How ISIS uses the internet to recruit new members (hint: It involves kittens)

ISIS is one of the first-- if not the most successful-- terrorist groups to fully the power of the internet. If al-Qaeda was the Generation X of terrorists, then ISIS are the Millennials. Its reach is vast and deep, and it knows how to use the web for nearly every aspect of its operations – from fundraising to recruitment, operations to propaganda. ISIS uses social media like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to reach individuals around the world, even the United States. ISIS uses it for recruitment and propaganda, and they use it well. If you are a disaffected and disenfranchised Muslim, you can find a sympathetic ear in an ISIS promoter. They will send you literature and links to promotional material about ISIS and encourage you along the path of radicalization. They have YouTube videos with high production quality, slick graphics, and catchy music. They know how to message, juxtaposing tough looking fighters with kittens and goofing around. They make jihad look fun, exciting, and attractive to an online audience. For some this means travelling to places like Syria or Iraq. Using WhatsApp and other encrypted communications applications, an ISIS promoter on social media will send you contact information for a ISIS recruiter, who will vet you and send you down the pipeline. Here you may be contacted by a smuggler. He will tell you to fly to Istanbul or somewhere else in the region. There you will be contacted by another ISIS representative, picked up, and smuggled into Syria and Iraq. For others, they may not need to bring you to Syria or Iraq. They may inspire you to act alone inside of the United States or in Europe. In this case, they may send you details on how to make explosives or acquire firearms. They may link you up with other individuals who are intent on terrorism. Perhaps the most difficult to intercept are the so-called “lone wolves,” individuals who act without support from Continue Reading

‘It Works, Why Are We Fixing It?’: U.S. Cedes Control of Internet Domains

Judge Andrew Napolitano sat down with Elisabeth Hasselbeck this morning to weigh in on the Obama administration's move to cede U.S. control of the management of Internet domains. Here's some background on the move from the Wall Street Journal: The U.S. government plans to give up control over the body that manages Internet names and addresses, a move that could bring more international cooperation over management of the Web, but will make some U.S. businesses nervous. The Commerce Department said Friday it plans to relinquish its oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, which manages a number of technical functions that serve as signposts to help computers locate the correct servers and websites. The action is viewed as a response to increasing international concern about U.S. control over the Internet's structure, particularly in light of the recent disclosures about surveillance by the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. Other governments have complained that the department's contract with Icann gives the U.S. unique influence over the Web, which it could use for a wide variety of purposes. In response to those concerns, the Obama administration is convening a process to create a new oversight structure for Icann when the current contract runs out in September 2015. Napolitano described the decision as "counterintuitive," explaining that usually the government seeks to expand its power, not give some of it up. The judge normally would be onboard with less government control over something, but in this case, he is concerned that this may lead to less freedom around the world because China and Russia will look to step in. Napolitano pointed out that so far, the United States' private-public partnership that oversees domain names and Internet addresses has "worked very well." "I would like to think this will be privately managed and if it becomes authoritarian somebody else will compete with it. And if you don't like Continue Reading

Obama to Congress: Authorize Use of Force Against ISIS

Below is the transcript of President Barack Obama's 2015 State of the Union address: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans: We are fifteen years into this new century.  Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world.  It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.  But tonight, we turn the page. Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.  More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.  Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.  And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe.  We are humbled and grateful for your service. America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:  The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong. At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.  It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come. Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?  Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who Continue Reading

California teen drugs parents with spiked milkshakes in order to use the Internet, authorities say

How badly does a teenager want to surf the web? California parents found out the hard way when they woke up Saturday with unexplained hangover symptoms and suspicions about their 15-year-old daughter. The Rocklin, Calif., teenager and her 16-year-old friend were busted after allegedly drugging the girl's parents with spiked milkshakes, authorities say. Their motive? They wanted to use the Internet after a 10 p.m. deadline imposed by the parents, the Sacramento Bee reported. PHOTOS: WORLD'S MOST HILARIOUS MUG SHOTS The 15-year-old would tell police that her parents' computer policy was "too strict," Lt. Lon Milka of the Rocklin police told the newspaper. "The girls wanted to use the Internet, and they'd go to whatever means they had to," Milka said. The trouble started when the parents' daughter offered to pick up milkshakes for them from a local restaurant. The daughter is accused of filling the shakes with prescription sleep medicine allegedly supplied by the friend. The parents did not drink much of the shakes - because of a funny taste - but they drank enough. They woke up at 1 a.m. with hangover symptoms, and went back to sleep. When they woke up in the morning with the same symptoms, they went to the authorities to pick up a drug test kit, the Bee reports. "Many parents buy them and have their kids' urine tested," Milka told the newspaper. This time it was the parents who were tested - and they tested positive. The girls were arrested. "If they were adults, they could be facing prison time," Milka told the paper. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New Jersey gay couple sues over use of engagement photo in political attack mailer

A New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photo was used in a Colorado campaign attack mailer said Wednesday the image that once represented their commitment now makes them cringe. The couple filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court against the group that used the photo without their permission and put it on mailers against a Colorado Republican state lawmaker who supported a failed civil unions bill. The photo of Brian Edwards, 32, and Tom Privitere, 37, holding hands and kissing with a New York City skyline as a backdrop was on display in front of the courthouse. Edwards said they are suing to “take back the beautiful image in our lives that was reflected in our engagement photo.” The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple Wednesday against Virginia-based Public Advocate of the United States. “At one time, it made us happy to look at this photo and see all it represented — love, home, excitement for our upcoming marriage,” Edwards said. Christine P. Sun, SPLC deputy legal director, said they don’t know how Public Advocate obtained the photo or why they picked it. It was posted on Edwards’ personal blog. The couple said they found out their photo had been used when a friend told them about a story mentioning it in the New York Daily News.   The attack mailer that went after state Sen. Jean White used a copyrighted engagement photo of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere with an altered background. Sun said they’re suing for monetary damages to be determined at trial, misappropriation of the couple’s image and copyright violation. The photographer who took the photo is also a plaintiff in the case. “They were devastated by the idea that a young person in Colorado could receive this mailer and feel ashamed about his or her sexual orientation,” Sun said. Public Advocate has not commented on the lawsuit through three email requests, including Continue Reading

UA Health Sciences chief defends use of tax-paid chauffeurs, upgrades

The University of Arizona’s top health scholar is a man on the move — across the U.S. and abroad to places like South Korea, Japan and Denmark.Over nearly three years ending in early 2016, his publicly paid expenses for out-of-state trips exceeded $44,000.But in-state travel expenses during the same period for Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, UA’s senior vice president for health sciences, were also costly: $34,000-plus.Garcia is among the university’s highest-paid employees, with total compensation of $870,000 last year. He repeatedly has billed the UA for travel luxuries that are rare among public employees, including upgraded airline seats and chauffeured trips in comfortable sedans between his offices in Tucson and Phoenix.Among reasons cited for upgraded airplane seats: The 6-foot-3 Garcia needed extra leg room when he took a long flight to Copenhagen, and he needed to be near the front of the plane on a flight to Chicago so he could quickly exit to get to a meeting.Garcia said in an interview that his frequent travels and chauffeured trips in Arizona are necessary due to the demands of his position. He oversees medical schools in Phoenix and Tucson as well as the UA's schools of pharmacy, nursing and public health.Furthermore, he said, his travels help burnish the UA's academic and research reputation, making it more likely to attract research and academic-medicine stars who can improve health care for Arizonans. These recruits already have paid off with new grants, Garcia said, citing a recent five-year, $43.3 million National Institutes of Health grant."The amount of travel I do is probably comparable to other academic leaders in a position like mine," Garcia said.Garcia, a high-profile research and academic medicine expert, has drawn the attention of the metro Phoenix medical community since he was Continue Reading

Kerry: Syria’s use of chemical weapons ‘undeniable’

A limited military strike against Syria might convince the Assad regime not to use chemical weapons again but it won't change the balance of power in the Syrian civil war or bring about President Obama's stated goal of regime change, analysts and rebels say.Syrian President Bashar Assad "has used all kinds of weapons, chemical and cluster bombs during massacres in Syria," said Abu Jaafar al-Mugarbel, an activist based in Homs, in western Syria."There is nothing that can stop the regime from doing that except military intervention. It is not the best way forward but there is nothing else after all that has happened," he said.Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it is clear the Assad regime used chemical weapons last week and that Obama believes such action should lead to consequences. He made his remarks from Jordan as United Nations inspectors were investigating the site where the alleged chemical weapons massacre happened outside of Damascus."President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use chemical weapons," Kerry said. "Nothing today is more serious."The attack should "shock the consciousness of the world," Kerry said. "This is about the large scale indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago agreed should never be used."U.S. officials have said Obama is considering military options after the gas attack last week left as many as 1,300 people dead. French and British officials have said a limited, punitive strike is under consideration.A limited strike would allow Obama to say he's following through on his warning a year ago that Assad would incur U.S. "game changing" action if he used chemical weapons, but it would also allow Assad to continue prosecuting a war that has already cost more than 100,000 Syrian lives, caused radicals to stream into Syria and spread violence into neighboring countries, said Tony Badran, an analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies."The casualty toll, the ability Continue Reading

Google’s ‘Chief Internet Evangelist’ says world running out of Internet

The Internet is so large, and Internet use today is so widespread, that it is hard to imagine it ever reaching a limit. But that is exactly what one Google executive said will happen within the next few weeks. Vint Cerf, vice president of Google and one of the men who helped create the Web, told Australia's Sydney Morning Herald that it was his "fault" we were running out of Internet. The original Internet Protocol (IP) system, IPv4, that Cerf helped create in 1977 allows for only 4.3 billion unique IP addresses, which in the last 30 years have been almost all used up. "I thought it was an experiment and I thought that 4.3 billion would be enough to do an experiment," Cerf said in an interview. An IP address is a unique code that every computer, website, and Web-enabled device has, and is different than a website URL. Industry leaders like Google are now moving from that old IPv4 system to a new one, IPv6, which includes letters and digits for an almost infinite number of possible addresses. The Internet Service Provider Hurricane Electric has started an IP-doomsday campaign, dubbed the "IPcalypse", to encourage the switch from IPv4 to IPv6. According to its website, there are little more than 37 million IPv4 addresses left, with the countdown estimated to reach zero in nine days. reported that the IPv4 and IPv6 systems can exist simultaneously during the transition, so it is unlikely that the "IPcalypse" will be any more deadly than that old foe Y2K. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

U.S. military to set rules governing use of social networking on its computers to protect security

The U.S. Defense Department is reviewing the use of Facebook and other social networking sites on its computers with an eye toward setting rules on how to protect against possible security risks. The Marine Corps on Monday banned the use of Marine networks for accessing such sites as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The order does not affect Marines' private use of such networks on personal computers outside of their jobs. However, the service's computer network already effectively blocks users from reaching social networks, officials said. Marine officials said part of the reason for the new ban was to set up a special waiver system that govern access for Marines who need to reach the sites as part of their duties. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, meanwhile, ordered a review of both the threats and benefits of using emerging Internet capabilities, which the military has widely used for recruiting, public relations and sharing information with allies and military families, officials said Tuesday. Lynn noted that the sites and other Web 2.0 capabilities "have rapidly emerged as integral tools in day-to-day operations across" the department. "However, as with any Internet-based capabilities, there are implementation challenges and operations risks that must be understood and mitigated," Lynn said in a memo issued Friday. He said he wants the report by the end of the month on the subject and that the Pentagon will issue a policy no later than Sept. 30. The Marines, in a statement, said the "very nature of social networking sites creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage." The U.S Strategic Command also last month issued a warning to all services that it was thinking about a ban on Web 2.0 sites. The various local network administrators, military services and base commanders already may have other systems for blocking Continue Reading

China says no limits on use of Google’s Android operating system

China tried Wednesday to assure mobile phone companies using Google's Android operating system that they won't be hurt by a dispute over Web censorship, saying the technology will be allowed if it complies with regulations. Google Inc. postponed the launch of its own smart phone in China following its Jan. 12 announcement that it will no longer censor search results. Others also are developing Android-based phones and could be hurt if Beijing tries to penalize Google by barring its use. "As long as it fulfills Chinese laws and regulations and has good communication with telecom operators, I think its application should not have restrictions," said Zhu Hongren, a spokeman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at a regular news briefing when asked whether Beijing would permit use of Android. The comments reflect the conflicting pressures on the communist government, which insists on controlling information but needs foreign companies like Google to help achieve its goal of making China a technology leader. The operating system is one of a mobile phone's most basic elements and changing it after products already have been launched would be costly, said Ted Dean, managing director of BDA China Ltd., a Beijing research firm. "There's a pretty significant upfront investment in developing a phone on one operating system," Dean said. "So you don't want to change course on so basic a system as what operating system it works on." In a fresh blast of invective, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily accused Google on Wednesday of being a tool of Washington's "Internet hegemony." After seeing its strength eroded by the global crisis, Washington "is shifting its strategic focus from the military to the Internet," the newspaper said. "It is against this backdrop that Google becomes a tool of the country's Internet hegemony." Google is in sensitive talks with the government, trying to keep an important Beijing development center, a Continue Reading