National Security Agency (NSA) actually has a real program named Skynet
Skynet, which was an evil military computer system that launches war on human race in the Terminator movies franchise, it is learnt that NSA has a program with the same name.
As per The Intercept reports, the NSA does have a program called Skynet. However, it has a less lethal but legally dubious aims. This one is a surveillance program that makes use of phone metadata to record the call activities and location of doubtful terrorists. An Al Jazeera journalist reportedly became one of its victims after he was kept on a terrorist watch list.
Chief bureau of Al Jazeera’s Islamabad office, Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan got traced by Skynet after he was recognized by US intelligence as a possible Al Qaeda member and given a watch list number. Zaidan, a Syrian national has taken a number of exclusive interviews with senior Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden himself.
According to a 2012 government presentation The Intercept obtained from Edward Snowden says that Skynet makes use of phone location and call metadata from bulk phone call records to identify fishy patterns in their communication habits and physical movements of the suspects.
The presentation indicates that SKYNET looks for terrorist connections based on questions such as “who has traveled from Peshawar to Faisalabad or Lahore (and back) in the past month? Who does the traveler call when he arrives?” It also looks for suspicious behaviors such as someone who engages in “excessive SIM or handset swapping” or receives “incoming calls only.” The goal is to identify people who move around in a pattern similar to Al Qaeda couriers who are used to pass communication and intelligence between the group’s senior leaders.
In addition to its misleading name, SKYNET has a few problems though. It happened to misidentify an Al-Jazeera reporter as a member of al-Qaida based on the criteria mentioned above. (It seems that the journalists meeting with sources and terrorists meeting with terrorist group leaders move in patterns that look same to the computer.) This misidentification would be disturbing even if the government did not make use of such metadata to make life-and-death decisions about who to kill with drone strikes. However, it does.
The NSA one should note has a second program too that is very similar to the Terminator‘s Skynet. As revealed by Edward Snowden in an interview with WIRED and James Bamford last year, this one is called MonsterMind. Like the film version of Skynet, MonsterMind is a defense surveillance system that would immediately and independently disarm foreign cyberattacks against the US, and could be used to launch retaliatory strikes as well. Algorithms under this program would remove massive repositories of metadata and examine it to recognize normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Equipped with this knowledge, the NSA could immediately and autonomously find, and block, a foreign threat.
Snowden also stated that MonsterMind could one day be designed to automatically return fire without human interference against an attacker. Because an attacker could twist malicious code to keep away from detection, a counterstrike would be more successful in neutralizing future attacks. Sounds a lot like Skynet. However, there is no news from the NSA on why the iconic film name was not used for its real-world Skynet.
Huawei launches its new MediaPad M5 tablets
Tablets may not be the most exciting product category these days, but they also aren’t quite as dead as some pundits would like you to believe — and for Huawei, they are actually a growing business. Indeed, the company argues that it’s now the third largest tablet maker in the world. It’s no surprise then that the company today unveiled two (or three, depending on how you want to count) new tablets under its MediaPad brand at its annual Mobile World Congress press conference in Barcelona.
Unlike Huawei’s new MateBook laptops, which feature a rather odd camera that’s built into the keyboard, we’re talking about some pretty standard tablets here.
The new MediaPad M5 tablets will come in two sizes: 8.4 and 10.8 inches, starting at 349 and 399 Euro respectively. For the most part, the smaller and larger tablets have exactly the same specs, with 2560×1600 displays (for a 359 and 280 PPI rating, respectively), Kirin 960 quad-core processors, 4GB of RAM and either 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage space. They also come with pretty standard 8MP front cameras and 13MP rear cameras, all the usual sensors (including a fingerprint sensor) and Android 8.0. All of the SKUs also offer an SD card expansion slot that can bring the total on-board storage up to 256 GB.
There is a third version, too, the 10.8-inch MediaPad M5 Pro, which features the exact same specs as the regular 10.8-inch M5, but with added support for Huawei’s M-Pen. As the company stressed during a briefing ahead of the event, the pen features 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and support for tilting and shading. The Pro will also support a detachable keyboard and offer a desktop view with expanded file management features.
All versions of the tablet are available in, as Huawei notes, “two iconic colors: Space Gray and Mystic Silver.” LTE support is an option on all versions, too.
We had a bit of time with all of the tablets ahead of today’s announcement. It’s hard to get excited about tablets these days, but the M5’s look like perfectly solid choices if you’re in the market for an Android tablet, with both the build quality and screens being the stand-out attributes here.
Watch HMD unveil Nokia phones live right here
HMD is holding a press conference at MWC in Barcelona to showcase some Nokia-branded phones. The conference starts at 4:00 PM CET (3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM EST).
HMD licenses the Nokia brand so that the company can release smartphones under the Nokia brand. It isn’t the company we used to know and love, but it still says Nokia. So get ready for some new Nokia phones running Android.
You can check it out live via HMD’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.
Watch Samsung’s MWC conference live right here
Samsung’s press conference at MWC in Barcelona is happening today. The conference starts at 6 PM CET (5 PM GMT, 12 PM EST, 9 AM PST). You can also check out our liveblog to get our commentary on Samsung’s news.
And of course, everybody is waiting for the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Details about the company’s new flagship devices already leaked, but we don’t know much about new software features. You don’t want to miss this one — Samsung’s conferences are always full of surprises.
You can check it out live via Samsung’s official stream above, and stay tuned on TechCrunch.com for ongoing coverage of all the news coming out of MWC.
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