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National Security: Merkel’s Phone, Affordable Care and More

Posted by Charles Winstead

The National Security Agency’s highly publicized cyberespionage operations continue to grab headlines internationally, and the “troubled” rollout of the Affordable Care Act‘s Healthcare.gov website remains a source of public skepticism. On a lighter note, one cybersecurity researchers says he is well on the way to turning himself into a robot!

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel phoned President Obama with concerns that the US has compromised her cell phone and listened in on her private conversations. Merkel representatives told reporters that the Chancellor expressed to the President that “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed … as completely unacceptable.” Merkel also asked President Obama for more details about current US cyber surveillance practices in Germany. While not addressing past practices, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the US “is not and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor.” Congressman Peter King, R-NY, says that the mission of the NSA is indeed spying and espionage. “I think the president should stop apologizing and stop being defensive. The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France and Germany and throughout Europe. We’re not doing this for the fun of it. .. We’re not doing this to hurt Germany. But the fact is, there can be information that’s been transmitted that can be useful to us and ultimately useful to Germany.” When asked if US allies were engaged in espionage activities against US leaders, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, replied “Absolutely.”

The electronic rollout of The Affordable Care Act has not been “flawless,” reporters say, and some prominent lawmakers are calling on the President to take the plagued website offline until it is operating efficiently and safely. Senator Dianne Feinstein. D-CA, told the White House staff “It’s pretty clear, I think, to those of us who have been watching this rollout, that the technological base was not sufficient, and that the website didn’t function.” Congressman Mike Rogers, R-MI, was concerned about hackers penetrating the site and stealing the personal identifiable information of millions of unsuspecting site visitors. “What was really shocking to me is even by their own words, they admitted that there was a high degree of risk when they offered the website to go public, they never told anybody about that. They said that they think the risk was acceptable.” More work to be done here.

Finally, a Pennsylvania software developer has implanted a chip in his arm which he says will transmit physiological information realtime to electronics at his home so conditions will be set appropriately when he arrives. “So if, for example, I’ve had a stressful day, the [chip] will communicate that to my house and will prepare a nice relaxing atmosphere for when I get home: dim the lights, [draw] a hot bath.” No physician would implant the device, so the software expert enlisted a tattoo artist for assistance in the operation. Wow.

For more in depth coverage or to subscribe to the CyberPro Newsletter, visit the National Security Cyberspace Institute. The CyberPro Newsletter is written by Charles Winstead, a 30-year Air Force veteran.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:45 pm

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