end-point security behavior and common threats from state and private actors.

Checking Vitals for Journalists: Getting Back to Basics

Journalists further face the folowing paradox: Targeted electronic surveillance is very rare, perhaps 10% of fieldwork worldwide, generally when they investigate government actors or commit felonies.  The remaining 90% of fieldwork attracts only physical surveillance by ground teams.  Supposing one implements all the recommended digital security, the aggressors will then turn to physical surveillance.  In either scenario, the main concern will be physical surveillance, so training only in electronic surveillance leaves a huge gap in readiness.

Survey of Recent Civil Unrest

We have seen an increase in disorganized and organized protests in the last few weeks.  One factor is seasonal: the weather warms up, and groups are more eager to get out.  Another is political, correlating with important dates like the French election, May Day, conferences and summits, and visits by leaders. Surveying a few protests that caught headlines because they involved violence, we stress the importance of estimating "tactics, techniques, and procedures" of both police and protestors/rioters.  The press should have a sense of how the police and protestors behave in a specific locale.