Feeds

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

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Five Eyes can see you... in your shed... in your back garden

Perhaps DigitalGlobe's fleet can do even better than .25 metre resolution. If it can, it is entirely reasonable to assume it would be shared with the US's partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, one of which is Australia. And Australia operates a Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) that boasts its capabilities include “the process of examining an image collected from satellites or aircraft to identify features, describe activity and interpret what is occurring at a given place on the Earth’s surface.”

AMSA has cited DIGO as a source.

For what it is worth, it is known that the US government rents satellites. In 2013 it even leased a Chinese satellite, according to US News.

It's therefore entirely plausible that DIGO and its ilk around the world regularly receive 0.25 metre or better resolution images from a DigitalGlobe or other commercial satellite and that its find of the “credible” candidate for MH370 debris is the result of business as usual, not special efforts.

It is conceivable that US authorities spotted the candidate debris using classified, never-for-public-eyes sources and then made it known where those searching for MH370 should look. It's also a little bit plausible, because while DigitalGlobe has created a crowdsourced image database to help the search for MH370, it appears that effort is not the source of yesterday's find.

If the US went to such lengths to conceal its capabilities, that's a matter for wider debate.

But speculation something secret has been pressed into service is just that. It's also worth considering the track record of the media outlet offering this analysis, as it has twice of late jumped to alarmist conclusions about intelligence matters. Fairfax media, the source of the notion that MH370 was found by spooksats this week, followed Crikey by reporting in July last year that a subsidiary of Telstra, Australia's dominant telco, had agreed to US surveillance of voice traffic on a submarine cable. The "secret document" Crikey uncovered was actually a pro-forma document any submarine cable operator landing in the US signs. Those documents all authorise surveillance, so the notion Telstra alone had thrown open its digital doors was dubious.

In November 2013, another report suggested Telstra's purchase of deep packet inspection products represented a surveillance effort. As we pointed out at the time, it would be of more interest if a major telco did not operate deep-packet inspection kit as the absence of such tools would indicate lax management of mission-critical networks.

The Reg, and your correspondent, make mistakes. But mistakes like the ones recorded here are particularly unhelpful if they heighten public paranoia.

Happily, the source of the spooksat speculation has calmed down and reported on the existence of DigitalGlobe and even extracted a confirmation it is the source of the images that are sparking so much hope for information about MH370.

If only that story had come before the spooky speculation. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.