Category Archives: Security

Bio-Diesel and the Military

I just ran across a report by Wired, published on September 28th, called “Green Berets Prefer Biodiesel“. I am thus happy to correct myself and say my earlier post on this subject, as well as the follow-up, were a bit hasty. Wired says that the military has been steadily increasing bio-diesel use for several years now.

This is great news for several reasons. The military move towards diesel motorcycles may quickly prove the viability of a robust yet small consumer engine. In addition, the fact that the Army, Navy, US Postal Service, Department of Agriculture, and NASA are all looking at bio-diesel means a more acceptable alternative to petroleum-based fuels could be on the precipice of mass adoption in a country that has been virtually blind to the importance of alternative fuels.

“That’s important to the military’s role as a public citizen, says [fleet manager for Marine Corps vehicles in Camp Pendleton] Funk. ‘We operate our vehicles on the public highways,’ he says. ‘Biodiesel sends a signal to the American public that we’re working to keep the air clean, and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.'”

Admittedly, while it is nice to hear fleet managers give a kinder-gentler environmental message, the realist/security practitioner in me says bio-diesel is a more secure and sustainable fuel for domestic as well as foreign troop deployments. The article even mentions that waste oil from the mess halls is now used to fuel the transport vehicles. No matter how you slice it, bio-diesel is the fuel that just keeps giving — engines run longer (better lubricity) as well as cleaner (less smoke) and can take just about any fat/oil you can scrounge up, which leads to far less vulnerability in storage and transit. It stands to reason, therefore, that special forces would go this route given the obvious reduction in vulnerabilities compared to traditional petroleum supply-chain and storage.

Just imagine if consumer-grade Diesel engines today had half as much development and innovation effort put into them as other engines (like the new Corvette Z06 powerplant). I look forward to a diesel-hybrid in the (near?) future for the ultimate in efficiency and performance without the inherent security risks of petroleum.

Diesel Motorcycles

HDT USA announced that they are producing Diesel Motorcycles for the US military and they will be on sale to the general public in March 2006.

I’ve written before about the odd fact that the US military relies heavily on diesel but doesn’t seem to have domestic-diesel production strategy. The reliance on foreign oil is a conversation piece for most of us, but one would think the US military would see something like biodiesel production as a hugely influential factor in supply-chain dependence and security.

Imagine remote units converting local fats and oils into fuel rather than requiring vulnerable fueling convoys to follow them around.

I am putting a proposal together to present a domestic-fuel strategy to a VP of a logistics / distribution division for a major American company. A year ago bio-diesel production was hovering around US$3/gallon, which was a bit high for most execs to swallow and so we used to also talk about the environmental benefits for the air, landfills, etc., but those don’t incite change on their own, yet. However, today the import-oil companies charge as much if not more for their fuel, making the transition to a more secure (and cleaner and more efficient) domestic source somewhat obvious, no?

Death by Disney

I have issues with Disney for a whole number of reasons. Perhaps someday I will create a page to explain. I think it all started with a book I read as a kid about the CIA’s use of Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Louie, etc. in Latin America propaganda. Not that I disagreed with the use of comic-books, but if you read the actual comics they distributed you would know what I mean.

Bruce Schneier writes about the DMCA review by the US Congress today.

Posts on his blog seem more and more factual and less opinionated, perhaps due to time or just the general issue of dealing with the firestorm that can follow from giving any perspective. On the other hand, his links to “good information” all point to groups who oppose some aspect of the DMCA. Anyway, I read through the links that Bruce provided and this section stood out to me:

    (3) As used in this subsection-

    (A) to “circumvent a technological measure”? means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

    (B) a technological measure “effectively controls access to a work”? if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

    17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(3).

I’ll try the trackback system again instead of posting directly.

FCC sued over IP wiretap rules

The Associated Press reports that “Privacy and technology groups asked the federal appeals court in Washington on Tuesday to overturn a Federal Communications Commission rule that expands wiretapping laws to cover Internet calls — or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Law enforcement agencies already can obtain a subpoena for the contents of VoIP calls from Internet access providers. But the FBI and others want the ability to capture the technology live and they want systems designed so it would be easy to do that. “

BBC halts Blackberry use

The Guardian reported today that RIM (of Blackberry fame) had to resolve an “obscure bug”, which caused the BBC to suspended use of the mobile devices due to security concerns:

“Siemens, which provides the IT backbone for the BBC’s email system, was asked to close the Blackberry network last week after a Creative Futures senior management awayday at which users compared emails and discovered they were receiving messages not intended for them. The decision left around 300 BBC executives and programme makers frantically checking their ‘sent’ folders to make sure they had not inadvertently betrayed any confidences or criticised colleagues. Insiders said that while some of the rogue emails were potentially embarrassing, there were no serious leaks.”

Security flaw gets prisoners early parole

Here’s an interesting case of errors in an unchecked data-input process, discovered by the Michigan State Auditor General. The story appeared on The Register, which was kind enough to link to the original news story posted by WLNS.com:

“A flaw in computer programming caused State jails to release 8 prisoners anywhere from 39-161 days early, prisoners who were doing time for everything from embezzlement and drugs to bad check writing…A followup study by the Department of Corrections found 15 more prisoners who were either let out early or late.”

From there I found the actual audit document itself on the Michigan Office of the Auditor General, available as Report Number 47-591-04

As it turns out, Michigan’s Auditors are on a roll. A BNA report published earlier this year noted that Michigan voter and drivers’ license databases were improperly secured for seven years:

“The Michigan Auditor General found, in a report issued March 18, that the state’s security methods were not effective in protecting voting and driver’s license databases from potential hackers between 1997 and June 30, 2004 (Mich. Aud. Gen. Report No. 23-591-04)”

McDonalds posts fat facts

Why would McDonalds bother?

The Chief Exec is quoted by the BBC: “We’ve given them what they asked for and then people take responsibility about whether they add it up or not add it up.”

Did consumers demand this information prior to “Fast Food Nation” and “Supersize Me”, or more importantly prior to the lawsuit that claimed fast food companies are liable for customers with eating disorders? Does the corporation perceive more risk now (from not providing the information) compared to when they first adopted the current recipes/ingredients?

Little black helicopters from space

It might seem overly tongue-in-cheek at first glance, but the Register’s ongoing coverage of Google satellite imagery has some interesting implications for privacy and information control. In general I think it good that we have better navigational aids, but clearly there will be some issues for anyone who is trying to fly below radar, so to speak. It actually reminds me of sand dunes in Baja that do a poor job of hiding Mexican military equipment from ground view, yet from the sky…

On a slightly-related note, the flashearth site has a nice view of what future interfaces couold look like. I wonder if anyone at Google is working on (or cares about) flat map distortion characteristics?