MatrixLeaks: May 2013

Quantum Internet



  Government Lab Reveals It Has Operated Quantum Internet for Over Two Years

One of the dreams for security experts is the creation of a quantum internet that allows perfectly secure communication based on the powerful laws of quantum mechanics.

The basic idea here is that the act of measuring a quantum object, such as a photon, always changes it. So any attempt to eavesdrop on a quantum message cannot fail to leave telltale signs of snooping that the receiver can detect. That allows anybody to send a "one-time pad" over a quantum network which can then be used for secure communication using conventional classical communication.

That sets things up nicely for perfectly secure messaging known as quantum cryptography and this is actually a fairly straightforward technique for any half decent quantum optics lab. Indeed, a company called ID Quantique  sells an off-the-shelf system that has begun to attract banks and other organisations interested in perfect security.


These systems have an important limitation, however. The current generation of quantum cryptography systems are point-to-point connections over a single length of fibre, So they can send secure messages from A to B but cannot route this information onwards to C, D, E or F. That’s because the act of routing a message means reading the part of it that indicates where it has to be routed. And this inevitably changes it, at least with conventional routers. This makes a quantum internet impossible with today’s technology

Various teams are racing to develop quantum routers that will fix this problem by steering quantum messages without destroying them. We looked at one of the first last year. But the truth is that these devices are still some way from commercial reality.

Today, Richard Hughes and pals at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico reveal an alternative quantum internet, which they say they’ve been running for two and half years. Their approach is to create a quantum network based around a hub and spoke-type network. All messages get routed from any point in the network to another via this central hub.

This is not the first time this kind of approach has been tried. The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security. However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey.

So as long as the hub is secure, then the network should also be secure.

The problem with this approach is scalability. As the number of links to the hub increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to handle all the possible connections that can be made between one point in the network and another.

Hughes and co say they’ve solved this with their unique approach which equips each node in the network with quantum transmitters–i.e., lasers–but not with photon detectors which are expensive and bulky. Only the hub is capable of receiving a quantum message (although all nodes can send and receiving conventional messages in the normal way).

That may sound limiting but it still allows each node to send a one-time pad to the hub which it then uses to communicate securely over a classical link. The hub can then route this message to another node using another one time pad that it has set up with this second node. So the entire network is secure, provided that the central hub is also secure.

                                                        Photo: Reuters / Stephen Lam

The big advantage of this system is that it makes the technology required at each node extremely simple–essentially little more than a laser. In fact, Los Alamos has already designed and built plug-and-play type modules that are about the size of a box of matches. “Our next-generation [module] will be an order of magnitude smaller in each linear dimension,” they say.

Their ultimate goal is to have one of these modules built in to almost any device connected to a fibre optic network, such as set top TV boxes, home computers and so on, to allow perfectly secure messaging.

Having run this system now for over two years, Los Alamos are now highly confident in its efficacy.

Of course, the network can never be more secure than the hub at the middle of it and this is an important limitation of this approach. By contrast, a pure quantum internet should allow perfectly secure communication from any point in the network to any other.

Another is that this approach will become obsolete as soon as quantum routers become commercially viable. So the question for any investors is whether they can get their money back in the time before then. The odds are that they won’t have to wait long to find out.

The Tech Review blog announced on Monday that Richard Hughes and a team of researchers at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico have been running an “alternative quantum Internet,” and have been doing so for roughly two-and-a-half years. In a blog post the website broke down the basics of how Hughes and company created a system that works like a hub-and-spoke network in which all messages anywhere in the network get routed from a main node — a central hub.

                               Los Alamos National Laboratorj is on the payroll of the U.S. military

“The idea is that messages to the hub rely on the usual level of quantum security. However, once at the hub, they are converted to conventional classical bits and then reconverted into quantum bits to be sent on the second leg of their journey,” announced the blog. “So as long as the hub is secure, then the network should also be secure.”

The government’s labs at Los Alamos have previously been used for nuclear research and were instrumental in the Manhattan Project — the Allied forces program that evoked the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to Tech Review, though, the goal of having a commercially viable quantum Internet is one much less intense. The website reported that a quantum connection could be used to establish 100 percent secure connections using fiber cables between home computers, televisions and other objects as seemingly everything can be wired these days to the Internet.

Given recent attempts out of Washington to essentially eliminate encryption, though, selling a super secure connection to the American public is likely a long way coming.






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Obama’s cybersecurity plan



   Monitor more of the Internet

President Barack Obama’s plan to protect the United States’ critical infrastructure against cyberattacks is accelerating quickly as more private sector businesses are signing on to share information with the federal government.

When Pres. Obama rolled out his ‘Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity’ executive order last month, he asked that classified cyber threat and technical information collected by the government be given to eligible commercial service providers that offer security services to businesses linked to the country’s critical infrastructure.


But in the few short weeks since the order was announced during the president’s annual State of the Union address, warnings of an imminent attack have only increased. CIA Director John Brennan told a panel last week that "the seriousness and the diversity of the threats that this country faces in the cyber domain are increasing on a daily basis," and US national intelligence chief James Clapper claims there is "a remote chance of a major cyberattack against US critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage."


                                        US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

Upon announcement of the executive order, a handful of defense contractors and telecom companies — namely Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, AT&T and CenturyLink — confirmed that they’d be voluntarily sharing information back and forth with the country’s top intelligence agencies in order to closely monitor any threats that could collapse the country’s critical infrastructure, a vaguely defined category assumed to include the nation’s power systems, telecommunication wires and other major utilities.

“The demand is there. I think the priority is there, and the threat is serious,” Steve Hawkins, vice president of information and security solutions for Raytheon, told Bloomberg earlier in the month.

As warnings of a cyberattack increase, however, the latest news out of Washington is that even more private sector companies with ties to critical infrastructure will be participating in the program. In a report published on Thursday by Reutersthe newswire notes that the framework first outlined during last month’s executive order is already quickly shaping up, with tasks being delegated throughout the US so that threat information can be adequately passed to applicable persons.

According to Reuters’ latest write-up, the executive order will require the National Security Agency to collect classified intelligence on serious hacking attempts aimed at American businesses, which will then be handed over to the Department of Homeland Security to pass on to the telecom and cybersecurity providers — Raytheon, AT&T and others — where employees holding security clearances will scan incoming emails and routine Web traffic for threats to the infrastructure.


But while the government has long asked the entities to open up lines of communication with the NSA and other offices, smaller private-sector businesses could soon be signing on. According to Joseph Menn and Deborah Charles of Reuters, the government is already expanding their cybersecurity program so that even more Web traffic heading into and out of defense contractors will be scanned to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure.

“As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyberattacks,”  they write.


Once those participating companies sign on to get data from Homeland Security, the DHS will send them computer threat “signatures” obtained by the NSA that will offer a list of red flags to be watching out for as huge amounts of Web data is scanned second-by-second and bit-by-bit.

“The companies can use this intelligence to strengthen cybersecurity services they sell to businesses that maintain critical infrastructure,” Bloomberg News reports.

That intelligence, including but not limited to cyber timestamps, indicators and the critical sector potentially, can then be monitored to search for malicious code and viruses sent through America’s Internet with the intent of causing harm. In exchange, the critical infrastructure companies that could be targeted by cyberterrorists will pay the contractors and telecoms for their help.

The threat of a cyberwar crippling America’s power grid and communication systems has been ramped-up in recent weeks, particularly in light of a highly-touted report that linked Chinese state actors with repeated attempts to sabotage US businesses and conduct espionage to steal secrets.

"Increasingly, US businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale," National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon told the Asia Society in New York last week. "The international community cannot afford to tolerate such activity from any country.”




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Enemy of the future



Pentagon developing humanoid Terminator robots that will soon carry weapons

The Pentagon wants to develop and deploy a robotic army of autonomous soldiers that will kill without hesitation. It's only a matter of time before these robots are armed with rifles, grenade launchers and more. Their target acquisition systems can be a hybrid combination of both thermal and night vision technologies, allowing them to see humans at night and even detect heat signatures through building walls.


This is the army humanity is eventually going to face. You'd all better start getting familiar with the anatomy of humanoid robots so that you know where to shoot them for maximum incapacitation effect. You'd also better start learning how to sew thermal blankets into clothing, hoodies and scarves in order to fool thermal imaging systems.

At first, these robots will be deployed as soldier assistants, carrying gear, retrieving wounded soldiers from hot zones, and so on. But over time, the roles will be reversed: Robotic soldiers will serve on the front lines while humans only serve support roles to keep the robots running. Such a transition will take decades, of course, but it's coming.

Boston Dynamics Inc. has been contracted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military, in a deal worth $10.9 million.

The DoD announced Tuesday that “The robotic platforms will be humanoid, consisting of two legs, a torso, two arms with hands, a sensor head and on board computing.”

DARPA’s website  says that the robots will help “conduct humanitarian, disaster relief and related operations.”

“The plan identifies requirements to extend aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters and conduct evacuation operations.” reads the brief, first released in April as part of DARPA’s ‘Robotics Challenge’.

The robots will operate with “supervised autonomy”, according to DARPA, and will be able to act intelligently by themselves, making their own decisions if and when direct supervision is not possible.

The Pentagon also envisions that the robots will be able to use basic and diverse “tools”.

“The primary technical goal of the DRC is to develop ground robots capable of executing complex tasks in dangerous, degraded, human-engineered environments. Competitors in the DRC are expected to focus on robots that can use standard tools and equipment commonly available in human environments, ranging from hand tools to vehicles, with an emphasis on adaptability to tools with diverse specifications.” reads the original brief.

The robots are set to be completed by Aug. 9, 2014, according to the contract.

Boston Dynamics has enjoyed a long working relationship with DARPA, during which time it has developed the rather frightening BigDog. This hydraulic quadruped robot can carry up to 340lb load, meaning it can be effectively weaponised, and recovers its balance even after sliding on ice and snow.

                                                                          Big Dog

The company has also developed the CHEETAH- Fastest Legged Robot, a four-footed robot that gallops at 18 mph. The company also developed RiSE, a robot that climbs vertical terrain such as walls, trees and fences, using feet with micro-claws to climb on textured surface.

In addition to a host of other smaller robots, Boston Dynamics is also developing PETMAN, a robot that simulates human physiology and balances itself as it walks, squats and does calisthenics.

While the Pentagon says the robots are for “humanitarian” missions, one cannot avoid thinking of the propensity to adapt this kind of military style technology for other more aggressive purposes.

Indeed, the Pentagon has, in the past, issued a request to contractors to develop teams of robots that can search for, detect and track “non-cooperative” humans in "pursuit/evasion scenarios".

                                                                      CHEETAH

Issued in 2008, the request, called for a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” to be operated by one person.

The proposal described the need to

“…develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.

The main research task will involve determining the movements of the robot team through the environment to maximize the opportunity to find the subject, while minimizing the chances of missing the subject. If the operator is an active member of the search team, the software should minimize the chance that the operator may encounter the subject.”

It is seemingly important to the Pentagon that the operator should not have to come into contact with the person being chased down by the machines.

                                                                            RISE

The description continues:

“The software should maintain awareness of line-of-sight, as well as communication and sensor limits. It will be necessary to determine an appropriate sensor suite that can reliably detect human presence and is suitable for implementation on small robotic platforms.”

Paul Marks at The New Scientist pointed out such proposals are somewhat concerning, because they inevitably will be adapted for domestic purposes such as crowd control.

“…how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed?” Marks asks.

Marks interviewed Steve Wright, an expert on police and military technologies, from Leeds Metropolitan University, who commented:

“The giveaway here is the phrase ‘a non-cooperative human subject’.

What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs. Once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.

We can also expect such systems to be equipped with human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat. These are technologies already developed.”


Indeed, noted as PHASE III on the Pentagon proposal was the desire to have the robots developed to “intelligently and autonomously search”.

Top robotics expert, Noel Sharkey, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield, has previously warned that the world may be sleepwalking into a potentially lethal technocracy and has called for safeguards on such technology to be put into place.

In 2008, Professor Sharkey told:

“If you have an autonomous robot then it’s going to make decisions who to kill, when to kill and where to kill them. The scary thing is that the reason this has to happen is because of mission complexity and also so that when there’s a problem with communications you can send a robot in with no communication and it will decide who to kill, and that is really worrying to me.”

The professor also warned that such autonomous weapons could easily be used in the future by law enforcement officials in cites, pointing out that South Korean authorities are already planning to have a fully armed autonomous robot police force in their cities.

Watch the video embedded below: It reveals the "Petman" humanoid robot funded by the Department of Defense. Like something ripped right out of a sci-fi movie, the robot sweats to regulate body temperature, and it can be dressed in chemical suits, camo or other uniforms to resemble humans.











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