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Climate change and the military, agencies exploit free data, and state-sponsored cyberattacks

Destabilizing Impact of Climate Change

Pentagon officials didn’t wait for record snowfall in Washington, D.C., to start pondering the potential effects of climate change on government operations.

The Guardian, which obtained a draft review copy of the latest Quadrennial Defense Review, says it cites global climate change as a major destabilizing force and directs military leaders to factor it into their strategic planning.

The Defense Department’s concerns about the potential impact on energy availability has prompted development of a new Marine Corps solar energy source for powering computers and communications in the field, which is expected to be deployed with fighting units soon. And that's just a part of the Navy’s push on alternative energy sources.

Agencies Exploit 'Free Data' Model
Source: Mass High Tech

So how will the business models emerge to justify and similar government Web sites? Here’s one possibility out of Massachusetts: Get the free market to do government’s job for it.

State agencies there are hurrying to get data into databases so software developers will build iPhone apps and similar products and save those agencies from having to develop their own applications.

It’s government on the cheap, though the story talks about improving government service.

So far, businesses are exulting about all of the free data that government agencies will provide to them. But what happens when they discover they are actually doing government a favor — actually, doing work for the government — and start demanding a fee for the job?

State-Sponsored Cyberattacks
Source: Mandiant

Security experts say the techniques used in the recent cyberattacks on Google and other companies fit a sophisticated campaign of state-sponsored espionage and dirty tricks called advanced persistent threat (APT). They also point out that agencies of all kinds, not just those in defense and diplomacy, are targets for those kinds of intrusions.

A new report from information security company Mandiant gives an inside look at the motives behind APT attacks and the techniques and technologies used to conduct them, which differ from garden-variety hacking. The report includes numerous case studies of agencies and companies victimized by APT.

“Although the U.S. government and defense communities are aware of and countering APT attacks, many victims and targets are unaware and unequipped,” the report states. “Often, these victims of the APT react in a way that does more harm than good.”

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