Archive for the ‘INTEL’ Category
See Robert Redford at the top of the page? He’s playing a character who was an intelligence analyst who read books for the CIA. He came back from getting lunch for his co-workers and found them all dead, killed by a rogue CIA operation that hired an outside freelance assassin to kill them all and cover up rogue operations. This is fiction, and YOU are not him. So please everyone just calm the fuck down about the Wikileaks Vault7 dump ok?
RIGHT! Well Wikileaks has done it again and released a dump of CIA exploits this time around. There are quite a few little gems in there and the hue and cry by the genpop has been idiotic as usual. My personal favorite was the epic fuckery around how the New York Times chose to say that some of the exploits “bypassed” the encryption of programs like Signal which sent many an INFOSEC twitter account into a tizzy over “OMG IT ISN’T A BYPASS!” which, by the way, FUCKING CUT THAT SHIT OUT YOU SELF IMPORTANT FUCKWITS! The point of the statement is true, if the software in the Vault7 dump is used on someone’s phone then the CIA is BYPASSING the encryption altogether. For that matter they are bypassing the application altogether! So stop with the self important I AM A GOD DAMNED IMPORTANT PENTESTER AND THE SEMANTICS OF THE HERE ARTICLE ARE WRONG ERMEGERD!
The point of it all is that these tools, if used against you (until they are mitigated by patching and fixes to OS’) will make any precautions you take on those devices moot ok? Arguing over the semantics of it all is just fucking stupid posturing and if you expect the average person to understand what you are saying, then you are delusional ok? Oh, and if you think that the average person is the target of these attacks, yep, you once again are delusional. Specifically, if you are a US person CONUS and you are just the average Joe the plummer, you are NOT the target of the CIA.
Sorry.. I know it hurts your self image but it’s fucking true.
Get over yourselves.
Ok, so that rant is over, now let’s move on to other things about this dump. There’s a lot of techical stuff that will make the wonks masturbate for quite a long time and that’s to be expected. However, I would like to talk about a few other side loaded things happening that you should think about. First off, let’s talk about the dump itself and who dumped it. It seems from what I am seeing Assange saying, is that the dump was given to Wikileaks by an insider who wanted to open up discussion over the pervasive nature of these kinds of exploits against common and deeply penetrated systems in our collective lives. By this I mean cell phones, TV’s and other IOT devices. Now most of the stuff in the dump looks to be from 2012 up to nearly 2016 so it is older in respect to 0day and hacking exploits in many ways. Since they were secret though and they took a lot of time to make sure there were bypasses as well as ways to hide their presence, the CIA’s stuff is still old from a certain standpoint. Within the community one has to offer up the idea that not everything stays secret and those services that cover assets that the CIA might want to bug also have people who spend their time looking for such software right? What I am saying is who knows what has been working well and undetected and what has been detected by a foreign power and counteracted or allowed to use as a means of disinformation. Take that into consideration when you read the dump. Sure the common man here in the world may not know about this stuff and it will blow their minds but in the IC maybe not ok?
Now let’s consider how long this data has been in the hands of Wikileaks and who may have had it before. This stuff may have been in the community at large for a long time. The CIA may have shared this tech with FIVE EYES in some cases but if you look at the headers much of it was NOFORN (No Foreign Persons) so let’s just assume it was inside Langley. If the data was common there, when did it get leaked originally? Who had it in the interim? This goes back to the paragraph above too. If the exploits were working, now we have to wonder if they were being fed bad data by them from an aware adversary (this will play a key fact in the дезинформация part of this post later) given when we think the data was stolen and leaked. The fact of the matter is this, brass tacks I don’t believe a word Assange says from his balcony at Hacienda Ecuador and my money is that this was not leaked by a CIA employee just because they had a change of heart. I personally believe that whoever leaked it is an asset of a foreign power and that power just might be Russia.
Which brings me to the issue of the quick disinformation spin up by what looks to be Russian trolls and bots on Twitter and elsewhere over this last dump. The narratives that are starting to spin up are aiming this data directly at Democrats (including Hillary) and are aimed to cause more friction within the country and our politics. Gee, who lately has been doing that I wonder? The Daily Beast had a good report on this and I agree with Rob that this has spun up way too quickly and too much cohesion to allow for it not to have been in the pipeline before the dump. My meaning is that as we have seen in the recent past with the hack on the DNC and active measures on our electoral system, the Russians have a useful idiot in Assange and the Wikileaks organization. Assange has been another lackey of Putin like Trump and in fact it is quite possible that the leaked data came from Russia by way of an asset inside the CIA. Which then makes the inevitability of a Russian mole hunt at Langley a very large possibility. I bet the polygraphers are all warming up their electrodes as I write this in Virginia.
So, while all you INFOSEC nerds wank off to the sploits just remember these salient points.
- There’s a bigger more subtle game going on here
- YOU are not that important so just take this stuff and work on how to fix it
- Take a beat and remember YOU ARE NOT THAT IMPORTANT
- The CIA is not charter to work within the USA these exploits were targeted at other countries. Just look at FINE DINING for case officers
- Consider what exploits other countries have and are being used that you don’t know about
- PENTESTERS ARE NOT FUCKING JAMES BOND. FOR FUCKS SAKE JAMES BOND IS NOT JAMES BOND!
Look at the bigger picture.
With all of the crazed tweets over the weekend from 45 I thought it would be appropriate to acquaint my readers with the notion of the “Wilderness of Mirrors” as James Jesus Angleton put it. Angleton is famous for his paranoia and his actions during the time he was chief of counter intelligence at the CIA from 1954-1975. Today we are in an unprecedented time of national intrigue with our very nations political system at stake with the issues surrounding the hack of the DNC, the manipulation of the US election process, and now the allegations and insinuations that the Trump campaign may have colluded with Russia. All of these things now fall under the auspices of Counter Intelligence in that there are actors within our government that may be compromised and have either been witting or unwitting accomplices to a foreign powers manipulation of our national transition of power. What’s more, these same individuals may in fact be assets of that foreign power while they are in the power within the White House and elsewhere within the new administration.
Take a breath there and contemplate that statement.
We potentially have reached what I personally thought was only a movie plot line as a reality today. There are actual reasons to question whether or not the President of the US today may be a witting or unwitting asset of the Russian state. There may be reason to believe that the minions of the new President may also be assets of the Russian state, and to even make it worse we have seen a litany of lies and half truths given by these people and their dissembling has been caught by the Fourth Estate and held accountable for them. While there is no smoking gun yet, there is a lot to parse out with every mornings headlines in the Times and other papers of record but I would like to lift the curtain a little for you on the counterintel side for you. If you are gonna play this game at home you need a primer on counter intelligence and the ‘Wilderness of Mirrors’
When Angleton made the comment on the wilderness of mirrors he was referring to his own deep paranoia and the nature of counter intel. You have spies upon spies that you must determine who they work for in reality. As the chief of counter intelligence it was Angleton’s job to assume that assets and agents within his own organization were in fact double agents or even triple agents. It was Angleton’s job to seek the truth of what his officers were telling him from intelligence reports and what their assets were saying in a time when the great game was at it’s highest point with the USSR. In essence, and this was his personality anyway, he had to assume at all times there was compromise within his organization and to determine who those assets that were doubles were and were working for in reality.
Now, in the current situation we are going through with 45 and the Russian efforts to destabilize the United States there is no internal mole hunt that we have heard about within the halls of the CIA but, there is a counter intelligence operation going on at least at the FBI concerning all the players we are hearing about in the news and likely other names we have not heard. The current players you know are;
- Paul Manafort (Worked for Yanukovich/Had affairs/Money troubles/Access to slush funds)
- Trump (No tax retturns/business with Russia/Love of Putin)
- Jeff Sessions (Lied about meeting Russian Ambassador twice at least)
- Michael Flynn (Lied about talking to Russian ambassador to Pence and everyone else)
- Carter Page (Business with Russia and seems disposed to them)
- Jared Kushner (Revelations of meeting with Russian ambassador with Sessions)
- Roger Stone (May have handed over DNC emails to Wikileaks physically)
- Un-named others TBD
There are likely more to be named as we go along but you get the gist. The people in the inner circle of the current presidents campaign and those he then added to his administration all seem to have had regular contact with the Russian government pre election and post. Not only are they talking to Russian emissaries but according to the IC, they are talking to Russian intelligence officers. This is not a good thing even if they were unwitting assets of the Russian intelligence apparatus. To lie about these contacts only makes the problem worse for the state and places more suspicion on them all, which leads to the wilderness of mirrors that the fourth estate is amplifying with the reporting (which they should be doing) on the leaks that are coming out of the IC. Leaks mind you to my mind, are a means to an end to get the word out because if they did not, the admin would attempt to bury them forever. To wit, we have agents of foreign powers and people within the admin who are all lying about their connections and discussions. This is a counter intelligence operation and a mole hunt potentially. Do we believe the people who have been sources of the Steele notes? Or do we think that maybe they are telling tales to muddy the waters even more? Since some of these people seem to be dying conveniently are they being killed off by Putin for talking and telling the truth or are they just being killed to muddy the waters some more?
This is how you have to approach this. No one is telling the truth and you have to discern what the truth of it all really is. Who do you believe?
We are in the wilderness of mirrors kids. Look at the news and try to parse out what is truth and what is fiction. It makes it even worse when there are factions out there like Alex Jones and the SVR that would like you to believe wild stories and disinformation campaigns set out to further their own agendas. All of this then, in a completely inconceivable twist today is re-tweeted by the president of this country who often does so as a diversion (one hopes) or actually believes these things (much worse for he may be mentally deranged) which unbalances us all. We are now all in Angleton’s shoes trying to determine what is truth today and this is one of the most destabilizing things happening today to the United States populace and government. I want you all to understand this as you watch or read the news with these revelations. Specifically now that we have reached peak crazy with Trump saying that the former President ordered a FISA warrant on himself and the campaign in 2016. There are many issues here to consider and if in fact the IC had intel that the candidate and his minions were in fact in touch with Russian intelligence ‘constantly’ then what actions would the IC and the president have at their command to take up to determine if this was in fact true?
The recent accusation by the current president may be complete lunacy and the product of his own reading or watching conspiracy sites, or, it may have some basis in fact. In that there may not have been a FISA warrant but instead foreign friendly intelligence agencies, monitoring not only Russia but by their outside mandate, the current president and his people’s conversations “might” have some telling information. Maybe they in fact got the conversations and there was no smoking gun but instead the conversations looked suspect and more digging was required. Perhaps then, some group like the FIVE EYES passed along this information and it is still being worked by the IC here in the US?
‘Wilderness of Mirrors” kids.
I grow more and more weary of the attribution games being played in INFOSEC and the DNC hack is just another in a cavalcade of epic missing the point parades. Since the “scoop” given to WaPo by Crowdstrike, there has been a flurry of allegations, revelations, and throwing of attribution dice akin to a basement game of Magic The Gathering repleate with summoning!
“I summon the Russian GRU!”
“I summon the LONE ACTOR!”
“I summon the KGB!”
*slaps down cards on table* TAKE THAT!
The reality here is that there are more than a few games going on here. Think about it, Crowdstrike gets a media coup by selling this story to WaPo, who just happens to have been banned by the Orange Julius of our time, presidential candidate Donald Trump! WaPo jumps on this like a child on a fresh tit and runs with the attribution story and sets the world on fire for Donny boy with the release that the DNC not only was hacked but that his dirty laundry may be in the hands of Kommisar Putin!
So, first let’s set aside the whole issue of marketing, which is akin for me, to choking on a hairball left from that chick in “Ringu” and move on to the veracity of the attribution as well as the real need to name and shame here. I for one can believe that the two nation state actors software and activities were found by Crowdstrike on the DNC systems. The fact that there are two disparate groups from the same nation state is interesting in itself. I guess they are not really talking to each other and given the state of affairs there in Russia I can see this as being a true accounting. However, I can also see my way to there being third, fourth, fith, sixtieth actors also in the network or having had been in the past as well. Face it, these are government systems who usually go to the lowest bidder right? This was likely the Diagon Alley of Democratic networks.
So, to say that it was only these two actors might be a stretch. There is room for doubt and after the dump by “Guccifer2” as they are calling themselves, it is easier to think that perhaps there is more to the story than what we have been given by the media, the DNC, and Crowdstrike. That the documents are legit on the wordpress site by Gucci and that they seem to be pretty well stamped down on metadata, one can’t make too many assumptions.. Oh, yeah, but everyone is! At the end of the day for me, even though I will play the game a little bit below the fold here, the real issues should be how the hackers did it, and fixing the behaviors of the DNC to stop it from happening for a year or two at a time in the future. Not so much pointing at Russia and yelling; “YOU TOOK OUR SHIT! BAD POOTY! BAD!”
Put another way… I eagerly await the FBI warrants and 10 most wanted cyber listings for the Russian actors they have all this attribution on … I suspect I will be waiting the rest of my life for that one kids… Just sayin. This was mostly about marketing as far as I am concerned and I have to give them props for working that one. Sales must be up in the government area now because of this caper right?
Metadata and Cyrillic:
Meanwhile, after the WaPo story hit the wires the “lone hacker” created his wordpress site and dropped dox as we say on the intertubes. Shortly after the drop people were inspecting, detecting, infecting, and making circles and arrows with captions on the back to describe what you were seeing! … And the conspiracy theory machine went into overdrive. Pwnallthethings made some good comments on the metadata in the dropped dox but really, concluding that this is a Russian disinformation operation from metadata stripped documents on the idea that the machine name was cyrillic for Felix Dzerzhinsky (Феликс Эдмундович) Really? Now that is fucking SOLID work man! Stellar! FUCK LET’S GO BOMB RUSSIA NOW!
You know at least Crowdstrike has like actual data, ya know, C2’s, malware, and shit like that. Anything else is totally speculative, I mean even more speculative than most attribution that these companies make with real data! Anyway, I took a look at the metadata on the documents and here is what I have found…
- Much of the data was stamped out in saving from format to format
- Emails of users though were still embedded in the excel files
- The word docs have no more metadata than the Iron Felix machine name save, which, gee, kinda leads one to wonder…
- The image files have no metadata.. none.. niente clean.
- Grizzli777 is just someone who pirates
Yep, not a lot to see there and people are hanging their collective hats on the deliberate placement of Феликс Эдмундович as the machine name to it’s quite OBVIOUSLY being Mother Russia’s exclusive secret services.
*squint.. takes drag of cigarette*
So here’s my assessment…. Maybe Russia did it… OR Maybe this actor is the real thing and happens to want to take credit. The facts that this person(s) reads, writes, has, cyrillic on their machine and names it after the founder of the KGB is as reliable a means to saying it was Russia as it is to say that aliens built the pyramid because people just were fucking too stupid back then!
All of this hoo ha really means nothing. The fact of the matter is that now Donny’s dirty dirt is open source!
Wait.. I read it.. What the shit people? REALLY? THAT’S ALL YOU HAD HILLARY? COME ON!
It doesn’t matter who did it really.. Horse is out of the barn and the barn is on fire kids. So please, stop with all the wankery and move on to the next hack ok?
Motivation Analysis and Hypothesis
RIGHT! Well now I want to play the attribution/motivation/game of clue too! So here goes…
Imagine if you will that Russia did do it. Imagine also that Gucci2 is still Russia’s services performing a disinfo campain against Crowdstrike. Now imagine why would they be doing that? Why would they drop Donny’s dox AND all the other fun stuff for the Clinton campaign, which is in trouble already over the cybers! What effects would this have? Let’s list it out for you…
- Dropped dox of the dirt —-> Blows all Hill had on him unless there is a double secret probation file somewhere
- Dropped dox yet to be releast on Wikileaks —> Let’s say, as Gucci2 alluded, they were also in Hill’s mail server, ya know, the one that wasn’t supposed to be? Oh yeah…
- If that server was popped by the Russians and Gucci1 those criminal charges could be much more deleterious right? *waves at FBI*
- Dropping of dox and general hackery causes DNC and the election process to be even more fractious than it already is
- Dropping dox makes Hill’s candidacy potentially weaker (hint hint server –> Russians–>PWN wink wink nudge nudge!
So all those effects would do what possibly? Why would they want to do this? WHO WOULD WANT A TRUMP PRESIDENCY?????
Why Pooty of course!
Think about it kids. Given your knowledge of Teeny Tiny Baby Hands Trump, do you think he could stand up to a bearish Putin? *sorry had to use that one* Do you think that perhaps Donald is easily.. Shall we say.. Distracted or led? Come on, I know you can all reason this out. A Trump presidency would be sweet sweet love for Putin. He would have a friend, and someone he can sit on his knee to play ventriloquist with! … Well, until he has to polonium enema him that is.
That’s my theory and I am sticking with it… For all the fucks that it is worth.
I will say though.. I am waiting on those documents to show up in Wikileaks. That’s when the shit is really gonna hit the fan.
See you all in INFOSEC attribution Hell.
THE SNOWDEN AFFAIR:
Since the revelations began and the man without a country odyssey started all of our lives have changed at a fundamental level regarding our digital and private lives. The now million plus document trove is being parsed out by Glen Greenwald and others for the public to get a look into the inner workings of the state surveillance apparatus much to the consternation of the IC as well as the government and the dismay of the public. However you look upon Mr. Snowden and his choice you have to admit that the information does lend an insight into the great potential for abuse of the apparatus that the NSA has put together no matter what they may tell you they are doing or not doing to protect us. You see the point is no matter what alleged safeguards and altruism may lie within the apparatus and it’s employees it’s still ripe for abuse that will never see the light of day because it’s all classified and codified by the government. This is the point of the exercise as I see it from Mr. Snowden’s point of view and the aegis behind his doing what he did. Of course from day one darker minds would make assertions that there were darker geopolitical machinations at play and this was all just a dastardly plan to destroy us as a country. Of course as the passion play played out it was first China, the go to country for all our woe’s of late (APT etc) but as time wore on and Snowden found a perch in Russia, it’s now “clear” to some in the government that the plot was in fact Russian all along.
Mike Rogers has been the bell ringer on the idea that Snowden from the get go was in fact a handled and groomed asset by a foreign power. His most recent bellowing without any real evidence is that Snowden was in fact an asset for Russia from the start and furthermore that all of this was done to damage the US and seek primacy once again on the international stage. Of course as I mentioned already Mike cannot offer any evidence and he alludes to “secrecy” of the data but in reality until you have proof that you can emphatically state and present the people it’s all just wild speculation and a form of conspiracy or propaganda in and of itself. While it is possible that Snowden was from the start an asset of the
KGB FSB, the evidence thus far for motive, methods, and follow through are somewhat thin and I cannot go on the record as thinking he was handled from the start by Russia or any other nation state. The fact that Snowden ended up in Russia at Sheremetyevo may in fact be because of the machinations of Assange and Wikileaks brokering the deal to get him there and then to get him allowed into the country not as a plan all along. There is more evidence to say that this is in fact the case then there is of any KGB FSB actions.
Using the paradigm of “Occam’s Razor” here let’s run through the possibilities on whether or not the claims being made by Mike Rogers and others out there that this was a carefully planned operation that cultivated Ed Snowden to become the largest leaker in history.
- Ed Snowden is a naive individual who became through a sequence of events, an administrator within the IC networks and began to see things he thought were illegal and immoral
- He used his knowledge of hacking and technologies to accumulate data through his own administrative access and social engineering
- Once he saw the data he decided to leak all that he could and after seeing what happened to Manning made a plan to go to a country that in all the spy novels is easy to infiltrate and ex-filtrate out of
- The NSA itself had poor OPSEC and threats from insiders were poorly covered thus making this possible (proven to be the case)
- The NSA could not even keep track of internal access and exploitation (proven to be the case)
- He contacted the press and was turned down by some until he met Greenwald and Poitras who then planned with him how to release the data and to firewall Snowden off
- While in HK it became clear he could not stay there once the NSA/USA/UKUSA and other apparatus began working in the background to extradite him
- Poitras, Greenwald, and then Wikileaks ex-filtrated Snowden out of HK and to Russia where a brokered interim solution of the airport no mans zone was at least possible
- Snowden is a prize for the
KGBFSB after the fact from not only an intelligence perspective but also a political one that thumbs its nose at the US (a win win for Putin)
- Edward Snowden was a carefully orchestrated long term asset by the
KGBFSB trained by them to infiltrate the NSA and then use his domain admin/root access to steal them blind, exploiting their logical and technical vulnerabilities who they then ex-filtrated to HK and to Russia as a smoke screen for their own operational cover
- Snowden was handled by
KGBFSB for years while coming up the ranks as an UN-credentialed cleared individual clearly taking advantage of the US’ lax clearance and oversight process post 9/11
- Snowden was in contact with Russia from the start and is a consummate operator perhaps even a cleverly created cutout sleeper agent
- Once gathering all the data Snowden then passed it to Russia for them to digest and then leak to the world to cover their own operations and shame the US
- Snowden is now a hero of the state in Russia and will get a hero’s treatment with access to all that Russia can offer in the post Soviet Oligarchy (inclusive Anna Chapman visits)
Hmmm is it just me or does the razor only really cut one way?
My take on the whole affair is that Snowden was not a paid/cultivated/handled asset of the
KGB FSB nor do I think that he was aided in any way by Russia in carrying out this leak/exploit. What I do think is that he is naive but also that what he was seeing, what we are all now seeing today in the news made him feel that the accumulation of power in a central secret body was anathema to freedom and the American ethos. As we have seen in the news there have been many things that the government has allowed, even shall we say promulgated, that are clearly violations of the US Constitution no matter the inveigling that might occur by those in power as to it’s legality. So I for one can see why someone like Snowden might do what they did outside of their own propensities for spy novels and a sense of right and wrong.
The realities are that no matter the attestations by those running the programs and their need to use them, there is always a chance of their abuse and subsequent burial of the facts through classifications and National Security letters as we have seen these last years. Were egregious abuses happening and are they still today? I am sure there are some, after all this is nothing new and all you need do to confirm that is Google “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or look just to recent history with the Plame Affair to see how abuses can and have happened. So is it really outside the pale for someone with a conscience and perhaps an overactive imagination to think that great wrongs are being committed in all our names? I think that while there may have been no abuses “may” I also think that the capacity for abuse and the infrastructure to hide them is easily seen within the current architecture of the IC apparatus of the NSA and their programs. After all, if you want to ask about the idea that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, I ask you to tell me just exactly how you feel every time you go through a TSA checkpoint at the airport today.
Finally, I would also like to touch on the idea that the governments own hubris and now embarrassment is firing the boilers on this whole blame game that Snowden is in fact a handled asset of the Russians. I think that the NSA/USGOV and IC community feel the sting of their inadequacies as they have been laid bare for all to see. You see, Snowden did not carry out some 3l33t hacking here to gather the data. He used common techniques and vulnerabilities within the NSA and other government IC bodies to steal data and put them all on a USB stick and then walk out with them. It’s a simple trick and the top of that list is actually just socially engineering people for their passwords within the confines of the most secretive and secret IC shops in the world. Now that has to sting a bit wouldn’t you agree? So there is shame all around here on the part of the government and it puts them all in a weak position tactically. The reactions of all those at play seems to be more along the lines of dialogue from a playground spat rather than state or spycraft and it’s sad really. As the immortal words of GW Bush can attest;
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”
To me, it seems that Snowden just did what he did because of a myriad reasons that also include a certain amount of self aggrandizement. However, I can point to things in our own history and to popular media that may explain why someone might do something like this on the grounds that they think it’s illegal, immoral, and against the tenets of the USA. While POTUS is right about how important these types of programs can be in the war on terror and the every day intelligence gathering that every country needs to survive, it should also be possible to have some level of oversight to disallow for abuses of power to happen and happen with great frequency due to over classification. These are fundamental changes that should occur but the reality is that the very nature of the work being done and the culture within it’s halls will stoip any real progress being made. In the end nothing will change and the NSA will continue to collect all the data it can like a giant hoover-matic for later sorting and use.
Having grown up in the era of Nixon though, and other revelations like Iran Contra, I for one not only know that these things will continue to happen but that they have in the past and should be in our collective consciousness. Unfortunately many do not remember and the only entree into such ideas may in fact be cinema… I leave you with this scene from “Three Day’s Of The Condor”
Not everything in cinema is just fantasy…
“scr hrw lgihr kzpzz cwl nci pjwt”
IJPFRH CPAGP EIIL!
CYBER CYBER CYBER!
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?
IW (INFORMATION WARFARE) RUSSIA
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.
OUR CHINESE OVERLORDS
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..
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Some of you out there may be shocked and dismayed that the NSA and the FBI as well as other “customers” in the IC world have been collecting vast amounts of data from sources like Verizon (telco) and Google (internet) sources. Others already knew this but perhaps did not understand the sheer scope of the hoovering that has been going on. Myself, well I have had an inkling since I read the manuals for the NARUS STA-6400 system back in 2003 I think it was. That system was the progenitor of what we are seeing now within not only PRISM but other as yet to be named projects. Suffice to say though that we are well and completely surveilled and we have ourselves to blame really. We elected these people into positions of power and we also have not taken enough steps to insure that our elected government is being ethical, moral, and legal in their actions.
These programs have been ongoing for some time now and it seems now they have become monsters that some even within the vast machine have decided are too big and too scary for the government to have control over without the public’s knowledge. Whoever leaked this information must have reached much the same conclusions that we all are now post the leaks that the government wields a set of tools that it should not be using without the approval of the governed who’s rights they are “encroaching” upon and for this I laud them. It is my personal feeling that the government and the LE as well as IC community have overstepped their bounds in this driftnet surveillance behemoth that they have built in the name of anti-terrorism. It is also my opinion that the number of plots allegedly broken up before going into action does not outweigh the constitutional rights that they are contravening to uncover and stop them.
Since the revelations on the wiretapping, metadata, and now internet content slurping we all have seen the reaction of the IC and the administration in response to them. What we have seen thus far has been a set of carefully worded speeches and ameliorating press releases hoping to quell our distrust in our leaders and these constitutionally questionable programs. The height of this for me was President Obama’s press meeting to address the issues where he uses language that basically says “ok yes you are right, your rights are being encroached upon but the benefits of this program outweigh your rights” This was a telling for me as the implication here is that the president, who is in fact alleged to be a constitutional scholar knows and admits that these programs are infringing on our fourth amendment right to privacy.
So what we have here is an administration that has not only carried on the programs and ideals of the previous piteously poor one but gone as far as to expand them for our “greater good” all the while increasing the classification of everything to protect their bad decisions from the public they claim to be protecting. This all may well have been done with good intentions but as “we the people” see it after the fact it comes off as overreach and Orwellian to say the least. In my world view having the power to do something is one thing if you have a sunlight policy that allows for some transparency but all of this is covered in a cloak of secrecy under the rubric that it is to protect us all from terrorism. While I can understand the need for operational security in anti-terrorism and intelligence work I cannot say that this data mining in the way it is being carried out outweighs the fundamental right to privacy that the Fourth Amendment affords all citizens. Furthermore all of the alleged oversight and controls that are in place over these programs may be best intentions but this is not to say that the programs cannot be abused or end run around by those in the chain of command to their own ends. Remember that it was Nixon who ordered the taps of enemies including the NSA as a means to that end until J. Edgar Hoover, out of a feeling of losing his own power, stopped the NSA by threatening to out the president and the program. So there is a history here to be cognizant of and that history is basically the aphorism; “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
No matter the equivocations or couched and secretively worded explanations that this is all for “our good” the people have a right to reserve judgement as well as demand accounting on what is being done in their name by their duly elected government. The problems though for me are that all too many times the choices are classified, national security letters used to quash any resistance, and oversight by the people prevented with rhetoric over the greater good and this is wrong. The governed need to have a say in this and the government is not allowing that by classification and word play. Games of word semantics may be fun if it were just a game but when it comes to programs like PRISM it’s all really just sleight of hand and NLP to allow the government to do what it wants to, the most expedient thing, to protect the homeland (another nice NLP there by the way) from terror. I guess the question then becomes could this activity be carried out in a better and more transparent way that would still work against terrorism?
Look we know that communications are being watched. The terrorists know it too and have used tradecraft to protect their actions in the past. It’s really just common sense, so really do we need to keep it all a secret that we are collecting information? For that matter, do we need to really collect everything and sift through it to find that needle in the haystack as the press has been going on about? As I remember it the players have pretty much been known quantities even after the advent of the internet and the FISA court was a good tool in keeping the government on the straight and narrow with regard to taps and surveillance. In fact the FISA was set up to prevent another Nixon like abuse of the system. Now though it seems like the technology has outstripped the ability of a court like FISA to really watchdog the watchers and has become more of a lapdog than a pitbull. Remember that the FISA court was being end run quite a bit during the Bush administration because it held them up in their eyes. What then happened was the Patriot act and other mechanisms to make it easier for the LE’s and IC’s to just get what they wanted without a warrant, something we came to know as “warrantless wiretapping” or “roaming taps” where the FBI and others could just start surveillance without a warrant for up to 72 hours. It all began there really and down the primrose path we all went.
Frankly the Congress in my eyes went along with all of this because of a couple reasons. The first reason was fear. The second reason was fear of not being re-elected. Both of these reasons are no good and completely spineless. What has happened is that we went from a country of checks and balances to a country with few of either because you can’t check or balance that which has been classified as secret can you? Of course I also blame the populace as well for not being engaged in their governance as well but in cases like this it is much more about things being done in secret and not about us being disinterested. The telling thing will be what happens from here. Will the populace demand some sort of accountability? Will there be a groundswell of support for measures to insure the government is not abusing this power they have in collecting all this data? Or will we all go back to sleep collectively and settle in to watch Survivor and probe our navels? Things will remain status quo unless the populace speaks up and does something about it and if they do not it is my opinion that we will keep sinking further into a surveillance state.
Anger is what we need now and it is anger we should be feeling over all of these revelations this past week. I want you all out there to take a long look back at our country’s actions and laws since 9/11 and think. Do you really want to be represented to the world by the actions of total information awareness and prevarications by John Yoo that torture is acceptable as a common practice? Do you really trust that the government, law enforcement, and the IC’s will not overstep even more and abuse the system in place today for their own needs? Finally, do you really think that your government and those within it are that altruistic as to be all shining versions of Mr. Smith? I really don’t believe that you all think that that is the case so why would you just lay there and allow all this to go on without at least some kind of sunlight policy allowing the governed to know what the government is doing in their name or more to the point to the governed?
As for me well, I am just a dark bastard as some have called me. You might read this and think well that’s just him, but, I implore you all out there to take a step back and look at our history and the nature of human nature and then decide. I think you will all come to the same conclusion that this is the wrong path to be on. No matter how many times the players may tell you that the game is played fairly and for your protection ask yourselves and them to tell you how many times it has foiled a plot and saved us from ruin. If they say “well we can’t because it’s classified” then I want you to see them in a pair of plaid pants and white belt with matching shoes trying to sell you a car …because that is what they are doing.
Get angry and demand some transparency. Keep your eye on them because in fact you cannot trust them. Given the power to do what they like they will do so especially if there are no repercussions as it’s all classified. Alternatively though and in reality all you can do today is use encryption and take care with your communications if you do not want Uncle Sam and his pals to know about them. As I see it now they have a complete backdoor into everything and people start to use more encryption I would expect crypto to become a munition again….
But that’s just the dark bastard in me I guess…
gedh gedh gedh gedh gedh gedh
OMG THE DAM DATA!
Last week a report came out on Wired about how the ACE (Army Corps of Engineers) database was hacked by China and “sensitive” dam data was taken.. By China, let that sink in for a bit as there was no real attribution data in the story. Anyway, aside from the BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA headlines I had to wonder just how hard it was for these “Chinese” hackers to get in and steal the all important super secret DAM data. Given the nature of this type of site and the groups involved in generating, managing, and *cough* protecting it, I had a feeling that it would be rather easy to get the information without having to be uberleet. Sure enough a quick Google Fu session showed me how easy it was to just bypass the login and password scheme as a proof of concept. You can see from the picture at the top of the page that you can just download what you like there (16 meg on dams alone) just by clicking a link on Google and then the link on the page that is not supposed to be served out without authentication.
*I feel so secure now*
So yeah, there you have it and I still cannot understand how the media types paid no attention to my attempts to make them aware of this little factoid. See, here’s the thing kids, I didn’t go any further. Nor did I download the 16 meg file because, well, no one else wants to be Aaron Swartz right? I am sure they could even try to squash my nuts over this post alone but hey, I am sick of the bullshit stories of China hacking our shit when in reality all one need do is GOOGLE the information. This is not to say that this information here is the SAME information that was allegedly stolen by China, but it is a PROOF OF CONCEPT that the site, EVEN TODAY is still insecure and leaking information without authentication!! (yes above pic was taken today via a tor node) So, when I stopped there one has to continue to wonder if you looked further and enumerated more of the site by directory walk could you in fact get even more access?
Feel the derp burn…
Meanwhile back in the hallowed halls of Congress and the Pentagon we have reports coming out in pdf that China is hacking our shit to gain a better “war footing” by taking such data as what this story is all about. DAMS COULD BE BLOWN! WATER COULD LEAK! LIVES LOST! yadda yadda yadda. If you were to take it seriously then one would think that SECOPS demands that this data would be classified and protected per classification. Obviously it wasn’t given the access that you see above as well as the alleged password issue that the hack was allegedly predicated on in the Wired article. But I digress.. I am meaning to talk about China… Yes, so the DOD puts out a report that is subtly saying that no longer are the Chinese only looking to steal IP but now they are looking for ways to stalemate us in war.
NO WAY! Like we aren’t doing the same thing everywhere else as well? Derp! Look, it’s only natural that they would be doing so and their doctrine says as much. Just go take a read of their doctrine on all things cybery and you will see that the domination of the infoscape is really important to them. We have only been paying attention for a little while now and we have catching up to do! Alas though, not all roads lead to China so really, I would love to see some attribution on this alleged hack on the dam data when one, once again, could just GOOGLE that shit up. As they say on the internets.. “Pictures or it didn’t happen!”
So here we are again. Our cybers are FAIL and the news media perpetuates more FAIL with their non depth articles on the problem. Maybe China stole some dam data. BIG WHOOP. The real story is that the site that it came from and the people watching it are not paying attention to the cyberz. Their clue phone is broken! They do not know how to “Internet” and it is just another derpy hype cycle in the media that allows China to be blamed for our own stupidity. I swear somewhere there is a Chinese guy laughing like Chumley rolling on the ground over this.
Smell our own fail kids… And weep.