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China’s covert spy pad technology

January 19, 2011 1 comment
spy padWatch your step — you might just be standing on a spy pad.

Chinese researchers have given new meaning to the term “watch your step” with a so-called “spy pad,” a device that can identify people by their gait, the South China Morning Post reported.

According to a Wikileaks document released in December, the device is able to capture the biometric information of anyone who steps on it, such as the dimension, weight and force applied by a person’s foot when they walk.

Developers believe these statistics are unique to each individual and can be used for identification. The spy pad’s sensors are so sensitive that they are supposedly able to track human targets even if they’ve changed shoes.

You’ve got to wonder why Ian Fleming didn’t think of it when he was writing the James Bond books. Or, for that matter, George Orwell when he was writing “1984.”

Acording to the SCMP report, spy pads were created by scientists at China’s IIM, or Institute of Intelligent Machines, reportedly in collaboration with developers at Nintendo, which may explain the device’s similarities with the Wii Fit Balance Board.

The Ministry for State Security, China’s spy agency, has already jumped on the project and is currently its biggest financier, according to the South China Morning Post.

Zhou Xu, a leading researcher on the project, is quoted by the Post as saying that “the government wants to use this device to track some citizens of concern.”

The gadget piqued the curiosity of U.S. diplomats in Beijing, who wrote in a diplomatic cable in February last year:

“The device can be covertly installed in a floor and is able to collect biometrics data on individuals covertly without their knowledge.

“When questioned about the device’s potential applications, IIM officials stated the device was being used by ‘secret’ customers and was not available on the commercial market.”

The Post reported that the gadget has been tested on the lab’s 100-odd employees and has an accuracy rate of 98 percent.

Categories: China, Technology, wikileaks Tags: ,

Word of the week “Plutocracy”

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Definition of PLUTOCRACY

1
: government by the wealthy
2
: a controlling class of the wealthy

Examples of PLUTOCRACY

  1. If only the wealthy can afford to run for public office, are we more a plutocracy than a democracy?
  2. corporate greed and America’s growing plutocracy

The term “plutocracy” is formally defined as government by the wealthy, and is also sometimes used to refer to a wealthy class that controls a government, often from behind the scenes. More generally, a plutocracy is any form of government in which the wealthy exercise the preponderance of political power, whether directly or indirectly.Plutocracy may also have social and cultural aspects. Thus, in Democracy for the Few political scientist Michael Parenti is led to comment “American capitalism represents more than just an economic system; it is an entire cultural and social order, a plutocracy, a system of rule that is mostly by and for the rich. Most universities and colleges, publishing houses, mass circulation magazines, newspapers, television and radio stations, professional sports teams, foundations, churches, private museums, charity organizations, and hospitals are organized as corporations, ruled by boards of trustees (or directors or regents) composed overwhelmingly of affluent businesspeople. These boards exercise final judgment over all institutional matters.”The question of whether or not the United States could be said to be a plutocracy is discussed at length in Who Rules America, by sociologist G. William Domhoff. There Domhoff remarks: “The idea that a relatively fixed group of privileged people might shape the economy and government for their own benefit goes against the American grain. Nevertheless . . . the owners and top-level managers in large income-producing properties are far and away the dominant power figures in the United States. Their corporations, banks, and agribusinesses come together as a corporate community that dominates the federal government in Washington. Their real estate, construction, and land development companies form growth coalitions that dominate most local governments.” In the US, plutocratic governance is abetted by mass media owned by the hyperwealthy and operated in their own economic self-interest, the failure to provide public financing to political candidates, poor oversight of the electoral process, elitist Supreme Court appointments, the organization of wealth into socially-irresponsible corporations, the collapse of meaningful regulatory regimes, plutocratically financed “think tanks” (propaganda distribution centers), and an impoverished educational system that has failed utterly to provide Americans with the elements of political literacy (all of which have their foundations in philosophy).

A Guide to the Open Internet Even You Can Understand

January 19, 2011 Comments off
Click on the blue square below:
A Guide to the Open Internet

If you love your Internet, you should familiarize yourself with this guide to The Open Internet and the concepts of Network Neutrality. Network neutrality is the idea that your cellular, cable, or phone internet connection should treat all websites and services the same. Big companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast want to treat them differently so they can charge you more depending on what you use.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently debating legislation to define limits for internet service providers (ISPs). The hope is that they will keep the internet open and prevent companies from discriminating against different kinds of websites and services.

This is important. You should learn what Net Neutrality is about and you should understand why it is important you care.

Four Cyber Threats for 2011

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Internet Superweapons to Facebook Crimes, Security Experts Predict New Web Attacks

In late 2010, a new kind of computer worm attacked an Iranian nuclear facility and so altered the course of cyber warfare that the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs marked the attack as the beginning of a new era: The Age of Stuxnet.

 

And while the Stuxnet worm may be the most identifiable, ominous new threat to cyber security as the new year begins, security experts have predicted 2011 will also be a year of dynamic shifts in online threats in other areas, including social media and political “hacktivism.”

Here are the top four security concerns that cyber experts see coming over the digital horizon:

 

Cyber War’s Newest Superweapon: Stuxnet and Copycats

Stuxnet was first discovered in July 2010 by a security firm in Belarus, but didn’t make global headlines until months later when Iranian state media announced the Middle East nation had been the target of a coordinated attack.

The worm was “the first of its kind, written to specifically target mission-critical control systems running a specific combination of software and hardware,” a Department of Homeland Security official told ABC News.

But experts said the worm is not limited to any single type of target and can be altered to attack several key components of any nation’s infrastructure, from electricity grids to oil rigs.

“The idea that a piece of malicious code can target physical systems and create real-world impacts is something that’s been speculated in the industry for quite some time and certainly was largely understood to be possible. Stuxnet was the first widespread implementation of that kind of attack,” Ben Greenbaum, senior research manager for cyber security firm Symantec, told ABC News.

Symantec’s number one prediction for 2011 was increased cyber attacks on critical infrastructures just like the nuclear facility in Iran, and Stuxnet is only the beginning. Read more…

Earth May be Uninhabitable for Future Generations

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Humans are in danger of making large parts of the Earth uninhabitable for thousands of years because of man made climate change, according to new evidence based on geological records.

The US study predicted that if society continues burning fossil fuels at the current rate, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide could rise from the current level of 390 parts per million (ppm) to 1,000 by the end of this century.

The last time the world had such high levels of carbon dioxide temperatures were on average 29F(16C) above pre-industrial levels. Evidence has been found of crocodiles and palm trees at the Poles and only small mammals were able to survive.

Jeffrey Kiehl, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), who carried out the study, said the Earth could return to such temperatures over hundreds or even thousands of years.

But unlike last time, when it happened over millions of years, temperatures will rise too fast for species to adapt and change.

In the short term he said temperatures could rise by more than 10.8F (6C) by the end of the century, which will also wipe out species.

“This is happening at such a rate how will species, including humans, respond? The implications for the biosphere is of great concern.”

Dr Kiehl not only looked at geological records but also computer models to predict what will happen if carbon dioxide levels rise at such a rate.

He included ‘feed back factors’, such as melting sea ice, methane released from thawing permafrost and Amazon die-back.

This showed that temperatures will increase much faster than previously thought as a result of rising carbon dioxide.

“If we don’t start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced,” he said. “We will have committed human civilization to living in a different world for multiple generations.”

Dr Kiehl hit back at critics who claim that acting on climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels will upset the world order.

“A truly conservative position is to conserve what we have, to not radically change things and if we do not want to radically change the environment then the conservative approach is to conserve the Earth as the human species has known it ever since we have been around on this planet.”