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Global Security Concerns Escalate: From AI Money Laundering Detection to GPS Attacks and Beyond



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Dhruv Mehrotra and Dell Cameron

Security Update This Week: Border Towns Face Invasion by Novel Surveillance Technology

This week, according to WIRED, an infamous group of con artists called the Yahoo Boys has been discovered actively conducting operations on well-known networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Telegram. By slipping through the cracks of content moderation mechanisms, this collective partakes in and coordinates illegal activities, including various scams and sextortion operations.

On Wednesday, a study was released showcasing an innovative AI-driven approach for identifying patterns indicative of potential money laundering activities within blockchain transactions. This interdisciplinary team, including experts from Elliptic, a cryptocurrency tracking company, along with researchers from MIT and IBM, gathered transaction data linked to confirmed fraudulent activities. This information, which detailed the transfer of bitcoin from illicit sources to platforms where it could be exchanged for traditional currency, was instrumental in developing an AI system capable of recognizing parallel transaction behaviors.

Authorities and specialists in the field are raising concerns over the heightened risk of significant aviation accidents as a result of escalating assaults on GPS networks in the Baltic area following the onset of the conflict in Ukraine. These attacks, which can either block or falsify GPS signals, pose real threats to proper navigation. Leaders from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have pointed fingers at Russia for the GPS disruptions in their region. In the meantime, WIRED has delved into Ukraine's emerging and determined drone sector, where approximately 200 enterprises are competing to develop more lethal and capable unmanned weapons.

A company based in Australia, known for installing facial recognition systems in pubs and nightclubs, seems to have inadvertently leaked over a million customer records. This incident underscores the risks associated with entrusting biometric information to corporations. Meanwhile, in the United States, President Biden's administration is urging technology firms to voluntarily commit to earnestly executing essential cybersecurity enhancements. Additionally, this week, it was revealed that the government is revising its strategy to safeguard the nation's vital infrastructure against cybercriminals, terrorist acts, and calamities caused by nature.

Additionally, we provide a roundup of news stories we didn't extensively report on ourselves each week. For the complete articles, follow the links provided below. Remember to take care of yourselves during these times.

Documents Exposed by The Intercept Show Israeli Defense Companies Must Use Amazon and Google for Cloud Services

A disclosure by The Intercept, based on a government procurement document, shows that leading Israeli defense contractors are mandated to utilize Google and Amazon for their cloud computing needs. This revelation casts doubt on Google's persistent assertions that its technology sold to Israel is not employed in military actions, such as the continuous attacks on Gaza which have resulted in over 34,000 Palestinian deaths. The document outlines a roster of Israeli firms and governmental agencies that are "obligated to acquire" cloud services exclusively from Amazon and Google. Among these are Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with the latter known for producing the notorious “Spike” missile, which was allegedly used in a drone attack that claimed the lives of seven workers from the World Central Kitchen in April.

In 2021, Amazon and Google teamed up with the Israeli government for a collaborative initiative dubbed Project Nimbus. This partnership involves supplying the Israeli government and its military forces with cloud computing services. In April, Google workers expressed their dissent regarding Project Nimbus through organized sit-ins at their offices located in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Seattle. As a consequence, the company terminated the employment of almost 30 staff members.

A New Monitoring Device Expands Across Border Regions

An advanced monitoring device capable of intercepting wireless communications from devices like smartwatches, earphones, and vehicles is being implemented along the border to monitor individuals' movements in live time, according to a Monday report by Notus. The device's producer states that TraffiCatch links the wireless signals emitted by widely-used gadgets to cars recognized through their license plates in the vicinity. A captain from the Webb County sheriff’s office in Texas, which encompasses the border town of Laredo, explained to the news outlet that the department employs TraffiCatch to pinpoint devices in locations where their presence is unexpected, such as locating individuals trespassing.

Numerous states mandate that police departments secure warrants prior to using tools that replicate cell towers to gather information from the devices fooled into">king with them. However, regarding TraffiCatch, a technology that discreetly gathers surrounding wireless signals, judicial opinions have not been expressed. The report emphasizes the transition of signals intelligence technology from military-only access to its current availability for acquisition by local authorities and the broader population.

Alleged Assassination Conspiracy on U.S. Soil Linked to Indian Intelligence

The Washington Post has unveiled allegations implicating a member of India's premier intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, in an ill-fated scheme aimed at killing a vocal critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States. The U.S. administration expressed grave concern about the revelations on Monday, stating it is addressing the issue with utmost seriousness. In contrast, India's diplomatic corps sharply criticized the report, labeling it as "unjustified" and "counterproductive." The plan to eliminate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun—a prominent advocate for Sikh independence holding citizenship in both the U.S. and Canada—came to light through disclosures made by American officials in November.

Canadian officials have previously disclosed that they possess "reliable" intelligence which purportedly connects the Indian government to the assassination of separatist figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was fatally shot near a Sikh temple in a suburb of Vancouver during the previous summer.

A New Proposal for AI System Protection

In the US, a proposed law seeks to create a special division within the National Security Agency focused on safeguarding against AI-related threats, known as "counter-AI". This proposal, brought forward by senators Mark Warner, a Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a Republican, also mandates that organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) monitor any attempts to breach AI systems, regardless of their success. Presently, NIST is responsible for the National Vulnerability Database, which collects information on security vulnerabilities, and CISA manages the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Program, aimed at identifying and documenting publicly known cybersecurity threats.

The legislative proposal referred to as the Secure Artificial Intelligence Act seeks to broaden federal oversight to encompass "adversarial machine learning." This concept, effectively interchangeable with "counter-AI," focuses on undermining AI systems and corrupting their data through methods that starkly contrast with conventional cyberwarfare tactics.

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