Head of MI6 questioned re: wife’s Facebook posts

Liberal Democrats, the third-largest party in the UK Parliament, behind the Labor and Conservative parties, are seeking an inquiry by Prime Minister Gordon Brown into whether the new head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, should be allowed to take command for Britain’s overseas spying operations as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in November. The Liberal Democrats are concerned after Sawers’ wife allegedly posted on her Facebook account the personal details of the location of the London flat used by the couple, the whereabouts of their three children, the whereabouts of Sayers’ parents, and some photographs revealing relationships with high profile celebrities.

Since this was first reported on Sunday by The Mail, the Facebook details have been removed. Prior to the removal, the account had no privacy protections and thus allowed all of these details to be available to all 200 million plus forward facing users of the “London” network on Facebook.

Federal CyberSecurity License proposal

Senator Rockefeller IV and Senator Snowe have issued a proposal which includes a federal licensing requirement to be developed by the Department of Commerce.  The licensing requirement would apply to all cybersecurity professionals whom may work near any systems/networks deemed “critical infrastructure” by the President of the United States.

The Patriot Act of 2001 defined critical infrastructure as those “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitation impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

The Patriot Act of 2001 identified a number of critical infrastructures: Agriculture and Food; Water ; Public Health; Emergency Services; Government; Defense Industrial Base; Information and Telecommunications; Energy; Transportation and Shipping; Banking and Finance; Chemical Industry and Hazardous Materials; Post; National monuments and icons; Critical Manufacturing

If the guidelines of the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002 is any indicator, larger implications may lead to the license stipulating mandatory reporting by all CyberSecurity Professionals of all information, including reports, assessments, analyses, and unevaluated intelligence (i.e. whether or not such information has been analyzed)The text of section 7 of the Senate Bill proposal 773 as Introduced in Senate May 29, 2009 reads as such:

Cybersecurity Act of 2009

Sec. 7. Licensing and certification of cybersecurity professionals:

(a) IN GENERAL- Within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Commerce shall develop or coordinate and integrate a national licensing, certification, and periodic recertification program for cybersecurity professionals

(b) MANDATORY LICENSING- Beginning 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, it shall be unlawful for any individual to engage in business in the United States, or to be employed in the United States, as a provider of cybersecurity services to any Federal agency or an information system or network designated by the President, or the President’s designee, as a critical infrastructure information system or network, who is not licensed and certified under the program.

LDS unTweets

The LDS Church recently lost its two month old Twitter Church News account to malicious password crackers.  The vulnerability lies in the missing feature of a confirmation e-mail upon a user password change.  Once the LDS Church noticed the breach and subsequent anti-Mormon rhetoric on their Twitter account, they suspended it.  Another entity recently struck by the same vulnerability was the New York Times.

Narrowing the Cybersecurity Czar list

Melissa Hathaway led President Obama’s 60-day cybersecurity review and previously advised President George W. Bush on cybersecurity issues. Other top choices for cybersecurity czar are considered to possibly be Frank Kramer, former assistant defense secretary for international security affairs under President Bill Clinton, and Howard Schmidt, another adviser to Bush on cyberspace security and protection of critical infrastructure. Schmidt also served with eBay and Microsoft as chief security officer(CSO).

Tom Davis has emerged as a leading candidate for the Obama Administration’s newly created position. The rumors are that the White House’s deliberations on the subject feel a Washington power player would make a better candidate than a tech guru. There are very few people who have that combination of skills, and Davis is at the top of that short list.

Elections in Iran (pt3): The revolution will not be televised

More unfiltered diagnostics and news from inside Iran

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (12:40):


BBC Persian service reports strife in Tehran and other cities.

The black smoke of tire-burning can be seen over the city once again.

I can’t contact a cellphone on my desk from the telephone connected to the landline, also on my desk. Contact’s cellphone is also inaccessible, obviously. “Limited Service,” says the device. I might be able to post more eyewitness bits if my contact comes back safely.


on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (12:40):


A “cyberwar” tutorial in favor of Iranian protesters used to be here (I checked that less than 2 hours ago):

— http://reinikainen.co.uk/2009/06/iranelection-cyberwar-guide-for-beginners/

Now it redirects to:

> Please contact the billing department as soon as possible on

> billing[at]justhost.com.

— http://web66.justhost.com/suspended.page/


on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (12:40):



— http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8103577.stm

details today’s “public” demonstration organized by the government.

Myself on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (12:51):

Cyberwar guide for Iran elections

Posted by Cory Doctorow, June 16, 2009 3:25 AM | permalink

Yishay sez, “The road to hell is paved with the best intentions (including mine). Learn how to actually help the protesters and not the gov’t in Iran.”

The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.

1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP’s over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.

2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.

3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don’t retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.

4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become ‘Iranians’ it becomes much harder to find them.

5. Don’t blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don’t publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don’t signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind…


on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (12:56):


Cries of “Allah-o Akbar” again. From under my window as well as distant sources.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (15:14):


You are a middle class person. When poor people receive such “gifts” the first thing they think is not “this must be from an unworthy candidate”–they think “wish there was a way to get more.” This is particularly true when the “gift” comes in forms they can expect to continue. In farmers’ case, for example, zero- or low-interest loans are actually a means by which many governments around the world support national agriculture. They are, in a sense, a farmer’s right. When, where, how, and to whom they should be paid is a complicated subject, nonetheless, since they could cause damage to national agriculture and economy if placed carelessly. This fact is normally considered even under the IR. M. A.’s “gifts” were however given out so lavishly and so unseasonably that little doubt is left as to their intetion.

Add to that his incompetent (or malevolent, some say) handling of agricultural issues over the past 4 years and you get a picture expressive enough.

Bribes are vocally condemned in Iran but are rather common, mostly in lower ranks of government. Government clerks and traffic police are stereotyped as receivers of bribes. No one feels obliged because of a bribe. In fact, if you intend to bribe someone you should make sure you have some means of making them comply with the favor you have asked in exchange.

Ballots are secret and that is required by law but the fact that you have voted is not because your main identity document is stamped when you vote with a seal that is unique to each election and your identity is recorded in the poll register. This is understood to be a measure for preventing voting fraud since pre-election voter registration is not practiced in Iran. There are a number of conspiracy theories regarding how the paperwork involved in the voting process could reveal your identity. I don’t think any of them are credible.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (15:19):


GhalamNews (Ghalam/Qalam = pen, since very old times in Iran in a literary sense symbolizes writing itself understood as a means of personal/social emancipation), pro-Mousavi, described yesterday’s demonstration as a “rally of tranquilitiy.” Emphasizing the peacefulness of protesters.

— http://www.ghalamnews.ir/

Khomeini’s picture on top right corner, top left features part of the second stich from a famous Mo’lana/Rumi line in calligraphy, saying “… and I wish for a human [to come forth/be found],” the full line and the line after it goes, “our mentor roamed the city in daylight the other day holding a lantern in his hand/said he’s tired of Deevs and wild beasts and wishes for a human [to come forth/be found]/we told him we have searched far and wide but found none/’that which cannot be found, I wish for that,’ he said.”

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (15:26):


BBC Persian online video broadcast showed medical staff at “Rasoul-e Akram” hospital on a two-hour strike protesting the violences. Many of the injured had been taken to that hospital apparently.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (15:52):


My contact reported from safety. Fewer cases of violence today. People showed more solidarity. Numbering in hundreds of thousands gathered from Vanak Square and upper parts of Vali-e Asr Avenue–which leads southwards to Vali-e Asr Square where less than an hour before had seen a comparably miniscule gathering of “the public”–upwards towards IRIB headquarters.

IRIB headquarters was being guarded by armed units of unknown affiliation in full formation (a specific formation called a “fort” was mentioned to my contact). A police helicopter was flying over.

This time around riot police did not attack people apparently and protected people against militiamen (or rather saved the militimen from being torn limb from limb by the angry public as had happened in previous days). Slogans included: “Zarghami, Zarghami, resign!” (Zarghami is IRIB’s director appointed by the Leader himself), “betrayer of nation’s vote, honorless Basiji,” “soldier brothers of ours, support us,” “Basiji, you, too, are Iranian” (the Persian sentences do rhyme, of course).

Fa’eza Hashemi, Ali Akbar Hashemi’s daughter, gave a speech for the gathering of protesters.

People carried pictures of students from UT dorm severely injured or killed in the raid.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (17:24):

The papers here say there will be a “partial recount”. What can you tell us about that?


That’s as far as the Guardian Council has backed off. Mousavi has vowed that protests will continue until the election results are revoked and a new election is held. The representatives of the three rival candidates have presented the Guardian Council with an option of creating a fact finding committee. Karroubi has filed a complaint, whose full text I read this morning, with the Guardian Council that challenges M. A.’s presidency on every possible ground: unfitness of M. A.’s person, illegal moves before the election, illegal moves during the election, and illegal moves after it.

(Mind you, among the more dangerous slogans were “Jannati, you are the next” and “Mesbah, you are the next,” threatening the two with the fate of Basij thugs who were brutally pounded, kicked, cut to death. Ayatollah Jannati is the head of Guardian Council and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi is too well-known now to need introduction. Some people believe ever-confident, self-righteous

Jannati’s TV appearance today, a rare event in itself, contained unmistakable traces of hardly concealed fear.)

Things are getting far too complicated. I, a natural skeptic who really doesn’t take many things for granted, am feeling utterly confused as to what is genuine and what is not so I’m following a friend’s advice: “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

I am assuming that the coup will see complete success and the cabal will prevail. Their responses so far have been amazingly flexible and minute. Moving from slowing down Internet access to effectively disrupting specific online services that are most significant to their opponents’ programming is no less than a technical feat.

Some believe, and I concede, glaringly large deviation of election results from public (or only protesters?) expetations has been a deliberate move intended as show of force–“we can do it, and we do it.”

Others point out, and once again I concede, the government may allow re-counting of votes, wholly or partially, and announcement of a set of updated results that “expose” minor fraud but do not change the final outcome.

Still others maintain, and I find little reason to oppose, there’s a slight chance that things will happen in Iran’s best interest and the loud voice of protest will manage to realize what many believe with good reason is popular will.

The number of plausible scenarios accounting for past events as well as painting future contingents has grown explosively.

The one thing insisted on by my sociologist friend who uses and extends the systems science approach to sociology is that we are at a punctuation period

within an evolutionary system that conforms to the punctuated equilibrium model. In non-jargon, we are seeing a short period of tumultous reconfiguration and adaptation of the system that will determine its future for a comparatively long period until the next punctuation stage. The next two-three weeks will more or less determine Iran’s next two-three decades.

I agree with that point.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (18:04):


BBC Persian second latest headline:

> Ayatollah Khamenei: “Accepting defeat is not easy”


> […]


> Additionally, mentioning the “24 million votes” of one side and “14

> million votes” of the other and referring to M. A. as “president elect”

> once again implied his [M. A.’s] victory.


> […]


> On the subject of unrests after the announcement of results he said: “this

> destruction, disagreeable deeds, and certain atrocities that have happened

> are not the work of people and candidates’ supports rather the work of

> subversives that everyone should stand up against and explicitly clarify

> their relationship to.”


> […]

— http://is.gd/13O5s

On the subject of this brazen self-confidence, “it’s the darkest right before the dawn,” said someone (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (18:06):

I have much respect for the Persians who have stood up to speak their minds. I am also glad I do not have to be so close to the action. What I have

read looks thrilling and horrific all at once. I hope the long term result is a more unified nation of intellectuals governing peacefully.


I have little hope. I was born hopeless 😀 Many thanks for your interest and your blog posts; I saw “Pt. 2.”

I forgot to mention one thing: “rule of intellectuals” and “a nation of intellectuals” are neither real nor desirable. Relative success of current protests compared to previous ones is, I believe, directly a consequence of domestic “intellectuals” adjusting themselves to the realities of this nation. Unfortunately, many expatriates and foreign observers are acting/speaking rather dreamy-headed. Losing sight of concrete objectives will definitely make these protests even less fruitful, more frustrating to the youth, and much more prone to dreadfully harsh response from the establishment.

My favorite example: even if by means of voodoo the Iranian government and legal system changed overnight to a government and legal system that would

allow for infinite “lewdness” in media it would take at least three decades of erosion (from culture contact) for the Iranian society to come to terms with some of the anime that gets easily licensed in the US, let alone anime that will probably never get licensed in the US (and I miss no chance to


on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (18:31):


In other words, this is _not_ beneficial:

> For a democratic secular Iran. For peace and prosperity in the Middle

> East.


> This weblog was created to act as a platform for the voice of secular

> pro-democracy activists in and outside Iran who are struggling against the

> religious dictatorship of the Islamic clerics in Iran. My favourite quote:

> “Evil only prevails when the good stay silent”

— http://azarmehr.blogspot.com/

If there is a “religious dictatorship” in Iran it rests on the minds and bodies of believers. This Iranian man from far far away has little notion how young Iranians with almost no practice of faith nonetheless take oaths to Shi’a Imams and many a time keep those oaths or why highly educated Iranian youth who have no time for daily prayers still fast and pray in Ramadan (in Persian the month is called Ramezan, the English name comes from rendering a glottal Arabic /z/ into /d/, to speakers of Persian the Arabic-specific consonant sounds more like /z/ than /d/).

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (18:33):


Already more than my brainpower quota for today. Thanks for keeping up, whoever read these.

on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 (18:50):


Couldn’t let this wait.

Unique photos (or ones you may have seen but at lower resolutions):

>>>>>>>>>> DO NOT LINK. MAY ENDANGER LIVES <<<<<<<<<<<<<

>>http://www.infosecurity.pro/images/Tehran/ <<

>>>>>>>>>> DO NOT LINK. MAY ENDANGER LIVES <<<<<<<<<<<<<

NOTE: Look at the photos without any worries but ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LINK to or direct people there. While it appears legitimate

it asks for names, cellphone numbers, and email addresses “for dissemination of latest updates.” It is very probably a trap. Linking to that site MAY ENDANGER LIVES.

on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 (04:28):


Dead silent morning and noon.

Protest demonstration scheduled for afternoon at Haft-e Tir Square.

As people’s fervor subsides security gets tighter and more accurate. The Islamic Republic is adapting to the new surges, minimizing confrontation, at the time making sure it gets its way with the country down to the last detail of its criminal plan.

The Pirate Bay made a marvellous move. I hadn’t visited their front page for a while–too busy getting updates on recent events, no time for pirating–as I didn’t expect them to react, or even care. Here’s the Persian Bay:


on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 (04:48):


Robert Fisk is readable as always:

> Extraordinary scenes: Robert Fisk in Iran


> Posted June 17, 2009 11:23:00 Updated June 17, 2009 12:17:00


> The long-standing Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Robert

> Fisk, is defying the government crackdown on foreign media reporting in

> Iran.

— http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/06/17/2600571.htm

Rather unbiased, realistic, and distantly empathic. Wished more journalists had these qualities. Hitting the right balance of neutrality and empathy seems to be quite a difficult task.

on Wed, Jun 17, 2009 (05:18):


Best explanation of what happened, what’s happening, and what will happen I have read (in English) so far:

> The Leaders of Iran.s ‘Election Coup’


> By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 14 June 2009


> [TEHRAN BUREAU] The rigged presidential election in Iran . a coup d.etat,

> according to Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a spokesman for the main reformist

> challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi and other analysts . has prompted protests

> both inside and outside Iran. There is, however, little understanding

> about the ideology and motivation behind the operation.

— http://tehranbureau.com/2009/06/16/the-leaders-of-iran.s-election-coup/

Also includes: _who_ was/is/will be involved.

If you want to know for real and in as few words as possible what’s going on this is _the_ article to read. The author has gathered, verified, and carefully pieced information that is otherwise scattered over many sources and documents. I haven’t seen a similar treatment in English although equivalents in Persian have existed for some years now.


Information Assurance & Cyber Security Research and Education, a 501(c)(3)