Cyber-News: Pentagon Warns Against Using Chinese Computers Manufactured by Lenovo

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Military Warns Chinese Computer Gear Poses Cyber Spy Threat

(click on above link to be re-directed)

If any of you have read the fictional book Ghost Fleet by P.W. Singer, stories like this make it very real. Things like this pose a very REAL threat to National Security and Military Defense. Apart from the “spying” aspect, consider for a moment how many of the components and essential software for the new F-35 Fighter are Chinese manufactured? How easy it would be for them to hide malware or malicious code to essentially corrupt the system and cause it to crash in the middle of a mission? Not a pretty picture.

This is a new kind of war folks and it’s raging right now.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

Police State: More Bureaucrats With Guns Than U.S. Marines

Police officers from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, and Montgomery Police officers work outside of San & Dee Taxes on South Perry Street in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. The federal agents were at the tax service on ìofficial business,î said Patty Bergstrom, an IRS spokeswoman, adding that she could not provide any further information at this time. Large groups of people who had not received their refund checks had been gathering outside the business in recent days. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh)

Non-military federal agencies spend $1.48 billion on guns and ammo since 2006

There are now more non-military government employees who carry guns than there are U.S. Marines, according to a new report.

Open the Books, a taxpayer watchdog group, released a study Wednesday that finds domestic government agencies continue to grow their stockpiles of military-style weapons, as Democrats sat on the House floor calling for more restrictions on what guns American citizens can buy.

The “Militarization of America” report found civilian agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between 2006 and 2014. Examples include IRS agents with AR-15s, and EPA bureaucrats wearing camouflage.

“Regulatory enforcement within administrative agencies now carries the might of military-style equipment and weapons,” Open the Books said. “For example, the Food and Drug Administration includes 183 armed ‘special agents,’ a 50 percent increase over the ten years from 1998-2008. At Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ are now trained with sophisticated weaponry by the same contractors who train our military special forces troops.”

Open the Books found there are now over 200,000 non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, surpassing the 182,100 personnel who are actively serving in the U.S. Marines Corps.

The IRS spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment for its 2,316 special agents. The tax collecting agency has billed taxpayers for pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns, semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P15s, and Heckler & Koch H&K 416 rifles, which can be loaded with 30-round magazines.

The EPA spent $3.1 million on guns, ammo, and equipment, including drones, night vision, “camouflage and other deceptive equipment,” and body armor.

When asked about the spending, and EPA spokesman said the report “cherry picks information and falsely misrepresents the work of two administrations whose job is to protect public health.”

“Many purchases were mischaracterized or blown out of proportion in the report,” said spokesman Nick Conger. “EPA’s criminal enforcement program has not purchased unmanned aircraft, and the assertions that military-grade weapons are part of its work are false.”

“EPA’s criminal enforcement program investigates and prosecutes the most egregious violators of our nation’s environmental laws, and EPA criminal enforcement agents are law enforcement professionals who have undergone the same rigorous training as other federal agents,” Conger continued.

Other administration agencies that have purchased guns and ammo include the Small Business Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Education, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The report also highlighted that the Department of Health and Human Services has “special agents” with “sophisticated military-style weapons.” Open the Books also found $42 million in gun and ammunition purchases that were incorrectly coded.

“Some purchases were actually for ping-pong balls, gym equipment, bread, copiers, cotton balls, or cable television including a line item from the Coast Guard entered as ‘Cable Dude,’” the report said.

Open the Books appealed to both liberals like Bernie Sanders—who has called for demilitarizing local police departments—and conservatives in its report.

“Conservatives argue that it is hypocritical for political leaders to undermine the Second Amendment while simultaneously equipping non-military agencies with hollow-point bullets and military style equipment,” Open the Books said. “One could argue the federal government itself has become a gun show that never adjourns with dozens of agencies continually shopping for new firearms.”

Update June 23, 10:15 a.m.

Following publication of this article, Adam Andrzejewski, the CEO of Open the Books who wrote the report, pushed back against the EPA’s statement, and provided contract data to back up his claims.

“How can the EPA spokesperson deny hard facts from their own checkbook?” he said. “Alongside our oversight report, OpenTheBooks.com also released a PDF of all raw data. This line-by-line transactional record from the EPA’s own checkbook on page 113 clearly shows that in 2013 and 2014 the EPA purchased tens of thousands of dollars of ‘Unmanned Aircraft’ from Bergen RC Helicopters Inc which on a net basis amounted to approximately $34,000.”

“All of the assertions in our oversight report are the quantification of actual spending records produced and reported to us by the federal agencies themselves,” Andrzejewski said.

Read the Original Article at Free Beacon

Military Defense News: USMC Asst. Commandant Warns USMC is NOT Ready for Another Big Conflict

A President is the Commander-in-Chief of ALL the Armed Forces. His Primary and FIRST Job is to ensure this Nation is Defended and Safe, regardless of Politics. This POTUS for the last 7 years has Failed miserably in that task….and like all screw ups that occur in the White House, it is going to cost American lives. -SF

U.S. Marines board the open back of a Sea Stallion helicopter in Garmsir District, in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps warned Congress on Tuesday that he believes that the Marine Corps is in a dire readiness situation after 15 years of war and budget cuts, resulting in a lack of training and equipment, Stars and Stripes reports.

Gen. John Paxton told a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee that several components of the Corps would be unable to respond to an unexpected crisis, long regarded as a Marine specialty. Paxton highlighted aviation as one of the hardest hit areas.

“I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now,” Paxton said.

Paxton also said that approximately 80 percent of Marine aviation units do not have the number of aircraft that they need for training and operations.

There has been a number of accidents surrounding Marine Corp aircraft which Paxton said may be connected to the budget cuts and that the Corps would be investigating any possible connection.

Aviation was not alone, however, Paxton also warned about the drastically reduced ability of communications and intelligence units.

“In the event of a crisis, these degraded units could either be called upon to deploy immediately at increased risk to the force and the mission, or require additional time to prepare thus incurring increased risk to mission by surrendering the initiative to our adversaries,” Paxton said. “This does not mean we will not be able to respond to the call … It does mean that executing our defense strategy or responding to an emergent crisis may require more time, more risk, and incur greater costs and casualties.”

“All of our intelligence and communications battalions…would be unable to execute their full wartime mission requirements if called upon today,” Paxton said.

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The Literary Corner: Bernard Cornwell’s Professional Fictions

As a writer, I am also a prolific reader. My two favorite genres for fiction are without a doubt spy thrillers and historical fiction. I was introduced to Bernard Cornwell a few years ago by my good friend, Mr. A. We both share a keen interest in Viking history and lore and he suggested I try out the Saxon Tales by Cornwell. Well, after I finished the first book in the series, The Last Kingdom, I was hooked, and the rest as they say, is History, or in this case, Historical Fiction! I am now on the Fifth book of the series, the Burning Land.

BBC also recently premiered a mini-series based on the Saxon tale books entitled after the first book of the series;”The Last Kingdom”. Although not near as good as the books, it is a good watch. You can catch the entire first season on Amazon. -SF

LK1

We’re over twenty books into the series about Richard Sharpe, a British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Four books into the adventures of Nathaniel Starbuck, fighting for the South in the American Civil War—along with three books of Warlord Chronicles, set in the years after Rome’s retreat from the British Isles, and four books about a belated Grail Quest, set during the Hundred Years’ War.

Add in five modern sea thrillers, five stand-alone historical novels, a non-fiction account of Waterloo—together with Warriors of the Storm, this winter’s entry in the nine-volume Saxon series, set during the tenth-century Danish invasions of England—and Bernard Cornwell has been about as busy as it is possible for a writer to be, penning over fifty books since 1981.

A handful of contemporary authors are celebrated—rightly or wrongly—for elevating genre fiction up into the airy heights of literature. John le Carré, for example: While serious writers from Joseph Conrad to Graham Greene have played with spy themes, le Carré is often cited as the author who took the spy novel precisely as a popular genre fiction and raised it to literature. Patrick O’Brian is similarly counted by many as the man who showed that the small but steady field of Napoleonic sea stories could be the means for realizing high literary aspirations. George MacDonald Fraser’s twelve Flashman books may have started as comic historical novels—with a protagonist lifted fromTom Brown’s Schooldays—but they developed into a vehicle for a good bit of historical and social commentary.

Bernard Cornwell is rarely cited among these names. And maybe that’s with good reason. He has a serviceable prose, but it’s nothing to write home about. As you would expect for one of the bestselling authors in the genre of historical military fiction, Cornwell shows a talent for describing violence: His fights are always exciting, but he never allows the overall course of a battle to be lost in the details of a single soldier’s actions.

He achieves his clean effects, however, by a stripping down his scenes and skimping on descriptions of incidental settings and the culture that surrounds his characters.

Cornwell prides himself on the historical accuracy of his books, as well he ought. But it is a thin accuracy, limited to the stories’ fast-paced action. He knows exactly how a Baker rifle would work in the hands of a skirmisher during Wellington’s campaign through Portugal and Spain—even while it’s not certain he knows why, exactly, the British were there in Portugal and Spain. For a certain kind of writer, writing fictional stories drawn from actual military history, it’s enough that the grander events of the story did take place. Their only necessary justification is their factual reality, and the fiction weaves its fictional characters like decorative stiches on the fabric of history as it actually happened.

Whether in his Sharpe series of 19th-century battles or his tales of warfare in the Dark Ages, Cornwell uses his descriptions of the mechanics and tools of war to build his historical settings. And that, I think, is something of a departure from the normal course of such soldier novels. If your sense as a reader is that his technique is more typical of naval stories, you would be right. Cornwell once suggested that—with the 1981 Sharpe’s Eagle—he began his stories of a foot soldier in the Napoleonic Wars because there wasn’t anything equivalent to the popular naval fiction set in that era. Although he loved sailing, he thought that the Duke of Wellington, not Admiral Nelson, was the greatest military figure that Britain threw against Napoleon, and he wanted to do for the British soldier in popular fiction what C.S. Forester had done for the British sailor in his Hornblower novels.

Not that fiction hadn’t told the story of soldiers before. The historical novel found its modern form with Walter Scott’s 1814 Waverley, the tale of a British officer fighting with the Scottish armies. In the 1890s, Arthur Conan Doyle published a fine set of stories about Brigadier Gerard, a vain French soldier for Napoleon (and a little-noticed model for the military comedy George MacDonald Fraser’s achieved with Sir Harry Flashman).

Cornwell’s breakthrough, however, was to start telling land-based military stories as though they were sea-based—the soldier tale as though it were a sailor tale. The narrative is both detailed, in the way that Forester would tell how to change sails, and clean, in the way that Forester would convey a battle. Or even better than Forester, first because the details of soldiering are less complex than the details of sailing, and second because Cornwell is simply a better writer than Forester, never tempted by his predecessor’s sentimentality or willingness to let accounts of a character’s quirks masquerade as development of a character’s psychology.

Cornwell tends to thicken his characters by placing them in situations where they have conflicting demands on their honor and their talents. Richard Sharpe, his skirmisher in the fight against Napoleon, is a thug and ruffian from the British rookeries and slums who rises in the service of Wellington—and who is thereby lost in social class, pulled both by his impulse to solve all things with treachery and violence, and by his regulated behavior as an officer and a gentleman. Nathaniel Starbuck, Cornwell’s Civil War soldier, is a Northerner who ends up fighting for the Confederacy. Thomas of Hookton, his English archer, is caught up in a hunt for the Holy Grail, a chivalrous pursuit in the very era that announced the end of the medieval ideal of chivalry.

And in his Saxon chronicles, Cornwell tells the tale of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a child of a Saxon lord in Northumbria who was captured and brought up Danish raiders. Beginning with The Last Kingdomin 2004 and extending to the latest volume with Warriors of the Storm, Cornwell has been using the series to raise awareness of the historical foundation of England, in those moments when Alfred the Great fought off the Danes and established what Cornwell believes is the first unified people that could be called English.

Even more than Cornwell’s other characters, Uhtred is pulled by multiple forces. His battle sense is pure Viking, but his people are the Saxons. His own son converts to the rising religion of Christianity, which he feels a betrayal of the pagan gods he knows.

Set in the years after Alfred’s death, Warriors of the Storm opens with Æthelflaed taking charge of Mercia while her brother Edward extends his own kingdom of Wessex into East Anglia. The Danes have been defeated everywhere except Northumbria, but the Viking raids have not stopped, and the Irish are beginning to eye the piecemeal kingdoms of England. The battles against the Danes may have proved Uhtred as the soul of Mercia, the kingdom’s greatest warrior, but there is no simple answer to the conflict of oaths and loyalties he faces.

The insoluble conflict of rival duties is a constant theme of tragedy, from works as great as Antigoneon down. Cornwell tends to use the struggle a little mechanically, as though the very fact of conflicting duties is enough to establish a character as three dimensional and well rounded. But it’s still a richer vein to mine for a story than Forester managed, and if Cornwell’s characters aren’t as thick as Patrick O’Brian’s Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin, well, his stories move at a faster pace. O’Brian once complained that there was “too much plot, not enough lifestyle” in Cornwell’s historical fiction—but that’s the point. In books such as Warriors of the Storm, Bernard Cornwell lets battle do his work for him, his historical settings conveyed through the characters’ internal conflicts as they stride through a landscape of war.

And if the result isn’t high literature, it’s still very good genre work: readable, fast, informative, and fun. A professional fiction, with all that the word professional conveys.

Read the Original Article at Free Beacon

Security Firm Warns of NEW Chinese Cyber Attacks

China is stepping up their game and timeline for War. -SF

China’s cyber attacks against U.S. government and private sector databases are part of a major intelligence-gathering operation and are likely to continue, according to a new report by a cyber security firm.

Chinese hackers stole health care data pertaining to some 80 million Americans last year, and the Office of Personnel Management cyber attacks netted sensitive records on 22 million federal workers, according to an annual threat report made public Wednesday by CrowdStrike, a cyber security and intelligence company. The company is widely consulted by both government and private sector organizations.

The gathering of personal data by the Chinese represents a new trend in Beijing’s aggressive cyber attacks.

“This targeting underscores that intrusion operations associated with nation-states pose a significant risk to all data, no matter how uninteresting it may seem,” the report said.

The 49-page “2015 Global Threat Report” also states that the U.S.-China agreement not to conduct commercial cyber theft has had little impact on Beijing’s cyber operations.

“Beneath the surface, however, China has not appeared to change its intentions where cyber is concerned,” the report said.

Any reduction in Chinese cyber attacks this year likely will be temporary, and an apparent reduction may result from the use of more clandestine methods for conducting attacks following a major military reorganization.

The military changes “will likely increase [China’s] reliance on its civilian intelligence agencies and associated contractors, all of which generally employ better tradecraft,” the report said.

“If observed campaigns in late 2015 were any indication, it is unlikely China will completely cease its cyber operations, and 2016 will show the new direction it is headed,” the report said.

More cyber attacks seeking personal data could take place in the future, and organizations that hold such data “should remain alert to the possibility of similar activity going into 2016,” the report said.

China’s cyber spies usually use cyber intrusions to steal strategic information, such as intellectual property, business operations data, and sensitive government documents.

Stolen personal data, on the other hand, “is typically used to facilitate identity theft or other types of financially motivated crimes,” the report said.

However, the compromised personal information from health insurance companies Anthem, Premera, and CareFirst last year could be used by the government or state-run companies.

The large data theft also appears to be part of Chinese efforts to “build out profiles on individuals to support future operations.”

The federal government data breaches were more damaging and included sensitive background investigation information on federal employees, the report said.

“Without doubt, access to this degree of [personally identifiable information] for both successful and unsuccessful applicants represents a treasure trove of information that may be exploited for counterintelligence purposes,” the report said.

The Chinese can now exploit millions of stolen records for intelligence operations.

“Knowledge acquired during these operations could be used to create more individualized, and therefore more effective, spear phishing campaigns, or also in more traditional, real-world espionage activity,” the report said, noting that the background investigation data “would be particularly useful to traditional [human intelligence] operations as it contains details of a very personal nature about current and former government employees, as well as private sector employees working on government contracts.”

The Chinese government, through the Ministry of Public Security, has launched a major domestic campaign to crack down on online dissent. The Ministry is conducting cyber operations against people and websites that post information opposed by communist authorities, including use of an offensive cyber security force called the “Great Cannon,” a supplement to the Great Firewall designed to block online users from accessing unapproved content.

In Russia, hackers linked to the government used malicious software for intelligence-gathering and for political coercion, such as against Ukraine. Moscow hackers also have conducted cyber reconnaissance—preparation of the cyber battlefield—in Europe and elsewhere.

“In February, widespread spear phishing … was detected and analyzed,” the report said. “These attacks targeted numerous entities in government, defense, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and South America.”

Russian hackers used stolen emails from a hack against the U.S. strategic consulting firm Stratfor, the report said, a tactic not typical of Russian hacking in the past.

International pressure on Moscow over its military activities, such as the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea “portend increased intelligence collection by Russia-based adversaries particularly against regional targets and global energy companies,” the report said.

A Russian cyber intelligence operation, dubbed Berserk Bear, targeted oil and gas companies in the Middle East. Another operation, called Fancy Bear, targeted Chinese defense firms.

One Russian hacker group called CyberBerkut operating in Ukraine appears linked to Russian intelligence services.

North Korean cyber activities last year principally involved intelligence-gathering operations directed against South Korea.

Pressure from China could prompt Pyongyang to take a more aggressive cyber posture. And North Korean cyber activities also could expand into criminal activities to raise money for the regime, the report said.

Iran is expected to step up cyber attacks against Saudi Arabia. Regional tensions “increase the likelihood that Iran would use its proven cyber capabilities in 2016, targeting Saudi Arabia and regional governments that are becoming involved in the two countries’ dispute by choosing to align with Saudi Arabia.”

The report names more than 70 cyber adversaries and divides them into three types of attackers: Target intruders, such as nation states, cyber criminals, and “hacktivists.”

For cyber crime, attacks on banks and the use of ransom schemes increased during 2015.

“Phishing emails continued to dominate crimeware distribution throughout the year as the primary mechanism used for the aforementioned banking Trojans and ransomware threats,” the report said.

So-called hacktivist activities including politically motivated cyber attacks by groups like the Syrian Electronic Army and pro-ISIS hackers.

Several pro-Iranian hacker groups also were active last year, including Parastoo, Remember EMAD, and SOBH Cyber Jihad.

The group Remember EMAD—named after the Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah who was killed in a Damascus car bomb in 2009—claimed to have penetrated Pentagon networks and then threatened to release stolen data. No data was ever released.

ISIS hacking was very active last year and included campaigns of web defacement, the release of personal data—known as “doxing”—and the hijacking of social media accounts.

Read the Original Article at Free Beacon