Krypt3ia

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

Archive for the ‘Panopticon’ Category

From John Yoo and Torture to Warrantless Searches of Papers and Effects: Welcome To The Panopticon

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“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Recently, a story has come up in the news concerning certain police departments (Michigan to be precise) have been taking more or less “forensic” images of people’s cell phones and other PDA devices when they have them stopped for traffic violations. Since the reports went live, the Michigan PD has sent out a rebuttal saying that they are in fact asking the citizen if they can scan their data. I say, whether or not they actively are doing it or not, they have the ability to do so per the courts since the loosening of the laws on search and seizure in places like California and Michigan where electronic media is concerned. The net effect is that our due process rights are being eroded in an ever rapid pace.

From Dailytech.com

I. Police Seize Citizens’ Smartphones

In January 2011, California’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that police could conduct warrantless inspections of suspects’ cell phones.  According to the majority decision, when a person is taken into police custody, they lose privacy rights to anything they’re carrying on them.

The ruling describes, “this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee’s body … but also to open and examine what they find.”

In a dissenting ruling, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar stated, “[The ruling allows police] to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or hand-held computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee’s person.”

But California was not alone.  Michigan State Police officers have been using a device called Cellebrite UFED Physical Pro for the last couple years.  The device scrapes off everything stored on the phone — GPS geotag data, media (pictures, videos, music, etc.), text messages, emails, call history, and more.

Michigan State Police have been reportedly regularly been scraping the phones of people they pull over.

In neighboring Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court has ruled that while such searches are generally illegal, their evidence can become admissible in court if the police demonstrate an exigency (a press need) for the information.

Essentially this ruling offers support for such searches as it indicates that they can give solid evidence and ostensibly offers no repercussions to law enforcement officials conducting the officially “illegal” procedure.

So far the only state to have a high profile ruling against the practice was Ohio.  The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that warrant-less smart phone searching violated suspects’ rights.  The requested the U.S. Supreme Court review the issue, but the request was denied.

II. What Does the Constitution Say?

The United States Constitution ostensibly is the most important government document in the U.S.  It guarantees essential rights to the citizens of the U.S.

Some of those rights are specified in the Fourth Amendment, part of the original Bill of Rights.  It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Constitution explicitly states that effects of a person cannot be unreasonably seized without a warrant.

Of course courts must play the vital role of defining what a “reasonable” search is.  But by extending the limits of searches to deem nearly all searches “reasonable”, no matter how tenuous the connection to a suspects detainment, this and several other decisions have created an erosion of the protections in the amendment.

Essentially what court rulings in California, Michigan, and Wisconsin indicate is that the courts believe the Constitution is no longer valid, or that certain Constitutional freedoms can be specially selected for elimination.

The law and our losing the path :

The legal battle over the terms here has come down to the nature of papers and effects where they regard digital media as I understand it. I sat in on the EFF talk at Shmoocon where this very topic was brought up. It seems, that the gray areas of just what is a laptop or a phone as opposed to a “cabinet or desk” is a key factor in how some interpret the legalities of searching someone’s hard drive or phone. In my opinion, they are the same thing. A laptop is a case in which my data is stored, just like a desk or a room, which, you MUST get a warrant to search.

But, that’s just me I guess.

Personally, as the title of this post alludes, I believe that all of this started as soon as John Yoo and the Bush administration began to twist the laws concerning not only torture, but moreover, the use of warrant-less wiretaps. Post 9/11 the US went mad for tapping of phones/data at the trunk level in such instances like the one in the MAE West where they put in the NARUS STA6400. This was the biggie for me because that system hoovers ALL of the traffic, there is no selectivity over it at all. Sure the STA6400 can sift the data, but it needs ALL of the data in order to sift and data-mine. Who’s to say what data becomes important other than those who are running the compartmentalised program that has to report nothing to anyone because it is too secret.

What allowed for all of this to happen and then for the over-reaching to continue was 9/11 itself. Having been in NYC at the towers just before the attacks and working there just after in the hole, I know how many felt after it all went down. We here in the US had only had a handful of terrorist attacks within our borders and those were nothing in comparison to what took place on that day.

We all felt vulnerable and wanted the government to take care of us. We wanted vengeance, and we wanted a take charge guy.

Unfortunately that “guy” was GW Bush and his posse of cowboys who then began to run rough shod over the constitution and other documents like the Geneva conventions. It was from this need to be protected that the American people just went along with the things they knew about, as well as a healthy dose of over classification by the Bush administration that kept us in the dark as to what they really were doing. It was only later, toward the end of the second term that the full scope of abuses were coming out, and yet, the American populace really did nothing. Sure, we elected Obama who made promises to end the nightmare of abuse… But.. He hasn’t has he?

So, here we are in 2011. Ten years post 9/11, and we are finding our rights being eroded by legal positions and decisions that remove the most basic and cherished rights to reasonable searches slipping away.

Who’s to blame?

Us.

We the people have failed to keep in check the actions of the government and in some cases the courts because we have taken our collective hand off the tiller steering this country. Perhaps we really have no hand on that tiller to start simply because we have created a beast that is too big to control or have any sway over. By just looking at the state of affairs today within the political arena, one has to admit that its becoming more and more akin to what it used to be back in the days of Boss Tweed than anything looking like the era of J.F.K.

Simply put, without the people standing up and calling a foul on these types of erosions to liberty, then we have nothing to complain about when the liberties are taken away. On that list is the rights granted to us all by the fourth amendment. The tough thing now though is that where once your personal belongings were either in your house or on your person. Now, those “papers and effects” live digitally not only on your device that you have on you, but also may exist “in the cloud” as well. A cloud that you “use” and is not “owned” by you.

So sure, a cop could ask you if they can look at your phone data. Do they have to say that they are taking an “alleged” forensic image? Perhaps not, but, the thing about the whole Michigan PD thing is that independent reports have shown that they were not asking, they were just taking images when they felt they wanted to, and this is where they run afoul of due process. As far as I am concerned, a file on a phone that is not on the screen as a cop looks at it while it sits in front of him in plain view, is NOT a document that he should just have the right to fish for without a warrant.

Sorry cops… It’s a country of laws, no matter how you try to spin them so you can cut corners.

On the other hand, I know how hard it must be for the police forces of the world to do their jobs now in a digital world. Especially one that so few really understand and likely fear. These magic boxes called phones and computers now hold data that could easily make a case for crimes, but, you just can’t take them and rummage through them just like anything else where due process is concerned. What’s more, I know for a fact that unless you are a forensic investigator, AND you have a decent tool, YOU WILL MISS DATA. Which will lead potentially to acquittal because you did not follow processes such as chain of custody in E-Discovery.

For some though, I am sure it’s just about cutting a corner to make a collar… And that is not how the law is supposed to work.

Our complicity in our own privacy erosion:

Meanwhile, in the last few days another spate of news articles warned about how the iOS and Android systems were collecting data on our movements and details. This particular story is not new if you have been paying attention, it was just the aggregate amount of data that we saw being collected by the iOS particularly that shocked the general populace. For these people I have news for you;

This data and even more have been collected on you all for every service that you sign up for on the Internet. Every phone call you make, every text you send, every picture you upload. All of it is available to someone else who has access to the data.

It’s not private.

YOU have been giving away your personal data every minute of every day that you upload or pass through the telco/Internet systems.

So, even if laws are being subverted on personal searches, your data can and will be taken from the likes of Twitter and other services, perhaps even through NSL letters to those hosts and you will be none the wiser. For every post you put up on Facebook with all of your personal details, not only are you sharing that data with your “friends” but the company and whoever they want to sell it to as well.

The privacy you think you have.. Doesn’t exist.

In the case of the iOS data, no one knew about it from a customer perspective, but I am sure that there was some small print somewhere in the EULA when you bought the phone that allows Apple to collect the data… Not that they have to tell you they are doing it in big letters or clear language. So, that data too is not completely yours any more once you have agreed to their agreement to use/own the phone.

The short and long of it is that we are giving up our right to privacy for shiny toys and a sense of security that we can never really have.

In the end, the data that the iOS collects has yet to be proven to be sent to the Apple mother ship. Apple to date, has made no statement on the collection of the data nor the reasons for doing so. One can assume though, that they have some sort of location based software solution that they want to sell down the road and really, it’s caveat emptor. I am just glad that the security community likes to tinker and found this stuff, bringing it to light.

We are all to blame.

Unless we all take up the battle against the loss of privacy then we have none. Just as well, unless we speak truth to power and stop the erosion of rights to privacy within our body of laws, then we have nothing to complain about. We will have done it to ourselves.

K.

Anonymous #HQ: Inside The Anonymous Secret War Room

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John Cook and Adrian Chen — Dissident members of the internet hacktivist group Anonymous, tired of what they call the mob’s “unpatriotic” ways, have provided law enforcement with chat logs of the group’s leadership planning crimes, as well as what they say are key members’ identities. They also gave them to us.

The chat logs, which cover several days in February immediately after the group hacked into internet security firm HBGary’s e-mail accounts, offer a fascinating look inside the hivemind’s organization and culture.

  • Sabu
  • Kayla
  • Laurelai,
  • Avunit,
  • Entropy,
  • Topiary,
  • Tflow
  • Marduk
  • Metric
  • A5h3r4

So, Hubris/A5h3r4/Metric have broken into the inner circle of at least one cell of Anonymous. I say cell because I do not think that these users are the actual full scale leaders of Anonymous, instead, as I have said before, there are cell’s of Anon’s that perform operations sporadically. These folks, if the chat transcripts are true, are the ones just behind the HBGary hack and at least one of them, with the Gawker hack.

Once again, I will reiterate here that I think Anonymous is more like a splinter cell operation than anything else. There is an aegis from the whole as an idea, but, they break off into packs for their personal attacks, or whatever turns them on. They coalesce into a unit when they feel moved to, but, they do not overall, just get together and act without direction on the part or parts of leaders.

The example below of the transcripts for #HQ show that these characters though, are a little high on themselves after the hack on HBG… And you know what happens when you don’t pay attention to the hubris factor. You get cocky and you get burned. As you can see below, some of them are at least nervous about being popped or infiltrated.. Those would be the smart ones…

04:44 <&Sabu> who the fuck wrote that doc
04:45 <&Sabu> remove that shit from existence
04:45 <&Sabu> first off there is no hierachy or leadership, and thus an operations manual is not needed

[snip]

04:46 <&Sabu> shit like this is where the feds will get american anons on rico act abuse and other organized crime laws
04:47 <@Laurelai> yeah well you could have done 100 times more effective shit with HBgary
04:47 <@Laurelai> gratted what we got was good
04:47 <&Sabu> if you’re so fucking talented why didn’t you root them yourselves?
04:47 <@Laurelai> but it could have been done alot better
04:47 <&Sabu> also we had a time restraint
04:48 <&Sabu> and as far as I know, considering I’m the one that did the op, I rooted their boxes, cracked their hashes, owned their emails and social engineered their admins in hours
04:48 <&Sabu> your manual is irrelevent.

[snip]

04:51 <&Sabu> ok who authored this ridiculous “OPERATIONS” doc?
04:51 <@Laurelai> look the guideline isnt for you
04:51 <&Sabu> because I’m about to start owning nigg3rs
04:51 <&marduk> authorized???
04:52 <@Laurelai> its just an idea to kick around
04:52 <@Laurelai> start talking
04:52 <&Sabu> for who? the feds?
04:52 <&marduk> its not any official doc, it is something that Laurelai wrote up.. and it is for.. others
04:52 <&marduk> on anonops
04:52 <&Sabu> rofl
04:52 <@Laurelai> just idea
04:52 <@Laurelai> ideas
04:52 <&Sabu> man
04:52 <&marduk> at least that is how i understand it
04:52 <@Laurelai> to talk over
04:53 <&Sabu> le sigh
04:53 <&marduk> mmmm why are we so in a bad mood?
04:53 <&Sabu> my nigga look at that doc
04:53 <&Sabu> and how ridiculous it is

[snip]

04:54 <&marduk> look, i think it was made with good intentions. and it is nothing you need to follow, if you dont like it, it is your good right
04:55 <&Sabu> no fuck that. its docs like this that WHEN LEAKED makes us look like an ORGANIZED CRIME ORGANIZATION

My observations though have always been that the groups would be infiltrated by someone and then outed. It seems that this may indeed be the case here if the data is indeed real. It seems to me that a certain j35t3r said much the same before, that he could and did indeed infiltrate the ranks, and had their data. Perhaps J has something to do with this? Perhaps not… Still, the principle is sound.

  1. Infiltrate
  2. Gather INTEL
  3. Create maps of connections
  4. Report

It would seem also that these guys are liminally aware of the fact that their actions can be seen as a conspiracy and that the government will not only get them on hacks potentially, but also use the conspiracy angle to effectively hogtie them in court. Let me tell you kids, there is no perfect hack… Well unless the target is so inept as to have absolutely no logging and does not even know for a very long time that they had been compromised.. Then the likelihood of being found out is slimmer, but, you guys popped and then outed HBG pretty darn quick.

I am willing to bet there are breadcrumbs.. And, those said breadcrumbs are being looked at by folks at some three letter agencies as I write this. You see kids, you pissed in the wrong pool when it comes to vindictiveness. I agree that HBG was up to bad shit and needed to be stopped, but, look at the types of things they were planning. Do you really think that they are above retaliation in other ways than just legal? After all, they were setting up their own digital plumbers division here huh?

Anyway… Just sayin…

Back on topic here with the Backtrace folks and the logs. I have looked at the screen names given and have come to the conclusion that they are all generic enough that I could not get a real lock on anything with Maltego. I had some interesting things pop up when you link them all together, but, overall not enough to do anything meaningful. The other issue is that Maltego, like any tool using search engines and data points, became clogged with new relational data from the articles going wide. I hate it when the data is muddied because of this.

So, yeah, these names are not unique enough to give solid hits. Others though who have been re-using nicks online as well as within the confines of Anonops, well that is another story. I just have this feeling that there are larger drift nets out there now hoovering all you say and do on those anon sites, even if they are in the .eu space. I still have to wonder if any of those IRC servers have been compromised yet by certain intelligence agencies.

One wonders too if China might also be playing in this area… How better to sow discontent and destabilize than to use a proxy like Anonymous for operations?

For that matter.. How about the CIA?

NSA?

Think on it… Wouldn’t Anonymous make a perfect false flag cover operation?

For now, I am going to sit and watch. I would like to see the full chat transcripts though. Now that would be interesting.

“May you live in interesting times”

Indeed.

K.

SPOOK COUNTRY 2011: HBGary, Palantir, and the CIRC

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The establishment of a Corporate Information

Reconnaissance Cell (CIRC) will provide Hunton &

Williams LLP with a full spectrum capability set to

collect, analyze, and affect adversarial entities and

networks of interest.

From: Team Themis pdf


CIRC: The New Private Intelligence Wing of (insert company name here)

The HBGary debacle is widening and the players are beginning to jump ship each day. The HBGary mother company is disavowing Aaron Barr and HBGary Federal today via twitter and press releases. However, if you look at the email spool that was leaked, you can see that they could have put a stop to Aaron’s game but failed to put the hammer down. I personally think that they all saw the risk, but they also saw the dollar signs, which in the end won the day.

What Aaron and HBGary/Palantir/Berico were offering was a new kind of intelligence gathering unit or “cell” as they called it in the pdf they shopped to Hunton & Williams LLP. Now, the idea and practice of private intelligence gathering has been around for a very long time, however, the stakes are changing today in the digital world. In the case of Hunton, they were looking for help at the behest of the likes of Bank of America to fight off Wikileaks… And when I say fight them off, it would seem more in the sense of an anything goes just short of “wet works” operations by what I see in the spool which is quite telling.

You see, Wikileaks has made claims that they have a certain 5 gig of data that belonged to a CEO of a bank. Suddenly BofA is all set to have Hunton work with the likes of Aaron Barr on a black project to combat Wikileaks. I guess the cat is out of the bag then isn’t it on just who’s data that is on that alleged hard drive huh? It would seem that someone lost an unencrypted drive or, someone inside the company had had enough and leaked the data to Wikileaks. Will we ever really know I wonder?

Either way, Barr et al, were ready to offer a new offering to Hunton and BofA, an intelligence red cell that could use the best of new technologies against Anonymous and Wikileaks. Now, the document says nothing about Anonymous nor Wikileaks, but the email spool does. This was the intent of the pitch and it was the desire of Hunton and BofA to make both Anonymous and Wikileaks go away, for surely if Wikileaks were attacked Anonymous would be the de facto response would they not?

A long time ago William Gibson predicted this kind of war of attrition online. His dystopian world included private intelligence firms as well as lone hackers out there “DataCowboy’s” running the gamut of corporate intelligence operations to outright theft of Pharma-Kombinat data. It seems that his prescient writings are coming into shape today as a reality in a way. With the advent of what Barr and company wanted to offer, they would be that new “cowboy” or digital Yakuza that would rid clients of pesky digital and real world problems through online investigation and manipulation.

In short, Hunton would have their very own C4I cell within their corporate walls to set against any problem they saw fit. Not only this, but had this sale been a go, then perhaps this would be a standard offering to every other company who could afford it. Can you imagine the bulk of corporations out tehre having their own internal intelligence and dirty tricks wings? Nixon, EH Hunt, and Liddy would all be proud. Though, Nixon and the plumbers would have LOVED to have the technology that Aaron has today, had they had it, they may in fact have been able to pull off that little black bag job on Democratic HQ without ever having to have stepped inside the Watergate

The Technology:

I previously wrote about the technology and methods that Aaron wanted to use/develop and what he was attempting to use on Anonymous as a group as the test case. The technology is based on frequency analysis, link connections, social networking, and a bit of manual investigation. However, it seemed to Aaron, that the bulk of the work would be on the technology side linking people together without really doing the grunt work. The grunt work would be actually conducting analysis of connections and the people who have made them. Their reasons for connections being really left out of the picture as well as the chance that many people within the mass lemming hoards of Anonymous are just click happy clueless folks.

Nor did Aaron take into account the use of the same technologies out there to obfuscate identities and connections by those people who are capable, to completely elude his system altogether. These core people that he was looking to connect together as Anonymous, if indeed he is right, are tech savvy and certainly would take precautions. So, how is it that he thinks he will be able to use macroverse data to define a micro-verse problem? I am steadily coming to the conclusion that perhaps he was not looking to use that data to winnow it down to a few. Instead, through the emails, I believe he was just going to aggregate data from the clueless LOIC users and leverage that by giving the Feds easy pickings to investigate, arrest, and hopefully put the pressure on the core of Anonymous.

There was talk in the emails of using pressure points on people like the financial supporters of Wikileaks. This backs up the statement above because if people are using digital means to support Wikileaks or Anonymous they leave an easy enough trail to follow and aggregate. Those who are friending Facebook support pages for either entity and use real or pseudo real information consistently, you can easily track them. Eventually, you will get their real identities by sifting the data over time using a tool like Palantir, or for that matter Maltego.

The ANONYMOUS names file

This however, does not work on those who are net and security savvy.. AKA hackers. Aaron was too quick to make assumptions that the core of Anonymous weren’t indeed smart enough to cover their tracks and he paid the price as we have seen.

The upshot here and extending what I have said before.. A fool with a tool.. Is still a fool.

What is coming out though more each day, is that not only was Aaron and HBGary Fed offering Palantir, but they were also offering the potential for 0day technologies as a means to gather intelligence from those targets as well as use against them in various ways. This is one of the scarier things to come out of the emails. Here we have a company that is creating 0day for use by intelligence and government that is now potentially offering it to private corporations.

Truly, it’s black Ice… Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of their 0day offerings wasn’t already called that.

The INFOSEC Community, HBGary, and Spook Country:

Since my last post was put on Infosecisland, I had some heated comments from folks who, like those commenting on the Ligattleaks events, have begun moralizing about right and wrong. Their perception is that this whole HBGary is an Infosec community issue, and in reality it isn’t. The Infosec community is just what the shortened name means, (information security) You all in the community are there to protect the data of the client. When you cross the line into intelligence gathering you go from a farily clear black and white, to a world of grays.

HBGary crossed into the gray areas long ago when they started the Fed practice and began working with the likes of the NSA/DOD/CIA etc. What the infosec community has to learn is that now the true nature of cyberwar is not just shutting down the grid and trying to destroy a country, but it also is the “Thousand Grains of Sand” approach to not only spying, but warfare in general. Information is the currency today as it ever was, it just so happens now that it is easier to get that information digitally by hacking into something as opposed to hiring a spy.

So, all of you CISSP’s out there fighting the good fight to make your company actually have policies and procedures, well, you also have to contend with the idea that you are now at war. It’s no longer just about the kiddies taking credit cards. It’s now about the Yakuza, the Russian Mob, and governments looking to steal your data or your access. Welcome to the new world of “spook country”

There is no black and white. There is only gray now.

The Morals:

And so it was, that I was getting lambasted on infosecisland for commenting that I could not really blame Anonymous for their actions completely against HBGary/Aaron. Know what? I still can’t really blame them. As an entity, Anonymous has fought the good fight on many occasions and increasingly they have been a part of the mix where the domino’s are finally falling all over the Middle East presently. Certain factions of the hacker community as well have been assisting when the comms in these countries have been stifled by the local repressive governments and dictators in an effort to control what the outside world see’s as well as its own people inside.

It is my belief that Anonymous does have its bad elements, but, given what I know and what I have seen, so does every group or government. Take a look at our own countries past with regard to the Middle East and the CIA’s machinations there. Instead of fighting for a truly democratic ideal, they have instead sided with the strong man in hopes of someday making that transition to a free society, but in the meantime, we have a malleable player in the region, like Mubarak.

So far, I don’t see Anonymous doing this. So, in my world of gray, until such time as Anonymous does something so unconscionable that it requires their destruction, I say let it ride. For those of your out there saying they are doing it for the power and their own ends, I point you in the direction of our government and say this; “Pot —> Kettle —> Black” Everyone does everything whether it be a single person or a government body out of a desired outcome for themselves. Its a simple fact.

Conlcusion:

We truly live in interesting times as the Chinese would curse us with. Today the technology and the creative ways to use it are outstripping the governments in ability to keep things secret. In the case of Anonymous and HBGary, we have seen just how far the company was willing to go to subvert the laws to effect the ends of their clients. The same can be said about the machinations of the government and the military in their ends. However, one has to look at those ends and the means to get them and judge just was it out of bounds. In the case of the Barr incident, we are seeing that true intelligence techniques of disinformation, psyops, and dirty tricks were on the table for a private company to use against private citizens throughout the globe.

The truth is that this has always been an offering… Just this time the technologies are different and more prevalent.

If you are online, and you do not take precautions to insure your privacy, then you lose. This is even more true today in the US as we see more and more bills and laws allowing the government and police to audit everything you do without the benefit of warrants and or by use of National Security Letters.

The only privacy you truly have, is that which you make for yourself. Keep your wits about you.

K.

HB Gary: Hubris, Bad Science, Poor Operational Methodology, and The HIVE MIND

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Algorithms, Social Networks, and COMINT:

When I had heard that HB Gary had been popped and their spool file was on PB I thought that it was unfortunate for them as a fairly well known company. Once the stories started coming out though with the emails being published online, I began to re-think it all. It seems that Aaron Barr really fucked the pooch on this whole thing. He primarily did so due to his own hubris, and for this I cannot fault Anonymous for their actions (within reason) in breaking HB Gary and Barr’s digital spine.

It seems that Barr was labouring not only a flawed theory on tracking social networks, but also in that he planned on selling such a theory and application to the government. One notion was bad, and the other was worse. First off though, lets cover the science shall we? Barr wanted to track users on social networks and show connections that would lead to further data on the users. The extension that he was trying to make was obtaining actual real names, locations and affiliations from disparate sources (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, IRC, etc) While this type of data gathering has been done in the past, it has not usually been culled from multiple sources automatically electronically and then strung together to form a coherent pattern. In short, Barr was wanting to create software/scripts to just scrape content, and then try to connect the dots based on statistics to tie people to an entity like Anonymous. The problem, and what Barr seemed to not comprehend, is that the Internet is a stochastic system, and as such it is impossible to do what he wanted with any kind of accuracy. At least in the way he wanted to do it, you see, it takes some investigation skills to make the connections that a scripted process cannot.

This can be seen directly from the article snippet below where the programmer calls Barr on his flawed logic in what he was doing and wanted to do.

From “How one man tracked down Anonymous and paid a heavy price

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Throughout Barr’s research, though, the coder he worked with worried about the relevance of what was being revealed. Barr talked up the superiority of his “analysis” work, but doubts remained. An email exchange between the two on January 19 is instructive:

Barr: [I want to] check a persons friends list against the people that have liked or joined a particular group.

Coder: No it won’t. It will tell you how mindless their friends are at clicking stupid shit that comes up on a friends page. especially when they first join facebook.

Barr: What? Yes it will. I am running throug analysis on the anonymous group right now and it definately would.

Coder: You keep assuming you’re right, and basing that assumption off of guilt by association.

Barr: Noooo….its about probabilty based on frequency…c’mon ur way smarter at math than me.

Coder: Right, which is why i know your numbers are too small to draw the conclusion but you don’t want to accept it. Your probability based on frequency right now is a gut feeling. Gut feelings are usually wrong.

Barr: [redacted]

Coder: [some information redacted] Yeah, your gut feelings are awesome! Plus, scientifically proven that gut feelings are wrong by real scientist types.

Barr: [some information redacted] On the gut feeling thing…dude I don’t just go by gut feeling…I spend hours doing analysis and come to conclusions that I know can be automated…so put the taco down and get to work!

Coder: I’m not doubting that you’re doing analysis. I’m doubting that statistically that analysis has any mathematical weight to back it. I put it at less than .1% chance that it’s right. You’re still working off of the idea that the data is accurate. mmmm…..taco!

Aaron, I have news for you, the coder was right! Let the man eat his taco in peace! For God’s sake you were hanging your hat completely on scrape data from disparate social networks to tie people together within a deliberately anonymous body of individuals! Of course one could say that this is not an impossible feat, but, one would also say that it would take much more than just gathering statistical data of logins and postings, it would take some contextual investigation too. This was something Barr was not carrying out.

I actually know something about this type of activity as you all may know. I do perform scraping, but, without real context to understand the data (i.e. understanding the users, their goals, their MO, etc) then you really have no basis to predict what they are going to do or really their true affiliations. In the case of jihadi’s they often are congregating on php boards, so you can easily gather their patterns of friendship or communications just by the postings alone. Now, trying to tie these together with posts on other boards, unless the users use the same nick or email address, is nearly impossible.

Just how Aaron Barr was proposing to do this and get real usable data is beyond comprehension. It was thus that the data he did produce, and then leak to the press enraged Anonymous, who then hacked HB Gary and leaked the data in full claiming that none of the data was correct. Either way, Aaron got his clock cleaned not only from the hack (which now claims to have been partially a social engineering attack on the company) but also from the perspective of his faulty methodologies to harvest this data being published to the world by Anonymous.

OSINT, Counter-Intelligence, and Social Engineering:

The real ways to gather the intelligence on people like Anonymous’ core group is to infiltrate them. Aaron tried this at first, but failed to actually be convincing at it. The Anon’s caught on quickly to him and outed him with relish, they in fact used this as an advantage, spurring on their own efforts to engineer the hack on HB Gary. Without the right kind of mindset or training, one cannot easily insert themselves in a group like this and successfully pull of the role of mole or double agent.

In the case of Anonymous though, it is not impossible to pull this off. It would take time and patience. Patience it seems that Aaron Barr lacked as much as he did on scientific and mathematical method where this whole expedition was concerned. Where his method could have been successful would have only come from the insertion of an agent provocateur into the core group to gather intel and report back those connections. Without that, the process which Aaron was trying would have yielded some data, but to sift through it all with interviews by the FBI and other agencies would have become ponderous and useless in the end.

It is my belief that there is a core group of Anon’s as I have said before. Simply from a C&C structure, there has to be an operational core in order for there to be cohesion. This can be seen in any hive structure like bees, there are drones, and there is a queen. A simple infrastructure that works efficiently, and in the case of anon, I believe it is much the same. So, were one looking to infiltrate this core, they would have a bit of a time doing so, but, it could be done. Take out the core, and you take out the operational ability of the unit as a whole to be completely effective. To do this though, one should be able to understand and apply the precepts of counter intelligence warfare, something Barr failed to grasp.

In the end.. It bit him pretty hard in the ass because he was in a hurry to go to press and to sell the ideas to the military industrial complex. Funny though, the real boys and girls of the spook world would have likely told him the same thing I am saying here… No sale.

Oh well… Arron Icarus Barr flew too close to the anonymous sun on wings made from faulty mathematical designs and burned up on re-entry.

K.

Adrian Lamo: From Homeless Hacker to Lamer?

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From the Sacramento Bee

On Thursday afternoon, Adrian Lamo sat quietly in the corner of a Starbucks inside the Carmichael Safeway, tapping on a laptop that requires his thumbprint to turn on and answering his cell phone.

The first call, he said, came from an FBI agent asking about a death threat Lamo had received.

The second was from a Domino’s pizza outlet. One of his many new enemies had left his name and number on a phony order.

The third was from Army counterintelligence, he said.

In other circumstances, it might be easy to dismiss his claims.

He is an unassuming 29-year-old who lives with his parents on a dead-end street in Carmichael and was recently released from a mental ward, where he was held briefly until doctors discovered his odd behavior stemmed from Asperger’s syndrome.

On Thursday, he was dressed in black. A rumpled sport coat covered his bone-thin frame, and a Phillips-head screw pierced his left earlobe – a real screw, not an ear stud made to look like one.

He spoke slowly and methodically, sounding almost drunk, a side effect of medication he takes to treat Asperger’s, anxiety and his rapid heartbeat.

But Lamo is the most famous computer hacker in the world at the moment, the subject of national security debates and international controversy – and a target of scorn in the hacker community that once celebrated him.

He first gained notoriety in 2003, when he was charged with hacking into the New York Times computer system, essentially just to prove he could.

“I just wanted to see what their network was like,” he said. “It was going to be the Washington Post, but I got distracted by a banner ad.”

He has re-emerged in the spotlight following his decision last month to tell federal agents he had reason to believe an Army private in Iraq was leaking classified information. He said the information was going to WikiLeaks.org, a website based in Sweden that publishes information about governments and corporations submitted by anonymous individuals.

The soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst who was stationed near Baghdad, is reportedly being held by the Army in Kuwait while the case is investigated.

Lamo said Manning contacted him online after reading a profile of him on wired.com, which first reported Manning’s arrest and Lamo’s involvement last Sunday. Manning, he said, bragged about leaking classified military information to WikiLeaks, including the so-called “Collateral Murder” video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians in 2007. That video appeared on WikiLeaks in April.

Lamo said Manning also claimed to have leaked other materials to the website, including 260,000 U.S. classified diplomatic cables.

“I couldn’t just not do anything, knowing lives were in danger,” Lamo said. “It’s classified information, and when you play Russian roulette, how do you know there’s not a bullet in the next chamber?”

Full article HERE

Adrian Lamo, a name that in the hacker community for a while, was a zeitgeist for the altruism of hacking in the original sense. He popped into systems and networks with only a web browser and told the companies he had compromised in an effort to secure them. Frankly, the recent diagnosis of Aspergers makes a lot of sense to me and likely to others who have met him or know of him by watching him. He has an interesting personality that borders on the strange and Aspergers may well explain his focus on such minutiae as he has shown up with in his hacks.

With the events of late regarding his turning in the alleged source for Wikileaks, there has been a fair bit of loathing on the part of the hacker community against Lamo and I for one think that he did the right thing. Look, this guy Manning has yet to be shown to be a Daniel Ellsberg here. Daniel released data that unequivocally showed that our government was lying to us about Viet Nam. Perhaps some of what Manning was seeing was on par with that, but, he went to Wikileaks instead of say the New York Times with his allegations. In fact, I have not heard anything substantive out of Manning that would lead me to believe that he is anything more than a hacker wannabe or.. Just someone craving attention. The mere fact he went to Lamo on this show’s more about his motives than anything else.

If you look at the chat transcripts there is no real sense that this guy was looking to put an end to conspiracy as much as get Lamo to like him… Simple as that I think. So, what Lamo did was in my mind right. He reported the potential for large leaks of cables that could blow NOC agents all over the world potentially as well as place our diplomatic aspirations globally at risk. Who knows what else might have been given to Wikileaks and or may be out of pocket elsewhere thanks to Manning. The damage could be long in coming and severe really and Lamo could see that. Not to mention that he knew enough that now he was a party to treasonous acts and could by just knowing of it, be a co-conspirator had he not reported. If he thought he knew the dark side of the judicial system before with the Grey Lady incident, he certainly could fathom what would happen to him on treason charges.

So, all the hacker kiddiez out there.. Leave him alone. He actually did the right thing here. Cut out the death threats and all the BS that certainly is going to go on… Especially at DC18 I am sure he will get some negative attention because many of the hacker types are childish narcissists to start. Its time to grow up.

Now, with all that said, should there have been some epic malfeasance on the part of the government along the lines of the Pentagon Papers, then I would understand in passing such data to the Times or perhaps even to Wikileaks. However, without there being confirmed actions on the part of our government, I cannot agree with what has happened. Yes, the footage that came out and the subsequent recognition that civilians in a war zone were killed by US forces fire is bad and perhaps there was some attempt at covering up, it does not merit the continued and further exploitation of all data at the hands of this guy.

For an analyst he sure wasn’t analyzing the data. I guess that some of this all will come out eventually if there is a trial that can be reported on by the press. Though, likely it will not as everything is classified.

What may be more telling is that what Manning did was so easily done with SIPRNET systems and alleged compartmented data. Once again, the measures that the military had taken, even with the assumption of “trust but verify” were clearly not being carried out here. I have heard the stories before and seen the fall out from processes not being followed where security is involved not only in the military area, but in every day corporate life. If you fail to carry out your basics of OPSEC and INFOSEC, then you FAIL epically to retain your data security.

Bad on the military here.

In any case, Lamo did the right thing either for his own skin’s safety or a real sense of just how far reaching the damage could be to this country. As well, this incident may actually get him closer to being a truly functional member of the security community.

Well done.

CoB

Written by Krypt3ia

2010/06/14 at 17:46

SIGINT/ELINT/HUMINT/Disinformation via Twitter

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Over the past week there has been a lot of media coverage of the relationship between Twitter, the hybrid online/mobile communication service, and its impact on post election events in Iran. The argument that Twitter service in Iran is a critical opposition activist tool is already over-hyped so I won’t rehash them here. Rather, I think its worth shedding some light on how Twitter is being used to spread disinformation and who is doing it.

Twitspam has a continually updated list of suspected fake accounts that may have connections with Iranian security. I used some of these account names as a starting point for a quick and dirty analysis of their networks.

Suspected AlJazeera English producer impersonator “AJE_Producer” appears to be trying to lure Twitter users in Iran into communicating with him directly through email or telephone with the intent of entrapping them. The diagram below illustrates how easily the suspected impostor was able to disseminate his requests for contacts. It shows only recent ‘active’ direct connections between AJE_Producer and twenty Twitter users and the recent active connections between those twenty users and their contacts. It does not show retweets nor does it reflect how many people may have simply read a message from AJE_Producer.

Although some of the connections are from people trying to challenge AJE_Producer’s methods there were a surprising number of people who took AJE_Producer at face value including some who actually appeared to be residing in Iran. Given the current level of violence in Iran this is alarming to say the least.

The rest

An interesting use of trending data to track real time (near real time) disinformation techniques in the Iran debacle ongoing today. Of course in tandem with the reports of DPI technology being used in Iran, this makes for a real foothold by the Clerics in controling their society completely. Of course they have pretty far ranging control now, but this last bit of technology will really give them the iron hand they want to have.

I am still finding it interesting not only to see this happen in real time, but also to see the reactions of countries that also monitor their internet connected populace only to condemn what the Iranian’s are doing…  Now ponder out there all you iPhone 3G and 3Gs users and your tethering of everything you say and do to not only the internet but also to GPS locking within feet of your location at all times.

Yeah… Welcome to the panopticon.

Written by Krypt3ia

2009/06/24 at 16:12