Archive for January, 2016

Smile for your close-up, F/A-18s. (credit: IRNA)

Today, Iran’s IRNA news agency broadcast video apparently taken from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard unmanned aircraft as it flew directly over an American aircraft carrier operating in the Persian Gulf. The US Navy has confirmed that an Iranian drone flew “directly over” the USS Harry S. Truman and near the French carrier Charles de Gaulle, which are both in the Persian Gulf launching airstrikes against Islamic State (Daesh) forces in Syria and Iraq.

RT rebroadcast of the Iranian television footage, showing the drone flyover of the USS Harry S. Truman.

Navy Commander Kevin Stephens, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, said that the Navy was “not in a position to verify the authenticity of the video as there are countless examples of similar footage to be found on the Internet.” But he did confirm that an Iranian surveillance drone passed over the Truman on January 12. The drone did not pose a threat, he said. “It was, however, abnormal and unprofessional.” Stephens added that the Navy would “respond appropriately as the situation dictates” to future incidents.

Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told IRNA that the drone’s flight over the Truman was “a sign of bravery,” and it “allowed our men to go so close to the warship and shoot such a beautiful and accurate footage of the combat units of the foreign forces.” IRNA also reported that a small Iranian diesel submarine was involved in surveillance of the ships. The drone and submarine operations are part of an Iranian Navy exercise being mounted this week.

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Documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden show new evidence of a long-running surveillance campaign against drones flown by the Israelis, Syrians, and other nations in the region. The operation by the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) signals intelligence organization, with the assistance of the NSA, intercepted scrambled analog video feeds from remotely piloted aircraft and tracked the movement of drones. In some cases, the operation even intercepted video from Israeli fighter aircraft during combat missions.

There was no supercomputing magic involved in at least most of the video interceptions. As part of an operation codenamed “Anarchist,” NSA and GCHQ analysts used Image Magick (an open source image manipulation tool) and other open source software developed to defeat commercial satellite signal encryption. One of the tools, called antisky, was developed by Dr. Markus Kuhn of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory. The tools could be used by anyone able to intercept satellite signal feeds then exhibit the patience and skill to sort through the pixels. However, the conversion to digital video feeds on some drones has apparently made video interception more difficult.

The signals were intercepted at a GCHQ station at the Royal Air Force’s communications installation in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus. The facility, near Mount Olympus, is used by the GCHQ for exploiting satellite and radio communications in the eastern Mediterranean and Levant regions—including Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and much of North Africa. The encrypted signals were then processed with Image Magick and antisky, according to a training manual obtained by The Intercept. That manual details the process of “brute forcing” the breaking of encryption on satellite video feeds.

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Introducing Social Capital, a column devoted to the social-media presences of celebrities.

The earnings reports released by Amazon and Microsoft reinforced that cloud computing is a booming, multibillion-dollar business.

Microsoft has retired the Windows Media Center software, but other programs can manage your music, movies and photos in Windows 10.

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