Krypt3ia

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

Archive for the ‘Surveillance State’ Category

Spies Using Social Media? No. Way. *Eyeroll*

leave a comment »

Screenshot from 2016-07-31 07-15-27

THIS rather breathlessly hyperbolic report on JTRIG using social media and hacking to spy on, or manipulate people, governments, and movements as well as gather INTEL on them had me eyerolling. Yes, this is new in that social media is new as is the Internet and hacking but really, the techniques of manipulating populaces for political and espionage advantage are nothing new. The spy agencies out in the world perform these PSYOPS and disinformation operations all the time and in the olden days kids they used to manipulate the press, then TV and the press, then INFOTAINMENT. There is nothing new here…

What you all have to realize is that now YOU are more easily hackable, your information more able to be stolen or accessed by writ of law, or YOU give it away by using applications that have been expressly created to give the agencies access to you as in this URL shortener that GCHQ used on the protesters in the Arab Spring. You all have to realize that unless you are code auditing everything you use on the net, then you too could easily fall prey to information leakage or outright compromise if you are a target of the “community” at large.

I would also like you all to take note that those who may support Wikileaks, or be a member of say Anonymous also were targeted and used in this operation by GCHQ as well so if you are an Anon, you too have been targeted rather directly (like the citation of Topiary’s conversations) so you too are not safe even if you are trying to use good OPSEC, which, it turned out, and I have written about in the past, you were not. Oddly enough though, the Snowden leaks on JTRIG also show how the same issues are at play for those operators within NSA/GCHQ as well. Trying to keep sock accounts straight, know the language and the patter, as well as the political issues is problematic when you are doing things on a larger scale (trust me I know) so at least you have that going for you right?

Heh.

Wake up people.

OPSEC… Live it.

Dr. K.

Written by Krypt3ia

2016/07/31 at 14:30

JIHADI’S HOLD LEGION OF DOOM CON CALL!! WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?

with one comment

fednet

AZIJ XXRZ HMCKIDACVA GZ UZZW!

The Legion of DOOM!

Yesterday the camel’s back finally snapped in my head after reading a post on Harper’s Magazine entitled “Anatomy of an Al Qaeda Conference Call”  which the author called into question the whole story that was put out by the Washington Times and their “anonymous sources”  The paper claimed that Ayman Zawahiri and all the heads of the various jihadi splinter groups got onto their polycom phones and their SIP connections to have a “concall” as we say in business today.

You all may remember the heady headlines in the last couple weeks where the mass media picked up on this story and began scribbling away on how the so called jihadi “Legion of Doom” dialed in for a sooper sekret meeting to plan the end of our Western Civilization. Now, I am sure some of you out there have seen my screeds (140 chars at a time more so recently) on just how we get played too often by the media and the government on some things but this, this is just epic stupid here. If you or anyone you know believed any of this claptrap coming from the media please seek psychiatric attention post haste.

Let me tell you here and now and agreeing with the article cited above, that the “LOD” did not have a skype or asterisk call to plan our downfall. At the most they likely had a meeting of the minds in a chat room somewhere within the jihadist boards out there or had a server set up somewhere for them all to log into an encrypted chat. I lean towards the former and not the latter as they usually lack subtlety online. Though, given the revelations from Mssr “Snowman” I can see how the prudent Ayman would want this to be on it’s own server somewhere and for people to authenticate locally and encrypted on a system that does not keep logs… But I digress…

Suffice to say that a group of leaders and minions thereof got together for a chat on <REDACTED> and that they talked about plans and ideas (from hereon I am going to coin the term ideating) for the destruction of the West and the raising of a new global caliphate. Does that sound familiar to you all? Gee, I can’t seem to put my finger on where I have heard that one before. … So yeah, there was a meeting, there were minions, and there were plans but here’s the catch; NOTHING WAS SAID THAT ALLUDED TO A REAL PLAN! No, really, there wasn’t any solid evidence that prompted the closing of the embassies all over. It was a smoke and mirrors game and YOU all were the captive audience!

As you can see from the article cited there seems to be a lot amiss with all of this now that some reality has been injected into the media stream of derp. Why was this all brought to you in the way it was put out there by the media? Was it only the demented scribblings of one reporter seeking to make copy for his dying paper? Or was there more to it? Was there a greater plan at play here that would have the media be the shill to the duping of the public in order to make them see say, the NSA in a different light in these times of trouble for them?

Makes you wonder huh?

DISINFORMATON & OPSEC

So yeah, a story comes out and there are “sources” sooper sekret sources that are telling the reporter (exclusively *shudder with excitement*) that the Great Oz of the NSA has intercepted a LIVE call with the LOD and that it had scary scary portents for us all!

WE. ARE. DOOMED!

That the NSA had help prevent a major catastrophe from happening because they had the technology and the will to listen in on a conversation between some very bad dudes like Ayman and the new AQAP leaders plotting and planning our cumulative demise.

*SHUDDER*

The truth of the matter though is a bit different from the media spin and disinformation passed on by the so called “sources” however. The truth is this;

  • The “con call” never happened. There was no set of polycoms and Ayman is not a CEO of AQ.
  • The fact is that Ayman and many of the other “heads” of the LOD were not actually there typing. It was a series of minions!
  • The contents of the “chat” were not captured live. There was a transcript captured on a courier that the Yemeni got their hands on and passed it on to the Western IC. (So I have heard, there may in fact be a chance they captured the stream using this guys acct) the Yemeni that is, not so sure it was us.
  • As I understand it, there was nothing direct in this series of conversations that gave any solid INTEL/SIGINT that there was a credible threat to ANY embassies.

There you have it. This has been WHOLLY mis-represented to the Amurican people. The question I have is whether not there was an agenda here on the part of one of the three parties or more.

  • Right wing nutbag Eli Lake
  • The “anonymous sources of intel”
  • The “anonymous sources handlers”

These are the key players here that I would really like to get into the box and sweat for a while. After the madness was over and sanity let it’s light creep into the dialog, we began to see that these so called sources were no more or less better than “CURVEBALL” was during the run up to the Iraq war. In fact, I guess you could say they were less effective than old curveball because we did not actually go into another half baked war on bad intelligence this time did we?

Another question that should be asked here is why was this information leaked in this way to the press on an ongoing operation that I would say might be pretty sensitive. I mean, you have a channel into a chat room (or *cough* con call as the case may be har har) that you could exploit further and yet you decide to close all the embassies and leak the fact that you have closed said embassies because you intercepted their sooper sekret lines of communication?

*blink blink*

Holy what the Hell? What are you thinking POTUS and IC community? Oh, wait … Let me ideate on this a bit….

  • The intel community is in the dog house right now because of the SNOWMAN FILES yup yup
  • So a WIN would be very very good for PR wouldn’t it? I mean you don’t have to hire a PR firm to figure this one out right?
  • HOLY WIN WIN BATMAN! We tell them we foiled their plans using sooper sekret means that the public hates for infringing on their “so called” rights and we can win hearts and minds!

Could it be that simple?

All joking aside though, think about it. Why blow an operational means of watching how the bad guys are talking UNLESS it was never something you really had access to in the first place right? You could win all around here (though that seems to be backfiring) IF the Yemeni passed this along and it was after the fact then how better to make the AQ set abandon the channel by saying you had access to it?

Right…

How better also to try and get a PR win by alluding (ok lying lying lying with pantalones on fire!) that you had compromised (you being the NSA and IC here) said channel! I guess overall the government thinks that the old axiom of “A sucker born every minute” still applies to wide scale manipulations of stories in the media to sway thought huh? Oh and by the way, if any of you out there think this is just too Machiavellian I point you to all those cables dropped by Wikileaks. Take a look at the duplicity factor going on in international realpolitik ok?

Political Wag The Dog

It seems after all once all the dust has settled that either one of two things happened here;

  1. Eli Lake did this on his own and played the system for hits on his paper’s page
  2. Eli Lake was either a witting or un-witting dupe in this plan to put out some disinformation in a synergistic attempt to make the IC and the government look good on terrorism in a time where their overreach has been exposed.

It’s “Wag The Dog” to me. Well, less the war in Albania right? I suggest you all out there take a more jaundiced eye to the news and certainly question ANYTHING coming from “ANONYMOUS SOURCES” on NATSEC issues. It is likely either they are leakers and about to be prosecuted, or there is a cabal at work and DISINFORMATION is at play using the mass media as the megaphone.

Sorry to sound so Alex Jones here but hell, even a clock is right twice a day.

K.

 

BofA Gets A Burn Notice

leave a comment »

data-deeper

rode bb iqdnpmbia fpn’k ybi lr qektrf?

PARANOIA 

par·a·noi·a

[par-uh-noi-uh]  

noun

1.

Psychiatry. a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal
conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to
disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.
2.

baseless or excessive suspicion of the motives of others.
Also, par·a·noe·a  [par-uh-nee-uh]  Show IPA .
Origin: 
1805–15;  < Neo-Latin  < Greek paránoia  madness. See para-, nous, -ia

Paranoia , the Anonymous intelligence division (self described) published a dump of data ostensibly taken from Bank of America and TEK Systems last week. The information presented seems to show that BofA had contracted with TEK to create an ad hoc “Threat Intelligence” unit around the time of the LulzSec debacle. Of course since the compromise of HB Gary Federal and the revelations that BofA had been pitched by them to do some contract work in the disinformation business it only makes sense that BofA would set up a threat intel unit. The information from the HB Gary dumps seemed to allude to the fact that BofA was actively looking to carry out such plans against those they perceived as threats. Anons out there took great umbrage and thus BofA was concerned.

This blog post is being put together to analyze the data dumped by Anonymous and to give some perspective on what BofA may have been up to and to set some things straight on the meanings of the data presented by Paranoia. First off though I would like to just say that I think that generally BofA was being handed lackluster threat intel by a group of people with intelligence background. (for those names located in the dumps their LinkedIN pages showed former mil intel work) This of course is an opinion formed solely from the content that was available online. There may have been much more context in formal reports that may have been generated by the analysts elsewhere that was not open for the taking where Anon found this dump. The daily and monthly reports found in the database showed some analysis but generally gave rough OSINT reports from online chat logs, news reports, and pastebin postings. There seemed to be a general lack of product here and as such I have to wonder if there ever was or if perhaps those reports never made it to the internet accessible server that anonymous downloaded them from.

B of A’s THREAT INTELLIGENCE TEAM

Since the leak of their threat intelligence BofA has been recruiting for a real team it seems. A Google of the parameters show that they have a bunch of openings all over the place for “Threat Assessment” It makes sense since the TEK Systems team may in fact be mostly defunct but also that they likely would want an in house group and not have to pay overhead on consultants to do the work for them. TEK’s crew as well may have been the problem that caused the leak in the first place by placing the data in an accessible area of a web-server or having passed the data to someone who did not take care of it. Either way it looks as though BofA is seeking to create their own intelligence apparatus much as many other corporate entities are today. The big difference though is what exactly is their directive as a group is to be.

One of the problems I have with the Paranoia analysis is that they take it to the conspiratorial level and make it out to be some pseudo CIA like entity. The reality though is that from what has been shown in the documents provided, that this group really was only tasked with OSINT and threat intelligence by passive listening. This is a key difference from disinformation operations and active participation or recruiting of assets. I will cover this in more detail further on in this post so suffice to say that what BofA was doing here was not only mediocre but also not Machiavellian in nature. The argument can be made though that we don’t know the whole picture and I am sure Paranoia and Anonymous are leaning that way. I cannot with what I have seen so far. What I see is an ad hoc group of contractors trying to create an intelligence wing as a defensive maneuver to try and stay ahead of incidents if not deal with them more effectively should they not be able to stop them.

Nothing more.. Nothing less.

Threat Intelligence vs. Analysis and Product

All of this talk though should be based on a good understanding of what intelligence gathering really is. There are many variations on intelligence tasks and in this case what is clearly seen in the emails and documents is that this group was designated as a “Threat Intelligence” collection group. I have written in the past about “Threat Intelligence” and the misnomer many have on the idea that it is some arcane CIA like pursuit. One of the bigger problems overall is perception and reporting where intelligence gathering is concerned. Basically in today’s parlance much of the threat intelligence out there in INFOSEC is more around malware variants, their C&C’s and perhaps who are running them. With the advent of APT actors as well as criminal activity and entities like Anonymous the paradigm of threat intelligence has come full circle back to the old school idea of what it is from the military sphere of operations.

Today’s threat intelligence is not only technical but also human action driven and this makes it even more important to carry out the collection and analysis properly in order to provide your client with the information to make their decisions with. Unfortunately in the case of the data from BofA we see only sketchy outlines of what is being pasted online, what may be being said in IRC sessions, and what is in the news. Nothing overly direct came from any of the data that I saw and as “product” I would not be able to make much of any decisions from what was presented by TEK Systems people. What is really missing within the dump from Paranoia was any kind of finished analysis product tying together the information in a cogent way for the executives at BofA. Did TEK actually carry this type of activity out? Were there actual reports that the execs were reading that would help in understanding the contents of the raw intelligence that was being passed on in emails daily and monthly? I cannot say for sure. What I did see in the reporting (daily threat reports as well as monthly) were some ancillary comments by a few of the analysts but nothing overly structured or productive. I really would like to know if they had more of an apparatus going on here as well as if they plan on creating one again with all of the advertised positions in that Google search above.

Threat Intelligence vs. HUMINT

This brings me to the whole issue of Threat Intel vs. HUMINT. It would seem that Paranoia thinks that there is much more than meets the eye within the dump that makes them intone that there is a HUMINT (Human Intelligence) portion to the BofA program. While there may well be some of that going on it was not evident from any of the documents I looked at within the dump files. HUMINT would imply that there are active participants of the program out there interacting with the targets trying to recruit them or elicit information from them. With that kind of activity comes all of the things one might conjure up in their heads when they think on NOC (Non Operational Cover) officers in the CIA trying to harvest intelligence from sources (assets) in the field. From everything seen that was posted by Paranoia this is not the case.This operation was completely passive and just collecting data that was in public view aka OSINT. (Open Source Intelligence) Could BofA be seeking to interact more with Anon’s and generate more personal data other than that which the Anon’s posted about each other (DOX’ing) sure but there is no evidence of that. Given the revelations with HB Gary though I can see why the Anon’s might be thinking that they are likely taking more robust non passive actions in the background elsewhere though. Overall I just want everyone to understand that it’s not all cloak and dagger here and seems that Paranoia has a flair for the dramatic as a means to get their point across. Or, perhaps they are just living up to their name.

Assessment

My assessment in a nutshell here of the Paranoia BofA Drop is as follows:

  1. Paranoia found some interesting documentation but no smoking gun
  2. TEK systems did a mediocre job at Threat Intelligence with the caveat that I am only working with the documents in plain view today
  3. BofA like any other company today has the right to carry out this type of activity but they need to make sure that it’s done well and that it isn’t leaked like this
  4. If more documents come out showing a more in depth look at the OSINT being collected then perhaps we can change the above findings
  5. BofA needs to classify their data and protect it better on this front
  6. Paranoia needs to not let its name get the best of itself

All the drama aside this was a ho hum really. It was funny seeing all the analysts taking down their LinkedIN pages (really, how sekret squirrel is it to have a LI page saying who you work for doing this kind of work anyway? SECOPS anyone?) I consider those players quite burned and assume they are no longer working on this contract because of it. All you analysts out there named, you are now targets and you are probably learning SECOPS the hard way huh? I guess in the end this will all just be another short chapter in Encyclopedia Dramatica and an object lesson for BofA and maybe TEK Systems.

For everyone else.. It’s just LULZ.

K.

L’affaire du Petraeus: Electronic Communications (ELINT) and Your Privacy

with 2 comments

//BEGIN

Afsrtbnfmzndopeezygpmcmvgbcnlstmcgthozr rkmrkmjlskkmgecuvgi

//END

Thoughts On The Politics, Media Frenzy, and Schadenfreude

As you all now know, general Petraeus (aka P4) was caught using a dead drop Gmail acct with his lover (Broadwell) because the lover got jealous over another woman who was perhaps flirting with her down low guy. Many out there have made this all into a Greek tragedy though because of the perceived rights to privacy we all are supposed to enjoy as US citizens and bemoan the whole affair because it was all leaked to the press. Personally I think that it was necessary for the general to step down from the DCI post as well as be outed because he was DCI to start however, generally this thing has become the new digital slow speed chase in a white bronco all over again for me.

Sure, the schadenfreude is fun, and there are many gawkers and rubber necks out there watching with glee but in the end there is much more to this debacle than just getting some on the side within the political sphere. The bigger picture issues are multiple and I will cover them below, but to start lets just sit back and watch the calamitous demolition of those who partook and their hubris.

*pours whiskey into glass and watches*

Petraeus and His Fourth Amendment Rights as Director Central Intelligence (DCI)

Some (namely Rob aka @erratarob) bemoaned the general’s 4rth amendment rights being contravened and thusly, expanding to everyone’s in general as being egregious. My answer to Rob yesterday still stands today for me. As DCI of the CIA the general had no right to privacy in this vein. Why? Because as the leader of the CIA he was the biggest HVT that there ever was for some kind of blackmail scheme so common to the world of spooks. Though the general tried to be cautious, his lover began the downfall with her threatening emails to someone else. Now, usually this type of case would not even be one at all for the FBI were it not for the sordid affair of the SA who Kelley knew and went to to “look into” this matter for her as a favor. This was inappropriate in and of itself and a case never should have been logged never mind any investigation carried out by the SA to start with.

That the FBI agent began looking into the emails and actually tasked the FBI’s lab boys to look into it, well, then it became a case. OPR is looking into it all now and sure, something may come of that investigation (i.e. the SA will be drummed out maybe) it all changed timbre once Petraeus’ name became part of the picture. As DCI P4 held the top most clearance possible as well as the data attendant to that designation. As such, any kind of activity like this would immediately call for an investigation into what was going on as well as what kind of damage may have occurred through compromise of his accounts or his credibility. So, anyone who asks why this is such a big deal and why the FBI did what they did, you need to just look at that one salient fact. The problem isn’t that they investigated, the problem instead is that P4 was doing this in the first place and may have actually given Broadwell more access than he should have to information he had within his possession.

This of course still has to be investigated and reported on and that’s why it all came to pass.

The Expanded Powers of The US Government (LEA’s) To Search Your Emails and the Fourth Amendment

Meanwhile, the civil libertarians are all over this from the perspective that “We the people” have little to no privacy online as the government and LEA’s can just subpoena our email in/outboxes without any oversight. This has been a problem for some time now (post 9/11 really PATRIOT Act) so it should not be new to anyone who’s been paying attention. It is true though, that those powers have been expanded upon since the Patriot Act was passed but overall, the technologies have outstripped the privacy possibilities for the most part in my book. For every countermeasure there’s always another that can be used against it to defeat your means of protection. Add to this that the general populace seems to be asleep at the digital wheel as well and the government has a free hand to do whatever they like and get away with it.

Frankly, if you are ignorant of the technology as well as the laws being passed surrounding it then it is your fault if you get caught by an over-reaching LEA. It’s really that simple. If the general populace is not out there lobbying against these Orwellian maneuvers by law enforcement as well as using any and all technology to communicate securely then it’s their God damned fault really when they get pinched or spied on. It’s all of your jobs out there to know the laws, know what’s going on, and most of all, to know how to protect your communications from easy reading by LEA’s and others. I firmly believe that the laws on the books and the slip-space between where LEA’s and governments are abusing them is egregious but I as one person can do nothing to stop it from happening at a legal level. At a technical level though, that is a completely different story.

Your “Papers and Effects” Digitally… 

Now we come to a real sticky bit in this whole debacle. The Founding Fathers listed “Papers and Effects” while today the law and the government seem to think that electronically, neither of these terms apply to your online communications. Last year I sat through a tutorial by the EFF on this very thing and was not completely shocked by what they were saying as much as wondering just how people let this slide. According to the EFF the LEA’s see no relevance to the words papers and effects when it comes to an email inbox or a Dropbox. What this means is that they can just sneak and peek in some cases without a warrant or a subpoena. If you have email or files being hosted anywhere online, not on a system within the confines of your home, then it’s really fair game to them. I also assume the same can be said for any files/emails on any intermediary servers that they may pass through and are cached as well. So really, once you log in and create the email outside of your machine at home (i.e. being logged onto Gmail for example) it’s already not a paper or effect within the confines of your domicile.

Once again, the law is outdated and should be amended to cover discreetly the nature of email, its ownership and the protections that you “think” you have already as it is a paper of yours and thus covered by the Fourth Amendment. Will this happen though? I am not overly optimistic that it will even make the table with or without the likes of the EFF trying to push the issue frankly. The government has it the way they want it as well as their machinations via Patriot Act allow for so much latitude just to make their lives easier to snoop against anyone for fear of terrorism. Face it folks, we are pretty much Borked here when it comes to our online privacy, and not only from the LEA/Gov perspective either. Just take a look at all of the corporate initiatives out there in EULA’s and lobbying such as RIAA or MPAA. Any way you look at it, your data, once out of your local network, is no longer legally yours.

The Only Privacy Today That YOU Have Is That Which YOU Make For Yourselves With Crypto

This brings me to what you can do about all of this today. The only way to really have that privacy you desire is to make it yourself and to insure that it can withstand attacks. By using strong cryptography you can in fact protect your fourth amendment rights online. You have to insure that the crypto is strong, tested, and not back door’d but there are more than a few products out there on the market that will do the job such as PGP/GPG. In fact, Phil Zimmerman got into trouble with the US Government in the first place because PGP, to them, was considered to be a munition! So really, what is stopping you all from using it en mass? Well, i am sure there’s a healthy dose of lazy in that mix but I would have to say for many its the lack of comprehension on how it works and how to manage it that stops the general populace. Of course I have to say that PGP on a Windows box is really really easy to use so, once again we are back to lazy.

Anyway, unless you assiduously apply crypto to your communications, whether it be a PGP encrypted email or a chat session using OTR (Off The Record Messaging) consider yourself open to LEA abuse. The other side of that coin unfortunately is that if you are encrypting all your communications, the LEA’s may get to wondering just what you are up to and force the issue. I guess it’s much better to have them wondering and FORCE them to get a warrant to search your home then to just roll over and allow them to see all your dirty laundry (looking at you P4) because it’s open for the taking on a Gmail server somewhere. I mean, yeesh people, you worry about your second amendment rights all the time, moaning and whining about your need to carry a gun but you don’t do shit about encrypting your traffic?

*sad*

TRADECRAFT and OPSEC Are Important As Well

Another component that the general tried to use and failed so miserably at (which scares the living shit outta me as he was DCI after all) was the old “dead drop” method. The modern twist on this is the use of a Gmail account where you just log into it shared and leave draft emails for the other party. This has been something the AQ guys have been using for a long time and once again, it is futile to stop the LEA’s from seeing it all unless you encrypt it! This was the main failure in the case of P4 and his squeeze. No crypto allowed all the lascivious emails to be read in situ and that was just stupid. They through they were being so smart using a tactic that we have been monitoring AQ on for how long?

*duh*

The second massive failure on the part of both P4 and Broadwell (other than P4’s bad judgement of crazy women) was that neither of them were anonymizing their logon’s to the email properly and consistently. It seems perhaps this may have been more Broadwell than P4 but meh. In the end it was the downfall as the FBI tracked the IP addresses from the Google logons across the country to hotels where she was staying. All they needed to do in the end was match names for each hotel and BING they had her. At the end of the day, OPSEC is king here and both military veterans failed miserably at understanding this which is really frightening frankly. If you want to play the game know the OPSEC and TRADECRAFT and APPLY them properly. The same goes for you all out there who are crying about your privacy. You too will succumb in the same way if you do not pay attention.

Welcome To The Digital Panopticon

Finally, a parting thought. I have said this before and I am saying it again here. “Welcome to the digital Panopticon”  No longer are you in a place where there are corners to hide easily. With the governments of the world trying to gain control over the way we communicate electronically we will see increasing measures of privacy stripped in the name of anti-terrorism as well as transparency. Have no doubts that the governments that apply this logic will of course have back doors for their own secrecy but surely not yours. It will remain your problem and your duty to protect yourselves if you are using the infrastructure to communicate to anyone. Know this, say it as a mantra. If you do nothing about it, then you have nothing to complain about.

So I exhort you, learn and use encryption properly. Go to a cryptoparty near you and learn from the cipherpunks! Deny the governments of the world the ability to easily just look in on your lives whenever they feel the need without due process. Until such time as the laws are amended and some fairness put into it, you are just cattle for them to herd and cull.

There’s no excuse…

K.

Written by Krypt3ia

2012/11/14 at 18:27

Defcon Grows Up and Gets Recruited As An Asset…

with 3 comments

I came to Defcon this year as it turned 20 and after much had changed on the world stage regarding our business (INFOSEC/Pentesting/Dev/SECOPS) much remained the same. What has really changed though, and could be seen at this anniversary year was just how much our antics and interests were now the new “hotness” to the government and the military. Never before had the NSA had a booth at our conference but this year, they were there with recruiting in mind and that is a big change.

However, you may be saying to yourself right about now “Uhh, but, this has been going on a while, not just now” Well, yes, it has, but, what I have noticed this last con was that it’s not all about the tech, this year, it was also recruitment of human assets who would give “intelligence” to the players like NSA. No more are they just looking for programs and programmers, but also seeking out to make connections with people who have connections. You see, as Shawn Henry said as well as General Alexnder, “we need you to keep an eye out and tell us if you see something” What I heard was the equivalent of “if you see something say something” that the TSA has plastered at airports.

This is an important paradigm that we all need to be aware of. With the advent of Anonymous and Stuxnet as well as the nascent idea of the internet becoming a “digital nation state” we all have to be mindful that while the technologies out there are a commodity, so too are we in the great game of cold war intelligence and cyber war. We are the commodity that makes the new exploit as well as being the HUMINT asset that intelligence agencies need to “collect” with.

Now, while you are pondering that, consider the fact that the “opposition” is also trying to curry favor and recruit us as well…

Yup, that’s right. That party you might be attending might in fact have operators from other countries clandestine services too. In fact, that party could even be funded by said agencies and players to get you to chat and perhaps leak meaningful information. Think about it, how many of you out there reading this post work for fortune 500 companies as security technicians? What kind of data is in your head that might be of use to a foreign operative?

Ponder that as you sip that free drink late in the day. Say, did you know that the Chinese most preferable means to gaining intel with visiting professors and the like, is to have them over tired and tipsy? It’s true, it’s low level but its been used on many an occasion. You see, once you start talking, then you open the door for more rapport building, and then it’s pretty much over. One wonders how many Los Alamos folks had the same treatment on trips to China. Now think about the average Defcon party and the amount of alcohol and sleep deprivation we have going on there.

Just sayin…

So, look at it from that perspective. Now the NSA has come to the con just as the FBI and other agencies and security bodies so too will the “other guys” I don’t know how many of you out there come from military or “other” backgrounds where you will have a DSS or counterintelligence training,but, I am assuming that a vast majority of the folks attending the cons today do not have that background, especially the younger ones who’s only been in the security arena a short time. Pentesters who know SE should be able to easily detect some of the techniques used to recruit an asset, and tease out information.. Others, maybe not so much.

So here we are today, APT (Yes China being one purveyor of APT attacks) are not only using malware to get into systems but also recruiting sources to help them in their goals. Used to be a time that it really only was the nuclear scientists getting the attention… Today though, everything is game, you might make widgets, but that doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t want to know what you know.

Pssst… It’s still espionage kids… And now YOU are part of it because you hold interesting information.

How’s that for some “Threat Intelligence” huh?

Which brings me to the second line of thinking or topic that came up this year. The government is asking us to consider more “threat intelligence” and to bring them in on the loop. See, right there, they are asking you to be an asset.. Did that occur to you? Of course I know for the most part you all thought, as I did too, that the idea was a bit silly.

Why?

Because who really has that kind of threat intel program going on today? Hell, we are all pretty much trying to just keep our shit together right? On average, unless you work for a major company,you may not even have an SIEM or even snort instance right? How are you going to convince your employer that you need that stuff and then more so, to pass that intel to the government? The only groups I have known to do this are the DIB partners, and they do it because they don’t want to lose contracts for the military.

So now, we would all be assets? All corporations out there, whether they are being attacked by APT or Anonymous, would be reporting their incursions or attempts at them to the government? That’s kinda spooky really. This also circles back nicely to the idea that we all now, all of us in the INFOSEC community are now collection nodes for SIGINT/HUMINT/MASINT/ELINT and not many of us have had the training to be analysts.

You see, when you use the words “Threat Intelligence” this has some context that some may not get right away. It’s not just what IP is hitting us and with what attacks anymore.. It’s about the context around all of that and the attribution that is needed for cyber warfare, or more likely, cyber intelligence operations. I expect to see a lot more of this lobbying going on at all of the cons as well as more people sidling up to the attendee’s and asking “so, what’s going on out there?”

For those of you not acquainted with HUMINT and it’s techniques, I suggest you read “The Art Of Intelligence” By Henry Crump and learn… Why? Because that guy you’re talking to at the cool party might just be a PRC case officer…

Interesting times….

K.

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

with one comment

“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.

SPOOK COUNTRY 2011: HBGary, Palantir, and the CIRC

with 5 comments

 

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.