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Posts from October 2008.
As much as I love Pants I’ve been wanting a bit more bells and whistles in my weblog. So, I’m moving to WordPress. Hopefully, this should be as seemless as possible. RSS readers! (all 15 of you) You *may* need to update your RSS to point to http://www.innismir.net/feed – I tried to set up a redirect, but I don’t know if that will be successful…
Over the weekend, the Federation of the American Scientists posted a presentation by the Army’s 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. This presentation went over a few things, focusing on the use of mobile technology and the possible use of Twitter by Terrorist cells for either Open Source Intelligence gathering (OSINT) or a Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) tool.
Needless to say, most of the population of Twitter has basically taken the report to mean “Oh my god, the Army thinks Twitter is a Terrorist tool!” and has dismissed the report out of hand. Even some security weblogs I read have been fairly dismissive of the report. After reading up on the report, I completely agree with it’s findings. I’ve had similar concerns floating in the back of my mind since for a while now.
Twitter is a great tool for distributing information quickly, and while that is a good thing, it can also be used for not-so-good things as well. Twitter, with it’s mobile integration and the fact that everyone has a mobile device make it ideal for a distributed intelligence network. The report mentions that this was used with great effect during the Republican National Convention by
dirty hippies activists in avoiding apprehension. The report looks at these uses and proposed three scenarios:
Scenario 1: Terrorist operative “A” uses Twitter with (or without) a cell phone camera/video function to send back messages, and to receive messages, from the rest of his cell… Other members of his cell receive near real time updates (similar to the movement updates that were sent by activists at the RNC) on how, where, and the number of troops that are moving in order to conduct an ambush.
Scenario 2: Terrorist operative “A” has a mobile phone for Tweet messaging and for taking images. Operative “A” also has a separate mobile phone that is actually an explosive device and/or a suicide vest for remote detonation. Terrorist operative “B” has the detonator and a mobile to view “A’s” Tweets and images. This may allow “B” to select the precise moment of remote detonation based on near real time movement and imagery that is being sent by “A.”
Scenario 3: Cyber Terrorist operative “A” finds U.S. [soldier] Smith’s Twitter account. Operative “A” joins Smith’s Tweets and begins to elicit information from Smith. This information is then used for… identity theft, hacking, and/or physical [attacks]. This scenario is not new and has already been discussed for other social networking sites, such as My Space and/or Face Book.
There a real-world examples of people using Twitter for things similar to Scenario 1 and 3 today and while Scenario 2 is the most far-fetched, it is still in the realm of possibility. While I don’t think that there are currently terrorists actively designing operations with Twitter in mind, I do believe that it has registered with them. I’m also sure that information on Twitter is going to be mind by both sides, so it is important to make sure that the “good guys” know that how it can be used against them and also how it can be used against the “bad guys.”
Figuring out your opponent’s next move is key in strategic battles and researching all the options is key. The report came up with a few not-so-far-fetched scenarios in which Twitter plays a key role. Coming up with these scenarios allows people to plan to combat them. While it’s easy to dismiss the report as paranoia and think as Twitter as 100% Sunshine and Puppies, it is important to realize that like any tool, Twitter can be used for good things and bad.
Least week I had the pleasure of volunteering at the 51st Scouting Jamboree on the Air at Camp Carpenter in Manchester, NH. JOTA is an annual event in which both Boy and Girl Scouts all over the world speak to each other by means of amateur radio. I was first exposed to JOTA in the early 1990s when I was an avid Shortwave Listener (SWL). I would tune around the bands with my rather ancient Hallicrafters SX-110 searching for the voices of other JOTA stations. I wasn’t a Ham yet and didn’t know any JOTA events in my area so I never actually talked to anyone, but I was glued to the radio for the weekend listening to far flung stations across the world.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I got an e-mail from Barry Baines, WD4ASW. Barry is an AMSAT officer and was looking for someone to volunteer at Daniel Webster Council’s JOTA event. Apparently all the other area AMSAT officers were busy and since I helped at the AMSAT booth at Boxboro, they
recognize a sucker when the see one know that I love to help out. Despite it being quite a hike and an all day event, I jumped at the chance. Partly to give back to Scouting, partly to gab about satellites, but mostly a an excuse to play radio all day. I was somewhat nervous, as I had little to no idea what was going to happen, what I needed to do, and what was going to be available too me. Still, I forged ahead and aimed to do really really well, or at least shovel enough BS to make myself sounding convincing.
An interesting side story is that after I linked up with Paul, KG7HF, the organizer of the event, I recorded the ISS. As I’m listening, one of the two stations that made contact with Garriott was none other then Paul himself. This is an incredible feat. The first thing I thought was “What the heck does he need me for?”
Saturday came and I loaded up my car with my (still not 100%) satellite yagi, my K5OE Handi-Tenna as a backup, my FT-60, my laptop, and some various satellite reference materials. I arrived, met Paul, and he showed me to my station. Paul graciously provided his TS-2000 and his laptop with his rig control software. Needless to say, I was pleased as this is like driving a Ferrari as compared to my setup, which is more like a Pinto. Paul had a 2M Eggbeater antenna and we kludged up a 70cm setup with his Dual Band mobile antenna as his 70cm eggbeater was not working. The Scouts started to trickle in, and we tried to have our first ISS pass. No voice contact, but the few Scouts that were around were amazed by the SSTV pictures. The next ISS pass was more crowded, and we were rewarded with hearing Garriott doing voice. While we were unsuccessful in contacting him, they Scouts were rapt in listening to the radio. There were a few Scouts who walked over halfway through the pass not knowing exactly what they were listening to, leading to a humorous exchange afterward:
Them: “So where was that guy?”
Me: “On the International Space Station.”
Them: “But where was he?”
Me: *confused* “Uhm. In space.”
Them: *not sure if I’m pulling their leg* “Like an astronaut?”
Me: “Yes. He’s up there for a week. He’s on board using their radio. His name is Richard Garriott. He’s a space tourist.”
Them: *eyes start to widen* “Wow!”
With our limited 70cm setup and my inexperience of tuning transponder based satellites, we were not as lucky on the other satellites. We were able to hear a few stations, but were unable to make a contact. However, all the ISS passes were big hits and at least had everyone talking about the contacts. I also worked out a script for the sSouts to handle the contacts to the ISS (with myself as the control operator). My research showed that ISS was not a foreign entity as long as Garriott was using NA1SS calsign (third party traffic agreements, what a crock!), so I let the Scouts take the wheel and just cued them as to what to say. I hope a few of them got bit by “the bug.”
It was a great day. I think the scouts had a great time, and I did as well. I’ve already told Paul to contact me for next year’s event. I met a couple of nice younger hams Devin, KB1OSI and Brittany, KB1OGL, and hopefully inspired a few more. I also have come to a conclusion that I need to get a better setup for satellites. I’ve barely scratched the surface in my setup and it would be fun to expand my satellite use into transponder based ones as well.
They also gave me a patch! I haven’t got a Boy Scout patch in YEARS! How cool is that?
Richard Garriott, W5KWQ, AKA “Lord British” from Ultima, is currently on board the International Space Station as a “Space Tourist”. While Space Tourists are cool and all, what makes Garriott special is that A. He is the son of Owen Garriott, who did the first Amateur Radio transmission from space, and B. he is actively using Amateur Radio during his stay on board the ISS.
I, along with many other Amateur Radio operators have been monitoring his transmissions over the past couple of days. Today, since I was home telecommuting, I snuck out for a few passes with my Yagi to monitor the ISS passes. The first one was the most momentous as after his Slow Scan TV (SSTV) transmissions he quickly popped on the frequency and talked to a few stations.
- Oct 16th, 09:32EDT ISS pass (MP3, 7:38, 3.1MB)
The next few passes were SSTV only, and the last pass, while trasmitting SSTV, the camera was acting up and sending back a black picture. Whoops!
Without further ado, here are the shots that I picked up today:
You can get more information on Garriott’s space trip at richardinspace.com
DarkSun over at UniversalHub posted a nice complete Green Line map featuring all the stops that are above ground. Adam, UH’s webmaster, colored it all up nice and green in one of the comments for all the confused tourists. Being a MBTA geek, and having a lunch break in which I was bored stiff, I decided to raise the ante a bit and make it follow semi-official MBTA coloring:
So, the information embargo has been officially lifted as of this weekend when we let our extended families know, so I am pleased to announce…
I’m going to be a father.
We’ve known since July, but we decided to wait until we got out of the first trimester before telling anyone outside of our close family. The due date is mid/late March, the gender is unknown (and unimportant), and Mom is doing well.
His brain is my laboratory, my depository. Into it I can stuff the books I choose, the television shows, the movies, my opinion about elected officials, historical events, neighbors, passersby. He is my twenty-four-hour classroom, my captive audience, forced to ingest everything I deem worthwhile. He is a lucky, lucky boy! And no one can stop me. He is mine, and you cannot stop me, cannot stop us. Try to stop us, you pu**y! You can’t stop us from singing, and you can’t stop us from making fart sounds, from putting our hands out the window to test the aerodynamics of different hand formations, from wiping the contents of our noses under the front of our seats.
We cannot be stopped from looking with pity upon all the world’s sorry inhabitants, they unblessed by our charms, unchallenged by our trials, unscarred and thus weak, gelatinous. You cannot stop me from telling Toph to make comments about and faces at the people in the next lane.
It’s unfair. The matchups, Us. v. Them (or you) are unfair. We are dangerous. We are daring and immortal. Fog whips up from under the cliffs and billows over the highway. Blue breaks from beyond the fog and sun suddenly screams from the blue.