Tag Archives | Cyberwar

MI6 Hacks Online Al-Qaeda Magazine Swapping Bomb Recipes For Cupcake Recipes

Photo: Joy (CC)

Photo: Joy (CC)

This is quite a sweet hack. The Telegraph reports:

The cyber-warfare operation was launched by MI6 and GCHQ in an attempt to disrupt efforts by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular to recruit “lone-wolf” terrorists with a new English-language magazine, the Daily Telegraph understands.

When followers tried to download the 67-page colour magazine, instead of instructions about how to “Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” by “The AQ Chef” they were greeted with garbled computer code.

The code, which had been inserted into the original magazine by the British intelligence hackers, was actually a web page of recipes for “The Best Cupcakes in America” published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show.

Written by Dulcy Israel and produced by Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio, it said “the little cupcake is big again” adding: “Self-contained and satisfying, it summons memories of childhood even as it’s updated for today’s sweet-toothed hipsters.”

It included a recipe for the Mojito Cupcake – “made of white rum cake and draped in vanilla buttercream”- and the Rocky Road Cupcake – “warning: sugar rush ahead!”

[Continues at The Telegraph]

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Pentagon To Consider Cyberattacks As Act Of War

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ryan Allshouse uses the intrusion detection system to monitor unclassified network activity from the automated data processing workspace aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). IDS is part of the integrated shipboard network system and serves as an important computer network defense enabler protecting the unclassified shipboard network from cyber attack.

David E. Sanger and Elisabeth Bumiller write in the New York Times reports:

The Pentagon, trying to create a formal strategy to deter cyberattacks on the United States, plans to issue a new strategy soon declaring that a computer attack from a foreign nation can be considered an act of war that may result in a military response.

Several administration officials, in comments over the past two years, have suggested publicly that any American president could consider a variety of responses — economic sanctions, retaliatory cyberattacks or a military strike — if critical American computer systems were ever attacked.

The new military strategy, which emerged from several years of debate modeled on the 1950s effort in Washington to come up with a plan for deterring nuclear attacks, makes explicit that a cyberattack could be considered equivalent to a more traditional act of war. The Pentagon is declaring that any computer attack that threatens widespread civilian casualties — for example, by cutting off power supplies or bringing down hospitals and emergency-responder networks — could be treated as an act of aggression.

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Computer Virus Targets Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure

Flag of IranIt was only a matter of time before governments started using viruses to attack other nations’ computers. I wonder which agency was behind this one, reported by the BBC:

One of the most sophisticated pieces of malware ever detected was probably targeting “high value” infrastructure in Iran, experts have told the BBC.

Stuxnet’s complexity suggests it could only have been written by a “nation state”, some researchers have claimed.

It is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target real-world infrastructure such as power stations, water plants and industrial units. It was first detected in June and has been intensely studied ever since.

“The fact that we see so many more infections in Iran than anywhere else in the world makes us think this threat was targeted at Iran and that there was something in Iran that was of very, very high value to whomever wrote it,” Liam O’Murchu of security firm Symantec, who has tracked the worm since it was first detected, told BBC News.

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Cyberwar Against WikiLeaks? Good Luck With That…

With the recent controversy over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s alleged and quickly dismissed rape charge this past weekend, I find this article by Kevin Poulsen on WIRED’s Threat Level, dated August 13th, uncannily prescient. If an effective technological responsible is near impossible, how about a true disinformation one?


Map of WikiLeaks insurance seeders

On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told a gathering in London that the secret-spilling website is moving ahead with plans to publish the remaining 15,000 records from the Afghan war logs, despite a demand from the Pentagon that WikiLeaks “return” its entire cache of published and unpublished classified U.S. documents.

Last month, WikiLeaks released 77,000 documents out of 92,000, temporarily holding back 15,000 records at the urging of newspapers that had been provided an advance copy of the entire database. On Thursday, Assange said his organization has now gone through about half of the remaining records, redacting the names of Afghan informants.

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False Flag Cyber Attack

Steve Watson warns of false flag attacks in cyberspace that could take down the Internet, at InfoWars:
An increasing clamour to restrict and control the internet on behalf of the government, the Pentagon, the intelligence community and their private corporate arms, could result in a staged cyber attack being used as justification. Over recent months we have seen a great increase in media coverage of inflated fears over a possible “electronic Pearl Harbor” event, with reports claiming that the U.S. could be "felled within 15 minutes". Vastly over-hyped (and in some cases completely asinine) claims that the power grids and other key infrastructure such as rail networks and water sources are wired up to the public internet have permeated such coverage.
Is the United States government or outside forces the real threat to cyber security? Alex Jones says that the government is trying to silence free speech in America by expanding their reach on the internet. He also says his own personal sites have been censored, even deleted.
Threats against computer networks in the United States are grossly exaggerated...
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‘Operation Titstorm’ Hackers Have Declared Cyberwar on Australia

ASHER MOSES writes in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Groups opposing the government's internet censorship plans have condemned attacks on government websites, saying it will do little to help their cause, while Communications Minister Stephen Conroy called them "totally irresponsible". Hackers connected with the group Anonymous, known for its war against Scientology, this morning launched a broad attack on government websites.
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U.S. Military Prepares for Cyber War

Surfdaddy Orca writes in h+ magazine:
Ever wonder how exactly the U.S. military would fight a cyber war? In August 2009, the U.S. Air Force activated its new cyberspace combat unit, the 24th Air Force, to "provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations." It's commanded by former Minuteman missile and satellite-jamming specialist Major General Richard Webber. (And under his command are two wings, the 688th Information Operations Wing and the 67th Network Warfare Wing, plus a combat communications units.) Meanwhile, to counter the threat of cyber warfare, DARPA is still deploying the National Cyber Range, a test bed of networked computers to test countermeasures against "cyberwar". (According to one report, it provides "a virtual network world . to be populated by mirror computers and inhabited by myriad software sim-people 'replicants,' and used as a firing range in which to develop the art of cyber warfare.") And the Obama administration has even added a military cybersecurity coordinator to the National Security team.
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Hackers Face Off At The U.S. Cyber Challenge

Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers cover the U.S. Cyber Challenge for CNN:

With the coolness of a card shark at the final table of the World Series of Poker, Matt Bergin pulls the hood of his brown sweatshirt over his head and concentrates on the task at hand.

The task: hacking into as many target computers as he can and then defending those computers from attacks by other skilled hackers.

Other skilled hackers like Michael Coppola, 17, a high school senior who, at this very moment, is hunched over a keyboard in his Connecticut home.

Or like Chris Benedict, 21, from the tiny town of Nauvoo, Illinois. Chris is sitting silently nearby, one of 15 “All Star” hackers who have taken over this spacious hotel conference room.

At days end, the moderator of this unusual computer challenge declares the best of the best: Benedict is the winner, king of the hacker hill, followed by Bergin and Coppola.

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’60 Minutes’ Still Says Hackers Caused Brazilian Blackout, Ignores Other Evidence

I'm one of those strange non-senior citizens who watches 60 Minutes on a regular basis (having a TiVo helps). So due to the controversy over a 2007 electrical blackout in Brazil that affected over 3 million people, I was expecting an update from 60 Minutes this week. They are sticking with their original story, still calling it "cyberwar", and no mention that it might be due to poorly-maintained infrastructure, as WIRED and other sources say. My favorite part of the WIRED story is that the Brazilian government says their electric control systems aren't connected to the internet. PowerOutageBrazilHere's the counter-story from Marcelo Soares at WIRED:
A massive 2007 electrical blackout in Brazil has been newly blamed on computer hackers, but was actually the result of a utility company’s negligent maintenance of high voltage insulators on two transmission lines. That’s according to reports from government regulators and others who investigated the incident for more than a year. In a broadcast Sunday night, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes cited unnamed sources in making the extraordinary claim that a two-day outage in the Atlantic state of Espirito Santo was triggered by hackers targeting a utility company’s control systems. The blackout affected 3 million people. Hackers also caused another, smaller blackout north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005, the network claimed...
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