The Surveillance State: Drones and The End of Society

Drones3

The human race is on the brink of momentous and dire change. It is a change that potentially smashes our institutions and warps our society beyond recognition. It is also a change to which almost no one is paying attention. I’m talking about the coming obsolescence of the gun-wielding human infantryman as a weapon of war. Or to put it another way: the end of the Age of the Gun.

 You may not even realize you have been, indeed, living in the Age of the Gun because it’s been centuries since that age began. But imagine yourself back in 1400. In that century (and the 10 centuries before it), the battlefield was ruled not by the infantryman, but by the horse archer—a warrior-nobleman who had spent his whole life training in the ways of war. Imagine that guy’s surprise when he was shot off his horse by a poor no-count farmer armed with a long metal tube and just two weeks’ worth of training. Just a regular guy with a gun.
That day was the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modernity. For centuries after that fateful day, gun-toting infantry ruled the battlefield. Military success depended more and more on being able to motivate large groups of (gun-wielding) humans, instead of on winning the loyalty of the highly trained warrior-noblemen. But sometime in the near future, the autonomous, weaponized drone may replace the human infantryman as the dominant battlefield technology. And as always, that shift in military technology will cause huge social upheaval.

The advantage of people with guns is that they are cheap and easy to train. In the modern day, it’s true that bombers, tanks, and artillery can lay waste to infantry—but those industrial tools of warfare are just so expensive that swarms of infantry can still deter industrialized nations from fighting protracted conflicts. Look at how much it cost the United States to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, versus how much it cost our opponents. The hand-held firearm reached its apotheosis with the cheap, rugged, easy-to-use AK-47; with this ubiquitous weapon, guerrilla armies can still defy the mightiest nations on Earth.

Read the Remainder at Quartz

Using a LiveCD (or LiveUSB) Operating System

 

By: HCS Technical Staff

(Author’s Note to the Reader: If there is any jargon that you do not know, please type the word into Wikipedia.)


What if you could try a new operating system on your computer without having to wait an hour or two for the operating system to install and not erase everything on your hard drive?

Thanks to advances made over the past ten years by open source software enthusiasts you can do such a thing.

For those who may feel a little lost here, think of open source software enthusiasts as the computer world’s equivalent of American gun tinkerers and geniuses like John Moses Browning.

There are reasons that you would want to use a LiveCD or LiveUSB operating system can basically boil down to:

  1. Using an unknown computer for work purposes (hotel business center, etc.) safely.
  2. Needing a place to quarantine a work file download (Word Document, Adobe PDF, etc.) to ensure that it is not carrying any malware (virus, trojan, worm, etc.)
  3. Examining files on a hard drive or backing up files from a disabled instance of Windows or other hard drive installed operating system.

In terms of selecting a Live Operating system to use on your computer there are hundreds of “distros” or variations out there made by enthusiasts and organizations with different goals and skill levels. 

Live Operating systems run completely in RAM and do not operate from the hard drive like Windows or MacOS X does.

Getting Started

CD-R Method

  1. The first thing you need to do is download an ISO Image file. ISO Image files (.iso) are needed to burn a DVD or data CD-ROM from a computer.
  2. To burn an ISO file to CD-ROM, go here http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Burn-a-CD-or-DVD-from-an-ISO-file
  3. After you have burned the ISO image file to a blank CD-R, shut down your computer and power it back on.
  4. As your computer turns on, access the boot menu in the BIOS (the screen with the black background and white text) by pressing the appropriate button (usually ESC, F2, F8, or F9).
  5. You will need to look up the make and model of your computer to find out how to access the boot menu.
  6. When you are in the boot menu, select the CD-ROM and press ENTER. The LiveCD operating system will start.

USB Stick Method

  1. Download UNetbootin
  2. Download your ISO image file
  3. Insert your blank and formatted USB stick
    • Be sure to note the drive letter
  4. Open UNetbootin
    • Select your ISO image file
    • Select your USB Drive’s Letter
  5. Click OK
  6. After you have burned the ISO image file to a USB stick, shut down your computer and power it back on.
  7. As your computer turns on, access the boot menu in the BIOS (the screen with the black background and white text) by pressing the appropriate button (usually ESC, F2, F8, or F9).
  8. You will need to look up the make and model of your computer to find out how to access the boot menu.
  9. When you are in the boot menu, select the USB stick and press ENTER. The LiveUSB operating system will start.

Things to Remember

  1. Use a USB stick or portable hard drive to save any documents you make on your LiveCD OS.
    • If the power goes out and you didn’t save your files to a USB stick or portable hard drive, then you are SOL.
  2. Not all LiveCD Operating systems will work with all hardware. Some laptop wireless cards will not work with your LiveCD OS and hardware older than 10 years or so may not run the LiveCD OS very well.

Major LiveCD Operating Systems

  • Ubuntu Linux at http://www.ubuntu.com
    • Pros
      • Compatible with most wireless cards and laptop hardware
      • Full software suite available (Office programs, Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, etc)
    • Cons
      • Large in size (Fills up about 670 MB out of 700MB available on a CD-R)
      • Needs at least 1 GB of RAM to run smoothly.
  • DOD Lightweight Portable Security at http://www.spi.dod.mil/lipose.htm
    • Pros
      • Small in size (about 130 MB)
      • Runs Very Fast
      • Full software suite (Office programs, Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, etc) available on 330MB .iso file version.
      • Compatible with Smart Card Readers for those who have to use them.
    • Cons
      • May not be compatible with all wireless hardware on all laptops
      • DoD built it so the paranoid may not want to use it
      • No apps to install
      • No TOR!
  • Puppy Linux at http://www.puppylinux.org
    • Pros
      • Small in size (about 130 MB)
        • This makes it great for restoring old computers
      • Runs very fast.
      • Large Support Community with lots of applications to install
      • Full Web Browser included (Just like Internet Explorer…)
    • Cons
      • Lots of variants with odd names may be confusing to the novice. (Puppy, Racy, Murga, etc…)
  • Temporary Amnesiac Incognito Live System at https://tails.boum.org
    • Pros
      • All communications are routed through TOR
        • Please read the literature out there about TOR
      • Fast to boot up
      • Includes Encryption tools
    • Cons
      • Security and Convenience are inversely related…

If anyone has any questions feel free to leave them in the comments and I can answer them to the best of my knowledge.

References

Selecting and Using an Android Tablet

by HCS Technical Staff

Why Android?

  • Android tablets are a good option for those who do not have the budget for an Apple device or are simply used to the controls on their Android phone.
  • Android devices can be set up to perform the same functions as any good tablet computer.
  • Android devices are also readily expandable in their storage capacity for a small amount of money
    • A 32GB SDHC card can be purchased for $30 on Amazon.
  • The storage card can have stuff easily placed on it without having to go through a special program
    • A lot of people dislike iTunes because it forces you to go through it to upload movies and music.
Purchasing an Android Tablet and Accessories
  • Read the reviews and make sure the store has a good return policy.
    • This will save you a lot of grief later on.
    • Android Device quality can vary widely, so look before you leap!
  • Decide on your price point and ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
    • Don’t expect the same level of performance and battery life out of a $170 Coby that you would expect out of a $400 Samsung!
    • This is no different from people who wonder why their NCStar AK Top cover mount won’t hold a zero…
  • Get a redundant power source
    • Crank and Solar Chargers will come in handy
  • Get extra USB charging cables
    • These can be purchased on Amazon for very little.
  • Get a rubberized case that fits your model of tablet.

Things to Put on Your Android Tablet

This list is by no means exhaustive but more to give you a good starting point. These apps can also be placed onto an Android Phone.

  • Any survival applications or PDF files
  • Encryption Applications
    • There are far too many to fit in here.
    • Be sure to read the app reviews and decide on what you need.
  • MXPlayer
    • This app is good for playing any sort of movie file.
  • PDF Reader
  • Appkiller
    • This allows you to close programs running in the background.
    • The more programs you have running at once, the slower your machine will be. This applies to any computer.
  • Battery Level and Power Management Application
    • The Android OS has a reputation for excessive battery consumption.
    • Use this in Conjunction with an Appkiller application.
  • DropBox
    • This allows you to store and retrieve your documents
  • OrBot
    • This allows your Android device to route activity through the TOR Anonymization network.
    • You will need to “root” your Android device to get the most out of it.
  • OrWeb
    • This allows you to browse anonymously in conjunction with OrBot
    • You will need to “root” your Android device to get the most out of it.
  • History Eraser
    • These are good for an extra layer of security.

Closing Notes

  • Make yourself familiar with your specific Android Device and what exact version of the Android OS it is running.
  • Understand what it means to “Root” your Android Device
    • This is similar to “jailbreaking” an iPhone in that it carries the same risks and rewards.
    • Disclaimer: HCS and its affiliates are not responsible for anything that you may do.

Your Old Computer and You: Part 1

By HCS Technical Staff

It was recently announced that Microsoft will be ending any and all support, including updates, for Windows XP in two short years. Nearly 45% of the world’s computers run Windows XP.

This announcement just made the day of every malware writer and botnet owner and cyber-villain out there…

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“At Loggerheads”

BY HCS Technical Staff

Disclaimer: HCS and any affiliated persons are not responsible for anything that may result from the use or misuse of the information below.

The unauthorized interception of anyone’s communications without their consent or the appropriate legal authority is a serious crime in most jurisdictions. This information is for academic study and lawful self-protective use only.

Seriously, don’t snoop on people. It is just not cool.

Today we are going to continue our series of “Civilian ECM” articles by discussing the threat of key loggers.

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