Feeds

5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

Just when you thought you were alone in the bath...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Comment That the US and other nations operate spy satellites capable of taking very detailed photographs of Earth is not in doubt. But the idea that those satellites have been pressed into service to find downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, and that it is therefore possible to infer some of the satellites' capabilities, is very debatable.

That's not stopped some of the media from suggesting that the reason Australia's Maritime Safety Authority did not mention the source of the images it used as the basis for its decision to explore the Southern Ocean, was because to do so would reveal that they came from a military satellite.

In these post-Snowden days, such hints are serious stuff. The public knows a lot more about the scale and scope of US surveillance efforts than it did this time last year. Interest in such information remains keen.

But speculation the candidate MH370 debris was found by spooksats is obviously dubious, because the images ASMA has released are clearly marked as having their copyright assigned to DigitalGlobe, a US-based outfit known to operate at least three imaging satellites and which last year boasted it can, on request, photograph anywhere on Earth every 12 hours.

Satellite image of possible MH370 debris

The satellite image analysts believe may be MH370 debris. Click here to see at a larger size.

Also a well-established fact is that the US imaging satellite operators like DigitalGlobe are prevented from letting the public access the highest-resolution photographs their craft can capture. Those restrictions are made by the US government and DigitalGlobe appealed against them in September 2013.

As this report to a US Senate committee illustrates, that request has been taken seriously, largely for commercial reasons:

The Committee understands that a commercial data provider has requested licensing approval to collect and sell on the open market, electro-optical imagery with a ground sample distance of 0.25-meter. Recognizing the ability of U.S. commercial imagery providers to contribute more substantially to the national security mission at a lower cost point, and consistent with the U.S. policy of enabling U.S. companies to maintain a leadership position in this industry, the Committee encourages the GEOINT functional manager and the DNI to promptly review this licensing request. The Committee is concerned that foreign commercial imagery providers may soon be able to provide imagery at or better than the currently allowed commercial U.S. resolution limit of 0.5 meters. As foreign firms approach or surpass this level of resolution, current restrictions on U.S. commercial imagery data providers put the United States at a competitive disadvantage and may harm an industrial base that is important to national security.

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.