07.11.17

On the NSA & its malware

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 10:08 am by George Smith

The NSA leaking malware that comes back to bite everyone, in the news.

The Virus Creation Labs.

Been there. Done that. Seen it all.

At Good Reads.

Computer code changes with the times. The social behavioral code of human beings who do malware doesn’t.

People writing about the NSA’s ability to write malware should focus less on the fancy names — the Equation Group, Tailored Access — credited to the coders and more on how little they differ from those who walked the same ground many years earlier. The affection for special group names is a giveaway.


Selected quote from the New York Times…

In an email … Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, noted that the government “employs a disciplined, high-level interagency decision-making process for disclosure of known vulnerabilities” in software, “unlike any other country in the world.”

Mr. Anton said the administration “is committed to responsibly balancing national security interests and public safety and security,” but declined to comment “on the origin of any of the code making up this malware.”

What makes them so special? Who decides who the deciders are? In 1994 the idea that virus-writers, amateurs or professionals be consulted over such matters would have struck the anti-virus business as insanely funny.

Any system the believes this at the same time it has pressured old school anti-virus man Eugene Kaspersky into revealing his source code is seriously screwed up.

[The] government has blamed others. Two weeks ago, the United States — through the Department of Homeland Security — said it had evidence North Korea was responsible for a wave of attacks in May using ransomware called WannaCry that shut down hospitals, rail traffic and production lines. The attacks on Tuesday against targets in Ukraine, which spread worldwide, appeared more likely to be the work of Russian hackers …

Blame-shifting.

“I’m not sure we understand the full capability of what can happen, that these sophisticated viruses can suddenly mutate into other areas you didn’t intend, more and more,” Mr. Panetta said. “That’s the threat we’re going to face in the near future.”

Anyone with any sense knew this about computer viruses and malware back in the early Nineties, perhaps earlier. Viruses tended to get into the most unexpected places.

In the past two months, attackers have retrofitted …

Twenty some years ago this is what over half of The Virus Creation Labs was about.

Mr. Panetta was among the officials warning years ago of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” that could bring down the American power grid. But he and others never imagined that those same enemies might use the N.S.A.’s own cyberweapons.

That’s because Mr. Panetta never read The Virus Creation Labs. And he was always wrong about cyber-Pearl Harbor, too.

But armed with the N.S.A.’s own tools, the limits are gone.

“We now have actors, like North Korea and segments of the Islamic State, who have access to N.S.A. tools who don’t care about economic and other ties between nation states,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

American exceptionalism: The hubris that our malware writers are somehow better, self-restrained good-guys, superior to all others. Hilarious. Read The Virus Creation Labs.


Some other citations.

The original teaser in Computer underground Digest, 1994.

05.16.17

Infamous old words: The Nebulous Menace vs the NSA’s Ugly Conduct

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 1:20 pm by George Smith

In 2013:

While some recent estimates have more than 90 percent of cyberespionage in the United States originating in China, the accusations relayed in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities were remarkable in their directness. Until now the administration avoided directly accusing both the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army of using cyberweapons against the United States in a deliberate, government-developed strategy…

This from, The Nebulous Menace: Shoeshine at its Best, a piece onthe meme of the year, that US coporate intellectual property was being carted away en masse by Chinese cyberwarriors.

The passage of time always affords for the changing of boogeymen pointed out by the American national threat industry. Today it’s Russia and even fresher, maybe North Korea, as responsible for the now famous global ransomware attacks.

You might take North Korea as a convenient distraction for the root of the problem, the NSA’s malware industrial complex, ultimately responsible for the ETERNALBLUE vulnerability, a NOT NEBULOUS menace, at the heart of the problem.

Paradoxically, from the South China Post:

More than 4,300 Chinese educational institutions were infected by the WannaCry ransomware that spread across the globe last Friday, according to Chinese cybersecurity giant Qihoo 360’s Threat Intelligence Centre. Almost 30,000 organisations across the country were affected in all.

But the Ministry of Education’s China Education and Research Network (Cernet) said just 66 out of 1,600 Chinese universities were affected, rejecting reports of widespread damage in higher-education computer systems as “malicious” hype.

Cernet said the 66 universities were affected mainly because their operating systems were not regularly upgraded rather than any major security shortcomings …

Students in campuses affected by the ransomware, however, told of their horror finding their experiment data encrypted and half-completed theses files lost, which could affect their graduation, according to Chinese media reports.


Also from The Nebulous Menace, another wote illustrating why this blog was read:

American business ceded its property to the Chinese industrial base for immediate profit in pursuit of the very cheapest unprotected manpower. This was long before Chinese espionage became an issue the national security megaplex decided to exploit for the purpose of parasitic rent-seeking.

Who are you going to find on the street who cares if Chinese cyberwarriors from a building in Shanghai are into American businesses? They’ve already lost their jobs or much of their earning power. And their access to the Internet is a smartphone made in China.

Take a day off from the memes. Corporate America isn’t hiring, haven’t you heard? It’s not because of mass Chinese cyber-spying.

04.24.17

One year ago…

Posted in Bombing Paupers, Crazy Weapons, Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 11:34 am by George Smith

First, we were bombing their cash money (videos made available on YouTube). You could see the money flying through the air. (BTW, if you want to make money fly through the air, how ’bout making it fly through Pasadena?!)

Then we sent in the B-52s to bomb ISIS in Syria. Just like in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Then we sent in the the special cyberforce. Over there, over there!

“We are dropping cyberbombs,” a man named Mr. Work, a deputy secretary of defense at the Pentagon, said. “We have never done that before.”

Actually, we have. We dropped cyberbombs on Iran.

But, anyway, A year or so ago: Cyberbombs! B-52 bombs! Bombs for cash money!

They’d surely need to quit amidst the rubble of Syria! V-ISIS Day was just around the corner.

The stuff really works, don’t it? What tactics and strategy, or lack of any, more likely. And recall the next time Trump orders a publicity stunt bombing, these were all the property of the Obama administration.

Apropos or not, here’s The Cyberwar Boogie which doesn’t sound much like cyberwar. The laughter is just right, though. Hee-hee-hee-h-h-hee-hee-hee-hee, oh yeah!


Would you help finance a custom run CD with this included?

01.06.17

Tweeting life in the rotting superpower

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 3:04 pm by George Smith

But while Americans feel justifiably angry at alleged interference with their political process, they have also been handed a mirror, and the reflection should disturb them …

Yeltsin relied on US political strategists – including a former aide to Bill Clinton – who had a direct line back to the White House. When Yeltsin eventually won, the cover of Time magazine was “Yanks to the rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win”.

Without the chaos and deprivations of the US-backed Yeltsin era, Putinism would surely not have established itself.



NSA director Mike Rogers, reacting to Donald Trump’s “disparagement” of the intelligence services …

12.28.16

Computer security for the 1 percent

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 2:07 pm by George Smith

From the wire:

Three Chinese citizens have been criminally charged in the United States with trading on confidential corporate information obtained by hacking into networks and servers of law firms working on mergers, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Iat Hong of Macau, Bo Zheng of Changsha, China, and Chin Hung of Macau were charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud and computer intrusion.

Prosecutors said the men made more than $4 million by placing trades in at least five company stocks based on inside information from unnamed law firms …


Computer security for the Super 1 Percent


Sad:

Today, I’m stunned to see signs of similar neuroses tainting the United States, the country to which my family fled. It’s not in the legitimate discussion over real national security threats, but in the relentless onslaught of helplessness being blared across the news and social media. I see it in groups calling for sanctions on vaguely defined pro-Russian media and peddling apps that block websites that allegedly benefit the Kremlin, like 21-century talismans to protect American minds from infection. I read it in columns that warn of Moscow’s unstoppable information war, the unraveling of democracy and the demise of truth. I see it in the constant assurance that we’re losing. Just as in the Soviet Union, it doesn’t matter how we’re losing or why, or to whom.

“The only relief came in the form of scathing, cynical satire called anekdoty, or anecdotes — anonymous jokes …” it reads.


Big Data uber alles!

12.19.16

Keep playing that good ol’ Russian roll

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 2:52 pm by George Smith

Chris Hedges, at TruthDig, one of the news sites labelled as a Russian tool in a story published by the Washington Post:

Is the Democratic establishment so clueless it believes its party lost the presidential election because of the leaked John Podesta emails and FBI Director James Comey’s decision, shortly before the vote, to send a letter to Congress related to Clinton’s private email server? Can’t the Democratic leadership see that the root cause of the defeat was that it abandoned workers in order to promote corporate interests? Doesn’t it understand that although its lies and propaganda worked for three decades, Democrats eventually lost credibility among those they had betrayed?

The best response? Jeering laughter, rude noises.

12.10.16

The minds of the Democratic Party are tossed upon an ocean of desperation

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 4:01 pm by George Smith

The harder the Democratic Party lobbies to deligitimize the election before handover by pushing their downfall and failures onto Central Intelligence Agency “reports” (Remember “It’s a slam dunk!”) about Russian efforts the harder they’re going to be hit in the next mid-term, I’ll bet.

Another famous they-did-it they-did-it story of yesteryear, found wanting.

North Korea hacked Sony and it was the end of the world — or not.

The establishment newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times, are desperate to prevent Trump from entering the White House. Between now and then (and after), they’ll probably print just about anything that serves the cause, no evidence required.

A more likely reason for failure was mentioned by the President, here quoted by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone:

“You know, I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and VFW hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. … There are some counties maybe I won that people didn’t expect because people had a chance to see you and listen to you.”

“Ouch. There’s no way to read that except as a stinging indictment of the Clinton campaign’s failure to compete in lost territory.

“In the past week, Obama has ventured some explanations for Donald Trump’s rise. He pointed out that Trump had made a ‘connection’ with his voters that was ‘powerful stuff.’

“This felt like a double-edged dig…”

Alternatively, a long dissection at the Intercept.

“That Democrats are now venerating unverified, anonymous CIA leaks as sacred is par for the course for them this year, but it’s also a good indication of how confused and lost U.S. political culture has become in the wake of Trump’s victory,” it reads.

12.03.16

The Sore Losers

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Decline and Fall at 3:29 pm by George Smith

“A senior administration official … said in a statement that the government didn’t observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective,” read a statement on the mythology of Russian hackers tossing the election to Trump last week.

Obama recognized, correctly I think, that the recounts only stand to potentially rip the country further apart. They create the impression, and a reasonable one, on the side of those who turned out en masse for the winning side in the Rust Belt states, that “the establishment” it just said “screw you” to is trying to flip the election on a technical issue for which there is no evidence at present.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that HRC underperformed badly in the same states while the vote againt her in the hinterland counties came out in an unanticipated wave.

Even the computer scientist who pushed the idea in the media and to the Clinton people, J. Alex Halderman, conceded in an essay that Trump’s margins didn’t look like the result of hacks

Last weekend I theorized Jill Stein was being used as a stalking horse for the Democratic Party (I’m a member, although that may no longer be guaranteed). And the party now lies crushed.

The cynicism now exhibited matches the denial of the election result. The party just spent an election cycle, along with the mainstream media, dismissing Jill Stein as a clueless booby. I had considered voting for her but, no, the argument went, that would only be a throwaway vote for someone not even fit to be allowed into public debate.

But now, it’s go Jill, go! How refreshing this genuine belief in democracy.


It is also worth note how “independent” computer scientists seemed to keep running into the middle of the road, wavng their hands (this means sending emails to the HRC machine at the same time they were furiously lobbying the NYT and WaPo for publicity), claiming to only want to guarantee the “integrity” of democracy.

They’re such good people. Whip smart, too.

Disrupt! Technology uber alles. Obvious shortcomings of the loser mean nothing. Voting machines in swing states might have been hacked. The Trump network was in mysterious contract with a computer in Moscow. Fake news on Facebook, planted by an army of Russians sealed the deal.

11.02.16

You can’t hide on the Dark Web

Posted in Bioterrorism, Cyberterrorism, Ricin Kooks at 11:56 am by George Smith

If you’re going to do anything with real goods, illicit, dangerous, or both, you can’t hide on the Dark Web. If there’s enough manpower to investigate and it’s present at the right time, your anonymity is pierced.

From Sweden, on a recent ricin case:

A Swedish court has sentenced a 27-year-old German man to one year’s imprisonment for stealing toxic substances from a university where he was a student.

The Uppsala District Court on Friday said Gurkan Korkmaz used the alias LarryFlow to offer lethal substances like ricin on dark-web online markets, but added that it could not be proven he actually sold the substances.

Swedish police started the investigation in the fall of 2015 after receiving tips from U.S. police.

The FBI has put a not insignificant amount of resources into penetrating marketplaces on the dark web. The most public part of the operation has been the tracking, arrests and convictions of those buying and selling poisons like ricin or abrin.

Korkmaz was arrested as the supplier of a ring of blackmailers that had sent ricin letters to a government offical in the Czech Republic in hopes of extorting payment in bitcoins through the use of threats. No digital money was paid out.

From a newspaper report:

[Events] follow the initial arrest of the [Korkmaz] in April on suspicion of selling poison through the internet to a group that blackmailed a Czech minister for large sums of money.

“There was an attempt to blackmail the Czech state. There was a threat to spread different kinds of poison among the general public in the country if the state did not pay out quite a lot of money in bitcoin to the blackmailers. This man’s participation is that he is alleged to have supplied the poison,” prosecutor Henrik Söderman explained.


Swedish authorities were initially alerted to the man’s trail when the FBI notified their colleagues in Sweden that poison had been sold via a website.

The police have not yet identified the buyers …

Korkmaz did not attempt to make ricin. Instead, he stole it from a lab, one that presumably used a purified source for research.

11.01.16

The Water Cooler Union of Concerned Computer Scientists

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Phlogiston at 11:30 am by George Smith

“[A] small, tightly knit community of computer scientists who pursue such work—some at cybersecurity firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies—is also spurred by a sense of shared idealism and considers itself the benevolent posse that chases off the rogues and rogue states that try to purloin sensitive data and infect the internet with their bugs,” it reads at Slate.

Important stuff! “A Union of Concerned Nerds” are about to explain how they almost discovered Donald J. Trump was in league with Russia!

“We wanted to help defend both campaigns, because we wanted to preserve the integrity of the election,” explained one of the academicians who, naturally, wished to remain anonymous.

One of the defenders of election integrity, nicknamed Tea Leaves (BTW, Tea Leaves is Cockney slang for “thieves,” which I lernt from watching The Limey)

They soon began “scrutinizing” a computer in Moscow, from a bank, that was connecting with Donald J. Trump’s domain “in a strange way.” Strange ways on the internet…

The information and data was passed on to a man named Vixie. There was “no higher authority” when it came to this kind of thing.

The transmissions of the suspicious computer in Moscow were deemed indeed very suspicious.

“The data has got the right kind of fuzz growing on it,” according to Vixie, as told to the reporter. It’s the interpacket gap, the spacing between the conversations, the total volume.”

Growing fuzz. Interpacket gap.

What could be going on? Influence peddling and other skullduggeries yet to be determined, but suspiciously, very suspiciously, tied to events in the election cycle, like the days between two debates!

You could read it here. Or just go to the NY Times and skip the jargon and fog of cyberwar:

F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.

“Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank,” reads a sentence from the top of the story.

Oh well. With a week to go democracy still needs saving. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.


Listen for the “hee’s” and sinister theme invoking the terror of cyberwar near the end.

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