(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

Archive for the ‘Dystopian Nightmares’ Category

Leaderless Jihad and Open Source Jihad: A Marriage Made In Hell.

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In 2013 I wrote about leaderless jihad and the “Stand Alone Complex” Now we are seeing this type of leaderless, “inspired by” thought virus playing itself out on the national stage. Last nights attack using a lorrie was something that was presaged by two issues of Inspire Magazine back in 2010 and 2014. There isn’t much to it really to gather some weapons, steal a truck, and then plow it into a crowd but it has taken this long for the insidious idea to take root in the collective unconscious of the would be jihadi’s. The days of a more rigid and trained “jihad” are being eclipsed by would be unbalanced individuals seeking attention and reinforcement of their sick ideas through the media, the internet, and our collective inability to look away from a tragic scene on a glowing screen.

Screenshot from 2016-07-15 07:00:082014 Inspire


Screenshot from 2016-07-15 07:04:082010 Inspire 2 “Ultimate Mowing Machine”


Soft targets were always the preferred avenue of attack but now they are becoming seen as a top priority for security forces since the attacks in France and other places like Bangladesh. While Dahka on the face of it had a contingent of more trained individuals the attack last night is as simplistic as they come. This is what is really scaring the populace and the security services because now it seems that the authors and actors of these acts are in fact just one guy and not a cabal that they could perhaps track using pervasive surveillance. A cell of one is hard to track and certainly if they self radicalize by just downloading Inspire magazine and watching YouTube, well, what can one do? There are no easy answers here in the world of detection and prevention.

Screenshot from 2016-07-15 09:26:04

So here we have it, I have been pointing this out for a while and at first it was AQAP trying to inspire “OSJ” or Open Source Jihad. Now Dabiq and Da’esh are carrying it on and furthering it with the media zeitgeist that ensues with each attack. The net effect here is that these people are selfradicalizing with the help of the media’s obsession on covering ad nauseum these acts. The pervasive hand wringing and talking heads only serve to whet the appetite of the would be jihobbyist into action. Forget the Inspire magazines and the videos, just watch CNN and that is enough it seems. This all is very much like the plot line to “The Laughing Man” arc of Ghost In The Shell. An act carried out on the media instilled others to carry out like acts to be on the media and further the idea(l) as well as serve as a means to self fulfil the actors need for attention and satisfaction.


This is pure psychology at work and there are a host of reasons and syndromes that could likely be pointed at to rationalize it’s happening. The fact of the matter is that now we are seeing it play out rather bloodily on the streets of the world in furtherance of an idea and ideal set that lends itself to the like minded.. Or should I say mentally ill? Yes, I would say mentally ill. These actors are acting out and likely have some borderline tendencies to start with. These people feel outcast in their societies or out of place within the societies they are living in as a second generation citizen. It is a complex thing to nail down and I suggest that anyone who might want to delve into it further read “Leaderless Jihad” by Marc Sageman.

We need a more nuanced approach to the GWOT and I am afraid we won’t get that…



“Прикарпаттяобленерго”: The “First” Attack On Infrastructure

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Screenshot from 2016-03-04 11:21:42

The Attack:

Well there has been a great hubbub about the “first” true cyber attack on an infrastructure system(s) in Ukraine and while I agree that it may be the first (admitted to) it is not something that is on par with the attack on Natanz frankly. As the reports keep coming out and feeds like Wired write kitschy articles about the super scary world we now live in, I thought it would be interesting to cut the bullshit and just put some data out there with some commentary on this event.

So yeah, 225k people were without power for a little while and overall this attack does in fact show us all just how probable this is on select targets, it should also show just how much work it takes to perform one of these. It should also show us all how segmented the systems are and how hard it would be to have an apocalypse event ala “Lights Out” happen anywhere in the world never mind America. The fact that the power was restored fairly quickly and that even when the attackers had tried to keep them down for longer, the systems are also resilient enough and manual enough to keep the lights on. It’s not all cyber and nor should it ever be.

What should be surprising if not galling is that the pre-attack work carried out by the adversaries (*cough Russia cough*) was easily successful and allowed access for the teams to recon the facilities, gain further access, and launch the attack in the end without every being detected and perhaps stopped. Why was this the case? Because this company, even with “robust firewalls” was not doing the due diligence is watching it’s network and did not have a SOC (Security Operations Center) that could monitor the traffic to determine bad actors within. What should worry you even more is that in talking to insiders in the power industry and from personal experience, these people were much better at security than the majority of the companies out there today including many in the US.


At the end of the day some of this is interesting but the majority of this attack is pedestrian in the grander scheme. This was a soft target and it was more than likely that it was Russia, a nation state at either the behest of Putin or Putin at the behest of his oligarch pals that did this. This is to say that any reasonably monied group could hire hacker teams to do the same anywhere else. This was a big fuck you to the power company and to Ukraine. It had thinly veiled Russian connection(s) and it has yet to be seen what if any response this will garner from Ukraine and the companies involved who may or may not be seeking to diversify their power generation and transmission.

There will be games…


So what happened in this attack?

  • The adversary foot-printed the power company and went after the weak points (users in the network) with phishing emails
  • The phish consisted of MACRO based word documents (VBA) that connected to C2 and got modules to further compromise the networks
  • The adversary then mapped the network and performed recon
  • The adversary gained access to VPN’s as well to remotely connect to ICS systems that lacked 2FA
  • The adversary planned their attack and set the stage to not only shut down the power but also to DoS the call center in an effort to muddy the waters and extend the attack


  • The adversary launches the attack
    • They take down the power systems by controlling systems with stolen creds (RDP)
    • They over-write firmware with garbage to further prevent the attack from being thwarted and to cause a longer outage
    • They DoS the phone system (call center)
    • They killdisk things to make it harder to come back up
    • Basically they tried a fire sale but they failed because of manual systems

While this attack was effective and is a cautionary tale, once again, this is not an extinction level event here. It was well planned and it went off pretty well but remember that the target made it easy and I am afraid that that is the state of affairs everywhere today. So that should be something for you to mull over as you think about this attack.

My Own Recon:

I wanted to know just how easy a target the “Прикарпаттяобленерго” systems were or should I say are? I went out and did some recon of my own with some tools to see and I was not surprised by the results. For the most part this company shared a lot of information through metadata and an open network infrastructure. I did not attempt to run any other kind of vulnerability scan but you can see from the data below that it would be easy enough to profile the company, their security posture, and their network just from tools like Foca.

Screenshot from 2016-03-04 15:41:38Users and naming conventions


Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:51:17System types and vulnerabilities


Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:35:22186 documents downloaded via Google with metadata


Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:34:28Users


Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:34:09File structure and folders

Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:33:42Email addresses

Screenshot from 2016-03-05 06:33:33Systems by OS (note Xp)


Just by using Foca I was able to really get an idea of what they had in the network and how I would formulate an attack to get inside and map things out some more. This type of information is not uncommon to find on the internet and frankly I could have honed in more by using things like LinkedIN and VK to search people and work the OSINT. Let’s just say that this was an easy target and they were unaware of the OSINT they were just giving up by placing all this stuff online.


I also downloaded reports from numerous sources out there trying to get market share by putting together these pdf’s on the malware and C2’s used in the attacks. Once again, really nothing new here kids. Sure they re-packed the malware to have new hashes that would not be easily detected but for the most part nothing novel here. They phished people with common doc and excel files that we all get in our daily lives in the corporate security world. Honestly these attacks could be mitigated by just taking admin away from the users and now allowing them to run macro’s when asked to in broken English (or Russian) but hey, who does that kind of security today huh?







FileHash-SHA1     c7e919622d6d8ea2491ed392a0f8457e4483eae9
FileHash-SHA1     a427b264c1bd2712d1178912753bac051a7a2f6c
FileHash-SHA1     166d71c63d0eb609c4f77499112965db7d9a51bb
FileHash-SHA1     be319672a87d0dd1f055ad1221b6ffd8c226a6e2
FileHash-SHA1     502bd7662a553397bbdcfa27b585d740a20c49fc
FileHash-SHA1     f3e41eb94c4d72a98cd743bbb02d248f510ad925
FileHash-SHA1     b05e577e002c510e7ab11b996a1cd8fe8fdada0c
FileHash-SHA1     069163e1fb606c6178e23066e0ac7b7f0e18506b
FileHash-SHA1     e5a2204f085c07250da07d71cb4e48769328d7dc
FileHash-SHA1     20901cc767055f29ca3b676550164a66f85e2a42
FileHash-SHA1     84248bc0ac1f2f42a41cfffa70b21b347ddc70e9
FileHash-SHA1     16f44fac7e8bc94eccd7ad9692e6665ef540eec4
FileHash-SHA1     4c424d5c8cfedf8d2164b9f833f7c631f94c5a4c
FileHash-SHA1     1cbe4e22b034ee8ea8567e3f8eb9426b30d4affe
FileHash-SHA1     1a716bf5532c13fa0dc407d00acdc4a457fa87cd
FileHash-SHA1     4bc2bbd1809c8b66eecd7c28ac319b948577de7b
FileHash-SHA1     2c1260fd5ceaef3b5cb11d702edc4cdd1610c2ed
FileHash-SHA1     e40f0d402fdcba6dd7467c1366d040b02a44628c
FileHash-SHA1     a9aca6f541555619159640d3ebc570cdcdce0a0d
FileHash-SHA1     bd87cf5b66e36506f1d6774fd40c2c92a196e278
FileHash-SHA1     e1c2b28e6a35aeadb508c60a9d09ab7b1041afb8
FileHash-SHA1     1a86f7ef10849da7d36ca27d0c9b1d686768e177
FileHash-SHA1     2d805bca41aa0eb1fc7ec3bd944efd7dba686ae1
FileHash-SHA1     6d6ba221da5b1ae1e910bbeaa07bd44aff26a7c0
FileHash-SHA1     72d0b326410e1d0705281fde83cb7c33c67bc8ca
FileHash-SHA1     cd07036416b3a344a34f4571ce6a1df3cbb5783f
FileHash-SHA1     896fcacff6310bbe5335677e99e4c3d370f73d96
FileHash-SHA1     672f5f332a6303080d807200a7f258c8155c54af
FileHash-SHA1     aa67ca4fb712374f5301d1d2bab0ac66107a4df1
FileHash-SHA1     0b4be96ada3b54453bd37130087618ea90168d72
FileHash-SHA1     d91e6bb091551e773b3933be5985f91711d6ac3b
FileHash-SHA1     8ad6f88c5813c2b4cd7abab1d6c056d95d6ac569



You all can comb through the C2’s and the PE files yourselves. It’s pretty common and certainly is not on par with Stuxnet. It did however do the job and once again I have to remind you that this shit should not really work in a properly secured environment with awareness for employees and some semblance of a SOC and some HIDS/NIDS right? I mean the C2’s are well known for being dirty so they should have been caught or blocked already. Take a look at the C2’s in the Netherlands and elsewhere and they have quite the bad history. Once again, this adversary did not have to work that hard.


Now on to the big “attribution” game that everyone likes to play. I looked at the C2’s and at the data around them with a jaundiced eye. It is clear that whoever did this had some money for teams of people to do the work but maybe they got the access from spammer/phishers already out there who maybe sold the access to start. It became clear though that two of the C2 addresses had quite the past with romance scams and pharma schemes online over the years.

Screenshot from 2016-03-04 15:10:04Euegene and Andrey (both pseudonyms) registered sites out of the UK


Screenshot from 2016-03-04 15:36:41Romance scammer emails found used circa 2012


Screenshot from 2016-03-04 09:41:39All the pharma attached to Eugene


Screenshot from 2016-03-04 09:37:31Eugene’s addresses all point back to a brownstone in the UK


Screenshot from 2016-03-04 09:27:13malware reported by drive by at C2 address


Screenshot from 2016-03-04 09:07:55A poor bastard being targeted in the Romance scam on VK

I will say that all of the backstop data seems to imply a Russian connection and if you look at the politics of the region as well as the fact that the Oligarchs and Pooty are in charge, it is not hard to make the conclusion. It is a conclusion though and not proof in any way. So, this attack likely was Russia but no one, let me repeat, no one, can tell you for sure. I am sure that in the RSA week last week many a vendor was trying to make a sale with sure-fire attribution that it was Russia SO BUY MY PRODUCT!

No.. Just no.

What Have We Learned?

What have we learned? Well, I learned that this is nothing new, nothing spectacular, and nothing really to write home about. I know that I could probably hire someone like Nickerson and his team to do the same thing to a like target so really this could be nation state or it could be some person with money or a grudge. What you all learn from this depends on the level of investigation and thought you put into it. As many of my readers are in the business, you are likely coming up with much the same assessment as I have. This was bad but it was bad because the security was lacking at the facilities. A soft target is a soft target so really this should not be some hyped up story for a new Kim Zetter novella.

Here’s what you really should learn from this:

  • Generally today infrastructure security sucks
  • An all out fire sale like you saw in Die Hard is not likely because of manual systems still in place and segmentation
  • You should have a backup plan for power just like you should if you live in an area that gets snow and ice that knocks out power

Everyone seems to be all worked up about cyber war and frankly the gleam in too many people’s eyes makes me kind of sick. Lately I have been mulling over in my head the fact that no matter the technology humans always seek to weaponize it or use it against one another and that just sucks. We are our own worst enemies because we create this stuff insecurely, we manage it insecurely and we leverage it against one another for personal, political, or monetary gain. In short; “This is why we can’t have anything nice”


Written by Krypt3ia

2016/03/05 at 22:12

ASSESSMENT: Operation Rolling Thunder

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Screenshot from 2014-02-06 15:54:47 Screenshot from 2014-02-06 15:55:02 Screenshot from 2014-02-06 15:55:32

It has come to light that the GCHQ (The UK’s NSA) took action against Anonymous by DDoS as well as the use of HUMINT and malware attacks to attempt to dissuade them from further actions. While this may be a surprise to some it is just a matter of action and reaction in the hive mind of the IC. Of course at one time there may have been more trepidation about carrying out direct action against quote unquote “dissidents” as some may call Anonymous but those days are long gone and one of the primary reasons such actions are easily rationalized now is because of terrorism. Terrorism used to mean blowing things up or taking hostages but now, with the 5th domain of cyber, that equation has changed greatly in the eyes of the worlds governments. Of course in this case it was the British carrying out the covert actions against the anonymous servers and users and as many know the Brits don’t have the most stellar first amendment record (D orders) and have a different perspective on what people have the right to do or say that may be considered civil disobedience. However, I should like to point out that it is highly likely that the UK did not act alone here and that it is probable that the NSA and the UKUSA agreements were in play here as well. I once sat on a panel at Defcon where I warned that these types of tactics as well as others would be used by the governments of the world against the Anon’s if push came to shove and it seems that I was not far off the mark. We have crossed the Rubicon and we are all in a new domain where the rules are fluid.

Civil Disobedience vs. Criminality In Anon Actions:

Some have written that these actions now revealed by Snowden show that we are all in danger of censorship and of direct action if we say or do things online that a government or agency doesn’t like and they are correct. It really is a matter of dystopian nightmare import when one stops to think that these were not state actors nor really terrorists by definition (yet) that GCHQ and the JTRIG were carrying out netwar on. The rationale I am sure is that the C&C of Anon needed to be taken out because they were “attacking” sites with DDoS or other actions (hacking in the case of LulzSec) and thus were a clear and present danger to… Well… Money really. While some consider DDoS a form of civil disobedience others see it as a threat to the lifeblood of commerce as well as portents of larger attacks against the infrastructure of the internet itself or perhaps the power grid as we keep hearing about from sources who really haven’t a clue on how these things work. Sure, there were criminal actions taken by Sabu and others within the collective as well as the splinter cell that was LulzSec/Antisec but most of the activity was not anything that I would consider grounds for covert action. That the JTRIG not only used malware but also HUMINT and SIGINT (all things used in nation state covert collections and actions) shows that they were genuinely afraid of the Anon’s and Lulzers and that their only solution was to reciprocate with nation state tools to deny and disrupt their cabal. I think though that most of the aegis that the IC had though was the fact that they “could” do it all without any sanction against them because it was all secret and they hold the keys to all of the data. Of course now that is not the case and they should be held accountable for the actions they took just as the CIA has been or should have been in the past over say the covert action in Nicaragua. I don’t think this will happen though so what will really only come out of this revelation is more distrust of governments and a warning to Anonymous and others about their operational security.

Cyber Warfare and Law:

What this release shows though most of all is that the government is above the law because in reality there is very little real law on the books covering the 5th domain of cyberspace. As we have seen in the last few years there has been a rapid outpace of any kind of lawfare over actions taken in cyberspace either on the nation state level (think APT tit for tat) and criminal actions such as the target hack and all the carding going on. In the case of the US government the military has far outstripped the government where this is concerned with warfare units actively being formed and skills honed. All the while the government(s) has/have failed to create or edit any of the current law out there concerning cyber warfare in any consistent manner. So this leaves us with warfare capabilities and actions being carried out on a global medium that is not nation state owned but globally owned by the people. Of course this is one of the core arguments over the internet, it’s being free and a place of expression whereas corporations want to commoditize it and governments want to control it and make war with it. This all is muddled as the people really do not truly own the infrastructure corporations do and well, who controls what then without solid laws? Increasingly this is all looking more and more like a plot from Ghost in the Shell SAC with government teams carrying out covert actions against alleged terrorists and plots behind every bit passing over the fiber. The upshot though is that as yet the capacity to carry out actions against anyone the government see’s as a threat far outstrips the laws concerning those actions as being illegal just as much as the illegalities of actors like Anonymous. The current law is weak or damaged and no one has really stepped up in the US yet to fix even the CFAA in a serious way as yet.

Covert Actions, HUMINT, and SIGINT:

When I was on the panel at DEFCON I spoke of the governments and agencies likely using disinformation and other covert actions against the digital insurgency that they perceived was being levied against them. Now with the perspective of the Snowden collection it is plain to me that not only will the easily make the call to carry out actions against those they fear but also those actions are myriad. If you are going against the nation state by attacking it’s power elite or its interests expect the actions to be taken against you to be swift and unstoppable. In the case of the DDoS this was just a tit for tat disruptive attack that seemed to have worked on some. The other more subtle attacks of hacking via insertion of malware through phishing and intelligence gathering my using spiked links and leverage against providers shows how willing they were to effect their goals. Now consider all that we have learned from Snowden and conjure up how easy it is today with NSL letters and obfuscated secret court rulings on the collection of data wholesale from the internet and infrastructure.. You should be scared. Add to this the effect of the over-classification of everything and you have a rich environment for abuses against whomever they choose no matter how many in the IC say that they are to be trusted. The base fact is this; The internet is the new battlefield for war as well as espionage not just criminality and law enforcement actions. If you are considered a threat by today’s crazy standards of terrorism is everywhere, then you too can have your data held in Utah where someday someone could make a case against you. Some of that data may in fact come from direct covert actions against you by your government or law enforcement per the rules today as they stand.


The final analysis of this presentation that was leaked and the actions alleged to have been taken against Anonymous is that there is no real accountability and that secrecy is the blanket for covert action against non combatants in any war. We are in a new dystopian nightmare where cyberwar is concerned and there is a lot of fear on the governments part on attacks that could take down grids (misinformed ones really) as well as a ravening by some to be “in” on the ground level for carrying out such warfare. Without proper laws nationally and internationally as well as proper oversight there never will be an equitable solution to actions in cyberspace as either being criminal, grounds for war, or civil disobedience just as there will always be the high chance of reciprocity that far outstrips a common DoS. The crux here is that without the proper laws you as a participant of a DDoS could be sanctioned for attack and then over prosecuted for your actions as we have seen these last few years. Without a solid legal infrastructure and a Geneva Convention of sorts concerning cyber warfare, no one is safe. As an ancillary factor to this I would also say to all those in Anonymous and any other collectives that may rise you should be very careful and step up your OPSEC and technical security measures if you are going to play this game. As we have seen many of those key players in Anonymous and LulzSec were caught up with and are in legal trouble just as much as the guy who just decided to join a DoS for a minute and was fined a huge amount of money for his trouble. Remember, it’s all fun and games until the governments of the world decide that it’s not and want to squash you like a bug.


Written by Krypt3ia

2014/02/06 at 22:21

ASSESSMENT: Insider Threats, Espionage Recruitment and Psychological Profiling

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Screenshot from 2014-01-27 15:07:53

Insider Threat SNOWDEN:

The insider threat has always been and always will be the bigger of the threats or so the aphorism goes. In reality it certainly seems to be the case in the Snowden affair and the NSA is still stinging from it as I write this. Snowden leveraged his administrative access where he could and used technical and social means as well to gather the information and access he wanted to ex-filtrate out of Ft. Meade. Since Snowden was so successful and the NSA and IC has been blindsided by the ease of the attack and their stunning lack of controls the government and IC has been re-thinking their security around insider threats. Since much of today’s technology allows for ease of access and people tend to be the weakest link in the security chain (on average) the NSA is looking to more proactive controls against this type of exploit. Since they failed logically and technically to stop an insider attack I assume that they are in a real bind trying to assert control over not only the data they house but also the custodians of that data and architecture as well.

The Insider Threat Has Always Been The Largest:

Since the dawn of time the insider threat has always been a go to if possible in waging war against anyone. The Trojan Horse for example is the greatest use of the “insider” by placing outsiders inside and making the opposition the method of their own doom. Insiders though are commonly traitors or spies (sleeper or other) inserted or bought to work for the opposition to gain access inside the confines of the sanctum. In the case of hacking and digital malfeasance this often times takes the shape of an insider who feels they have been wronged in some way and either steals IP or destroys operations within a company or org to cause great damage. What has come to light though over the years and now has been brought to the fore are the psychological and social cues or traits that make a person more likely to be an insider threat.

In the case of espionage the recruitment of spies really is the tale of an insider threat. What makes someone become an asset for a service like the CIA? Within the IC (CIA) a lot of time was spent on the psychology of recruitment and handling of assets. MICE was the standard by which the CIA handled recruitment and handling up until recently when a new paradigm was put forth (RASCLS) which is much more reciprocal instead of just carrot and stick. Where all of this touches on insider threats though in the common vernacular of INFOSEC is where the motivation lies for someone’s actions. In a paper put out recently called “Inside the Mind of An Insider” the focus is on technologists and insider attacks that they have or may carry out and their personal motivations as well as proclivities to do so within the tech sector. I however would assert that this take is only a sub header within the larger umbrella of motivations and actions that an insider whether or not they are a spy or just an aggravated tech worker would have or carry out.

in the paper (cited above in picture at top) the writers lay out the “six characteristics” that coincidentally make up much of the same ideals and motivations that you will find in a recruit-able asset within the IC sphere. In fact, I would assert as well that if in fact Snowden were at all contacted by an outside security services to do what he did, these motivations would have been leveraged within him as well. What it all comes down to human nature. We are all subject to wants and desires as well as feelings of being under appreciated or not appreciated at all in our daily lives. This makes anyone potentially an insider whether they self activate or are handled by someone.

Countermeasures And Technologies:

The NSA though has been working on some technical means of detection and deterrence of an insider attack where other logical means have failed. These consist of programs that monitor behaviour patterns of users and access as well as I can only assume their outside activities such as internet access, browsing, and comments on sites. Can such programs really detect accurately the mind of a person and their motivations to lock down on them as a potential threat? I am sure that the technology is getting much better at this heuristic behaviour detection so sure but I don’t think it will be infallible however. I also suspect that it will also mark people as bad actors when in fact they may never even entertain the thought of actually carrying out some plan against the NSA or whatever company that might employ such tech. I would also assume that the people at the NSA will be undergoing more frequent and rigorous Poly sessions as well as perhaps psychological profiling which does not bode well for many I think who want to feel as though they are part of a team. Generally the job is stressful enough when you cannot talk about anything you do and are always fearing that you might slip at some point and give away information that you shouldn’t. The psychological stress of cleared life is hard and this will all just make it a little harder in the post Snowden world.


Whether you call it an “insider threat” or a spy, saboteur, or insurgent the same psychology applies. People are motivated by things that are personal to them. Desires they have for money, power, or fame as well as a myriad of other reasons for their actions. To attempt to detect and deter this activity will be quite the undertaking and hard enough in the classified world. Now imagine that you are not a cleared individual but instead an corporate employee, how are you going to feel about such activities and programs attempting to tell whether or not you might turn on the company and damage their servers? I somehow doubt that many corporations will undertake the threat modelling here for insider threats as seriously as the NSA but I can see where some might want some insight. We already have things like Websense and IDS/IPS/SIEM tech that follows traffic but with the advent of the likes of Facebook, how long will it be until they offer a service that tracks users behaviour and sells it to your security department? If companies are sufficiently worried about their insider threats then they will begin profiling and putting in countermeasures.

Welcome to the brave new world…


So here’s my thing….

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Face it.. We are all PWND six ways to Sunday

Every frigging day we hear more and more about how the NSA has been emptying our lives of privacy and subverting the laws of this land and others with their machinations. It’s true, and I have been saying as much since the day Mr. Klein came out of his telco closet and talked about how the NARUS system had been plugged into the MAE West back in the day. We are all well and truly fucked if we want any kind of privacy today kids and we all need to just sit back and think about that.

*ponder ponder ponder*

Ok, I have thought about it and I have tried to think of any way to protect myself from the encroachment of the NSA and all the big and little sisters out there. I am absolutely flummoxed to come up with any cogent means to really and truly protect my communications. Short of having access to the NSA supercloud and some cryptographers I don’t think that we will not truly have any privacy anymore. If you place it on the net, or in the air. We have reached in my opinion the very real possibility of the N-Dystopia I have talked about before in the Great Cyber Game post.

As the pundits like Schneier and others groan on and on about how the NSA is doing all of this to us all I have increasingly felt  the 5 stages of grief. I had the disbelief (ok not completely as you all know but the scope was incredible at each revelation) Then the anger came and washed over me, waves and waves of it as I saw the breadth and scope of the abuse. Soon though that anger went away and I was then feeling the bargaining phase begin. I started to bargain in my head with ideas that I could in fact create my own privacy with crypto and other OPSEC means. I thought I could just deny the government the data. I soon though began to understand that no matter what I did with the tools out there that it was likely they had already been back door’d. This came to be more than the case once the stories came out around how the NSA had been pressuring all kinds of tech companies to weaken standards or even build full back doors into their products under the guise of “National Security”

Over time the revelations have all lead to the inescapable truth that there is nothing really anyone can do to stop the nation state from mining our communications on a technological level. Once that had fully set in my mind the depression kicked in. Of late I have been more quiet online and more depressed about our current state as well as our future state with regard to surveillance and the cyberwarz. I came to the conclusion that no matter the railing and screaming I might do it would mean nothing to the rapidly approaching cyberpocalypse of our own creation arriving. ….In short, we can’t stop it and thus the last of the five stages for me has set in. I accept that there is nothing I can do, nay, nothing “we” can do to stop this short of a bloody coup on the government at large.

I now luxuriate in my apathy and were I to really care any more I would lose my fucking mind.


Speaking of losing one’s mind.. Lately people all have been yelling that OPSEC is the only way! One (the gruqq) has been touting this and all kinds of counterintelligence as the panacea for the masses on these issues. Well, why? Why should we all have to be spies to just have a little privacy in our lives huh? I mean it’s one thing to be a shithead and just share every fucking stupid idea you have on FriendFace and Tweeter but really, if you can’t shut yourself up that is your problem right? No, I speak of the every day email to your mom telling her about your health status or maybe your decision to come out etc. Why should the government have the eminent domain digitally to look at all that shit now or later?

If you take measures to protect these transactions and those measures are already compromised by the government why then should you even attempt to protect them with overburdened measures such as OPSEC huh? I mean, really if you are that worried about that shit then go talk to someone personally huh? I know, quite the defeatist attitude I have there huh? The reality is that even though I claim not to be caring about it (re: apathy above) I actually do but I realize that we no longer have privacy even if we try to create it for ourselves with technical means. If the gov wants to see your shit they will make a way to do so without your knowing about it. I fully expect someday that they will just claim eminent domain over the internet completely.

Fuck OPSEC.. I want my government to do the right thing and not try to hide all their skirting of the law by making it classified and sending me an NSL that threatens to put me in jail for breaking the law.

Fuck this shit.


Then we have the CYBERWARZ!! Oh yeah, the gubment, the military, and the private sector all have the CYBERWARZ fever. I cannot tell you how sick of that bullshit I am really. I am tired of all the hype and misdirection. Let me clear this up for you all right here and right now. THERE IS NO CYBERWAR! There is only snake oil and espionage. UNTIL such time as there is a full out kinetic war going on where systems have been destroyed or compromised just before tanks roll in or nukes hit us there is no cyberwar to speak of. There is only TALK OF cyber war.. Well more like masturbatory fantasies by the likes of Beitlich et al in reality. So back the fuck off of this shit mmkay? We do not live in the world of William Gibson and NO you are not Johnny Mnemonic ok!

Sick. And. Tired.

I really feel like that Shatner skit where he tells the Trekkies to get a life…


All that is left for us all now is the DERPOCALYPSE. This is the end state of INFOSEC to me. We are all going to be co-opted into the cyberwarz and the privacy wars and none of us have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing anything productive with our lives. Some of us are breaking things because we love it. Others are trying to protect “ALL THE THINGS” from the breakers and the people who take their ideas and technologies and begin breaking all those things. It’s a vicious cycle of derp that really has no end. It’s an ouroboros of fail.

RAGE! RAGE! AGAINST THE DYING OF THE PRIVACY! is a nice sentiment but in reality we have no way to completely stop the juggernaut of the NSA and the government kids. We are all just pawns in a larger geopolitical game and we have to accept this. If we choose not to, and many have, then I suggest you gird your loins for the inevitable kick in the balls that you will receive from the government eventually. The same applies for all those companies out there aiding the government in their quest for the panopticon or the cyberwarz. Money talks and there is so much of it in this industry now that there is little to stop it’s abuse as well.

We are well and truly fucked.

So, if you too are feeling burned out by all of this take heart gentle reader. All you need do is just not care anymore. Come, join me in the pool of acceptance. Would you care for a lotus blossom perhaps? It’s all good once you have accepted the truth that there is nothing you can do and that if you do things that might secure you then you are now more of a target. So, do nothing…



Book Review: An Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach

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CYBER CYBER CYBER! or “CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DIGITAL DOGS OD CYBER WAR!”” is often what you hear from me in a mocking tone as I scan the internet and the news for the usual cyber-douchery. Well this time kids I am actually going to review a book that for once was not full of douchery! Instead it was filled with mostly good information and aimed at people who are not necessarily versed at all in the cyberz. I personally was surprised to find myself thinking that I would approve this for a syllabus (as it has been placed into one by someone I know and asked me to read this and comment)

The book really is a primer on IW (Information Warfare) and Cyber-Warfare (for lack of a better nomenclature for it) which many of you reading my blog might be way below your desired literacy level on the subjects. However, for the novice I would happily recommend that they read the book and then spend more time using ALL of the footnotes to go and read even more on the subject to get a grasp of the complexities here. In fact, I would go as far as to say to all of you out there that IF you are teaching this subject at all then you SHOULD use this book as a starting point.

I would also like to say that I would LOVE to start a kickstarter and get this book into the hands of each and every moron in Congress and the House. I would sit there and MAKE them read it in front of me *surely watching their lips move as they do so* There are too many people in positions of power making stupid decisions about this stuff when they haven’t a single clue. I guess the same could be said about the military folks as well. We have plenty of generals who have no idea either.. That’s just one man’s opinion though.

As we move further and further down the cyber-war road I think that books like this should be mandatory reading for all military personnel as well as college level courses in not only IW/INFOSEC but also political and affairs of state majors as well. We will only continue down this road it seems and it would be best for us all if the next wave of digital natives had a real grasp of the technologies as well as the political, logical, and tactical aspects of “Cyber”

I have broken down the book into rough chapters and subject areas as it is within the book (mostly) It really does cover more of the overall issues of cyber-warfare and methods used (not overly technical) The modus operandi so to speak of the actual events that have taken place are laid out in the book and give you a picture of the evolving of IW to what we see today as “cyber-warfare” I will comment on those sections on what I thought was good and what I thought was derpy of course, I mean would you all have it any other way?


The authors cover early IW with the Russian saga’s over Georgia and Estonia. There is a lot in there that perhaps even you out there might not know about the specifics of the incidents where Russia is “alleged” to have attacked both countries at different times with different goals and effects. Much of this also touches on the ideas of proxy organizations that may or may not be state run that were a part of the action as well as a good overview of what happened.

In the case of Georgia it went kinetic and this is the first real “cyber-warfare” incident in my mind as cyber-war goes. I say this because in my mind unless there is an actual kinetic portion to the fighting there is no “war” it is instead an “action” or “espionage” so in the case of tanks rolling in on Georgia we have a warfare scenario outright that was in tandem with IW/CW actions.


Ah Chairman Meow… What book on Cyber would be complete without our friends at the MSS 3rd Directorate huh? Well in the case of this primer it gets it right. It gets across not only that China has been hacking the living shit out of us but also WHY they are doing it! The book gives a base of information (lots of footnotes and links) to ancillary documentation that will explain the nature of Chinese thought on warfare and more to the point Cyber-Warfare. The Chinese have been working this angle (The Thousand Grains of Sand etc) for a long time now and there are more than a few treatises on it for you to read after finishing this book.

The big cases are in there as well as mention of the malware used, goals of the attacks and some of the key players. If you are out to start teaching about Chinese electronic/cyber/IW then this is a good place to start. Not too heavy but it gets the point across to those who are not so up to speed on the politics, the tech, or the stratagems involved.


Anonymous, as someone on my Twitter feed was just asking me as I was writing this piece, is also a part of this picture as well. The idea of asymmetric online warfare is really embodied by these groups. The book focuses more on Lulzsec and their 50 days of sailing but it doesn’t go too in depth with the derp. Suffice to say that all of them are indeed important to cyber-warfare as we know it and may in fact be the end model for all cyber-warfare. How so? Well, how better to have plausible denyability than to get a non state group to carry out your dirty war? Hell, for that matter how about just blame them and make it look like one of their ops huh?

Oddly enough just days ago Hammond wrote a piece saying this very thing. He intoned that the FBI via Sabu were manipulating the Anon’s into going after government targets. This is not beyond comprehension especially for places like China as well. So this is something to pay attention to. However, this book really did not take that issue on and I really wished that they had. Perhaps in the next updated edition guys?


OY VEY, the “GRID” this is one of the most derpy subjects usually in the media as well as the books/talks/material on cyber-warfare out there. In this case though I will allow what they wrote stand as a “so so” because they make no real claim to an actual apocalypse. Instead the book talks about the possible scenarios of how one could attack the grid. This book makes no claim that it would work but it is something to think about especially if you have an army of trained squirrels with routers strapped to their backs.

It is my belief that the system is too complex to have a systematic fail of apocalypse proportions and it always has been so. If the book talked about maybe creating a series of EMP devices placed at strategic high volume transformers then I would say they’d be on to something. However, that said, the use of a topological attack model was a good one from a logical perspective. They base most of this off of the Chinese grad students paper back years ago so your mileage may vary. So on this chapter I give it a 40% derp.


All in all I would have liked to have seen more in the political area concerning different countries thought patterns on IW/CW but hey, what can ya do eh? Additionally I think more could have been done on the ideas of offense vs. defense. Today I see a lot of derp around how the US has a GREAT OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY! Which for me and many of you out there I assume, leads me to the logical thought conclusion of “GREAT! We are totally offensive but our defense SUCKS!” So much for CYBER-MAD huh?

I would have also like to have seen more in the way of some game theory involved in the book as well concerning cyber-warfare. Some thought experiments would be helpful to lay out the problems within actually carrying out cyber-war as well as potential outcomes from doing so more along the lines of what I saw in the Global Cyber-Game.


Well, in the end I think it is a good start point for people to use this in their syllabus for teaching IW/CW today. It is a primer though and I would love to see not only this end up on the list but also the Global Cyber Game as well to round out the ideas here. To me it is more about “should we do this?” as opposed to “LETS FUCKING DO THIS!” as the effects of doing so are not necessarily known. Much of this territory is new and all too much of it is hyped up to the point of utter nonsense. This is the biggest problem we have though, this nonsense level with regard to the leaders of the land not knowing anything about it and then voting on things.

We need a more informed populace as well as government and I think this book would be a good start. So to the person who asked me to review this..

Put it in the syllabus!


The Global Cyber Game

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The Global Cyber Game:

I had been meaning to write about this before when I had originally read the text but things got in the way as usual (work, more work, some more work after that, Defcon/Bsides) Now though I am in a space where I can reflect back on this paper and write about it here for you all to see. The Defence Academy (UK) put this together to describe how we might approach “cyberwar” on the level of game play or game theory. They constructed a board and began to set to the task of creating game play and tactics given certain scenarios in the cyber world. (see image of game board below) You can actually play this game if you create a board from this design and work within the rules of game theory but this is not why I find this treatise so important.


What I find most interesting is the actual scenario’s that play out within the game play as well as the end game status that the paper puts it all down to in the end of N-Utopia and N-Dystopia. As one can gather from the inherent meaning of the words, N-Utopia means that we all work out our problems globally and work on bettering society (which in the Nash equations is the best play) or we end up with N-Dystopia, a Balkanization of the net, and warfare that scales all levels up to kinetic and will be the death of us all. Can you guess where I think we are right now on the N-scale? Yes, you’d be right to lean toward the N-Dystopia area. In fact I would even like to see that idea rendered in a new way with an older iconography, that being the Doomsday Clock analogy. Perhaps someone can take that up online and create one for the cyebrwarz eh?

Power Dimensions:

What must be taken into account in the great cyber game is that all of this is centered around power plays. The use of information as power, the use of information to effect actions vis a vis “power” and the varying types of power that are being wielded by the players. This paper covers this idea pretty well and should be required reading for anyone looking to study cyber-warfare along side Clausewitz and other more well known pieces of doctrine. Some however may already be familiar with the ideas of hard and soft power but let’s take that into the electronic warfare arena which is a bit harder to scope today.

  • Hard power
    • Overt threats and rewards
    • Kinetic action
    • Coercion
  • Soft power
    • Cooperation
    • Co-Option

Both of these types of dynamic play off of one another and work in tandem. There actually is a whole spectrum of power plays that can be derived from these basic premises but I will not go into all that here. To date I have seen an abundance of hard power tactics being employed on the game board and I fear that that seems to be what the governments of the world have locked on to as their aegis. I would love for more to try the soft power tactics and methods but I am too much of a realist to hope that it will ever really happen.

The game play today that we are all seeing unfold before us is the hard power of Stuxnet or the ramping up of every piece of malware and 0day conceivable being purchased by the US government or others in an effort to be superior when the battle comes. That is though when they are not using those said same exploits in the darker games of realpolitik that they are prosecuting now. As I see it now we are hurtling towards a massive cyberfail of our own making and the real cost of the bad play will be economies around the world and other collateral damage that may not be an apocalypse as we currently understand them to be.

The power dimensions portion of this paper is quite enlightening and you should broaden the scope of how those plays are made with information and the internet. One must understand the playing field as well as the weapon you wield. This is the main problem I have of late is that all too many people and governments are not understanding the game play, the field of play, nor the tools they are using (pieces) well enough to play the game well. This makes not only for bad play, but in this game there are real world consequences for us all when some government or actor does something immensely stupid.

Cyber Games Today:

So what are we seeing today that has me worried? Well, we have the cybergames with Stuxnet and other malware to start. I liken the release of Stuxnet as skin to the release of a biotoxin or virus that eventually will be re-worked or manipulated into a more fearsome weapon. These are not one use tools, they are in fact re-usable and re-tune-able. Once these things are out there is no controlling them and with the idea of Stuxnet you have something that was used against one target but could affect hundreds more in friendly countries if they had the same configuration.

Another cybergame being played today is the new surveillance state that we find ourselves in. It seems in the case of the US we have people who are interpreting our Constitution to suit their needs under the rubric of protecting the homeland. This cybergame is all about information and the power dimension of controlling it. I have been watching this Snowden affair unfold and frankly I am frightened of the capabilities that the NSA has but I am much more scared that they claim that they are protecting us while a Snowden subverts the very systems they are saying cannot be misused. This particular cybergame when looked at, show’s all of the hard and soft power dimensions at play with the media and the law. This should also be brought into the cyber game play as well.

Yet another cybergame going on is within the public/private sector and I call the “Patriot Games” What I mean by this is that we have non state actors playing rolls of asymmetric warriors online to effect whatever change they see fit. A certain un-named clown for one is a primary actor in this space and really started the trend in my opinion. The cybergamers here are vigilantes nothing more and nothing less and may or may not have an effect on the grander scheme of things on the net and in public policy. For the most part however, these players are on the hard power end of the spectrum and thus just mostly come off as thugs.

Lastly, the cybergame that seems to be the one with the most chance of playing in the larger space is that of Anonymous. Anonymous has been able to leverage many players into semi cogent action and could in the future have a real effect on policy and other dimensions within the cybergame play. The only reason that I place Anon into this game is because of that mobilizing force that they seem to carry. If motivated and able to be cohesive enough this group could affect the greater games being played and have on a microcosmic scale thus far in recent history.

In all, the games that are being played, and they are games, all serve as a means to an end for those paying attention to understand and perhaps help those in the seat of power how not to play the game at all. Our petty squabbling on the internet is just that. The reality is that the net is important and much of our lives today require it to run smoothly but if the net were to go down permanently our society would not utterly collapse. We would survive and we would re-build. The question then becomes would we have learned from it and do things better the next time around?

Cyber-Utopia and Cyber-Dystopia:

The idea of Cyber-Utopia is a far fetched one in my mind and probably many others out there. This would be a great thing if we could make it happen but given the petty nature of our.. well nature.. We will only see this ideal wash up on the rocks and sink into the ocean rather quickly. In the Cyber-Utopia we all work together, we cooperate, and we work towards a better day. … And I just don’t see this happening barring some kind of alien intervention frankly.

Cyber-Dystopia though I am afraid is already the case in many respects. We are seeing an almost Balkanization of the internet today as it is never mind the games being played in reality with Stuxnet and cyberwar. If the N-Dystopia comes to pass we will find ourselves at war with each other constantly in a “cyberworld” much like the episode of STOS “A Taste of Armageddon”  where all warfare is carried out via computer simulations and only the casualties report to be disintegrated as a means to balance it all out. Today though we will see attacks on economies as well as infrastructures to effect “war” (economic, political, or other) on our enemies and the real world costs will have to be measured in profit loss or perhaps even actual loss of human life.

The cyber-dystopia though is more than just an outcome of war. It is the outcome from our own inabilities to work with each other and our ability to rationalize warfare through a non apocalyptic destruction of life. It will be a tit for tat war of attrition that will not lead to any clear victories and certainly not elevate our societies in any way and that is the sad truth of it. Ladies and gents we are already in the dystopia. We just may not understand that yet.

Understand the game:

So, I leave you with the paper: The Global Cyber Game pull it down and read it. Learn from it, play the game if you like, and spend some time thinking about it all. We are on the cusp of another evolution in our society that we have seen repeated in every other evolution we have had. We create something, then we weaponize it. Perhaps if more of us understand it and the pitfalls we can prevent the N-Dystopia from becoming any worse.