Female DNA was found on at least one of the explosive devices used in April 15’s Boston Marathon bombing, sources have told the Wall Street Journal and CBS News.
Citing “officials familiar with the case,” the Journal emphasizes that “there could be multiple explanations for why the DNA of someone other than the two bombing suspects” was uncovered that would not necessarily indicate complicity in the attack. For example, CBS notes, the DNA might conceivably have come from “a marathon spectator or a clerk who sold” materials that were ultimately used in the making of the bomb.
The only current suspects in the bombing, which killed three people and injured 260, are Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan was killed during a shootout with police on April 19. Dzkhokhar was arrested later that day. Investigators last week found no evidence of additional accomplices in the bombing, based on a “preliminary examination of the cellphones and computers” belonging to the brothers. However, police have not ruled out the possibility of an accomplice, and have not yet determined whether or not the DNA discovery indicates a woman’s involvement in the attack.
Authorities have visited Tamerlan’s widow, Katherine Russell, an FBI spokesman confirmed Monday, and did collect a DNA sample. However, Russell has not been charged with involvement in the bombing, and is not a suspect at this time.
SUCCESS!! At 1pm on Oct 3rd, the USAF 7 Summits Team reached the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest peak on the Australian continent. Summit #6 of 7 was an excellent climb in fresh snow and lots of sunshine. A total of six USAF active duty Airmen reached the summit, along with a family member and six Australian Defense Force members. After pushups on the summit, two team members skied from the summit proudly flying the flags as they went. Thanks for your support of this great challenge to put America and the Air Force on the top of the world!!
The US army is working to limit its dependence on GPS by developing the next generation of navigation technology, including a tiny autonomous chip, the director of the Pentagon’s research agency said Wednesday.
DARPA, the research group behind a range of spy tech and which helped invent the Internet, was also the driving force behind the creation of the Global Positioning System, director Arati Prabhakar said at a press conference.
“In the 1980s, when GPS satellites started to become widely deployed… it meant carrying an enormous box around on your vehicle,” she said.
“Now it’s got to the point where it’s embedded not just in all our platforms but in many of our weapons,” as well as in many civilian devices, she said.
But “sometimes a capability is so powerful that our reliance on it, in itself, becomes a vulnerability,” she added.
“I think that’s where we are today with GPS.”
Among the fears: the GPS signal could be scrambled by an adversary, as happened recently in South Korea.
Starting in 2010, DARPA has been working on a variety of programs aimed at developing new navigation and positioning technology — at first with the goal of extending their reach to places where satellites don’t work, such as underwater.
But now, amid fears of over-reliance on — and possible vulnerabilities with — global positioning satellites, experts are looking to create not just a companion, but an alternative to GPS.
To that end, researchers at DARPA and the University of Michigan have created a new system that works without satellites to determine position, time and direction, all contained within a eight-cubic-millimeter chip.
The tiny chip holds three gyroscopes, three accelerometers and an atomic clock, which, together, work as an autonomous navigation system.
DARPA envisages using this technology to replace GPS in some contexts, especially in small-caliber ammunition or for monitoring people.
Another approach would use existing signals, such as those generated by broadcast antennas, radios, telephone towers and even lightning to temporarily replace GPS.
Prabhakar emphasized there “will not be a monolithic new solution, it will be a series of technologies to track and fix time and position from external sources.”
The Chinese government said its military was willing to make joint efforts with the Sri Lankan military to strengthen high-level contacts, deepen pragmatic cooperation and innovate exchange forms, so as to push forward the relations between the two militaries to a new high. Fang Fenghui, member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) revealed this during a meeting with visiting Navy Commander Jayanath Colombage, in Beijing. The Navy Commander engaged in an official visit to China from 21 to 26 April. Fang said China and Sri Lanka shared a traditional friendship. In recent years, the mutual political trust has been constantly enhanced and the bilateral contacts in such fields as humanities as well as economy and trade had been increasingly closer. Mean while, during a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees on April 24th, China’s Ministry of Commerce Vice Minister Chen Jian has expressed interest in boosting two-way trade between the two countries and further promoting investments.
China has its own fairly sophisticateddrone program, but that has not prevented the country from being unduly curious about how other countries manage theirs. A sophisticated hacking initiative called Operation Beebus has set its sights on drone programs in both the United States and India, and experts believe that the culprits behind the hacking effort are the notorious Comment Crew — hackers who operate as part of the Chinese military.
The information comes by way of FireEye Labs, a high-profile tech security firm. Since December 2011, hackers have attempted to slip malicious DOC and PDF files into important aerospace, defense and communications machines.
Operation Beebus utilizes the exact same methodology as the Comment Crew: It creates bogus text documents and seeds them with very subtle malware. Later, the Crew can extract sensitive information from a protected system via a backdoor. Although the malware compromises the computers, it does nothing to harm them: Operation Beebus wants information, and likely won’t risk damaging its prize.
The backdoor pretends to be software from Google or Microsoft, which renders it hard to detect, especially since it does not harm users’ computers in any way. Once in place, the backdoor allows alien IP addresses access to private files.
If the Comment Crew is indeed responsible, it’s hard to say what the group’s ultimate goal is. The organization has been fairly broad in choosing targets. It has attempted to hack into vital systems in companies that produce drones, as well as academic institutes with military funding that research the devices.
The Comment Crew is also interested in more than just drones. In 2012, it targeted North American and Spanish energy companies to learn about their automation processes. The group has also hacked the New York Times database to learn about sources for a damning exposé on the Chinese prime minister, and tried to shut down Tibetan activist websites. The Comment Crew typically seeks protected information, opting for outright harassment less frequently. [See also: Ten Military Aircraft that Never Made it Past the Test Phase]
Most of the DOC and PDF files are unreadable nonsense, intended only to spread malware. However, one document provides a key misdirection: an analysis of a potential Pakistani drone program, purportedly penned by one Aditi Malhotra. Malhotra is a real person, and an expert not only on drone warfare, but also on the links between the Chinese and Pakistani militaries.
Whether Malhotra actually wrote the document is difficult to say, and it’s highly unlikely that she would identify herself so brazenly if she were involved in the attacks. Furthermore, Malhotra is Indian: Indemnifying herself through an attempted hack on her own government would be counterproductive. Although the attacks are veiled in Pakistani garb, FireLabs asserts, responsibility still likely lies with China.
Everyday users don’t have much to worry about from Operation Beebus, since it has only targeted major players in the drone industry. Even so, avoiding strange attachments is always sound advice. If you’re a member of the DIY drone community, keep an eye out for emails from unfamiliar senders, as well.
Operation Beebus wants some very specific information and likely has nothing good planned for it. Hijacking drones may not be commonplace just yet, but that capability could raise some serious questions about widespread drone use.