The FBI responded to Senator Schumer's letter on November 25th, to say that it considers "any mobile application or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a significant counterintelligence threat."
"The legal mechanisms available to the Government of Russia that permit access to data," made FaceApp, along with any other mobile application developed in Russia a counterintelligence threat, according to the agency's letter.
To stay safe, download movies, music, and apps from official publisher websites or stores. Consider running a streamlined OS such as Windows 10 Pro SKU S Mode, which ensures that only vetted apps from the Windows Store are installed.
The OpenNet Initiative (2009) has published a country report on Iran. They found already in 2009 that Iran expanded and consolidated its technical filtering system, at that time already among the most extensive in the world, using domestically produced technology. Before the run up to the 2009 election, the security apparatus had appropriated advanced espionage technologies, such as deep package inspection for monitoring and manipulating E-mail communication (Rhoads and Chao 2009). They also had created a cybersecurity unit to identify and locate antigovernment activists. Following the post-election protests, the Iranian government reacted by blocking social media and internet sites, reducing the internet download speed, and setting up cyber intelligence operation to delegitimize opposition www-sites and their leaders (Rahimi 2011; Aryan et al. 2013). To shape the Iranian cyberspace, the government also tried to build up a national ecosystem of social media applications under state control (Rahimi 2011; Aryan et al. 2013).
Most of the Iranians we spoke to used proxy server and virtual private networks to circumvent internet filtering. They use VPNs not only to access social media sites but also to access international mass media or to download movies. At the time of research, a variety of international news sites such as CNN and BBC were blocked in Iran and needed to be accessed via specific access tools.
While internet filtering is a major tool for the government, it is also changing over time, depending on the power struggles withing the political elite and also the political situation itself in the country (e.g., political demonstrations). To circumvent the internet filtering, many use proxy servers and virtual private networks (VPNs) to access social media (see above) or other website (such as BBC or CNN). The skills to use proxies or VPNs are also used to access illegal movie sites and download banned movies, which were also later-on used to access Facebook and Twitter after the presidential election 2009 and the following unrest. VPNs are also a very controversial topic itself, people using them are discussing which one have the best service, local available VPN are at a much lower price compared to the ones from Europe or the US. VPNs are also blocked by the government and the users need to move to another one. In addition to filtering the internet, the Islamic Republic also bans satellite dishes and disrupts satellite television, where the former is no longer monitored and the latter is only used in exceptional circumstances.
Officials: Al-Qaida Plots Comeback in Afghanistan. Al-Qaida's Afghanistan leader is laying the groundwork to relaunch his war-shattered organization once the United States and international forces withdraw from the country, as they have warned they will do without a security agreement from the Afghan government, U.S. officials say. Farouq al-Qahtani al-Qatari has been cementing local ties and bringing in small numbers of experienced militants to train a new generation of fighters, and U.S. military and intelligence officials say they have stepped up drone and jet missile strikes against him and his followers in the mountainous eastern provinces of Kunar and Nuristan. The objective is to keep him from restarting the large training camps that once drew hundreds of followers before the U.S.-led war began. The officials say the counterterrorism campaign - a key reason the Obama administration agreed to keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014 - could be jeopardized by the possibility of a total pullout. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said the number of al-Qaida members in Afghanistan has risen but not much higher than as many as the several hundred or so the U.S. has identified in the past. [Read more: Dozier/AP/28February2014] Bulgarian President Meets Foreign Minister, Intelligence Chiefs on Ukraine. Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev met foreign minister Kristian Vigenin and the heads of military intelligence and the National Intelligence Service on March 2 to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the President's press service said. Plevneliev was briefed on the assessments of the foreign ministry and the intelligence chiefs on threats to national security related to developments in Ukraine, the statement said. The meeting discussed preparations for the March 3 special meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss the Crimea crisis in Ukraine, and Bulgaria's stance in the March 2 meeting of NATO's North Atlantic Council. Bulgaria's position is that the EU declares itself in favour of the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. [Read more: SofiaGlobe/2March2014]
Here's What a Job Ad to Help Run America's Spy Agencies Looks Like. Are you "results driven" with "business acumen?" Do you have "excellent communication skills, both written and personal"? Then you might want to consider applying to serve as the chair of the National Intelligence Council, a high-level job posted on the federal government's job listing website this week. As chair, you'd lead a group of academics, policy makers and intelligence officials in advising the boss of our nation's intelligence communities, James Clapper, who is the director of national intelligence. You'd help the director coordinate intelligence gathering among all of America's 17 spy agencies and issue reports like this one studying if freed detainees at Guantanamo Bay will engage in terrorism again. Like we said, it's a pretty high-profile post that deals with lots of classified information. From the job listing: [Read more: Phillips/DigitalFirstMedia/27February2014]
Did John Steinbeck Spy for the CIA? Google handed over its homepage Thursday to a short, interactive e-book honoring John Steinbeck. The author wrote several American classics, including The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, and Travels With Charley. Mr. Steinbeck achieved great fame within his lifetime, winning the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature. But one of his most interesting actions only became public after his death. In 2012, the Central Intelligence Agency released documents indicating that Steinbeck had offered to spy for his country. The author planned a tour of Europe in 1952 and asked the agency if it needed anyone on the ground. At the time, America and the Soviet Union had locked horns in a global cold war. The US needed smart men and women to gain the upper hand, and Gen. Walter Smith, director of the CIA, apparently was eager to recruit the author. [Read more: Gaylord/ChristianScienceMonitor/27February2014] Hotel Watch: In the Thick of It. St. Ermin's Hotel in the heart of central London has a colorful history of espionage tales and much more. After a recent $50 million renovation, this gracious four-star retreat beckons guests with a charming mixture of Victorian grandeur, eclectic design and up-to-date furnishings and amenities. In the heart of St. James's directly across from New Scotland Yard and within walking distance of Parliament Square, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, the Royal Parks, shopping and theaters, the hotel is only a few minutes' walk from the St. James's Park underground and Victoria mainline stations. The only London hotel closely associated with the history of espionage, St. Ermin's intriguing past sets it apart from any other. In 1940, Sir Winston Churchill invited an elite group there to establish the SOE (Special Operations Executive) which formulated intelligence operations that helped win World War II (they initially occupied an entire floor). The Caxton Bar was used regularly by SIS, MI5, MI6 and Naval Intelligence Division case officers to meet their agents. The notorious double agent Guy Burgess frequently met his Russian counterpart there to hand over top secret files. Parents travelling with children will appreciate the "Double, Double Rooms" that include two queen-sized beds, an additional sofa bed and two separate bathrooms. Young "007" fans will enjoy the hotel's "Top Secret Briefing Pack" containing codes and tips to help "Budding Bonds" develop their observational and investigative skills. The kit takes them on a London Spy Walk Challenge that ends with their very own shaken-not-stirred non-alcoholic cocktail. [Read more: Chaffee/WashingtonLife/26February2014]
James Jesus Angleton, Was He Right? James Jesus Angleton was not only a master spy in the CIA, he was the most remarkable intellectual I ever knew in the U.S. government. His subject was deception. He founded the counterintelligence staff in the CIA in 1955, which raised a question: Is the U.S. government vulnerable to deception by a foreign adversary? It is a question that is just as relevant today. It was also a question that many of his peers in the CIA did not want to hear, much less answer, as it undermined much of the intelligence they were eliciting from sources in Russia. So Angleton was fired in 1975, and, through well-placed "leaks" to the press, discredited as a paranoid man pursuing nonexistent KGB moles in the CIA and FBI, and ridiculed as a modern Captain Ahab willing to wreck his ship to hunt a figment of his imagination. This legend soon became the stuff of fiction, and provided the basis for the obsessed spy hunter in movies such as The Good Shepherd (in which Angleton is played by Matt Damon), TV mini-series such as The Company (in which Angleton is played by Michael Keaton), and novels such as Norman Mailer's Harlot's Ghost. All these depictions in both fact and fiction evade the central fact that, as it turns out, Angleton was right. [Read more: Epstein/HuffingtonPost/27February2014] Drones Are Finally Driving the U-2 Spy Plane Out of Business. When US president Obama unveils his 2015 spending proposal in March, it is expected to be the first in more than a decade to shift defense spending off its post-9/11 war footing. That means cutting the number of active-duty soldiers to 440,000, slightly fewer than in the late nineties, limiting new naval vessels and freezing pay for top officers. The move has defense officials fearful of creating "a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations," but Americans might actually prefer such an armed force. The best metaphor for the whole plan is a proposal to end the use of the U-2 spy plane, in service since 1955...and replace it with a flying robot called the Global Hawk. Lockheed Martin's U-2 spy plane was originally designed to fly at the edge of space, above Soviet radar and fighter jets, to surveil Russia during the Cold War. One was famously shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 and its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, captured, leading to an early diplomatic contretemps in the proxy conflict. The plane would prove its usefulness in virtually every American conflict since that time, despite improvements in satellite reconnaissance and attempts to replace it with newer technology - at least, reportedly, until now. [Read more: Fernholz/Quartz/24February2014] Why We Need a Defense Clandestine Service. I was a CIA spy from 1979 to 1988, leaving when invited to be a co-creator of the Marine Corps Intelligence Center from 1988 to 1993. Since 1993, I have been one of the more persistent published proponents of intelligence reform around the world. In 2010, I was among those interviewed for the position of defense intelli�gence senior leader for human intelligence (HUMINT). I made two points during that interview: First, in a declining fiscal environment, the best way to pay for a defense spy program would be by cutting in half the Measurements and Signatures Analysis Intelligence program, which is under the oversight of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director. It is the most over-hyped and underperforming national collection program. Second, micro-pockets of excellence notwithstanding, no one serving in the Pentagon (or CIA) was qualified by mindset or experience to create the Defense Clandestine Service (DCS). I was particularly pointed about the complacency and ineptitude of the entrenched civilian cadre, and the inexperience and uncertainty of their constantly changing uniformed counterparts. Here are my observations on whether there should be a DCS, and if so, how it should be trained, equipped and organized. [Read more: Steele/DefenseNews/3March2014] 2b1af7f3a8