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Cyber Terror Attack



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OBAMACSI.COM:
Recent news reports, events, propaganda and drills all insinuate that a cyber-attack against the United States is imminent. While it is unclear which day the attack will transpire, the "Black Friday" weekend, the busiest shopping days of the year, is the most likely date. A cyber-attack on this date would cripple retailers nationwide and would ultimately cause a run on the banks.

The cyber-attack will likely be scapegoated onto Iran. Iran was the victim of the Israeli and U.S. Stuxnet virus attack in June 2010, and a future cyber terror attack on America would likely be touted as revenge for the virus that targeted Iran's alleged nuclear program.

The biggest thorn in the side of government is the internet and its unprecedented ability for sharing information about topics the government would rather keep secret. Therefore, the best way to control the free internet is to attack it through cyber warfare and blame political enemies for the attack. In the aftermath of a cyber terror attack, new laws, restrictions, and regulations will be implemented, similarly to the days after 9/11 when the PATRIOT ACT was rushed through the U.S. Congress. A massive cyber attack will enable the U.S. government to install the corporate based "Internet 2", crack down on political bloggers, and issue a new internet tax. The once free internet is quietly being set up to take the fall for a massive cyber attack in the near future.

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1. Cyber-Warfare Reports, Strategy
, & Summits:
  Openly stated in the 2007 report entitled "Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues" from the CRS Report for Congress, the U.S. government has war gamed cyber attacks and have concluded the following:

"There has been disagreement among security experts about (1) whether such an attack could possibly be launched by terrorists against U.S. civilian critical infrastructure, or (2) whether such an attack could seriously disrupt the U.S. economy...Simulated cyberattacks, conducted by the U.S. Naval War College in 2002, indicated that attempts to cripple the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure would be unsuccessful because system redundancy would prevent damage from becoming too widespread...According to Richard Clarke, former Administration Counter Terrorism Advisor and National Security Advisor, if terrorists were to launch a widespread cyberattack against the United States, the economy would be the intended target for disruption...Many security experts also agree that a cyberattack would be most effective if it were used to amplify a conventional bombing or CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack)" (CRS Report for Congress, 2007).  

Report Conclusion: A cyber attack will most likely target the financial sector of America (Wall Street), and will likely come in the wake of conventional terror attack, such as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack. Ultimately, billions of dollars will be hijacked from Americans in this cyber attack, likely breaking the financial back of America for good.

2. Duqu Virus: The "son" of the Israeli Stuxnet virus entitled the "Duqu" virus, is currently wreaking havoc worldwide and will likely be blamed in the upcoming cyber attack. Acting as a trojan horse, the Duqu virus has the ability to attack when its makers (Israel) beckons. The Duqu virus will likely be unleashed during the wave of massive terror attacks that will hit America in the near future.

3. "The Internet Never Should have been Invented": In 2009, U.S. Senator, Jay Rockefeller, stated that “The internet never should have been invented”. A year later, the White House Information Czar, Cass Sunstein, stated that the U.S. government "might ban conspiracy theorizing" and that the "government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories." The free internet appears to be a very big problem for the U.S. government and their shrinking control of social media, a prime motive in the upcoming cyber-terror attack.

4. CIA Cyber Terrorism: When a  massive cyber-terror attack occurs, a prime suspect in the attack should be the "JFCCNW", or the Joint Functional Component Command – Network Warfare team, which is "responsible for coordinating offensive computer network operations for the United States Department of Defense". The JFCCNW is "the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks". The "JFCCNW" team has the financing and the personal to commit acts of "offensive" cyber warfare worldwide against what they call the "enemy". 

5. Israeli Cyber Terrorism:
The second most likely suspect in the aftermath of a cyber-terror attack is the state of Israel. Aside from all the terror attacks the state of Israel is responsible for, they have recently delved into a new form of terrorism; cyber terrorism. In 2010, the world was introduced to the Israeli "Stuxnet" computer virus which did widespread damage to Iran, India, Indonesia, and a host of other nations. In 2011, Israel created a new cyber terror task force and has been blamed for starting the a new era of cyber-terrorism.

6. Cyber Security Buildup: The U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding, mapping and federalizing cyberspace and cyber security throughout America. While the reasons for the mass build up in cyber related activities are to "ensure that U.S. Government cyber security initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector", the real and truthful reason for the massive build-up is to ultimately take over and shut down the free internet in a desperate attempt to stop the millions of Americans from reading and seeing "conspiracy theories" on the internet.

7. Cyber Terror Drills: Various agencies within the U.S. government, namely the CIA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have been drilling cyber-terror attacks on a routine basis. The cyber-terror drills range in duration and targets, but ultimately give perspective on what types of cyber-terror related attacks the U.S. government is preparing for. When these drills will go live is unknown, but "authorities have expressed concerns about terrorists combining physical attacks such as bombings with hacker attacks to disrupt rescue efforts, known as hybrid or "swarming" attacks." 

8. Cyber Terror Warnings: After a number of well publicized but non-deadly cyber attacks, the U.S. government has begun warning the American public that the internet will be used by terrorists in future cyber-terror attacks. The problem with this scenario is that digital acts of terror can be committed by anyone with a computer. Unfortunately, this automatically makes anyone with a computer a suspect and allows the government, should the decided to initiate the cyber-terror attack, an impenetrable veil of secrecy to hide behind. The act of cyber-terror would likely be committed by an anonymous person or a fictitious group of hackers/terrorists making it virtually impossible for citizens to verify the government evidence or claims in the case. Isolating the true origin of the act of cyber-terror would be almost impossible which would give the government the ability to terrorize the public without the possibility of being held legally accountable.

9. Cyber Terror Attacks: Shortly after the well-funded cyber security buildup, cyber attacks started occurring on a regular basis. These cyber attacks are well publicized and are occurring at a very rapid pace. Like real life terrorism, groups such as "Anonymous" appear to be funded arms of the CIA or other governmental agencies. These groups commit cyber attacks to give the illusion that more and more cyber security is needed.

10. Thousands of Laptops Stolen: Since 2006, thousands of military laptops have been stolen in the United States and the United Kingdom. Why these thefts are being allowed to occur is not yet clear, but it plays nicely into the narrative of impending cyber-terror attacks. Some of these laptops have likely made it onto the black market and into the hands of "terrorists" and will likely be used in future cyber-terror attacks involving the military in the U.S. or England. The alleged thief who stole 2,000 military laptops in Florida just happens to be the leader of a Miami crime family. The cyber-terror scenarios available to the government due to these repeated laptop thefts is unlimited, dangerous, and potentially deadly.

11. Censoring the Internet. : The result of a cyber-terror attack will be internet censorship. Post cyber-terror censorship will likely take the form of the censorship currently being executed in communist China. Early signs that censorship is the driving motivation for government related cyber-terrorism is evidenced the crack-down on internet social media in the wake of the London Riot of 2011. More people are paying attention to the news, government and politics, and the personal computer is the biggest tool used to monitor daily news and information. The government needs a reason to censor, and cyber terrorism is the tool by which they plan to accomplish their goal.




1. CYBER-WARFARE REPORTS, WHITE PAPERS, & SUMMITS


OBAMACSI.COM: Openly stated in the 2007 report entitled "Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues" from the CRS Report for Congress, the U.S. government has war gamed cyber attacks and have concluded the following:

"There has been disagreement among security experts about (1) whether such an attack could possibly be launched by terrorists against U.S. civilian critical infrastructure, or (2) whether such an attack could seriously disrupt the U.S. economy...Simulated cyberattacks, conducted by the U.S. Naval War College in 2002, indicated that attempts to cripple the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure would be unsuccessful because system redundancy would prevent damage from becoming too widespread...According to Richard Clarke, former Administration Counter Terrorism Advisor and National Security Advisor, if terrorists were to launch a widespread cyberattack against the United States, the economy would be the intended target for disruption...Many security experts also agree that a cyberattack would be most effective if it were used to amplify a conventional bombing or CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack)" (CRS Report for Congress, 2007).  

Report Conclusion: A cyber attack will most likely target the financial sector of America (Wall Street), and will likely come in the wake of conventional terror attack, such as a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack. Ultimately, billions of dollars will be hijacked from Americans in this cyber attack, likely breaking the financial back of America for good.


Title:
Terrorist Capabilities for Cyberattack: Overview and Policy Issues
Date: January 22, 2007
Source: CRS Report for Congress

Abstract
:
Terrorist’s use of the internet and other telecommunications devices is growing both in terms of reliance for supporting organizational activities and for gaining expertise to achieve operational goals. Tighter physical and border security may also encourage terrorists and extremists to try to use other types of weapons to attack the United States. Persistent Internet and computer security vulnerabilities, which have been widely publicized, may gradually encourage terrorists to continue to enhance their computer skills, or develop alliances with criminal organizations and consider attempting a cyberattack against the U.S. critical infrastructure.

Cybercrime has increased dramatically in past years, and several recent terrorist events appear to have been funded partially through online credit card fraud. Reports indicate that terrorists and extremists in the Middle East and South Asia may be increasingly collaborating with cybercriminals for the international movement of money, and for the smuggling of arms and illegal drugs. These links with hackers and cybercriminals may be examples of the terrorists’ desire to continue to refine their computer skills, and the relationships forged through collaborative drug trafficking efforts may also provide terrorists with access to highly skilled computer programmers. The July 2005 subway and bus bombings in England also indicate that extremists and their sympathizers may already be embedded in societies with a large information technology workforce.

The United States and international community have taken steps to coordinate laws to prevent cybercrime, but if trends continue computer attacks will become more numerous, faster, and more sophisticated. In addition, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office states that, in the future, U.S. government agencies may not be able to respond effectively to such attacks. This report examines possible terrorists’ objectives and computer vulnerabilities that might lead to an attempted cyberattack against the critical infrastructure of the U.S. homeland, and also discusses the emerging computer and other technical skills of terrorists and extremists. Policy issues include exploring ways to improve technology for cybersecurity, or whether U.S. counterterrorism efforts should be linked more closely to international efforts to prevent cybercrime (CRS Report for Congress, 2007).



Title: Pull The Cyber War Trigger, If We Have To
Date:
November 11, 2011
Source:
AOL Defense

Abstract: One of the most disturbing aspects of our nation's current response to cyber attacks is a creeping passivity that permeates discussions surrounding the topic. Fueled by less-than-robust, defense-oriented national and DoD cyber strategies, some of the leading voices in the US's national security establishment seem to have given up the fight without even entering the arena. Such attitudes are not only counter-productive, they undermine our current cyber security efforts as well as the nation's security as a whole. There is plenty the nation can do to secure its cyber infrastructure and those efforts should be championed by the national security establishment.

It is certainly true that our cyber infrastructure needs to be better protected. Numerous studies have pointed to vulnerabilities within both governmental and private sector IT networks that could be exploited by those wishing to do us harm. The sheer number and severity of recent hacking and phishing incidents is worrisome enough. Therefore, the idea that there should be uniform cyber security guidelines for both private and public elements of the critical national infrastructure has merit. There should be a public-private partnership to craft and enforce these guidelines. Current cyber security efforts by the government and the private sector are only beginning to address this problem.

While the Department of Homeland Security has the lead responsibility for domestic cyber security, the Department of Defense also has a significant role to play both in protecting the homeland and in integrating the cyber component into our offensive and defensive military capabilities. To be sure, the new DoD cyber strategy unveiled this summer discusses how the military can help protect the nation's IT infrastructure. However, this so-called strategy has one fatal flaw. It completely omits any discussion of offensive cyber capabilities that could be brought to bear on an adversary and it (at least in its unclassified form) does not provide a strategic foundation for the military to develop a sound cyber doctrine. In short, the DoD cyber strategy is one in name only. It does not tie the ends we seek with the ways and means we hope to use to achieve those ends.

That brings me to a meeting of cyber security experts held earlier this week in Washington. Among the attendees was Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism advisor to three past presidents and a cyber security advisor to former President George W. Bush. During the conference, Mr. Clarke commented that any National Security Advisor worth his or her salt would warn the President that we could not attack other countries "because so many of them – including China, North Korea, Iran and Russia – could retaliate by launching devastating cyberattacks that could destroy power grids, banking networks or transportation systems."

That would be like Secretary of War Henry Stimson telling FDR in the run-up to World War II that we couldn't fight the Nazis because they had tanks and ours weren't as good as theirs. One can only imagine how that would have gone over with the Greatest Generation.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Stimson, he would have never said such a thing. He was as much an anti-Nazi as anyone in Roosevelt's administration. What, then, would prompt Mr. Clarke to assert that our cyber vulnerabilities are so bad that we could not risk attacking another country? More importantly, does he have a point?

Mr. Clarke certainly knows how vulnerable our national infrastructure is to cyber attacks. Our banking system, power grid, transportation system and other aspects of our infrastructure are quite vulnerableto those attacks. A failure of one or more of these infrastructure components would have significant implications for our nation's security and our way of life. In certain cases it could even result in mass casualties among the civilian population.

For the military, the loss of its ability to communicate via satellite, to use GPS, or to gather and fuse intelligence using cyberspace would be devastating as well. The potential loss of these capabilities could change the way America wages war – and not for the better.

All of this is true, especially if nothing is done to protect our core national infrastructure. But, the fact is that much is being done both within the government and in the private sector to mitigate and, eventually, overcome these dangers.

It turns out the federal Government is actually working this issue. On the same day that Mr. Clarke made his assertions, the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Regina Dugan, spoke of the need for the military to have "more and better options" to meet current and future cyber threats. Fully aware that many of the products we use in our daily lives depend on unfettered access to the cyber domain, DARPA is seeking to create the tools we need to ensure that continued unimpeded access.

Oddly, in a seeming contradiction, Mr. Clarke also spoke of punishing China and other nations who purportedly use cyber attacks "to steal high-tech American data." The problem with that line of reasoning is that you cannot punish someone if you're reluctant to use coercive force against them.

The implications of Mr. Clarke's policy prescription of not being able to even threaten action against nations waging cyberwar against us would be devastating. Nations and non-state actors seeking to do us harm in cyberspace would, if we followed his advice, act with impunity against us. The nightmare scenario of our banking, transportation and other infrastructure systems not working would come to pass. A military overly reliant on GPS and other aspects of its cyber infrastructure would be rendered useless. The military, the rest of the government and the private sector need to develop ironclad responses and true "work-arounds" to actual and potential cyber attacks. We must develop a coherent national strategy to make these "work-arounds" possible and to employ them when necessary.

While we should not advertise our specific offensive cyber warfare capabilities, we should put potential adversaries on notice that there will be consequences to cyber attacks on our country. The key to our security in all dimensions of warfare (land, sea, air, space and cyber) is to ensure that such adversaries fear our potential reaction. That is why the military must develop redundant capabilities, some of them harkening back to the pre-cyber era, so as to ensure the flexibility of our responses. The more difficult it is for adversaries to predict what our reaction might be, the less willing they will be to put their own critical national infrastructure at risk.

These adversaries should know that our offensive cyber capabilities have the potential to wreak at least as much havoc on their IT infrastructure as they may plan to wreak on ours. Such a deterrent would give pause to rational state and non-state actors. but we also have to be prepared to deal with those who are undeterred, whether they are rational or irrational international actors. The development of a robust suite of offensive cyber capabilities is, therefore, a national imperative.

It may be instructive to think of cyberspace as being similar to the sea or to space. There is a "commons" to protect; an area shared by all nations that allows each of them freedom of navigation. It also facilitates travel and communication. A "commons" is often protected by a consortium of powers. We see this in the world's reaction to the Somali pirates plying the Indian Ocean. Nations as diverse as the United States and China are working together to stop piracy in this region and to ensure freedom of navigation. That tells me that every effort should be made to establish agreed-upon international norms of behavior in cyber space. Once we achieve those, then the job of securing the cyber domain will become every nation's responsibility.To get there, though, we need to show our resolve to protect our interests in this rapidly evolving domain.

It is absolutely imperative that we develop both offensive and defensive cyber capabilities to protect our national infrastructure. And we need to let those who attack us know we have the ability to cripple or destroy them. Waving the white flag of surrender because we fear what others may do to us in the cyber world is not an option. Acquiescing to international cyber bullies will only embolden them and it will harm our efforts to secure the cyber commons. Now is the time to craft the tools, policy and doctrine that will insure our unfettered access to cyberspace (AOL Defense, 2011).



Title:
Pentagon: Offensive Cyber Attacks Fair Game
Date: November 15, 2011
Source:
Washington Post

Abstract: The Pentagon has laid out its most explicit cyberwarfare policy to date, stating that if directed by the president, it will launch “offensive cyber operations” in response to hostile acts.

Those hostile acts may include “significant cyber attacks directed against the U.S. economy, government or military,” Defense Department officials stated in a long-overdue report to Congress released late Monday.

But the report is still silent on a number of important issues, such as rules of engagement outside designated battle zones — a sign of how challenging the policy debate is in the newest and most complex realm of warfare.

The statements are consistent with preexisting policy, but have never before been stated quite so explicitly, even in the Pentagon’s recently released cyberspace strategy.

That strategy focused on the importance of deterring attacks by building defenses that would “deny” adversaries the benefits of success. In the latest report, the Pentagon states that adversaries threatening a crippling cyber attack against the United States “would be taking a grave risk.”

Indeed, officials noted that when defense-based deterrence fails to stop a hostile act, the Pentagon “maintains, and is further developing, the ability to respond militarily in cyberspace and in other domains.”

James E. Cartwright Jr., the recently retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has criticized U.S. cyberstrategy as being too focused on defensive issues, said the report “is a good start at documenting how the U.S. will both defend our interests in this vital domain and deter those who would threaten those interests.”

Cartwright had publicly stated over the summer that a strategy dominated by defense would fail, telling reporters then: “If it’s okay to attack me and I’m not going to do anything other than improve my defenses every time you attack me, it’s very difficult to come up with a deterrent strategy.”

The latest report, issued in response to a congressional requirement to answer key cyberwarfare policy questions by March 1, 2011, reiterated that the United States will “exhaust all options prior to using force whenever we can” in response to a hostile act in cyberspace.

In May, the White House’s international cyberstrategy declared that the United States reserves the right to use all necessary means — diplomatic, informational, military and economic — to defend the nation against hostile acts in cyberspace.

The new report, though, reflects the tensions inherent in cyber policy. Taken with past budget documents, it suggests a need for automated, pre-approved responses to some hostile acts in cyberspace.

But the report makes clear that offensive actions will be carried out only as directed by the president.

And it states that specific rules of engagement for the defense of computer networks have been approved for “areas of hostilities” or battle zones. There is just one area of hostility today — Afghanistan.

“The question is, how, and to what extent, are they thinking about automated responses?” said Herbert Lin, a cyber expert at the National Academy of Sciences.

Such responses, he said, “are fraught with danger. Without people in the loop, you’re much more likely to do unintended stuff” (Washington Post, 2011).



Title:
We Are Prepared To Take Military Action Against Cyber Attackers, Warn U.S. Defence Chiefs
Date:
November 16, 2011
Source:
Daily Mail

Abstract: Defence chiefs have warned that the U.S. is prepared to retaliate with military force if it came under cyber attack.

In the most explicit statement about cyber security to date, Pentagon officials said that they reserved the right to use ‘all necessary means to defend our allies, our partners and our interests.’

‘When warranted, we will respond to hostile attacks in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country,’ the 12-page report to Congress noted.

Hostile acts, it said, could include ‘significant cyber attacks directed against the U.S. economy, government or military’ and the response could use electronic means or more conventional military options.

The report, mandated by the 2011 Defence Authorisation Act, was made public yesterday.

Cyberspace is a particularly challenging domain for the Pentagon.

Defence Department employees operate more than 15,000 computer networks with seven million computers at hundreds of locations around the world.

The networks are probed millions of times a day and penetrations have caused the loss of thousands of files.

Their vulnerability was highlighted by the case of Bradley Manning, who is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of documents and passing them to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Private companies also face relentless cyber attacks, including an increasing number linked to countries like China and Russia, and they have grown increasingly frustrated about the U.S. government's lack of response.

‘There is a massive amount of frustration on the part of the private sector,’ Dmitri Alperovitch, the former vice president of threat research at McAfee, told an event hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute.

U.S. companies are losing billions of dollars to cyber theft each year, he said.

‘Nothing is being done,’ Alperovitch said. ‘Something has to be done from a policy perspective to address the threat ...

‘The fact that it is China, the fact that it is Russia. What are we going to do to face those countries and get them to stop?’

The report said the Defence Department was attempting to deter aggression in cyberspace by developing effective defences that prevent adversaries from achieving their objectives and by finding ways to make attackers pay a price for their actions.

‘Should the “deny objectives” element of deterrence not prove adequate,’ the report said, ‘DoD (Department of Defence) maintains, and is further developing, the ability to respond militarily in cyberspace and in other domains.’

Key to a military response is being able to quickly identify the source of an attack, particularly challenging due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, the report said.

In an effort to crack that problem, the Pentagon is supporting research focusing on tracing the physical source of an attack and using behavior-based algorithms to assess the likely identity of an attacker, the report said.

U.S. security agencies also are grooming a cadre of highly skilled cyber forensics experts and are working with international partners to share information in a timely manner about cyber threats, including malicious code and the people behind it, it said.

Attacks on U.S. computer networks have become more frequent and more damaging in recent years, costing U.S. companies an estimated $1 trillion in lost intellectual property, competitiveness and damage. One defence company lost some 24,000 files in an intrusion in March.

Lani Kass, who recently retired as a senior policy adviser to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said enemies of the United States were becoming more savvy every day.

‘You have got to assume that what we do in cyberspace can be done to us quicker, cheaper and with fewer restrictions," she told Reuters after the Marshall Institute event.

Before moving to offensive action, the United States would exhaust all other options, weigh the risk of action against the cost of inaction and ‘act in a way that reflects our values and strengthens our legitimacy, seeking broad international support wherever possible,’ the report said.

‘If directed by the president, DoD will conduct offensive cyber operations in a manner consistent with the policy principles and legal regimes that the department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict,’ the report said.

The report followed the release in mid-July of the Pentagon's cybersecurity policy, which designated cyberspace as an ‘operational domain’ like land, sea and air where U.S. forces would be trained to conduct offensive and defensive operations (Daily Mail, 2011).



Title: US Joins NATO's Cyber Facility In Estonia
Date: November 16, 2011
Source:
Sacramento Bee

Abstract: The United States has joined NATO's cyber defense research center in Estonia that works on ways to combat cyberattacks.

The multinational center was created in 2008 after Estonia's government and corporate computer networks came under attack the year before following a dispute with neighboring Russia.

The United States will help fund the center, and its scientists and cyber defense experts will be able to both study and teach at the center's premises in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

The U.S. Embassy in Estonia said Wednesday that Poland was also joining the center, which now will have 10 members.

Previously the United States held an observer status at the facility (Sacramento Bee, 2011).



Title: Department Of Defense Cyberspace Policy Report
Date: November 21, 2011
Source:
Department of Defense

Abstract:

13. What constitutes use of force in cyberspace for the purpose of complying with the War Powers Act (Public Law 93-148).

The requirements of the War Powers Resolution apply to “the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.”

Cyber operations might not include the introduction of armed forces personnel into the area of hostilities. Cyber operations may, however, be a component of larger operations that could trigger notification and reporting in accordance with the War Powers Resolution. The Department will continue to assess each of its actions in cyberspace to determine when the requirements of the War Powers Resolution may apply to those actions (Department of Defense, 2011).



Title:
The Business Cyber Security Summit 2011
Date: November 21-23, 2011
Source:
Cyber Security Summit

Abstract: Cyber security is fast becoming a business critical issue for many organisations around the globe. Recent high profile cases including the IMF, Citigroup, Sony, Apple, and the UK Office of National Statistics highlight both the apparent vulnerability of these organisations and the highly damaging consequences of a successful cyber attack. It is estimated that a successful cyber attack on a large business can cost it an average of £690,000 and that an attack on a small and medium sized business can cost it an average of £55,000. However as I am sure you are aware, the damage it can do the reputation of a business in the eyes of its customers is incalculable.

The Business Cyber Security Summit 2011 brings together industry experts led by 5 C-Level Executives and 10 senior level IT Security Managers to discuss the latest solutions and strategies in order to combat this ever present danger and to ensure that your business is not paying the price for becoming the latest victim.

By attending this event you will be able to benchmark your existing security precautions against leaders within the field and network with CISOs, CIOS and Heads of IT Security who are addressing the same issues as you on a daily basis (Cyber Security Summit, 2011).



Title:
Pentagon Confirms Military Action Is An Acceptable Response To Cyber-Attacks
Date: November 22, 2011
Source:
eWeek

Abstract: It is official. The United States military has explicitly stated that it has the right to retaliate with military force against a cyber-attack.

In a 12-page report sent to Congress and made public Nov. 21, the Department of Defense said the military can launch a physical attack in the case of a cyber-attack against its systems. The threat of military action would act as deterrence on people who think they can carry out "significant cyber-attacks directed against the U.S. economy, government or military," the Pentagon wrote in the report, which appears to be an update to the cyber-strategy plan released over the summer.

The president would be in charge of authorizing these attacks, which are approved only to defend computer networks in "areas of hostilities" or actual battle zones, such as Afghanistan. While the report talked about the necessity of securing critical infrastructure, the report said the Pentagon would work with the Department of Homeland Security, which has oversight of this sector. It does not appear from the report that attacks on critical infrastructure by themselves could automatically lead to military action.

"When warranted, we will respond to hostile attacks in cyber-space as we would do to any other threat to our country," according to the report, which the Pentagon is mandated to complete under the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

The Defense Department operates a massive network environment, with more than 15,000 computer networks consisting of seven million computers scattered around the world, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told eWEEK recently. Defense officials have stated in the past that the networks are probed millions of times a day trying to find and extract data. One defense company lost more than 24,000 files as part of a network breach in March.

The report "reserves the right to defend, not just the nation, but various other related interests as well," said Cameron Camp, a security researcher at ESET, noting that the policy would cover the use of proxy force so long as it can be considered as being in "our interests."

The United States will conduct a military strike only when all other options have been exhausted and only when the risks of not doing anything outweigh the risks of acting, the report said. The cyber-operations will still follow the same rules of armed conflict the defense department follows for "kinetic" warfare on the ground, according to the Pentagon.

The Pentagon's team of cyber-security experts are developing defenses that would block adversaries from breaching networks and make attackers pay a price for attacking the network, the report said. In addition to these "deny objectives," the DoD will maintain, and further develop, "the ability to respond militarily in cyber-space and other domains" if the defenses are not adequate, the report said.

The report said "all necessary means" could include various electronic attacks or more conventional military tactics. However, the report did not provide any details about the kind of attacks that would qualify for physical retaliation.

The challenge facing the United States military is to be able to definitely identify the perpetrators. Before launching a military strike, the army needs to improve its identification capabilities, the report said. The Pentagon is supporting research focused on tracing the physical source of an attack and developing behavior-based algorithms that can identify potential individuals as the attacker, according to the report.

The use of network proxies and chaining them together would allow attackers to hide their tracks and lead investigators on "wild goose chases that could span the globe," ESET's Camp said. Being able to assign attribution with the "degree of certainty" necessary to support military action would be a "tough test," he said. Improving the attribution capability is "easier said than done," according to Camp.

"If a bad actor is bent on causing larger nations to clobber each other (regardless of reason), this would seem to be a low-hanging fruit of the network underworld," Camp wrote.

China is often blamed for cyber-attacks. While some of the attacks are launched by Chinese criminals, there are also accusations that the Chinese government or military is backing some of the attacks on the United States. Richard Clarke, former cyber-security czar for President George W. Bush, pulled no punches in a recent speech in Washington, D.C., where he explicitly called out China for conducting cyber-espionage against U.S. companies to benefit its own economic interests.

The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, a U.S. intelligence arm, said in a report to Congress last month that China and Russia are using cyber-espionage to steal U.S. trade and technology secrets and that they will remain "aggressive" in these efforts.

This kind of an aggressive stance may have a "me-too" effect on other nations, Camp said. "One can only wonder if this will usher in a fresh new arms race, this time not governed by the amount of missiles, tanks, ships and planes, but by networks, hackers, bandwidth and street smart young kids to run the whole thing," he wrote (eWeek, 2011).



2. ISRAELI DUQU VIRUS


OBAMACSI.COM: The "son" of the Israeli Stuxnet virus entitled the "Duqu" virus, is currently wreaking havoc worldwide and will likely be blamed in the upcoming cyber attack. Acting as a Trojan horse, the Duqu virus has the ability to attack when its makers (Israel) beckons. The Duqu virus will likely be unleashed during the wave of massive terror attacks that will hit America in the near future.


Title:
Stuxnet Clone 'Duqu': The Hydrogen Bomb of Cyberwarfare?
Date: October 19, 2011
Source: Fox News

Abstract: If the Stuxnet virus was the atom bomb of cyberwarfare, then the discovery this week of the "Duqu" virus is the hydrogen bomb, security experts are warning. 

It is the second major weaponized virus to turn computers into lethal weapons with devastating destructive power.

The new program, discovered by Symantec on Tuesday with the help of an unnamed research lab, uses much of the same code as the 2010 Stuxnet virus did. But instead of destroying the systems it infects, Duqu secretly penetrates them and, according to some experts, creates “back door” vulnerabilities that can be exploited to destroy the networks at any time its creators may choose.

The original Stuxnet malware was the culmination of a vast technical and espionage effort that had only one target in mind: the Iranian nuclear program. And is widely believed to be the work of the United States and Israel. Experts who looked at the program were amazed at its ability to penetrate Iran’s secure, highly protected security system and destroy it without being detected.

Its success set back the Iranian nuclear program for years.

Experts were also amazed at the depth of information that had been collected on the Iranian program, information that allowed its secure nuclear system to be penetrated so easily and without detection. Among those elements, according to Ralph Langer who was one of the first to dissect the Stuxnet virus, were stolen certificates of authorization, highly protected codes that power Siemens industrial computers, and the internal workings of Iran’s computer systems. Much of it, they surmised, had to be done using human rather than computer intelligence agents.

With Duqu that is no longer the case.

According to Michael Sconzo, a senior security officer at worldwide computer security company RSA, the new virus embeds itself in computer systems for 36 days and “analyzes and profiles” the system's workings before sending its findings out to a a secure server and self destructing.

“It's an intelligence operation,” he told FoxNews.com. “We still aren’t sure of all the things it looks for yet but it is a likely precursor to an attack. It is a Trojan horse.”

But he said its intention is to to allow its users to understand the inner workings of the targeted computer system to create malware that can attack the system.

Among the things currently known is that it records is every keystroke used on a system, allowing it to learn and pass on passwords to various systems inside the network, thus making future penetration much easier.

He speculated that the 36-day window might allow the program to collect password patterns because many companies require password changes every thirty days.

As with Stuxnet, there are still a number of open questions that security firms around the word are still trying to answer, Sconzo said.

Among them: Which companies have been hit; how extensive is the collection of data from their computers; and, because of the short period of penetration, how imminent is an attack.

And the most important question still remains open: Who's behind the attacks? 

Several experts have suggested that the perpetrators must be the same group that created Stuxnet. That's far from certain, Sconzo said

“The Stuxnet code has been out there for some time,” he told FoxNews.com. “Anyone with a decent knowledge of computers could reverse engineer it.”

While that raises the possibility of Iranian retaliation for Stuxnet, which has been a cause of concern for some time, or even terrorists, he said there was too much not yet known to draw any conclusions about authorship.

“Just who is doing it may be the most important question we need to answer,” he said, because its discovery raises a great deal of “fear, uncertainty and doubt.”

“There is nothing out there available to stop it,” he said (Fox News, 2011).



Title:
U.S. & Israel Launch New Phase Of Cyber Warfare
Date: October 20, 2011
Source: Infowars

Abstract: The re-emergence of the Stuxnet virus in a virtually identical form to its previous incarnation heralds a “new round of cyber war,” and given the fact that the last version was created by the U.S. and Israel, it’s obvious where the finger of blame should be pointing once again.

“Analysts at US firms McAfee and Symantec agreed that a sophisticated virus dubbed “Duqu” has been unleashed on an apparent mission to gather intelligence for future attacks on industrial control systems,” reports AFP.

“This seems to be the reconnaissance phase of something much larger,” McAfee senior research analyst Adam Wosotowsky told AFP about the virus, named for the “DQ” prefix on files it creates.

The new incarnation of the virus is primarily aimed at the Middle East and is designed to “mount a future attack on an industrial control facility” by capturing password data and infiltrating networks undetected.

“McAfee and Symantec said that, based on snippets of the virus they were given to study, portions of the encrypted Duqu code matched identically scrambled portions of Stuxnet,” states the report.

After last year’s Stuxnet worm attack targeted Iranian nuclear plants, the New York Times reported, months after we had first identified “Israel and the United States….as the prime suspects behind the Stuxnet worm attack,” that the virus was indeed created by the U.S. and Israel.

“The covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British,” reported the NY Times on January 15.

Even after it was all but admitted that the United States and Israel created Stuxnet to target Iran’s nuclear facilities, the establishment media’s coverage of the new incarnation of the worm is completely absent that fact.

Perhaps we can expect to be labeled “conspiracy theorists” once again for stating the blindingly obvious – that while US cybersecurity officials concentrate power and funding in the name of defending against cyber attacks, they are the ones launching them. The US and Israel is once again behind the attack and it will primarily be aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

As we documented, before the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Israel were behind the attack last year, numerous talking heads claimed there was no evidence to suggest this, blaming Russia or China instead, and demonizing those who pointed the finger at the obvious culprits for circulating “ridiculous” theories.

It really scales the heights of hypocrisy to hear the arguments of US cybersecurity officials about the need to hand them the power to control the Internet in the name of protecting against cyber warfare, when the U.S. government itself is behind almost every act of cyber warfare.

Earlier this week it also emerged that the Obama administration considered opening its assault on Libya by launching a cyber attack to “disable the Qaddafi government’s air-defense system”.

Given the fact that strong rumors of an attack on Iran have been circulating for several weeks, this round of cyber warfare could be the opening salvo for something far bigger (Infowars, 2011).



3. "THE INTERNET NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN INVENTED"


OBAMACSI.COM: In 2009, U.S. Senator, Jay Rockefeller, stated that “The internet never should have been invented”. A year later, the White House Information Czar, Cass Sunstein, stated that the U.S. government "might ban conspiracy theorizing" and that the "government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories." The free internet appears to be a very big problem for the U.S. government and their shrinking control of social media, a prime motive in the upcoming cyber-terror attack.


Title: Obama Information Czar Calls For Banning Free Speech
Date: January 14, 2010
Source:
Prison Planet

Abstract: The controversy surrounding White House information czar and Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein’s blueprint for the government to infiltrate political activist groups has deepened, with the revelation that in the same 2008 dossier he also called for the government to tax or even ban outright political opinions of which it disapproved.

Sunstein was appointed by President Obama to head up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, an agency within the Executive Office of the President.

On page 14 of Sunstein’s January 2008 white paper entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” the man who is now Obama’s head of information technology in the White House proposed that each of the following measures “will have a place under imaginable conditions” according to the strategy detailed in the essay.

1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing.

2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories.

That’s right, Obama’s information czar wants to tax or ban outright, as in make illegal, political opinions that the government doesn’t approve of. To where would this be extended? A tax or a shut down order on newspapers that print stories critical of our illustrious leaders?

And what does Sunstein define as “conspiracy theories” that should potentially be taxed or outlawed by the government? Opinions held by the majority of Americans, no less.

The notion that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in killing JFK, a view shared by the vast majority of Americans in every major poll over the last ten years, is an example of a “conspiracy theory” that the federal government should consider censoring, according to Sunstein.

A 1998 CBS poll found that just 10 per cent of Americans believed that Oswald acted alone, so apparently the other 90 per cent of Americans could be committing some form of thought crime by thinking otherwise under Sunstein’s definition.

Sunstein also cites the belief that “global warming is a deliberate fraud” as another marginal conspiracy theory to be countered by government action. In reality, the majority of Americans now believe that the man-made explanation of global warming is not true, and that global warming is natural, according to the latest polls.

But Sunstein saves his most ludicrous example until last. On page 5 he characterizes as “false and dangerous” the idea that exposure to sunlight is healthy, despite the fact that top medical experts agree prolonged exposure to sunlight reduces the risk of developing certain cancers.

To claim that encouraging people to get out in the sun is to peddle a dangerous conspiracy theory is like saying that promoting the breathing of fresh air is also a thought crime. One can only presume that Sunstein is deliberately framing the debate by going to such absurd extremes so as to make any belief whatsoever into a conspiracy theory unless it’s specifically approved by the kind of government thought police system he is pushing for.

Despite highlighting the fact that repressive societies go hand in hand with an increase in “conspiracy theories,” Sunstein’s ‘solution’ to stamp out such thought crimes is to ban free speech, fulfilling the precise characteristic of the “repressive society” he warns against elsewhere in the paper.

“We could imagine circumstances in which a conspiracy theory became so pervasive, and so dangerous, that censorship would be thinkable,” he writes on page 20. Remember that Sunstein is not just talking about censoring Holocaust denial or anything that’s even debatable in the context of free speech, he’s talking about widely accepted beliefs shared by the majority of Americans but ones viewed as distasteful by the government, which would seek to either marginalize by means of taxation or outright censor such views.

No surprise therefore that Sunstein has called for re-writing the First Amendment as well as advocating Internet censorship and even proposing that Americans should celebrate tax day and be thankful that the state takes a huge chunk of their income.

The government has made it clear that growing suspicion towards authority is a direct threat to their political agenda and indeed Sunstein admits this on page 3 of his paper.

That is why they are now engaging in full on information warfare in an effort to undermine, disrupt and eventually outlaw organized peaceful resistance to their growing tyranny (Prison Planet, 2010).




4. CIA CYBER TERRORISM


OBAMACSI.COM: When a massive cyber-terror attack occurs, a prime suspect in the attack should be the "JFCCNW", or the Joint Functional Component Command – Network Warfare team, which is "responsible for coordinating offensive computer network operations for the United States Department of Defense". The JFCCNW is "the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks". The "JFCCNW" team has the financing and the personal to commit acts of "offensive" cyber warfare worldwide against what they call the "enemy". 


Title: Joint Functional Component Command – Network Warfare
Date:
Present
Source:
Wikipedia

Abstract: The Joint Functional Component Command – Network Warfare (JFCC-NW) at Fort Meade, Maryland was a subordinate component command of United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) active from 2005 to 2010. It was is responsible for coordinating offensive computer network operations for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). JFCC-NW was created in 2005. It is to be merged into United States Cyber Command in October 2010.

The Commander, JFCC-NW (currently LTG Keith B. Alexander) is dual-hatted as the Director, National Security Agency. This coordinated approach to information operations involves two other important supporting commands. The Director, Defense Information Systems Agency also heads the Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations. This organization is responsible for operating and defending U.S. worldwide information networks, a function closely aligned with the efforts of JFCC-NW

Mission

JFCC-NW facilitates/facilitated cooperative engagement with other national entities in computer network defense and offensive information warfare as part of the global information operations mission.

The command was responsible for the highly classified, evolving mission of Computer Network Attack (CNA). The command's capabilities are highly classified, but it is believed that they may destroy networks and penetrate enemy computers to steal or manipulate data, and take down command-and-control systems, for example. Some of these capabilities are known as Special Technical Operations (STO) (Wikipedia, 2011).



Title:
U.S. Military's Elite Hacker Crew
Date: April 18, 2005
Source: Wired

Abstract: The U.S. military has assembled the world's most formidable hacker posse: a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks -- from electric grids to telephone nets.

The group's existence was revealed during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month. Military leaders from U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, disclosed the existence of a unit called the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, or JFCCNW.

In simple terms and sans any military jargon, the unit could best be described as the world's most formidable hacker posse. Ever.

The JFCCNW is charged with defending all Department of Defense networks. The unit is also responsible for the highly classified, evolving mission of Computer Network Attack, or as some military personnel refer to it, CNA.

But aside from that, little else is known. One expert on cyber warfare said considering the unit is a "joint command," it is most likely made up of personnel from the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI, the four military branches, a smattering of civilians and even military representatives from allied nations.

"They are a difficult nut to crack," said Dan Verton, a former U.S. Marine intelligence officer. "They're very reluctant to talk about operations." Verton is author of the book Black Ice, which investigates the threats cyber terrorism and vandalism could have on military and financial networks.

Verton said the Defense Department talks often about the millions it spends on defending its networks, which were targeted last year nearly 75,000 times with intrusion attempts. But the department has never admitted to launching a cyber attack -- frying a network or sabotaging radar -- against an enemy, he said.

Verton said the unit's capabilities are highly classified, but he believes they can destroy networks and penetrate enemy computers to steal or manipulate data. He said they may also be able to set loose a worm to take down command-and-control systems so the enemy is unable to communicate and direct ground forces, or fire surface-to-air missiles, for example.

Some of the U.S. military's most significant unified commands, such as Stratcom, are undergoing a considerable reorganization. Stratcom, based at the massive Offutt Air Force base in eastern Nebraska and responsible for much of the nation's nuclear arsenal, has been ordered by the Defense Department to take over the JFCCNW.

To better understand the secret program, several questions about the unit were submitted to Stratcom.

Capt. Damien Pickart, a Stratcom spokesman, issued a short statement in response: "The DOD is capable of mounting offensive CNA. For security and classification reasons, we cannot discuss any specifics. However, given the increasing dependence on computer networks, any offensive or defensive computer capability is highly desirable."

Nevertheless, Verton says military personnel have told him numerous "black programs" involving CNA capabilities are ongoing, while new polices and rules of engagement are now on the books.

The ground was prepared in the summer of 2002, when President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 16, which ordered the government to prepare national-level guidance on U.S. policies for launching cyber attacks against enemies.

"I've got to tell you we spend more time on the computer network attack business than we do on computer network defense because so many people at very high levels are interested," said former CNA commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. John Bradley, during a speech at a 2002 Association of Old Crows conference. The group is the leading think tank on information and electronic warfare (Wired, 2005)




5. ISRAELI CYBER TERRORISM


OBAMACSI.COM: The second most likely suspect in the aftermath of a cyber-terror attack is the state of Israel. Aside from all the terror attacks the state of Israel is responsible for, they have recently delved into a new form of terrorism; cyber terrorism. In 2010, the world was introduced to the Israeli "Stuxnet" computer virus which did widespread damage to Iran, India, Indonesia, and a host of other nations. In 2011, Israel created a new cyber terror task force and has been blamed for starting the a new era of cyber-terrorism.

Title: Israeli Cyber Unit Responsible For Iran Computer Worm
Date: September 30, 2010
Source: The Telegraph

Abstract: An elite Israeli military unit responsible for cyberwarfare has been accused of creating a virus that has crippled Iran's computer systems and stopped work at its newest nuclear power station.

Computer experts have discovered a biblical reference embedded in the code of the computer worm that has pointed to Israel as the origin of the cyber attack.

The code contains the word "myrtus", which is the Latin biological term for the myrtle tree. The Hebrew word for myrtle, Hadassah, was the birth name of Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia.

In the Bible, The Book of Esther tells how the queen pre-empted an attack on the country's Jewish population and then persuaded her husband to launch an attack before being attacked themselves.

Israel has threatened to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran's facilities to ensure that the Islamic state does not gain the ability to threaten its existence.

Ralf Langner, a German researcher, claims that Unit 8200, the signals intelligence arm of the Israeli defence forces, perpetrated the computer virus attack by infiltrating the software into the Bushehr nuclear power station.

Mr Langer said: "If you read the Bible you can make a guess."

Computer experts have spent months tracing the origin of the Stuxnet worm, a sophisticated piece of malicious software, or malware, that has infected industrial operating systems made by the German firm Siemens across the globe.

Programmers following Stuxnet believe it was most likely introduced to Iran on a memory stick, possibly by one of the Russian firms helping to build Bushehr. The same firm has projects in Asia, including India and Indonesia which were also attacked. Iran is thought to have suffered 60 per cent of the attacks.

Mr Langner said: "It would be an absolute no-brainer to leave an infected USB stick near one of these guys and there would be more than a 50 per cent chance of him pick it up and infect his computer."

Cyber security experts said that Israel was the most likely perpetrator of the attack and had been targeting Iran but that it had not acknowledged a role to its allies.

"Nobody is willing to accept responsibility for this particular piece of malicious software which is a curious, complex and powerful weapon," said one Whitehall expert.

The Iranian authorities acknowledged the worm had struck Bushehr and a statement conceded that the plant would come into operation in January, two months later than planned.

Elizabeth Katina, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, said the possibility of a copycat attack on British or American electricity networks or water supplies had been elevated by the release of Stuxnet.

"Critical national infrastructure is at greater risk because this shows groups on the outside of governments how to do it," she said. "It's more likely now that the northeast of England power grid can be shut down until someone decides to start it up again" (The Telegraph, 2011).



Title:
With Stuxnet, Did The U.S. And Israel Create a New Cyberwar Era?
Date: January 16, 2011
Source: Wired

Abstract: Remember the years-long controversy about whether the U.S. or the Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear program? It appears they just did — virtually. And if they did, they also may have expanded our sense of how nations wage war in cyberspace.

For all the hype, “cyberwar” has been a bush-league affair so far. Websites get defaced or taken offline, or an adversary’s software gets logic-bombed into a malfunctioning mess. Analysts warn that future assaults could fry an electrical grid (if it’s networked too well) or cause a military to lose contact with a piece of its remotely-controlled hardware. But that’s about the extent of the damage. Only the Stuxnet worm may point to a huge innovation for cyberwar: the mass disablement of an enemy’s most important strategic programs.

Stuxnet’s origin is unknown. Attributing credit for Stuxnet is rightly the subject of geopolitical intrigue. As our sister blog Threat Level has exhaustively reported, the worm eats away at a very specific kind of industrial control system: a configuration of the Siemens-manufactured Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that commands the centrifuges enriching uranium for Iran’s nuclear program, the key step for an Iranian bomb. But the Stuxnet whodunit may be solved: it appears to be a joint U.S.-Israeli collaboration — and a cyberwarfare milestone.

The New York Times doesn’t have definitive proof, but it has fascinating circumstantial evidence, and Threat Level’s Kim Zetter will publish more on Tuesday. In 2008, Siemens informed a major Energy Department laboratory of the weaknesses in its SCADA systems. Around that time, the heart of Israel’s nuclear-weapons complex, Dimona, began experimenting on an industrial-sabotage protocol based on a model of the Iranian enrichment program. The Obama administration embraced an initiative begun by the Bush administration to “bore into [Iranian] computers” and disable the nuclear effort. Motive, meet opportunity. By late 2009, Stuxnet was popping up globally, including in Iran.

Iran denies that Stuxnet did any major damage to its nuclear program. But last week, the outgoing chief of Israel’s Mossad spy agency publicly asserted that Iran wouldn’t be capable of making a bomb before 2015, adding four years to a fearsome nuclear schedule. It’s possible that’s just ass-covering spin: for years, both Israel and the U.S. have repeatedly pushed back their estimates of when Iran would go nuclear. But both countries also have long track records of covertly sabotaging Iranian nuke efforts, whether it’s getting scientists to defect or… other means.  (Some scientists are getting killed in the streets by unknown assailants.) Stuxnet would be a new achievement for a long-running mission.

And what an achievement. The early stages of cyberwar have looked like a component effort in a broader campaign, as when Georgia’s government websites mysteriously went offline during its 2008 shooting war with Russia. The Navy’s information chief recently suggested that jamming capabilities will be increasingly important to Chinese military doctrine. The difference between that and Stuxnet is the difference between keying someone’s car and blowing up her city.

With Stuxnet, there’s no broader conventional assault, but an adversary’s most important military asset gets compromised.  The mission of an aerial bombardment of Iran would be to set Iran’s nuclear program back; to at least some degree, Stuxnet has done precisely that. Only Stuxnet didn’t kill anyone, and it didn’t set off the destabilizing effect in the region that a bombing campaign was likely to reap.

In other words, Stuxnet may represent the so-called “high end” of cyberwarfare: a stealthy, stand-alone capability to knock an opponent’s Queen off the board before more traditional military hostilities can kick in. It wouldn’t be taking out a particular ship’s radar system or even a command-and-control satellite. All of that could still happen. But this would be the first instance of cyberwarfare aimed at a truly strategic target.

That’s not to say we’re there yet, since we don’t really know how many years of a non-nuclear Iran Stuxnet provided. But it is to say that we may be getting there. North Korea’s uranium enrichment efforts have similar industrial control mechanisms, and if Stuxnet couldn’t take them down, a son-of-Stuxnet might. And just consider what kinds of other major cyberwar programs are out there — the ones really hidden in secrecy, not like the winks-and-nods that U.S. and Israeli officials have given to their possible authorship of Stuxnet.

All this has major implications for U.S. military doctrine. There isn’t any for cyberwarfare, for instance. The new U.S. Cyber Command describes its primary mission as protecting military networks from incoming assault, and says very little about what its offensive mission might be. Writing malicious code and transmitting it into enemy networks, up to and including nuclear controls, even in advance of conventional hostilities, could be CYBERCOM’s next big step. It would represent an update to the old Air Force dream of strategic bombing (.pdf), in which bombing an enemy’s critical infrastructure compels him to give up the fight.

That also points to the downside. Just as strategic bombing doesn’t have a good track record of success, Stuxnet hasn’t taken down the Iranian nuclear program. Doctrine-writers may be tempted to view cyberwar as an alternative to a shooting war, but the evidence to date doesn’t suggest anything of the sort. Stuxnet just indicates that high-level cyberwarfare really is possible; it doesn’t indicate that it’s sufficient for achieving national objectives.

The Times has an irresistible quote from Ralph Langner, a German expert who decoded Stuxnet. Langner wrote that “Stuxnet is not about sending a message or proving a concept. It is about destroying its targets with utmost determination in military style.” Maybe so. But that certainly does send a message. And if it doesn’t exactly prove a concept, it points a way forward to just how powerful cyberwarfare can become (Wired, 2011).



Title:
Israel Government Unveils Counter-Cyberterrorism Unit
Date: April 3, 2011
Source: Xinhua

Abstract: Israeli officials have said they are set to implement a new strategy aimed at foiling the growing wave of cyberterrorism and cybertheft attacks perpetrated against its government ministries, military agencies, and major banking and commercial entities.

Israel averages about 350 on-line hacking attacks per second every day, according to Assaf Keren, the former project director for Israel's e-Gov portal. The portal offers a wealth of services for the public at large, and is, among other major sites like the Bank of Israel, considered a prime hacker magnet by Israel's political foes and criminal elements.

Hackers took down the site for two days in early 2008. While bank officials said the hackers "inserted propaganda material in Arabic," but they were unable to access financial data and information, which is stored on a separate system.

While the Mossad, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), military and other entities have their own departments dealing with on-line warfare, and last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu averred that Israel was preparing a top-level response to such attacks.

Leading the digital charge is Major General Isaac Ben-Israel, who headed up the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, local daily Ha'aretz daily reported on Sunday.

Late last year, Ben-Israel and senior Israeli and international security experts gathered at an Israeli think tank to share know- how about battling cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism and cyber-warfare. Talks at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Herzliya-based Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) focused on efforts to slay, or at least rein in the multi-headed digital hydra.

Many of the experts at the program said again and again that substantially raising basic governmental, public and private awareness of the need to defend against on-line threats, from simple measures like not opening unknown email attachments, all the way up to tightly guarding national infrastructure, was crucial (Xinhua, 2011).



Title:
Iran: Israel Ranks First In Cyber Terror
Date: August 11, 2011
Source: Press TV

Abstract:
Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology Reza Taqipour says Israel ranks first in planning cyber terrorism against other nations in the globe.

Taqipour told reporters on Wednesday that the Israeli regime ranks at the top of governments that sponsor various forms of state terrorism, including cyber terror, Mehr news agency reported.

He said that the Tel Aviv regime was the symbol of state terrorism, adding that the regime takes the lead in spreading malwares across cyber space.

He added, however, that Iran has taken appropriate counter measures, including the establishment of a cyber command, to control and foil cyber attacks targeting the country.

The minister's comments came in response to reports that Israeli military is plotting to wage a major cyber war against Iran by setting up a military cyber command.

The new cyber command, which has been designated as central to 'defense capability' of the Israeli regime, would directly report to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The new command center, supported by the military, has already conducted a series of "soft" espionage missions, including hacking into Iran's version of Facebook and other social networking sites, the report says.

A source with close knowledge of the cyber war preparations said that Israel has two principal targets in Iran's cyberspace, which are stopping Tehran's nuclear program and its civil infrastructure.

Iran says it fully monitors cyberspace in order to counter soft warfare against the country (Press TV, 2011)



Title:
U.S. & Israel Launch New Phase Of Cyber Warfare
Date: October 20, 2011
Source:
Infowars

Abstract: The re-emergence of the Stuxnet virus in a virtually identical form to its previous incarnation heralds a “new round of cyber war,” and given the fact that the last version was created by the U.S. and Israel, it’s obvious where the finger of blame should be pointing once again.

“Analysts at US firms McAfee and Symantec agreed that a sophisticated virus dubbed “Duqu” has been unleashed on an apparent mission to gather intelligence for future attacks on industrial control systems,” reports AFP.

“This seems to be the reconnaissance phase of something much larger,” McAfee senior research analyst Adam Wosotowsky told AFP about the virus, named for the “DQ” prefix on files it creates.

The new incarnation of the virus is primarily aimed at the Middle East and is designed to “mount a future attack on an industrial control facility” by capturing password data and infiltrating networks undetected.

“McAfee and Symantec said that, based on snippets of the virus they were given to study, portions of the encrypted Duqu code matched identically scrambled portions of Stuxnet,” states the report.

After last year’s Stuxnet worm attack targeted Iranian nuclear plants, the New York Times reported, months after we had first identified “Israel and the United States….as the prime suspects behind the Stuxnet worm attack,” that the virus was indeed created by the U.S. and Israel.

“The covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British,” reported the NY Times on January 15.

Even after it was all but admitted that the United States and Israel created Stuxnet to target Iran’s nuclear facilities, the establishment media’s coverage of the new incarnation of the worm is completely absent that fact.

Perhaps we can expect to be labeled “conspiracy theorists” once again for stating the blindingly obvious – that while US cybersecurity officials concentrate power and funding in the name of defending against cyber attacks, they are the ones launching them. The US and Israel is once again behind the attack and it will primarily be aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

As we documented, before the New York Times reported that the U.S. and Israel were behind the attack last year, numerous talking heads claimed there was no evidence to suggest this, blaming Russia or China instead, and demonizing those who pointed the finger at the obvious culprits for circulating “ridiculous” theories.

It really scales the heights of hypocrisy to hear the arguments of US cybersecurity officials about the need to hand them the power to control the Internet in the name of protecting against cyber warfare, when the U.S. government itself is behind almost every act of cyber warfare.

Earlier this week it also emerged that the Obama administration considered opening its assault on Libya by launching a cyber attack to “disable the Qaddafi government’s air-defense system”.

Given the fact that strong rumors of an attack on Iran have been circulating for several weeks, this round of cyber warfare could be the opening salvo for something far bigger (Infowars, 2011).



6. THE CYBER SECURITY BUILD-UP


OBAMACSI.COM: The U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding, mapping and federalizing cyberspace and cyber security throughout America. While the reasons for the mass build up in cyber related activities are to "ensure that U.S. Government cyber security initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector", the real and truthful reason for the massive build-up is to ultimately take over and shut down the free internet in a desperate attempt to stop the millions of Americans from reading and seeing "conspiracy theories" on the internet.


Title: White House Eyes Cyber Security Plan
Date: February 9, 2009
Source: CBS News

Abstract: In the age of terrorism and the Internet, threats to the United States' national security come not just from those wielding bombs and guns, but unconventional weapons – such as a keyboard and a mouse.

The White House announced today that it will conduct a review of the nation's cyber security to "ensure that U.S. Government cyber security initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector," according to a release from the White House.

The announcement comes less than a week after President Obama's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, raised the issue of protecting vital national security interests online during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. During the hearing, Panetta uttered the phrase "cyber-attack" in the same breath as such threats as al Qaeda and the potential of a nuclear armed North Korea.

"What is al Qaeda plotting in the tribal areas of Pakistan? What will it take to get Iran off of its dangerous nuclear path? What will be the keys to long-term stability in Afghanistan and in Iraq? Will North Korea give up its weapons program? Can we defend our networks against cyber-attack?" he said. "Our first responsibility is to prevent surprise.

"We know that our communications networks are vulnerable to malicious activity and cyber threats. But we don't know what our adversaries are planning and what damage they are capable of inflicting."

The 60-day interagency review will include advisors from the National and Homeland Security Councils and will be led by Melissa Hathaway, who served as Cyber Coordination Executive to the Director of National Intelligence under President Bush. In the Obama administration, Hathaway will get a new title – albeit an equally obtuse one – as Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils.

Mr. Obama's appointment of Hathaway fulfills a promise he made on the campaign trail last summer.

"We need to prevent terrorists or spies from hacking into our national security networks," he said in a July 16, 2008, speech in Indiana. "We need to build the capacity to identify, isolate and respond to any cyber-attack. And we need to develop new standards for the cyber-security that protects our most important infrastructure – from electrical grids to sewage systems; from air traffic control to our markets."

The review announced today is aimed at achieving those goals, without trampling privacy rights, according to the announcement.

"The national security and economic health of the United States depend on the security, stability, and integrity of our Nation's cyberspace, both in the public and private sectors. The president is confident that we can protect our nation's critical cyber infrastructure while at the same time adhering to the rule of law and safeguarding privacy rights and civil liberties," said Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan (CBS News, 2009).



Title:
Senate Legislation Would Federalize Cybersecurity
Date: April 1, 2009
Source: Washington Post

Abstract: Key lawmakers are pushing to dramatically escalate U.S. defenses against cyberattacks, crafting proposals that would empower the government to set and enforce security standards for private industry for the first time.

The proposals, in Senate legislation that could be introduced as early as today, would broaden the focus of the government's cybersecurity efforts to include not only military networks but also private systems that control essentials such as electricity and water distribution. At the same time, the bill would add regulatory teeth to ensure industry compliance with the rules, congressional officials familiar with the plan said yesterday.

Addressing what intelligence officials describe as a gaping vulnerability, the legislation also calls for the appointment of a White House cybersecurity "czar" with unprecedented authority to shut down computer networks, including private ones, if a cyberattack is underway, the officials said.

How industry groups will respond is unclear. Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, which represents private companies and civil liberties advocates, said that mandatory standards have long been the "third rail of cybersecurity policy." Dempsey said regulation could also stifle creativity by forcing companies to adopt a uniform approach.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), was drafted with White House input. Although the White House indicated it supported some key concepts of the bill, there has been no official endorsement.

Many of the proposals were based on recommendations of a landmark study last year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Currently, government responsibility for cybersecurity is split: The Pentagon and the National Security Agency safeguard military networks, while the Department of Homeland Security provides assistance to private networks. Previous cybersecurity initiatives have largely concentrated on reducing the vulnerability of government and military computers to hackers.

A 60-day federal review of the nation's defenses against computer-based attacks is underway, and the administration has signaled its intention to incorporate private industry into those defenses in an unprecedented way.

"People say this is a military or intelligence concern, but it's a lot more than that," Rockefeller, a former intelligence committee chairman, said in an interview. "It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights and rail networks and water and electricity."

U.S. intelligence officials have warned that a sustained attack on private computer networks could cause widespread social and economic havoc, possibly shutting down or compromising systems used by banks, utilities, transportation companies and others.

The Rockefeller-Snowe measure would create the Office of the National Cybersecurity Adviser, whose leader would report directly to the president and would coordinate defense efforts across government agencies. It would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish "measurable and auditable cybersecurity standards" that would apply to private companies as well as the government. It also would require licensing and certification of cybersecurity professionals.

The proposal would also mandate an ongoing, quadrennial review of the nation's cyberdefenses. "It's not a problem that will ever be completely solved," Rockefeller said. "You have to keep making higher walls."

Last week, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told reporters that one agency should oversee cybersecurity for government and for the private sector. He added that the NSA should be central to the effort.

"The taxpayers of this country have spent enormous sums developing a world-class capability at the National Security Agency on cyber," he said.

Blair acknowledged there will be privacy concerns about centralizing cybersecurity, and he said the program should be designed in a way that gives Americans confidence that it is "not being used to gather private information" (Washington Post, 2009).



Title:
Pentagon Bill To Fix Cyber Attacks: $100M
Date:
April 7, 2009
Source:
CBS News

Abstract: The Pentagon spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems, military leaders said Tuesday.

Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who heads U.S. Strategic Command, said the military is only beginning to track the costs, which are triggered by constant daily attacks against military networks ranging from the Pentagon to bases around the country.

"The important thing is that we recognize that we are under assault from the least sophisticated - what I would say the bored teenager - all the way up to the sophisticated nation-state, with some pretty criminal elements sandwiched in-between," said Chilton, adding that the motivations include everything from vandalism to espionage. "This is indeed our big challenge, as we think about how to defend it."

According to Army Brig. Gen. John Davis, deputy commander for network operations, the money was spent on manpower, computer technology and contractors hired to clean up after both external probes and internal mistakes. Strategic Command is responsible for protecting and monitoring the military's information grid, as well as coordinating any offensive cyber warfare on behalf of the U.S.

Officials would not say how much of the $100 million cost was due to outside attacks against the system, versus viruses and other problems triggered accidentally by Defense Department employees. And they declined to reveal any details about suspected cyber attacks against the Pentagon by other countries, such as China.

Speaking to reporters from a cyberspace conference in Omaha, Neb., the military leaders said the U.S. needs to invest more money in the military's computer capabilities, rather than pouring millions into repairs.

"You can either pay me now or you can pay me later," said Davis. "It would be nice to spend that money proactively ... rather than fixing things after the fact."

Officials said that while there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence on the spending estimate, they only began tracking it last year and are still not sure they are identifying all the costs related to taking computer networks down after a problem is noticed.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that its vast computer network is scanned or probed by outsiders millions of times each day. Last year a cyber attack forced the Defense Department to take up to 1,500 computers off line. And last fall the Defense Department banned the use of external computer flash drives because of a virus threat officials detected on the Pentagon networks.

The cost updates come as the Obama administration is completing a broad government-wide review of the nation's cybersecurity.

In February, the White House announced that it would conduct a review to "ensure that U.S. Government cyber security initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector," according to a release from the White House (CBS News, 2009).



Title: Mapping Cyberspace
Date:
October 6, 2010
Source:
San Diego State University

Abstract
: A $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help SDSU researchers create new ways to analyze the spread of information and ideas on the Internet. The multidisciplinary cyber-infrastructure innovation project will map cyberspace by tracking the flow of information and monitoring its movement on the Internet. “The spread of ideas in the age of the Internet is a double-edged sword; it can enhance our collective welfare, as well as produce forces that can destabilize the world,” said Ming-Hsiang Tsou, associate professor of geography and the project’s lead investigator.

“This project aims at understanding the process by which the impact of co-related events or ideas disperse throughout the world over time and space.” The project seeks to map both the geography and the chronology of ideas over cyberspace, as the ripples of information radiate outward from a given event epicenter. By mapping and analyzing such ripples, researchers hope to better understand the role of new media in biasing, accelerating, impeding or otherwise influencing personal, social and political uses of such information.

Tracking Terrorist Ideas
Online

One application of the project will be to track terrorist and extremist ideas on the web to see where the information originates and how it spreads. As an example, the news of an obscure preacher’s intention to burn the Koran spread like wildfire in various media throughout much of the world in general, and in the Islamic world in particular. “This singular announcement by a solitary person touched off violent protests that took the lives of many and threatened further escalation of tensions and rifts between the West and the Islamic world,” said Dipak Gupta, co-investigator on the project and professor of international security and conflict resolution.

“This episode illustrates the potential of relatively isolated events for destabilizing the world in unforeseen ways and with far-reaching consequences.” By identifying the path of information online, researchers hope to learn what makes a place more prone to the spread of any particular idea. In addition to terrorist ideas, the project also seeks to establish ways to map the spread of information on other ongoing topics, such as epidemics and global climate change, and other event-based topics, such as wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes. 


Diffusion of Information


“Understanding information diffusion and acquisition—e.g., searching, sending—patterns in response to such disasters and epidemics may significantly facilitate intervention responses, and eventually, prevention responses,” Tsou said. The first phase of the project will develop basic language analysis tools creating semantic maps—words, phrases and patterns of language use—which characterize the seed sites in the spread of ideas.  Using these maps to guide web searches will provide a detailed picture of how seed sites are reporting an event.


By using this linguistic framework, a sophisticated web search will indicate how these seed sites and their social networks of users are reporting an event and influencing each other. In the second phase of the project, researchers will collect data on the spread of words, phrases and patterns of language use on websites over time and space. By mapping these sites on a world map, visualization will show how the ideas are spreading. In the third phase of the project, statistical analyses will seek to understand the reasons for a particular course along which an idea spreads. In other words, potential factors that cause “susceptibility” to and “immunity” from a particular set of ideas will be identified. This project will continue for four years, collecting and analyzing data, and developing a theoretical structure on the spread of ideas.


Understanding 'Collective Thinking'


“This project will help us to better understand the ‘collective thinking’ of human beings and minimize misunderstandings between different groups and people,” Tsou said. Mapping Cyberspace to Realspace: Visualizing and Understanding Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Global Diffusion of Ideas and the Semantic Web was funded for four years starting Oct. 1 (San Diego State University, 2010).




Title: Boeing Sees Growth In Cyber Despite Defense Cuts
Date: October 25, 2011
Source: Reuters

Abstract: Boeing Co (BA.N) opened a new cyber security center on Tuesday, saying it expected high single-digit or low double-digit growth in the sector in coming years despite major cuts in defense spending.

Dennis Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing's Defense Space and Security, said creation of the new facility was part of Boeing's strategy to offset cuts in defense spending that could total as much as $1 trillion over the next decade.

Boeing's defense business has continued to invest in core areas such as aviation and satellites, and has already expanded international sales from 7 percent of revenues to around 18 percent, with that proportion due to increase to around 25 to 30 percent, Muilenburg told reporters at the center's opening.

In addition, Boeing would also continue to move aggressively into areas such as cyber security, where it expected to generate good revenues from government and commercial customers in coming years, Muilenburg said.

He declined to give details on what share of overall Boeing defense revenues came from cyber security, but said the company would continue to evaluate additional acquisitions to add new capabilities to its cyber security portfolio.

Boeing also bought several smaller cyber companies, including eXMeritus and Kestrel that brought in tools for data analysis and secure information-sharing capabilities. Narus and SMSi, two other recent acquisitions, added real-time traffic intelligence solutions and analytics capabilities.

Muilenburg said Boeing still aimed to balance overall commercial and defense sales, allowing growth in one area to help offset down cycles in the other, but commercial sales looked likely to overtake defense sales in coming years.

In past years, he said, defense and commercial sales contributed about 50 percent of revenues, a contrast from five years ago when defense sales outweighed commercial sales by about 60 to 40 percent. Now the pendulum was swinging the other way, with commercial sales buoyed by strong demand.

NEW CENTER AIMED AT HELPING BOEING REACH NEW CUSTOMERS

Boeing's new "Cyber Engagement Center" is located about 100 yards from the U.S. National Security Agency, the military intelligence agency charged with ensuring the security of government computer networks.

The 32,000-square-foot center, staffed by 30 to 40 people, is one of three at which Boeing monitors its own extensive computer network, one of the largest in the world with about 250,000 users and about 1 million nodes.

It will also provide secure facilities for Boeing to meet with commercial, government, and international customers to demonstrate its integrated data analysis capabilities and new ways to marry surveillance of physical and cyber security.

Boeing is also investing heavily to develop solutions that will allow companies and government workers to use commercially available computing devices such as iPads and smart phones without exposing secure data to possible cyber attacks.

Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems, said the cyber center underscored the company's commitment to working with existing and future customers to defend against escalating cyber threats.

"This is an hundred year market for us," Krone said. "It's a huge inflection point."

Boeing officials said the company amassed extensive experience in cyber security after years of developing, building and defending complex weapons systems, and managing a global network for its commercial airline sales.

Other companies in the cyber security sector, including Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L), have also set up cyber centers in recent years (Reuters, 2011).



Title:
Canada Puts Up $477 Million To Foil Cyber Attacks
Date: November 14, 2011
Source:
Vancouver Sun

Abstract: Canada is poised to spend nearly half a billion dollars to gain access to a constellation of U.S. air force satellites designed to foil foreign cyber attacks.

Global Mercury, as Canada’s $477 million share of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) network, is to be known, will be immediately activated when a memorandum of understanding between the Department of National Defence and the U.S. air force is signed within the next few weeks.

"Our global security interests are not all protected by planes, ships and tanks. Some of the greatest threats are invisible, but real," Defence Minister Peter MacKay said after a visit to the Afghan capital to meet senior Afghan and NATO officials and some of the nearly 1,000 Canadian soldiers that began training Afghan security forces earlier this year as Ottawa’s 64-month combat mission in Kandahar ended.

Attempts by foreign governments to penetrate military and other government computer systems and those run by Canadian businesses were occurring "on an almost daily basis," according to a senior DND source.

MacKay did not name which countries Canada suspected of cyber attacks. However, it is widely believed that Russia and China are the leaders in this rapidly growing form of military and commercial espionage against the West.

"This is part of Canada’s effort to protect crucial information that we and commercial interests possess that have an effect on the economy," the minister said. "Because of where it is coming from, that’s why we are investing. We are spending a great deal of time studying how to protect our country against cyber attacks."

WGS was launched by the U.S. in 2007. When completed in 2018, the joint American-Australian initiative will have nine communications satellites each capable of handling massive amounts of bandwidth transmitting and exchanging secure data.

Cyber warfare was raised six weeks ago at the first meeting between MacKay and Leon Panetta, the new American secretary of defence. Panetta has, according to Reuters, said that "cyber is the battlefield of the future."

MacKay and the former director of the CIA are to meet again later this week at the Halifax International Security Forum.

Cyber security had not yet caught the attention of many Canadians "because it does not figure prominently in people’s lives," MacKay said. "It is very futuristic to speak of the cyber threat."

Another reason Canadians were generally unaware of the high number of cyber attacks against their country was that "you don’t give opponents your playbook," he said. "Speaking publicly about it does not necessarily improve our situation. Doing something about it does."

Among the other challenges that Canada faced was how to communicate much better in the Arctic, MacKay said. Radarsat 2 network has existed for several years but was in need of further upgrades, he said, including links between satellites and underwater sonar detection systems in the North and along Canada’s coastlines. The Department of Defence announced two years ago that it was to spend $25 million on such upgrades in a program known as Polar Epsilon.

Given the vastness of the High Arctic, drones, which are another emerging technology, "will figure prominently in our surveillance," MacKay said. "But we still have to determine the right platform."

Small unarmed surveillance drones known as ScanEagles had been tested for the first time three months ago in the Far North by the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canada’s first experience with flying larger unarmed drones in Afghanistan "had been instructive," although the flying conditions in the extreme heat of South Asia were much different than those found in northern Canada, MacKay said.

"The capability of drones goes up exponentially when you arm them like a fighter jet," he said. However, he noted that Canada was "investing in the F-35 (fighter jet) to cover that capability."

There has been much debate recently in the U.S. about the legality of using attack drones against suspected insurgents. Until now Canada has never acquired armed drones. However, Public Works Canada has alerted prospective manufacturers that if a project know as JUSTAS (Joint Uninhabited Surveillance and Target Acquisition System) is approved, Ottawa could spend more than $1 billion to purchase drones including attack drones.

"We are not yet at the discussion point about whether to proceed or not," with JUSTAS, MacKay said.

The media and political opposition have hounded MacKay and Canada’s top general, Walter Natynczyk lately about the justification for some flights they have taken on military aircraft.

Brushing these sometimes personal attacks aside, MacKay said: "It doesn’t compare to the work our soldiers do each day and the stress their families are under. These are part of the trials and tribulations of public life. It pales beside the suffering of Master Corporal (Byron) Greff’s family. "

Greff was the 158th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. He was killed along with 15 Afghans, Americans and Britons when a suicide bomber struck the armoured bus that was transporting them between Afghan army and police training bases in Kabul last month (Vancouver Sun, 2011).




7. CYBER TERROR DRILLS


OBAMACSI.COM: Various agencies within the U.S. government, namely the CIA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have been drilling cyber-terror attacks on a routine basis. The cyber-terror drills range in duration and targets, but ultimately give perspective on what types of cyber-terror related attacks the U.S. government is preparing for. When these drills will go live is unknown, but "authorities have expressed concerns about terrorists combining physical attacks such as bombings with hacker attacks to disrupt rescue efforts, known as hybrid or "swarming" attacks."


OBAMACSI.COM: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Silent Horizon
Date: May 2005
Agency: CIA


Title:
CIA: Take That, Cyberterrorism!
Date:
May 25, 2005
Source: Wired

Abstract: The CIA is conducting a war game this week to simulate an unprecedented, Sept. 11-like electronic assault against the United States. The three-day exercise, known as "Silent Horizon," is meant to test the ability of government and industry to respond to escalating internet disruptions over many months, according to participants.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the CIA asked them not to disclose details of the sensitive exercise taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, about two hours southwest of Washington.

The simulated attacks were carried out five years in the future by a fictional new alliance of anti-American organizations that included anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be inflicted in the closing hours of the war game Thursday.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise -- a devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the economy on the scale of the 2001 suicide hijackings -- contradicts assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts that such effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely.

"You hear less and less about the digital Pearl Harbor," said Dennis McGrath, who has helped run three similar exercises for the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. "What people call cyberterrorism, it's just not at the top of the list."

The CIA's little-known Information Operations Center, which evaluates threats to U.S. computer systems from foreign governments, criminal organizations and hackers, was running the war game. About 75 people, mostly from the CIA, along with other current and former U.S. officials, gathered in conference rooms and pretended to react to signs of mock computer attacks.

The government remains most concerned about terrorists using explosions, radiation and biological threats. FBI Director Robert Mueller warned earlier this year that terrorists increasingly are recruiting computer scientists but said most hackers "do not have the resources or motivation to attack the U.S. critical information infrastructures."

The government's most recent intelligence assessment of future threats through the year 2020 said cyberattacks are expected but terrorists "will continue to primarily employ conventional weapons." Authorities have expressed concerns about terrorists combining physical attacks such as bombings with hacker attacks to disrupt rescue efforts, known as hybrid or "swarming" attacks.

"One of the things the intelligence community was accused of was a lack of imagination," said Dorothy Denning of the Naval Postgraduate School, an expert on internet threats who was invited by the CIA to participate but declined. "You want to think about not just what you think may affect you but about scenarios that might seem unlikely."

An earlier cyberterrorism exercise called "Livewire" for the Homeland Security Department and other federal agencies concluded there were serious questions over government's role during a cyberattack depending on who was identified as the culprit -- terrorists, a foreign government or bored teenagers.

It also questioned whether the U.S. government would be able to detect the early stages of such an attack without significant help from private technology companies (Wired, 2005)


OBAMACSI.CO: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Cyber Storm
Date: February 2006
Agency: DHS


Title:
DHS Reports On Anarchist Cyberterror Drill
Date:
September 13, 2006
Source: UPI

Abstract: The Department of Homeland Security Wednesday released the results of its first exercise simulating a major cyber-terror attack on the United States.

The exercise, staged in February and dubbed "Cyber Storm," simulated an attack by a loose coalition of well-financed anti-globalization and anarchist "hacktivists" from many different countries, says the department's report.

The attackers "aimed to make political statements and protest actions by government and industry" by penetrating "trusted cyber systems" like public health and driver licensing databases.

"The attackers focused on maximizing economic harm and fomenting general distrust of big business and government by disrupting services and misleading news media and other information outlets," says the report, adding that the scenario "was neither a forecast of any particular threats ... currently existing nor an expression of any specific concerns."

Rather, it was designed "to test communications, policies and procedures in response to various (kinds of) cyber attacks and to identify where further planning and process improvements are needed," the department said in a statement.

Over 110 state local and federal government agencies and private corporations took part in the exercise, staged at the headquarters of the U.S. Secret Service on a specially established computer network to avoid impacting the real Internet.

The biggest weakness the exercise revealed was the limited ability of participants to correlate "multiple incidents across multiple infrastructures and between the public and private sectors," says the report.

While the response was "generally effective" in addressing single attacks, and "to some extent" multiple ones, "most incidents were treated as individual and discrete events. Players were challenged when attempting to develop an integrated situational awareness picture and cohesive impact assessment across sectors and attack vectors" (UPI, 2006).


OBAMACSI.CO: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Strong Angel III
Date: August 2006
Agency: U.S. Department of Defense, etc.


Title:
ESS to Participate In Strong Angel III Integrated Disaster Response Demonstration
Date: August 14, 2006
Source: Free Library

Abstract:
ESS today announced its participation in Strong Angel III, a collaborative demonstration of civil and military cooperation and communication capabilities put together by a partnership of private companies, government agencies, humanitarian and relief agencies and universities. Hosted by San Diego State University and taking place in San Diego August 21-26, Strong Angel III will field test effective means of delivering life-saving humanitarian relief and rapidly deployable communications systems in the wake of major disasters.

The core site for Strong Angel III will be the operations center at the San Diego Fire Department Fire Rescue Training Facility site, located at the former Naval Training Center near downtown San Diego. San Diego State University's Visualization Center will be a secondary location.

The Strong Angel III demonstration simulates the impact on information sharing in a real-world disaster. The demonstration will assume the context of a worldwide pandemic caused by a highly contagious virus, which is further complicated by a wave of cyber-attacks inflicted by terrorists that cripple critical local infrastructure and systems. Strong Angel III team members will conduct field trials and demonstrations of solutions that address 49 specific humanitarian relief challenges -- both technical and social -- that have not yet been adequately overcome in real disaster relief efforts.

"In the wake of major incidents like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia, it is more important than ever to have an integrated response when disaster strikes," said Eric Rasmussen, MD, director of Strong Angel III and professor at San Diego State University. "The level of public-and private-sector engagement in Strong Angel III is at a remarkable level, underscoring the significance of the task at hand and the commitment of everyone involved to work together to maximize preparedness and coordination efforts."

Some of the demonstrations will include developing solutions for redundant power, adaptive communications, austere network communications, mobile workers, cross-organizational collaboration, mesh networking, satellite services, ephemeral workgroups, geospatial information systems, rapid assessment techniques, shared situational awareness, cyber-security, alerting tools, community informatics, machine-based translation for multi-lingual communication, and social network development.

Strong Angel III sponsors include Google, Cisco Systems, CommsFirst, Microsoft, Save the Children, Sprint Nextel, the Naval Postgraduate School, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Strong Angel III is the third in a series of demonstrations that have taken place since 2000. The first two Strong Angel demonstrations were held in 2000 and 2004 in Hawaii associated with the joint Naval exercises called RIMPAC. Strong Angel III will issue a lessons-learned document on its website as soon as possible after conclusion of the demonstration (Free Library, 2006).


OBAMACSI.CO: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Cyber Storm III
Date: September 2010
Agency: DHS


Title:
U.S. Launches A Drill To Test International Cybersecurity
Date:
September 29, 2010
Source: CNN

Abstract:
It's only a drill and no computers will be harmed in testing now underway to check whether governments, private industry, and other computer infrastructure could handle a major cyberspace attack.

The drill, called "Cyberstorm III," is staged as a worldwide event and "is beyond the capability of any one government agency to respond to," said Phillip Reitinger, a deputy undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security, the sponsoring agency.

Security experts spent more than a year developing nearly 2,000 elements that resemble symptoms of a hostile electronic attack, arriving via the internet or through the spread of malicious computer programming.

The attempted takedown began Tuesday.

By Wednesday, hundreds of these elements, called "injects," had been distributed to information technology players who must respond and mitigate what confronts their systems.

In a briefing for reporters, Reitinger explained that a top goal of the exercise is to examine whether those affected by a cyberattack can communicate with each other and coordinate among themselves to minimize damage and perhaps block the spread of an attack.

Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, France and the United Kingdom are among international participants in the exercise, at a time cyberattacks are increasingly launched from outside a targeted country.

Visiting a computer world equivalent of a war room, reporters Wednesday were allowed to observe about a hundred security experts as they originated the simulated elements of a cyberattack.

"These are the folks behind the curtain, pulling the strings, to actually make the exercise work," said Brett Lambo, the director of the Cyber Exercise Program, part of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division.

Looking at a flatscreen monitor that nearly covered an entire wall in the room, he pointed to a grid of color-coded boxes with alpha-numeric identifiers. "You can see who it went to, what was the expected player action, and what was the actual player action," he said.

Lambo declined to further describe the simulated attack now underway, saying disclosure might spoil some of the game. Participants, as part of the drill, are provided access to replica news outlets, describing impact the public could notice from a cyber-attack, as if one were really underway (CNN, 2010).


OBAMACSI.CO: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Cyber Shockwave
Date: February 20-21, 2011
Agency: DHS


Title:
CNN Broadcasts Major Cyber War Game Propaganda
Date:
February 20, 2011
Source: Infowars

Abstract: CNN rolled out a slick propaganda presentation this evening. It is called “Cyber Shockwave” and it posits a cyber attack on the United States.

CNN will air a two-hour production, We Were Warned: Cyber Shockwave, based upon exclusive television access to a national security cyber “war game” scenario. The simulated event was developed by The Bipartisan Policy Center and will debut Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 at 8pm, 11pm and 2am ET on CNN. The scenario was created by Fmr. CIA Director, General Michael Hayden (ret.) as well as the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Fmr. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and Fmr. Gov. Thomas Kean (R-NJ).

The simulation includes the usual government insiders acting as government officials (no acting required — they are all former government officials) who have gathered in the “situation room” to confront a cyber attack shutting down telecommunications and the power grid on the east coast.

Additional participants who served various roles for the scenario are: Fmr. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Fmr. Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, Fmr. White House Homeland Security Advisor and CNN contributor Fran Townsend, Fmr. Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, Fmr. U.S. Senator Bennett Johnston, Jr. (D-LA), Fmr. National Economic Council Director Stephen Friedman, Fmr. U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, Fmr. White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, Fmr. National Security Agency General Counsel Stewart Baker, and Gen. Charles Wald, USAF (Ret.), former Deputy Commander of the United States European Command.

How should the government deal with the threat? Federalize the National Guard to deal with unruly mobs freaking out over the loss of electricity. Nationalize utility companies so the NSA and the government get electricity. The participants also recommended new powers be granted to the president. Not surprisingly, they declared the president has the authority to take unprecedented action against the states and the private sector under the Constitution.

CNN and the participants agreed the slick propaganda presentation is aimed at the American people.

Infowars.com will post video of the simulation when it becomes available.

Earlier in the week, a new computer virus infected almost 75,000 computers worldwide — including 10 U.S. government agencies — collecting login credentials from online financial, social networking sites and email systems and reporting back to hackers, according to the New York Daily News. The FBI, Department of State and Department of Homeland Security were notified. The attacks are attributed to “criminal hackers.”

On February 4, the House overwhelmingly passed The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act (H.R. 4061), a bill that requires the Obama administration to conduct an agency-by-agency assessment of cybersecurity workforce skills and establishes a scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate students who agree to work as cybersecurity specialists for the government after graduation, according to The New York Times. The bill represents yet another intrusion into the private sector by the Obama administration and Congress.

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Texas Democrat, says he is optimistic about the bill’s chances in the Senate. “When you’re talking about science and technology and national security,” said McCaul, “those are elements we should all be able to work together (on); Democrat, Republican, and that’s what we saw on the House floor,” McCaul told Homeland Seucirity Newswire (Infowars, 2011).


OBAMACSI.CO: Cyber Terror Drills
Name: Cyber Atlantic 2011
Date: November 3, 2011
Agency: United States & European Union


Title:
EU And U.S. Hold Joint Cybersecurity Drill
Date:
November 4, 2011
Source:
Homeland Security News Wire

Abstract: On Thursday, the United States and the European Union held their first joint cybersecurity exercise in Brussels, Belgium.

The exercise, dubbed “Cyber Atlantic 2011,” was aimed at strengthening efforts to protect international critical infrastructures.

In particular the table-top exercise tested the ability of the two parties to defend against an attack based on advanced persistent threats as well as a staged attack on supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) in electric utilities.

These two issues have emerged as some of the most serious threats to critical infrastructure, especially attacks on SCADA systems, the consequences of which were clearly demonstrated with the Stuxnet virus when it caused physical damage to Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility after infecting its control systems.

Meanwhile on numerous occasions hackers have proven their ability to infiltrate sensitive government and corporate networks, extract information, and publish classified information using advanced persistent threats.

More than twenty EU member states participated in the drill along with the European Commission, which helped direct efforts.

The exercise comes as the result of an EU- U.S. summit held last year in Lisbon that resulted in a joint commitment to cybersecurity. Following the meeting, the two parties held Cyber Europe 2010, a “stress test” exercise,” which the most recent drill drew upon.

“The involvement of the Commission, EU Member States and, of course, the US, in today’s exercise shows the high level of commitment we have to ensuring that we protect our digital infrastructures for the benefit of all citizens,” said Professor Udo Helmbrecht, the executive director of ENISA, which supports EU member states in organizing cybersecurity exercises and creating national cyberdefense plans (Homeland Security News Wire, 2011).


OBAMACSI.COM: Cyber Terror Drills
Name:
Marketwide Exercise
Date: November 22, 2011
Agency:
Financial Services Authority, Bank of England


Title:
War Game Tests City Resilience To Cyberattack
Date: November 21, 2011
Source:
Financial Times

Abstract: What would happen to the City if it were hit by a cyberattack in the middle of the Olympics?

On Tuesday, thousands of people at 87 of London’s biggest banks, exchanges and other institutions are going to try to find out.

Led by the Financial Services Authority, they will be engaging in a war game that envisions two simultaneous problems: widespread travel disruptions and a major cyberattack. Starting at 8am, the FSA will send out bulletins explaining what has gone wrong and teams at each institution will try to respond. The scenarios could include a complete shutdown of the London Underground to the failure of the network of cash machines or a combination of the two.

Some banks have put as many as 70 people on alert, while smaller institutions are devoting only a handful to the FSA’s sixth “marketwide exercise”. The last two exercises, in 2006 and 2009, focused on a flu pandemic and severe weather disruptions respectively. This year’s version is tentatively pegged to market conditions on August 3, 2012, smack in the middle of London’s hosting of the Olympic games.

The FSA said: “The marketwide exercise is carried out to assess and improve the resilience of the financial services sector, during a major operational disruption and is an important part of planning for major disruptions. There are no ‘passes’ or ‘fails’ – the exercise is about firms assessing their business continuity systems and updating them where necessary and the authorities identifying areas for further attention.”

The FSA war games, which are run jointly with the Bank of England and the Treasury, are among the largest of any financial sector in the world, with more than 5,000 participants in 2008. They are designed to test business continuity plans at British financial institutions as well as the London outposts of large global firms.

While recent FSA war games focus on external disruptions, UK regulators have also run separate exercises looking at financial market woes. A 2004 version envisioned the withdrawal of foreign funding from banks like Northern Rock, a scenario that came uncomfortably close to predicting real events three years later.

The firms’ performances on the day and responses to a series of questionnaires over the next two weeks will be compiled into a report in January that will summarise the results and suggest changes that can be made to improve resilience. Previous war games have led to efforts to improve remote access for key bank employees as well as the gathering of more information on employee routes to work so firms have a better sense of who the absentees are likely to be (Financial Times, 2011).



8. CYBER TERROR WARNINGS


OBAMACSI.COM: After a number of well publicized but non-deadly cyber attacks, the U.S. government has begun warning the American public that the internet will be used by terrorists in future cyber-terror attacks. The problem with this scenario is that digital acts of terror can be committed by anyone with a computer. Unfortunately, this automatically makes anyone with a computer a suspect and allows the government, should the decided to initiate the cyber-terror attack, an impenetrable veil of secrecy to hide behind. The act of cyber-terror would likely be committed by an anonymous person or a fictitious group of hackers/terrorists making it virtually impossible for citizens to verify the government evidence or claims in the case. Isolating the true origin of the act of cyber-terror would be almost impossible which would give the government the ability to terrorize the public without the possibility of being held legally accountable.


Title: 'Dark Web' Project Takes On Cyber-Terrorism
Date: October 12, 2007
Source: Fox News

Abstract
: In recent years, the anonymous nature of the Web has turned it into a boomtown for all sorts of radicalized hate.

"Since the events of 9/11, terrorist presence online has multiplied tenfold," says Hsinchun Chen, director of the University of Arizona's Artificial Intelligence Lab. "Around the year 2000, there were 70 to 80 core terrorist sites online; now there are at least 7000 to 8000."

Those sites are doing everything from spreading militant propaganda to offering insurgency advice to plotting the next wave of attacks, making the net, as Chen also points out: "arguably the most powerful tool for spreading extremist violence around the world."

But thanks to Chen, that tide may be turning. He's the architect behind the newest weapon in the war on terror — a giant, searchable database on extremists known as Dark Web.

Using a bevy of advanced technologies, Dark Web is an attempt to uncover, cross-reference, catalogue and analyze all online terrorist-generated content.

This is a vast amount of material, posted in dozens of languages and often hidden behind the blandest of portals.

The more radical of these forums can host as many as 20,000 members and half a million postings, making the Web an increasing nightmare for the intelligence community, but a perfect prowling ground for a data-mining expert like Chen.

In fact, Dark Web is Chen's second foray into online crime-fighting. The first began in 1997, when he — already an expert at tracking social change online (crime and terrorisms being extreme examples of social change) — teamed up with the Tucson Police Department and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help develop Coplink, a way for law enforcement forces around the country to link files and consolidate data.

It was Coplink that helped build the case against the Washington, D.C., Beltway snipers, John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. Because of this and other successes, in early 2002 the NSF asked Chen to try to build a similar system against terrorism.

He began with a modified version of Web-spidering. Typically, Web spiders are keyword-based followers of the hyperlinks between Web pages. This is essentially how search engines like Google and Yahoo do their work.

Unfortunately, a study done by the NEC Research Institute, the research arm of Japan's consumer-electronics giant NEC Corporation, found that existing engines cannot keep up with the Web's growth rate. Each one can only mine 16 percent of the available material.

The recent arrival of meta-search engines, capable of triangulating between several engines at once with a much higher success rate, solved this problem, but unearthed another.

"Information analysis was our goal," says Chen, "and information overload was the biggest hurdle."

To clear this hurdle, Dark Web relies on all sorts of analytical tools. It utilizes existing technologies such as statistical analysis, cluster analysis, content analysis and link analysis, as well as brand new technologies like sentiment analysis, which is capable of scanning documents for emotionally charged keywords such as "that sucks."

This form of analysis has proven effective in gauging the success of new consumer products. But instead of judging the fate of the latest movie, Chen uses sentiment analysis to look for emotions like rage and hate in an attempt to tease apart the social activists from the suicide bombers.

That's merely the beginning. Dark Web also employs social-network analysis to map extremist networks, determining the importance of each member and establishing the organizations' hierarchies.

To do this, Chen uses centrality and structural-equivalence measures to examine social-network components, such as the prestige allotted to any given poster by other members and the "closeness" — a given poster's access to information on the network coupled with his independence from others — among subjects in an attempt to further separate an organization's leaders from its outliers.

Researchers then explore things such as cohesiveness and group density — using a form of pattern analysis called blockmodeling — to help determine the stability of any given organization and, perhaps more importantly, the nodes most vulnerable to attack.

These methods were already in use before Dark Web. Chen and his cohorts also developed a few novel ideas of their own, including a technique called Writeprint which examines structural and semiotic content from anonymous postings in an attempt to determine authorship.

"The Web is a gargantuan series of diffused networks," says NSF spokesman Dana Cruikshank. "Dark Web finds the patterns that make it much less decentralized."

Chen says that if Dark Web had been online before the Iraq war, it could have determined whether the purported links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were fact or fiction.

Moreover, the database also offers a terrorism knowledge portal, essentially a search engine for extremism, and a terrorism expert finder, a database of the world's best anti-terrorism minds — two things that have been sorely missing in the war against extremism.

Despite all of this tantalizing potential, not everyone is convinced Dark Web is actually a tool for freedom.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an online civil-liberties group, says "the very same tools that can be used to track terrorists can also be used to track political opponents."

To make sure that doesn't happen, Rotenberg maintains that Dark Web must be used within the confines of our existing privacy laws — an idea that may be better in theory than in practice.

Though Chen strenuously denies it, there are a number of similarities between Dark Web and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's controversial Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative, for which funding was cut off by Congress in 2003 over civil-liberties concerns.

"Just because someone posts something we don't like on the Internet, doesn't mean they also suspend their First Amendment rights," says Mike German, the ACLU's policy counsel on national security, immigration and privacy. "Things like authorship analysis are particularly tricky. How could you know that someone was really intent on violence before that act of violence was committed?"

German, who spent years on the domestic-terrorism beat for the FBI before coming to work for the ACLU, feels that Dark Web is a great waste of critical resources.

"I know this from my time spent undercover, infiltrating exactly these kinds of organizations: Every terrorist training manual makes it clear that a huge separation should be kept between the bomb-makers and the propagandists. Between the action wing and the political wing. This means, by design, Dark Web is chasing the wrong people."

Chen disagrees.

"By design, we really only look into the contents of the propagandists of the jihadist movement," he says. "I think this is the bigger danger — the ability of the Web to attract and 'infect' young disgruntled men in the world.

"We do not get into the actual operational wings of their groups, as most of the secret operational communications are encrypted and moved off-line," Chen explains. "Tracking those secret member communications is the domain of NSA, not us."

Civil-liberties concerns may continue to dog the technological front of the war on terror, but Dark Web is already producing results.

A recent study by Chen's group of training manuals and methods to build and use improvised explosive devices posted online — including where in the world such manuals have been downloaded — has led to countermeasures that are currently keeping soldiers and civilians alike safer. Which is, after all, the point (Fox News, 2007).



Title: Al-Qaida, Cyberattacks Top U.S. Threat List
Date: February 10, 2010
Source: NPR

Abstract: The nation's top intelligence official told Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. government is making significant progress against al-Qaida's terrorist network, despite several recent high-profile plots, while separately he issued a sharp new warning on an alarming rise in cyberattacks.

Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, opened his annual threat assessment by calling recent computer attacks against Google's operations in China "a wake-up call." Computer attacks by nation-states, terrorist networks and criminals against government and private computers are happening "on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication," he said.

The online threat has moved well beyond simple criminal acts. Instead, it appears to potentially threaten the heart of the strategic advantage long held by the U.S. military and U.S. spy agencies.

"We cannot be certain that our cyberspace infrastructure will remain available and reliable during a time of crisis," Blair warned.

Emphasis On Al-Qaida

But in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Blair quickly turned to al-Qaida, which he warned still has the capability to "recruit, train and deploy operatives" for terrorist plots inside the United States.

"Counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida have put the organization in one of its most difficult positions since the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom in late 2001," Blair said in his prepared statement. "However, while these efforts have slowed the pace of anti-U.S. planning and hindered progress on new external operations, they have not been sufficient to stop them."

Blair's delicate balancing act reflects the difficulty of putting into context the recent series of terrorist plots — including the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S. airliner, the arrest of a man in Denver for an alleged New York terrorism plot and the Fort Hood massacre in Texas — which have cast some doubt on spy agencies' assessments of al-Qaida.

'Many Unanswered Questions'

"It is natural that we ask ourselves whether these events are evidence of an increase in the threat, a change in the nature of the threat, or both," Blair said, adding that "we have many unanswered questions."

Those unanswered questions, according to Blair, still include the exact targets of the plot allegedly involving Najibullah Zazi, the Denver man accused of training with al-Qaida militants in Pakistan, as well as what other plots may be associated with the Yemeni affiliate of al-Qaida that helped a Nigerian student named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly plan the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound trans-Atlantic airliner.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said that while he remains worried about al-Qaida staging another attack inside the United States, he does not necessarily believe it will be another Sept. 11-style attack.

"The greater threat is that al-Qaida is adapting their methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect," Panetta said.

Indeed, the al-Qaida threat is clearly more diffuse than it was a number of years ago. Blair said that while Zazi was associated with core al-Qaida leaders, Abdulmutallab was tied to an al-Qaida affiliate, and the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, was a homegrown extremist.

This splintering has made it much more difficult for spy agencies to track the various kinds of militants that could pose a threat.

Importance Of Bin Laden

Still, Blair made it clear that al-Qaida's leaders remain a key factor in the group's strength. U.S. officials have usually tried in recent years to avoid talking too much about Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader who remains at large, but Blair was unusually frank about his importance.

"We assess that at least until Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are dead or captured, al-Qaida will retain its resolute intent to strike the homeland," Blair said.

It was Blair's comments about the growing cyberthreat, however, that were some of the most surprising conclusions in the threat assessment.

His description of just how common these attacks have become suggests that combating these online intrusions has become an important and daily part of the intelligence community's operations.

"Sensitive information is stolen daily from both government and private-sector networks, undermining confidence in our information systems, and in the very information these systems were intended to convey," Blair warned.

"We often find persistent, unauthorized, and at times unattributable presences on exploited networks, the hallmark of an unknown adversary intending to do far more than merely demonstrate skill or mock a vulnerability," he said.

Online attacks are particularly difficult to fight because officials often struggle to identify their origin. Blair's assessment of the cyberthreat was perhaps most notable for not naming a single country or entity, even though China and Russia are widely believed to be sponsoring — or at least encouraging — a growing range of cyberattacks.

In a new report obtained by NPR, the Department of Homeland Security identifies cyber attacks as "one of the homeland security community's most important missions."

"Sophisticated cyber criminals and nation-states, among others, are among the actors in cyberspace who now pose great cost and risk both to our economy and national security," the department says in its first-ever quadrennial strategic review. "They exploit vulnerabilities in cyberspace to steal money and information, and to destroy, disrupt, or threaten the delivery of critical services."

The Homeland Security report also acknowledges that countering cyber threats could pose some tough dilemmas. "Innovation in technology, practice, and policy must further protect — not erode — privacy and civil liberties," the report says (NPR, 2010).



Title: FBI Director Warns Of 'Rapidly Expanding' Cyberterrorism Threat
Date: March 4, 2010
Source: Washington Post

Abstract: FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III warned Thursday that the cyberterrorism threat is "real and . . . rapidly expanding."

Terrorists have shown "a clear interest" in pursuing hacking skills, he told thousands of security professionals at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. "They will either train their own recruits or hire outsiders, with an eye toward combining physical attacks with cyberattacks," he said.

"Al-Qaeda's online presence has become as potent as its physical presence" over the last decade, he said. Osama bin Laden long ago identified cyberspace as "a means to damage both our economy and our psyche -- and countless extremists have taken this to heart," he said.

Terror groups are using the Internet to recruit, radicalize and incite terrorism, he said. They are posting videos on how to build backpack bombs and bioweapons. "They are using social networking to link terrorist plotters and plans," he said.

Mueller also used his remarks to stress that the cyber threat cannot be fought by government alone. He urged companies to come forward and tell authorities when their computer systems have been hacked.

"Maintaining a silence will not benefit your or your company in the long run," he said (Washington Post, 2010)




Title: Study: U.S. Must Bolster Security Against Cyberattacks
Date: September 12, 2011
Source: Fox News

Abstract: A new study warns that the U.S. must develop cyber intelligence as a new and better coordinated government discipline that can predict computer-related threats and deter them.

The report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance says the dramatic expansion of sophisticated cyber-attacks has moved beyond acceptable losses for government and businesses that simply threaten finances or intellectual property.

"The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown," said the report, which is slated to be released later this month. It adds that it is not clear that the business community understands or accepts that.

The report comes amid growing worries the U.S. is not prepared for a major cyberattack, even as hackers, criminals and nation states continue to probe and infiltrate government and critical business networks millions of times a day.

INSA, a non-partisan national security organization, says the U.S. must develop strategies beyond the current "patch and pray" procedures, create cyber intelligence policies, coordinate and share intelligence better among government agencies and businesses, and increase research on attack attribution and warnings.

And it says the U.S. must develop effective cyber intelligence so officials can assess and mitigate the risks.

Many of the report's observations echo sentiments expressed by Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security officials who have been struggling to improve information sharing between the government and key businesses. But efforts to craft needed cybersecurity legislation have stalled on Capitol Hill.

INSA's report also lays out the growing threats from other nations — including those who are friendly, corrupt or just unable to control hackers within their borders.

While it doesn't name the countries, it notes that failed states provide opportunities for hackers, as they do for criminals and terrorists, while other nations tolerate the criminals as long as they concentrate their activities beyond their borders.

U.S. officials have long pointed to Russia and China, as well as a number of Eastern European nations, as some of the leading safe havens for cybercriminals, or government-sponsored or tolerated hacking.

At the same time, the report warns that the U.S. has also outsourced much of the design and maintenance of computer technology to other countries where potential adversaries can easily insert themselves into the supply chain.

"The present situation is as dangerous as if the United States decided to outsource the design of bridges, electrical grids, and other physical infrastructure to the Soviet Union during the Cold War," said INSA, which is headed by Frances Townsend, who was homeland security adviser in the Bush administration.

Much like the criticism of the overall intelligence community in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the INSA report says that cyber intelligence needs better coordination among government agencies, as well as with the private sector (Fox News, 2011).



Title: Cyber Attack Could Be Next “Pearl Harbor”
Date:
April 20, 2010
Source:
Sacramento Press

Abstract: Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta told 300 Sacramento Metro Chamber Cap-to-Cap delegates that the next “Pearl Harbor” is likely to be an attack on the United States’ power, financial, military and other Internet systems. Panetta addressed the Sacramento delegation that includes 43 elected officials and hundreds of business and civic leaders who are in Washington D.C. for the annual program that advocates for the region’s most pressing policy issues. He spoke on Monday, April 19, during the Cap-to-Cap opening breakfast.

“Cyber terrorism” is a new area of concern for the CIA, Panetta said. The United States faces thousands of cyber attacks daily on its Internet networks. The attacks are originating in Russia, China, Iran and from even hackers. “The next Pearl Harbor is likely to be a cyber attacking going after our grid…and that can literally cripple this country,” Panetta said. “This is a whole new area of threat.” But cyber terrorism is just one of four primary missions for Panetta, who took over directing the CIA last year after appointment by President Obama. The CIA is also focusing on counter-terrorism, reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and fighting narcotics trafficking.

Al Qaeda is becoming a viscous target, and as CIA and military operations tamp it down in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, the terrorist elements are moving to places like Somalia, Yemen and North Africa—as well changing its tactics, he said. “The president’s direction…is we must dismantle and destroy Al Qaeda and its known elements,” he said. “It’s a fundamental mission….The primary effort takes place in Pakistan and tribal areas. We are now focused on Afghanistan and have increased our presence there.” Meanwhile, CIA is working to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda. “Even as our military draws down in Iraq, we’ll keep our presence there…to provide intelligence to the Iraqis so they can secure their own country.” Worrisome, he added, is how Al Qaeda is “coming at us in other ways.”

These include using individuals who have clean records and are not being tracked; individuals who are already in the U.S.A. and in contact with Al Qaeda; and individuals who decided to “self-radicalize” and are easily and quickly recruited as terrorists. Previously, Panetta served as a congressional representative from the Monterey area, rising to the House Budget committee chair, and then latter as President Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. “I’ve spent most of my life on budget issues,” he said, noting the “work we did eventually produced a balanced budget for the country.” When he’s asked why he took on the job at the CIA, he told the group, “Because considering the size of the federal deficit, I’d rather fight Al Qaeda” (Sacramento Press, 2010).




Title: US Needs Plan For Online Terrorism Recruiting, Expert Says
Date:
May 26, 2010
Source:
PC World

Abstract: The U.S. government lacks a plan to counter terrorist recruiting efforts online, even though such efforts by jihad groups are growing, one terrorism expert told U.S. lawmakers. The U.S. government doesn't make an effort to engage with people who may be open to terrorist recruiting efforts and dissuade them from joining, Bruce Hoffman, a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, told lawmakers Wednesday. The U.K. government has a program that works with local communities to identify possible targets for terrorism recruiting, said Hoffman, a former scholar in residence at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

"Very clearly, our adversaries have a communications strategy," Hoffman told a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. "Lamentably, we don't." Instead of on-the-ground programs working with potential targets of terrorism recruiting, U.S. agencies have, in some cases, tried to control terrorism communications on the Internet, Hoffman said. "We shouldn't be censoring the Internet," he said. "I think the problem is we default toward these very intrusive approaches." While most witnesses at the hearing agreed that the U.S. government shouldn't be censoring Web sites linked to terrorism, John Philip Mudd , a senior research fellow at the Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation, suggested that taking down terrorism recruiting Web sites may be helpful.

Internet service providers should have protection from lawsuits if they take down terrorism-related Web sites, said Mudd, a former counterterrorism official with the CIA and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. "We're not going to stop Internet recruitment and radicalization," he said. "We can work on it, we can chip away at it, but it's not going to stop." Members of the subcommittee decried the ability of terrorists to recruit followers online, but several lawmakers also said they want to be careful that the U.S. government doesn't trample on free speech rights when it tries to counter terrorism recruiting activity online. There's an active debate in the U.S. security community about whether law enforcement agencies should attempt to take down Web sites recruiting terrorists, but by taking down sites, investigators could lose valuable information, said Representative Michael McCaul , a Texas Republican. Mudd seemed to disagree.

Keeping terrorism Web sites online may give investigators short-term gains, he said. "But in general, I'd say, make sure they can't spread the ideology, because that's spreading the revolution," he said. The U.S. government has, at times, been too heavy-handed in its antiterrorism efforts, but there's also a proliferation of terrorism recruiting materials online, McCaul said. More than 5,000 Jihadist Web sites and discussion forums are online, he said. "I don't think anyone here disputes that the terrorists are successfully using the Internet to help spread their message," he said. "Terrorists once had to travel to terror camps in Pakistan to receive indoctrination and training.

Now, aspiring terrorists only need to open their laptop and connect to the Internet." Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Democracy and Technology said that U.S. courts have established clear rules for when it's appropriate for government law enforcement agents to take away free speech rights. A 1969 Supreme Court case established that subversive speech was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution unless it incited "imminent lawless action," said Anthony Romero , the ACLU's executive director.

In many cases, terrorism Web sites don't rise to that level, Romero suggested. While several lawmakers expressed concerns about terrorism recruiting online, Brian Jenkins , a senior advisor at research and analysis firm The RAND Corp., suggested that terrorism recruiting efforts in the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have been limited. RAND found that only about 125 people in the U.S. were recruited to terrorism groups between Sept. 11, 2001, and 2009, he said.

"There are veins of extremism, there are handfuls of hotheads, but no apparent deep reservoir from which Al-Qaeda can recruit," he said. Terrorists have gotten to the implementation stage in only three plots, including a failed car bombing in New York City May 1, in the U.S. since Sept. 11, Jenkins said. An online recruitment campaign is "producing very few active terrorists," Jenkins added. "The number of English language Web sites vastly exceeds the number of terrorists it has produced. As a marketing effort, it would be judged a failure” (PC World, 2010).



Title: 10 Years After 9/11, Cyberattacks Pose National Threat, Committee Says
Date: September 7, 2011
Source:
Computerworld

Abstract:
Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the nation faces a critical threat to its security from cyberattacks, a new report by a bipartisan think tank warns.

The report, released last week by the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG), offers a broad assessment of the progress that the public sector has made in implementing the security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The comments about cybersecurity are part of broader discussion on nine security recommendations that have yet to be implemented.

The report, the foreword to which is signed by Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic representative from Indiana, and Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey, notes that catastrophic cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure targets are not a mere theoretical threat.

"This is not science fiction," the NSPG said in its report. "It is possible to take down cyber systems and trigger cascading disruptions and damage. Defending the U.S. against such attacks must be an urgent priority."

The report highlights concerns expressed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. intelligence community about terrorists using cyberspace to attack the country without physically crossing its borders. "Successive [intelligence chiefs] have warned that the cyber threat to critical infrastructure systems -- to electrical, financial, water, energy, food supply, military, and telecommunications networks -- is grave."

The report makes note of a briefing in which DHS officials described a "nightmare scenario" of terrorists hacking into the U.S. electric grid and shutting down power across large sections of the country for several weeks. "As the current crisis in Japan demonstrates, disruption of power grids and basic infrastructure can have devastating effects on society," the report noted.

The committee's report is sure to reinforce perceptions among many within the security industry that critical infrastructure targets remain woefully underprepared for dealing with cyberattacks. Over the past few years, there have been numerous attacks targeting government and military networks. Most of the attacks are believed to be the work of highly organized, well-funded, state-sponsored groups.

Despite the attacks, some believe that those within government are not taking the threat seriously enough. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, Cofer Black, former director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center during the Bush administration, warned about cyberthreats not being taken seriously enough.

Though many security experts agree that future conflicts will likely be fought in cyberspace, military and government officials have shown a hesitancy to act until they see a validation of the threats, Black said during a keynote address at the Black Hat conference in August. It was the same sort of skepticism that many government officials had showed toward the alarms sounded prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, Black had noted.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a Washington-based think tank that was established in 2007 by former Senate Majority leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell. The NSPG is a group that was established by the BPC to monitor the implementation of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations for bolstering national security in the aftermath of the terrorists attacks.

Last week's report offers an assessment of the progress that the government has made in implementing the commission's recommendations. According to the NSPG, the government has made significant progress in addressing many of the 9/11 Commission's 41 recommendations.

However, several crucial ones remain very much a work in progress, the report noted.

One area where little progress has been made has to do with the recommendation to increase the availability of radio spectrum for public safety purposes, the report noted.

"Incompatible and inadequate communications led to needless loss of life" on 9/11, the BPC said in its report. But plans to address the problem by setting aside more radio spectrum for first responders have "languished" because of a political fight over whether to allocate 10MHz of radio spectrum to first responders or to a commercial wireless bidder.

Another area where progress has been limited has been on the civil rights and privacy fronts, the report noted. Surveillance activities and the use of tools such as National Security Letters to search for terrorists has greatly expanded since the 9/11 attacks. But a recommendation for setting up a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board with the executive branch of the federal government has yet to be fully implemented.

"If we were issuing grades, the implementation of this recommendation would receive a failing mark," the NSPG said (Computerworld, 2011).



Title:
Study: U.S. Must Bolster Security Against Cyberattacks
Date:
September 12, 2011
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: A new study warns that the U.S. must develop cyber intelligence as a new and better coordinated government discipline that can predict computer-related threats and deter them.

The report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance says the dramatic expansion of sophisticated cyber-attacks has moved beyond acceptable losses for government and businesses that simply threaten finances or intellectual property.

"The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown," said the report, which is slated to be released later this month. It adds that it is not clear that the business community understands or accepts that.

The report comes amid growing worries the U.S. is not prepared for a major cyberattack, even as hackers, criminals and nation states continue to probe and infiltrate government and critical business networks millions of times a day.

INSA, a non-partisan national security organization, says the U.S. must develop strategies beyond the current "patch and pray" procedures, create cyber intelligence policies, coordinate and share intelligence better among government agencies and businesses, and increase research on attack attribution and warnings.

And it says the U.S. must develop effective cyber intelligence so officials can assess and mitigate the risks.

Many of the report's observations echo sentiments expressed by Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security officials who have been struggling to improve information sharing between the government and key businesses. But efforts to craft needed cybersecurity legislation have stalled on Capitol Hill.

INSA's report also lays out the growing threats from other nations — including those who are friendly, corrupt or just unable to control hackers within their borders.

While it doesn't name the countries, it notes that failed states provide opportunities for hackers, as they do for criminals and terrorists, while other nations tolerate the criminals as long as they concentrate their activities beyond their borders.

U.S. officials have long pointed to Russia and China, as well as a number of Eastern European nations, as some of the leading safe havens for cybercriminals, or government-sponsored or tolerated hacking.

At the same time, the report warns that the U.S. has also outsourced much of the design and maintenance of computer technology to other countries where potential adversaries can easily insert themselves into the supply chain.

"The present situation is as dangerous as if the United States decided to outsource the design of bridges, electrical grids, and other physical infrastructure to the Soviet Union during the Cold War," said INSA, which is headed by Frances Townsend, who was homeland security adviser in the Bush administration.

Much like the criticism of the overall intelligence community in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the INSA report says that cyber intelligence needs better coordination among government agencies, as well as with the private sector (Fox News, 2011).



Title: Cyber Attacks Are Becoming Lethal, Warns US Cyber Commander
Date: September 15, 2011
Source:
Computer Weekly

Abstract: Cyber attacks are escalating from large-scale theft and disruption of computer operations to more lethal attacks that destroy systems and physical equipment, according to the head of the US Cyber Command.

"That's our concern about what's coming in cyberspace - a destructive element," General Keith Alexander told a US conference on cyber warfare, according to the Washington Times.

Alexander, who is also the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), said that future computer-based combat is likely to involve cyber strikes that cause widespread power outages and even physical destruction of machinery.

The potential for cyber attacks to do this, he said, is illustrated by the electrical power outage in the Northeast US in 2003 caused by the freezing of software that controlled the power grid after a tree damaged two high-voltage power lines, and the destruction of a water-driven electrical generator at Russia's Sayano-Shushenskaya dam in 2009 that was caused by a computer operator remotely starting the generator while one of the dam's turbines was being serviced.

These events highlight the threat of attackers breaking into electricity grid networks or remotely starting or stopping systems to cause destruction and loss of life, said Alexander.

The US government is adopting an "active defence" strategy aimed at bolstering the readiness of computer networks to respond.

The UK government has come under fire from the Chatham House think-tank for failing to take a strong lead in protecting critical systems such as power and water from cyber attack.

There is no coherent picture of who is targeting what and which systems and services are potentially vulnerable to cyber attack, according to a Chatham House report

The UK government must play "an integral role in informing wider society" and raising levels of awareness, said the report, which is based on a series of interviews with senior figures in companies considered to be part of the critical national infrastructure, such as electricity, oil and gas.

The Chatham House report comes ahead of the government's expected announcement of a revised cyber security plan (Computer Weekly, 2011).



Title:
Pentagon To Help Defend Cyber Networks
Date: September 26, 2011
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: As hackers and hostile nations launch increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks against U.S. defense contractors, the Pentagon is extending a pilot program to help protect its prime suppliers.

That program could serve as a possible model for other government agencies. It is being evaluated by the Department of Homeland Security, as part of a potential effort to extend similar protections to power plants, the electric grid and other critical infrastructure.

Efforts to better harden the networks of defense contractors come as Pentagon analysts investigate a growing number of cases involving the mishandling or removal of classified data from military and corporate systems. Intrusions into defense networks are now close to 30 percent of the Pentagon's Cyber Crime Center's workload, according to senior defense officials. And they say it continues to increase.

The Pentagon's pilot program represents a key breakthrough in the Obama administration's push to make critical networks more secure by sharing intelligence with the private sector and helping companies better protect their systems. In many cases, particularly for defense contractors, the corporate systems carry data tied to sensitive U.S. government programs and weapons.

So far, the trial program involves at least 20 defense firms. It will be extended through mid-November, amid ongoing discussions about how to expand it to more companies and subcontractors.

"The results this far are very promising," said William Lynn, the deputy secretary of defense who launched the program in May. "I do think it offers the potential opportunity to add a layer of protection to the most critical sectors of our infrastructure."

Lynn, who has just left office, said the government should "move as expeditiously" as it can to expand the protections to other vital sectors.

A senior DHS official said no decisions have been made, but any effort to extend the program -- including to critical infrastructure -- faces a number of challenges.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the program review is ongoing, said it would be helpful if Congress would pass legislation that explicitly says DHS is responsible for helping private sector companies protect themselves against cyberattack. Also, the legislation should say that companies can be protected from certain privacy and other laws in order to share information with the government for cybersecurity purposes, the official said.

Senior U.S. leaders have been blunt about the escalating dangers of a cyberattack, and have struggled to improve the security of federal networks while also encouraging the public and corporate America to do the same.

"Cyber actually can bring us to our knees," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding that at some point the Pentagon may need to develop some type of governing structure similar to how the U.S. and allies monitor and limit nuclear weapons.

Data compiled by the Defense Cyber Crime Center shows that the number of investigations handled by analysts there has more than tripled over the past 10 years. And a growing number of them involve defense contractors -- including those participating in the pilot program.

Housed near Fort Meade, Maryland, the so-called DC3 employs about 100 digital examiners who sift through millions of bytes of data in the digital forensics lab. Stacks of hard drives line the shelves, and clear plastic evidence bags are filled with a vast expanse of computer technology -- from cell phones and tiny flash drives to IPads, Wii consoles and Nintendo games.

The analysts dissect intrusions, malware and other attacks that have breached or tried to burrow into the defense contractors' computer systems. And while those investigations are just a small fraction of the lab's work, the number has grown steadily over the past three years.

The caseload includes about 100 in the past year that involve the defense industrial base. Much of the center's work is for criminal cases for the military's investigative branches -- including the Army and Navy criminal investigative services and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Cybersecurity expert James Lewis said there will be some tough hurdles in any effort to expand the pilot program to more military contractors or through DHS to other critical infrastructure companies. But he said it can be done.

The Pentagon has multi-million dollar contracts with companies, making it easier to build on those relationships and, if needed, link cyber threat cooperation to future contracts, said Lewis, who is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

DHS, however, doesn't have that type of contracting relationship with electric companies, power generation plants, financial firms or other critical corporations that run vital infrastructure. And the agency would probably need additional Congressional authorities to set up a program similar to the DOD pilot.

"If they move smartly, it could be done in two years. This is not an insolvable problem," said Lewis. "DHS needs more authorities to oversee the process. And they have to work through antitrust, information sharing and privacy issues."

The senior DHS official said that just keeping up with the ever-changing cyberthreats is a challenge, making it more difficult to determine the appropriate roles for the government, the companies and the internet service providers.

Both DHS and defense officials acknowledge that funding is another factor that must be worked out. As yet, they said, they don't know what the exact costs would be and how they would be allocated between the government and the private sector (Fox News, 2011).



Title:
Cyber Attacks Mounting Fast In U.S.
Date: September 30, 2011
Source:
CBS News

Abstract: U.S. utilities and industries face a rising number of cyber break-ins by attackers using more sophisticated methods, a senior Homeland Security Department official said during the government's first media tour of secretive defense labs intended to protect the U.S. power grid, water systems and other vulnerable infrastructure.

Acting DHS Deputy Undersecretary Greg Schaffer told reporters Thursday that the world's utilities and industries increasingly are becoming vulnerable as they wire their industrial machinery to the Internet.

"We are connecting equipment that has never been connected before to these global networks," Schaffer said. Disgruntled employees, hackers and perhaps foreign governments "are knocking on the doors of these systems, and there have been intrusions."

According to the DHS, Control System Security Program cyber experts based at the Idaho National Laboratory responded to 116 requests for assistance in 2010, and 342 so far this year.

Department officials declined to give details about emergency response team deployments, citing confidentiality agreements with the companies involved. Under current law, the reporting of cyber attacks by private organizations is strictly voluntary.

The Obama administration has proposed making reporting mandatory, but the White House could find the idea difficult to sell at a time when Republicans complain about increased regulation of business.

Officials said they knew of only one recent criminal conviction for corrupting industrial control systems, that of a former security guard at a Dallas hospital whose hacking of hospital computers wound up shutting down the air conditioning system. The former guard was sentenced to 110 months in prison in March.

The Homeland Security Department's control system program includes the emergency response team, a Cyber Analysis Center where systems are tested for vulnerabilities, a malware laboratory for analyzing cyber threats and a classified "watch and warning center" where data about threats are assessed and shared with other cyber security and intelligence offices.

The offices are located at nondescript office buildings scattered around Idaho Falls. No signs announce their presence.

Marty Edwards, chief of the control system security effort, said the malware lab analyzed the Stuxnet virus that attacked the Iranian uranium enrichment facility in Natanz last year. He did not describe the group's findings in detail, except to say that they confirmed that it was "very sophisticated."

Edwards said that several years ago he had asked the German company Siemens to study the same kind of industrial controllers used at Natanz for vulnerabilities to attack, because they were so widely used in industry.

But he said the study was not part of any effort to target the controllers with malware, and said his program's work on the controllers could not have helped Stuxnet's designers.

A senior Homeland Security cyber official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the Stuxnet worm exploited well-known design flaws common to many system controllers, vulnerabilities that in general can't be patched.

Many independent experts and former government officials suspect that Stuxnet was created by the United States, perhaps with the help of Israel, Britain and Germany.

The U.S. and other nations believe Iran is building a nuclear weapons program, but Tehran insists it is interested only in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

While U.S. officials talk frequently about the threat of cyber attacks to America, they seldom discuss the country's offensive cyber weapons capability. The U.S. is thought to be the world's leader in cyber warfare, both defensive and offensive.

U.S. officials and others long have feared that future wars will include cyber assaults on the industries and economies of adversaries, and the potential targets include power plants, pipelines and air traffic control systems.

Foreign nations could also target military control systems, including those used for communications, radar and advanced weaponry.

Because of its advanced industrial base and large number of computer controlled machines connected to the Internet, the U.S. is thought to be highly vulnerable to a cyber attack on its infrastructure.

In a 2007 test at the Idaho National Laboratory, government hackers were able to break into the control system running a large diesel generator, causing it to self-destruct.

A video of the test, called Aurora, still posted on YouTube, shows parts flying off the generator as it shakes, shudders and finally halts in a cloud of smoke.

James Lewis, a former State Department official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in an interview that the Aurora test ushered in a new era of electronic warfare.

Before the test, he said, the notion of cyber warfare "was mainly smoke and mirrors. But the Aurora tests showed that, you know what? We have a new kind of weapon."

Homeland Security officials said they have not conducted such a test on that scale since. But they demonstrated Thursday how a hacker could tunnel under firewalls in computer systems to take command of industrial processes.

"All systems deployed have vulnerabilities," Edwards said (CBS News, 2011).



Title:
Loss Of Life in Major Computer Attack, Warns Homeland Security
Date:
October 27, 2011
Source:
ABC News

Abstract:
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today that a major computer attack against critical U.S. infrastructure could result in a loss of life and massive economic damages.

“The network intrusion that shuts down the nation’s critical infrastructure .. . could cause loss of life but also a huge economic loss.” Napolitano said at a cybersecurity event sponsored by the Washington Post.   “We’ve seen attempts on Wall Street, transportation systems, things of those sorts.”

Cybersecurity experts have long warned that hackers could target electrical grids and power plants, which could affect hospitals and water treatment plants.

Napolitano also said DHS offices had been probed in computer intrusions by hackers attempting to infiltrate the department’s systems, although Napolitano declined to comment on the specifics of the intrusions or specify if the intrusions had specifically targeted her office.

Napolitano discussed a wide range of computer security issues at the event and urged Congress to push forward with cybersecurity legislation that the White House proposed had in May.  Despite the partisan rancor that often comes from Congress, Napolitano said she hoped the legislation could gain strong bipartisan support.

“Cyber attacks are increasing in frequency, in complexity  and in consequence,” Napolitano said. “In [fiscal year] 2011 alone, our U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, CERT, responded to more than 100,000 incident reports and released more than 5,000 actionable cybersecurity alerts and information products.”

Although the DHS Secretary declined to address specific instances, there have been a slew of high-profile hacking intrusions in the past 2 years:

  • The FBI and U.S. Secret Service are investigating intrusions into computer systems run by NASDAQ-OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, which were compromised last year
  • Earlier this year RSA, the security division of the EMC Corp., suffered a computer intrusion that resulted in a breach of its firm’s   intellectual property, Secure ID, which provides encrypted authentication services.
  • During 2009, groups in China were behind a highly sophisticated hacking of Google and more than 30 other companies that went undetected until January 2010.

“We are in a constant state of seeing activity against critical infrastructure,” said Greg Schaffer, DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, who also spoke at Thursday’s event.

U.S. officials believe that China had been behind many of the infiltrations; members of Congress have recently  mentioned this, but diplomatic and security officials are more reluctant to attribute the infiltrations  to China.

Last week, Shawn Henry, the FBI’s executive assistant director, also highlighted the damage a major computer attack could have on the United States.

“The cyberthreat is an existential one, meaning that a major cyberattack could potentially wipe out whole companies,” Henry said in a speech in Baltimore Oct. 20.  “It could shut down our electric grid or water supply. It could cause serious damage to parts of our cities, and ultimately, even kill people. While it may sound alarmist, the threat is incredibly real, and intrusions into corporate networks, personal computers  and government systems are occurring every single day by the thousands.”

Henry proposed having a separate Internet architecture set up for critical infrastructure assets.

“U.S. innovation and ingenuity created the Internet, which is now a global phenomenon that has provided tremendous opportunities. With it, however, have come tremendous security challenges to certain users. For them, the current system will never be good enough. But it’s too late to disconnect. It’s not possible to be offline anymore, and there’s currently no alternative.” Henry said. “I don’t have the answers about how to build greater choices in the security architectures used today, but I do feel strongly that the discussions must begin now” (ABC News, 2011).



Title:
UK Government Warns Of Surge In Cyber Attacks
Date:
November 2, 2011
Source:
eSecurity Planet

Abstract: According to GCHQ director Iain Lobban, major IT systems throughout the UK are facing a rising level of cyber attacks.

"Writing in the Times newspaper, the head of the UK's surveillance and listening station said that sensitive data on government computers had been targeted, along with defense, technology and engineering firms' designs," Infosecurity reports.

"'I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors, as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements', he said, adding this type of intellectual property theft doesn't just cost the companies concerned. 'It represents an attack on the UK's continued economic well-being,'" the article states.

Go to "GCHQ's director says that UK cyberattacks are on the rise" to read the details (eSecurity Planet, 2011).



Title:
DHS Warns Anonymous May Target Critical Infrastructure
Date: November 4, 2011
Source:
Homeland Security News Wire

Abstract: DHS is warning critical infrastructure operators that the international hacking group known as Anonymous has threatened to attack industrial control systems, the software that governs automated processes for nearly every major utility or production facility including factories, power stations, chemical plants, and pharmacies.

The security bulletin from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was careful to note that “while Anonymous recently expressed intent to target [industrial control software], they have not demonstrated a capability to inflict damage to these systems.”

Following the Stuxnet virus at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear facility, which resulted in physical damage, cyberattacks against ICS systems have emerged as one of the greatest threats to critical infrastructure.

By taking control of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, the Stuxnet virus forced several nuclear centrifuges to spin out of control while it simultaneously knocked out the system’s automatic shutdown safety procedure. Analysts now fear that hackers can similarly cause power generators to explode, release dangerous chemicals, or pollute water supplies by attacking SCADA systems at various facilities.

The restricted security bulletin obtained by the website Public Intelligence, noted that hackers from Anonymous have published key programming code and other materials that instruct users on how to gain some access to ICS systems.

Furthermore Anonymous “could be able to develop capabilities to gain access and trespass on [ICS] networks very quickly,” the report cautioned.

In particular, oil and gas companies may be at greatest risk due to Anonymous’ “green energy” agenda in which it has supported the campaign against the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Alberta Tar Sand project in Canada.

“This targeting could likely extend beyond Anonymous to the broader [hacker activist] community, resulting in larger-scope actions against energy companies,” the bulletin warned.

DHS concluded by urging “owners and operators of critical infrastructure control systems … to engage in addressing the security needs of their [ICS] assets” (Homeland Security News Wire, 2011).



Title:
US Wouldn't Stand Up To Cyber Attacks
Date: November 9, 2011
Source:
Tech Eye

Abstract: America is so vulnerable to cyber attacks that it might deter US leaders from going to war with other nations, a former top US cybersecurity official has warned.

Richard Clarke, a top adviser to three presidents, has given a dire assessment of America's cybersecurity and said that the country simply can't protect its critical networks.

According to Physorg, if anyone in the axis of evil decided to attack the US, its critical systems would roll over in a matter of minutes.

China, North Korea, Iran and Russia could retaliate against the US's military might by launching devastating cyberattacks that could destroy power grids, banking networks or transportation systems, he said.

Some of the problem, he claims, is that the US military has spent a fortune on kit which could be disabled before they get to a battlefield.

While the US might be able to blow up a nuclear plant or a terrorist training centre somewhere, a number of countries could strike back with a cyberattack and "the entire US economic system could be crashed in retaliation".

Clarke said that if the US goes to war with a cybersecurity-conscious, cybersecurity-capable enemy then it is unlikely that any of its stuff is going to work.

He said that the US also needs to make it clear to countries such as China that efforts to use computer-based attacks to steal high-tech American data will be punished.

Although if it lobs a missile its way, the Chinese could close the land of the free by refusing to make any of its technology (Tech Eye, 2011).



Title: Cyber Attack Threats Continue To Grow
Date: November 10, 2011
Source:
Fierce Finance

Abstract: It's fair to say that the SEC and other government agencies have awakened when it comes to cyber threats. After a string of hacks that victimized the likes of Citigroup, RSA and Google, the SEC recently issued some guidance about disclosure issues in the wake of an attack. Some companies are acting on the flip side as well, disclosing possible risks associated with potential cybercrime in financial filings.

Footnoted.org has noted that the CME Group included in a recent filing a warning about the hacking group Anonymous and others who might start some sort of attack on an exchange or financial firm in sympathy with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The filing noted that Anonymous ostensibly issued a warning recently that it would embark on a denial of service attack on the NYSE. To be sure, people claiming to be from Anonymous quickly disavowed that threat.

In general, it would be hard to link hackers with the protest movement at this point.

"We're not sure if CME really means to lump Occupy Wall Street together with Anonymous so indiscriminately, or if it's a kind of rhetorical sleight of hand. For our part, we haven't heard of any Occupy Wall Street-linked cyber-attacks--beyond suggestions that Anonymous members supporting the movement might try to hack the New York Stock Exchange--and to our eye the two groups seem pretty different, except perhaps for a penchant for pseudo-revolutionary sloganeering and a generally anti-corporatist attitude," according to the post, which seems right on.

But whether hacking groups and the protestors are aligned or not doesn't really matter. Exchanges and banks face a new world of security threats, and the biggest criminals frankly may not give a hoot about Wall Street. Just look at the recent breach at Nasdaq, which compromised board-level information at a host of countries. In many ways, the scariest threats are those behind the rise in so-called Advanced Persistent Threats. Beware (Fierce Finance, 2011).



Title: The Next Osama Bin Laden Already Has Your Social Security Number
Date:
November 19, 2011
Source:
ABC News

Abstract: A massive cyber attack on American infrastructure is the 21st-century equivalent of the neutron bomb. All buildings remain standing but systems inside them are rendered useless. Human beings aren't killed on a large scale, but few, if any, are left standing either. And while this sounds pretty dire, it's quite likely some segment of this nation will at some time be shut down by cyber terrorists.

Late last month Janet Napolitano, Obama's homeland security chief, made some startling statements at a live event on cyber security sponsored by the Washington Post. For example, she said that hackers have "come close" more than once—maybe several times, or maybe many times—to compromising critical segments of America's infrastructure. In particular, she mentioned that big banks and transportation systems were popular targets for cyber attackers. When she was asked how many cyber attacks might have occurred during her 45 minute conversation, Napolitano replied, "Thousands." And if that weren't enough by itself, her most ominous remark was delivered in almost desultory terms: "I think we all have to be concerned about a network intrusion that shuts down part of the nation's infrastructure in such a fashion that it results in a loss of life."

It goes without saying that if an attack successfully shut down essential services, people would die unnecessarily. Curiously, Secretary Napolitano's remarks didn't attract a great deal of attention because it wasn't news like it used to be. Large-scale data breaches or security hacks themselves are reported, but not highlighted as much, because they happen so frequently. It's similar to the criticism that the media sometimes considers shootings in "bad" neighborhoods as common occurrences and no longer really treats them as newsworthy. As a result, the near-apocalyptic observations about a hidden part of America (the binary bits of the cyber highway) by a cabinet level officer also seemed to go unnoticed, drowned in a sea of news about gridlock in Washington, collapsing governments in Europe, and the brain blips of certain presidential candidates.

By this time we all know that most major institutions of government and industry have been hacked in some way, shape or form. Millions of people were compromised when Sony, Citibank, the Department of Veterans Affairs, contractors for the Department of Defense and others were successfully breached.

At least we heard about those.

A couple of days ago, Virginia Commonwealth University disclosed that a server containing files with the personal data, including Social Security numbers, of 176,567 current and former students, faculty, staff and affiliates had been compromised. From what I can tell, this breach wasn't reported anywhere except in local media and some security and tech websites. So I guess we're not likely to hear much about breaches of this type as time goes on, because they've become the equivalent of "white noise." But especially after hearing Ms. Napolitano's comments, perhaps we don't hear about other cyber attacks—hopefully far less common—which are directed at hurting all of us instead of just some of us, for very different reasons (ABC News, 2011).



Title:
'Outdated Cyber Defences Could Be Turned Against Us'
Date: November 22, 2011
Source:
Defence Management

Abstract: Ahead of the launch of the government's cyber security strategy, former security minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones has argued that unlike traditional military defences, outdated cyber defences could actively aid the people they are trying to keep out

Cyber security and defence are complex and growing areas, taking up more and more time in the minds of the military and wider public sector alike. Who the main actors are, what are their targets and weapons of choice and what can be done to protect against cyber threats are questions without a single, convenient answer. Government, then, in coming up with its updated Cyber Security Strategy, must be prepared to develop a full understanding of the risks cyber-attacks present as well as a flexible way of dealing with a growing number of attacks against its own systems, and those of industry and private individuals.

At the Royal United Services Institute's cyber conference, former security minister Baroness Pauline Neville Jones said that the country was very much at the beginning of its development in terms of being cyber secure.

"These are the foothills of a long journey where the world which we're inhabiting is changing extremely rapidly around us," she said, "and one of the features of the landscape is both its volatility and the rapidity of change, which makes it hard to handle."

Only "top-rate performance" will do in aiming for cyber security, said Neville-Jones, with mediocrity leaving systems open to all the risks associated with being out-of-date. Even slipping slightly behind the times in one area of cyber defence - not patching a critical security flaw in time, for example - would mean hackers may be able to turn those defences against their owners.

"Whereas it's not optimal to have a second rate gun in service, which will reduce capability, you wouldn't normally find yourself in a situation where that gun by its inferiority posed an active threat to you," she said. "That's perfectly possible, however, in cyber.

"An inadequately secure system which has been penetrated has not only had its integrity destroyed but it may be actively aiding the enemy. And another unusual feature of cyber, one we must take account of, is that you may be unaware its happening."

The breach of RSA's SecurID tags in March this year was agreed by many at the conference to be a 'game changer' for cyber security. The attack eventually led to around 40 million of the ubiquitous tags being replaced, but the damage had already been done and was said to have led to further attacks on systems that used SecurID, including an attempted breach of Lockheed Martin's computer systems in May.

"We are dealing in cyber with a revolutionary technology which overcomes the constraints of time and distance and which is quite clearly the base of globalisation," said Neville-Jones. "It flattens hierarchies and it transfers power in hierarchical societies from ruler to ruled; and it enables economies to leapfrog stages of development and each other in the world of competition for wealth creation.

"In this high stakes world, middling performance will not do. You cannot be half-secure."

Strategy

The UK faces an "avalanche" of attacks on a daily basis, designed to steal intellectual property and assets from business, files from government servers and personal data from individuals. In that respect it makes sense for the shoring up of cyber defences to be a partnership between government and the private sector.

"The private sector runs the infrastructure in this country, by and large, it is the possessor of the intellectual property which we're trying to safeguard, which is the seed corn of our wealth," said Baroness Neville-Jones. "So it's much more intelligent for government in that situation to reach out for co-design than it is to try to impose rules."

The co-design should be built in to the government's forthcoming cyber security strategy, she said. "National security is clearly more than just the sum of policy in the FCO and the MoD. Cyber security requires a whole society response. I think it's fair to say that we haven't yet got far down this road –although government is aware of what is at stake and what needs to be done; and you can hear the gears grinding a bit.

"Too many people and organisations still regard responsibility for security generally - and for cyber security in particular - as somebody else's bag; and probably the government's. I don't think that's an attitude that can continue. Altering attitudes to the importance of security and personal responsibility for it and in it is one of the tasks that lies ahead of us."

The government's strategy must aim to make the key cyber players able to "repel and block" cyber attacks through built-in resilience, as opposed to just being able to mitigate their after effects, said Baroness Neville-Jones.

"That is a different order of ambition and is much harder to achieve," she said. "We do have to get serious about high levels of resilience in key parts of the system which I don't think we're doing at the moment. We are still at the stage now of quickly scrambling, nimbly, actually to deal with an emerging problem. We need to get to the stage where we have deterrence built in. That's a long way to go, and we haven't got there yet. We need, therefore, resilience embedded in systems - not just bolted on - and formidable enough to deter attack. That should be the long-term goal of what is described in the National Security Strategy (NSS) as a transformative policy.

"Whether the existing tranche of money [the £650m set out in the NSS] will get us all the way, I don't know. If you asked me to guess, probably not."

More investment and partnership must be joined by greater leadership on the government's part, said Baroness Neville-Jones. The need to secure classified and defence information on government systems is perhaps the most obvious aspect of government's cyber responsibility, and Whitehall should lead from the front in the bid to build defences.

"Government systems have to be models of resilience and security," she said. "You can't preach and then fail to act yourself. And it's obviously crucial in the area of defence. Government systems do have to incorporate defence intelligence and general government classified information."

The strategy must also look further into the future, beyond even its own lifespan, in tackling the UK's "very serious" cyber skills gap.

"We do not have and we are not training enough people who actually have the necessary skills," said Neville-Jones, adding that students are not taught that 'cyber' represents a viable career path.

"If you ask sixth former about a career in cyber they've never heard of it. It needs to be changed because it needs to be embedded in the mindset of the country" (Defence Management, 2011).



9. CYBER TERROR ATTACKS


OBAMACSI.COM: Shortly after the well-funded cyber security buildup, cyber attacks started occurring on a regular basis. These cyber attacks are well publicized and are occurring at a very rapid pace. Like real life terrorism, groups such as "Anonymous" appear to be funded arms of the CIA or other governmental agencies. These groups commit cyber attacks to give the illusion that more and more cyber security is needed.


Title:
Biggest Series Of Cyber-Attacks In History Uncovered
Date:
August 3, 2011
Source:
Guardian

Abstract: Security experts have discovered the biggest series of cyber attacks to date, involving the infiltration of the networks of 72 organisations including the United Nations, governments and companies around the world.

The security company McAfee, which uncovered the intrusions, said it believed there was one "state actor" behind the attacks but declined to name it. One security expert who has been briefed on the hacking said the evidence pointed to China.

The long list of victims in the five-year campaign includes the governments of the US, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Canada; the Association of South-east Asian Nations ; the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the World Anti-Doping Agency; and an array of companies from defence contractors to high-tech enterprises.

In the case of the UN the hackers broke into the computer system of the secretariat in Geneva in 2008, hid there unnoticed for nearly two years and quietly combed through reams of secret data, according to McAfee.

"Even we were surprised by the enormous diversity of the victim organisations and were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators," McAfee's vice-president of threat research, Dmitri Alperovitch, wrote in a 14-page report released on Wednesday.

"What is happening to all this data ... is still largely an open question. However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat a competitor at a key negotiation (due to having stolen the other team's playbook), the loss represents a massive economic threat."

McAfee learned of the extent of the hacking campaign in March this year when its researchers discovered logs of the attacks while reviewing the contents of a "command and control" server that they had discovered in 2009 as part of an investigation into security breaches at defence companies.

Alperovitch said McAfee had notified all the 72 victims of the attacks, which are under investigation by law enforcement agencies around the world. He declined to give more details, such as the names of the companies hacked.

Jim Lewis, a cyber expert with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, was briefed on the discovery by McAfee. He said it was very likely that China was behind the campaign because some of the targets had information that would be of particular interest to Beijing.

The systems of the IOC and several national Olympic committees were breached in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games, for example. And China views Taiwan as a renegade province – political issues between them remain contentious even as economic ties have strengthened in recent years.

"Everything points to China. It could be the Russians but there is more that points to China than Russia," Lewis said.

He added that the US and Britain were capable of pulling off this kind of campaign but "we wouldn't spy on ourselves and the Brits wouldn't spy on us" (Guardian, 2011).



Title:
Cyberattacks On Company Websites Intensify
Date: January 5, 2011
Source: USA Today

Abstract:
It will be much harder this year for companies to deflect the rising onslaught of cyberattacks orchestrated to knock them off the Internet.

Hundreds of times each day, attackers use a technique called distributed denial of service, or DDoS, that involves coordinating home PCs to flood targeted websites with nuisance requests — to the point where no one else can access the site.

Most DDoS attacks get blocked or filtered. But the volume and sophistication of such attacks accelerated in 2010, a trend that looks to intensify in 2011. "The good guys are slightly ahead," says Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at network security firm Arbor Networks. "But it's not clear this equilibrium will continue."

One major driver: More home PCs than ever have broadband connections capable of sending large streams of data to commercial websites. That's made it easier for protest groups to rally like-minded cohorts to join in attacks.

In September, protesters used their home PCs to bombard the Motion Picture Association of America's website, knocking it offline for 20 hours. The motive: payback for MPAA's alleged efforts to shut down PirateBay.org, a popular site for downloading pirated music and movies.

Home PCs were behind the December attacks that disrupted the websites of PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and PostFinance, a Swiss bank. Protesters sought to punish them for cutting off services to the WikiLeaks whistle-blower site.

While such outages are temporary, "brand damage" can be lasting, says Danny McPherson, head of research at Internet infrastructure firm VeriSign. "Losing customer trust can translate into lost revenue," he says. No industry estimates of such losses are available.

Another big driver: DDoS attacks that stem from cybergangs controlling networks of infected home PCs, called botnets, are becoming more elaborate. "As it stands today, any Web service can be taken down at any time," says Gunter Ollmann, head of research at network security firm Damballa.

In November, Akamai Technologies, which helps big websites deliver content, blocked an intricately designed attack against five major Internet retailers, says spokesman Michael Cucchi, who declined to name the retailers.

The attacks began the day after Cyber Monday, the start of the online Christmas shopping season. Thousands of infected home PCs in four nations were instructed to bombard the retailers' websites with 10,000 times their normal daily traffic. The retailers might have lost up to $15 million, Cucchi says. It is unknown whether the attackers intended to extort payments in return for halting the attacks, he says.

Even so, the episode revealed a "sophisticated and motivated attacker," says Ted Julian, cybersecurity analyst at research firm Yankee Group (USA Today, 2011).



Title:
Pentagon To Consider Cyberattacks Acts Of War
Date: May 31, 2011
Source: New York Times

Abstract: 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.

In response to questions about the policy, first reported Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, administration and military officials acknowledged that the new strategy was so deliberately ambiguous that it was not clear how much deterrent effect it might have. One administration official described it as “an element of a strategy,” and added, “It will only work if we have many more credible elements.”

The policy also says nothing about how the United States might respond to a cyberattack from a terrorist group or other nonstate actor. Nor does it establish a threshold for what level of cyberattack merits a military response, according to a military official.

In May 2009, four months after President Obama took office, the head of the United States Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, told reporters that in the event of a cyberattack “the law of armed conflict will apply,” and warned that “I don’t think you take anything off the table” in considering a response. “Why would we constrain ourselves?” he asked, according to an article about his comments that appeared in Stars and Stripes.

During the cold war, deterrence worked because there was little doubt the Pentagon could quickly determine where an attack was coming from — and could counterattack a specific missile site or city. In the case of a cyberattack, the origin of the attack is almost always unclear, as it was in 2010 when a sophisticated attack was made on Google and its computer servers. Eventually Google concluded that the attack came from China. But American officials never publicly identified the country where it originated, much less whether it was state sanctioned or the action of a group of hackers.

“One of the questions we have to ask is, How do we know we’re at war?” one former Pentagon official said. “How do we know when it’s a hacker and when it’s the People’s Liberation Army?”

A participant in the debate over the administration’s broader cyberstrategy added, “Almost everything we learned about deterrence during the nuclear standoffs with the Soviets in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s doesn’t apply.”

White House officials, responding to the article that appeared in The Journal, argued that any consideration of using the military to respond to a cyberattack would constitute a “last resort,” after other efforts to deter an attack failed.

They pointed to a new international cyberstrategy, released by the White House two weeks ago, that called for international cooperation on halting potential attacks, improving computer security and, if necessary, neutralizing cyberattacks in the making. General Chilton and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. James E. Cartwright, have long urged that the United States think broadly about other forms of deterrence, including threatening a country’s economic well-being, or its reputation.

The Pentagon strategy is coming out at a moment when billions of dollars are up for grabs among federal agencies working on cyber-related issues, including the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Each has been told by the White House to come up with approaches that fit the international cyberstrategy that the White House published in May (New York Times, 2011).



Title: Cyber Attacks Are Becoming Lethal, Warns US Cyber Commander
Date: September 15, 2011
Source: Computer Weekly

Abstract: Cyber attacks are escalating from large-scale theft and disruption of computer operations to more lethal attacks that destroy systems and physical equipment, according to the head of the US Cyber Command.

"That's our concern about what's coming in cyberspace - a destructive element," General Keith Alexander told a US conference on cyber warfare, according to the Washington Times.

Alexander, who is also the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), said that future computer-based combat is likely to involve cyber strikes that cause widespread power outages and even physical destruction of machinery.

The potential for cyber attacks to do this, he said, is illustrated by the electrical power outage in the Northeast US in 2003 caused by the freezing of software that controlled the power grid after a tree damaged two high-voltage power lines, and the destruction of a water-driven electrical generator at Russia's Sayano-Shushenskaya dam in 2009 that was caused by a computer operator remotely starting the generator while one of the dam's turbines was being serviced.

These events highlight the threat of attackers breaking into electricity grid networks or remotely starting or stopping systems to cause destruction and loss of life, said Alexander.

The US government is adopting an "active defence" strategy aimed at bolstering the readiness of computer networks to respond.

The UK government has come under fire from the Chatham House think-tank for failing to take a strong lead in protecting critical systems such as power and water from cyber attack.

There is no coherent picture of who is targeting what and which systems and services are potentially vulnerable to cyber attack, according to a Chatham House report

The UK government must play "an integral role in informing wider society" and raising levels of awareness, said the report, which is based on a series of interviews with senior figures in companies considered to be part of the critical national infrastructure, such as electricity, oil and gas.

The Chatham House report comes ahead of the government's expected announcement of a revised cyber security plan (Computer Weekly, 2011).



Title:
Cyber Attacks Mounting Fast In U.S.
Date: September 30, 2011
Source: CBS News

Abstract: U.S. utilities and industries face a rising number of cyber break-ins by attackers using more sophisticated methods, a senior Homeland Security Department official said during the government's first media tour of secretive defense labs intended to protect the U.S. power grid, water systems and other vulnerable infrastructure.

Acting DHS Deputy Undersecretary Greg Schaffer told reporters Thursday that the world's utilities and industries increasingly are becoming vulnerable as they wire their industrial machinery to the Internet.

"We are connecting equipment that has never been connected before to these global networks," Schaffer said. Disgruntled employees, hackers and perhaps foreign governments "are knocking on the doors of these systems, and there have been intrusions."

According to the DHS, Control System Security Program cyber experts based at the Idaho National Laboratory responded to 116 requests for assistance in 2010, and 342 so far this year.

Department officials declined to give details about emergency response team deployments, citing confidentiality agreements with the companies involved. Under current law, the reporting of cyber attacks by private organizations is strictly voluntary.

The Obama administration has proposed making reporting mandatory, but the White House could find the idea difficult to sell at a time when Republicans complain about increased regulation of business.

Officials said they knew of only one recent criminal conviction for corrupting industrial control systems, that of a former security guard at a Dallas hospital whose hacking of hospital computers wound up shutting down the air conditioning system. The former guard was sentenced to 110 months in prison in March.

The Homeland Security Department's control system program includes the emergency response team, a Cyber Analysis Center where systems are tested for vulnerabilities, a malware laboratory for analyzing cyber threats and a classified "watch and warning center" where data about threats are assessed and shared with other cyber security and intelligence offices.

The offices are located at nondescript office buildings scattered around Idaho Falls. No signs announce their presence.

Marty Edwards, chief of the control system security effort, said the malware lab analyzed the Stuxnet virus that attacked the Iranian uranium enrichment facility in Natanz last year. He did not describe the group's findings in detail, except to say that they confirmed that it was "very sophisticated."

Edwards said that several years ago he had asked the German company Siemens to study the same kind of industrial controllers used at Natanz for vulnerabilities to attack, because they were so widely used in industry.

But he said the study was not part of any effort to target the controllers with malware, and said his program's work on the controllers could not have helped Stuxnet's designers.

A senior Homeland Security cyber official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said the Stuxnet worm exploited well-known design flaws common to many system controllers, vulnerabilities that in general can't be patched.

Many independent experts and former government officials suspect that Stuxnet was created by the United States, perhaps with the help of Israel, Britain and Germany.

The U.S. and other nations believe Iran is building a nuclear weapons program, but Tehran insists it is interested only in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

While U.S. officials talk frequently about the threat of cyber attacks to America, they seldom discuss the country's offensive cyber weapons capability. The U.S. is thought to be the world's leader in cyber warfare, both defensive and offensive.

U.S. officials and others long have feared that future wars will include cyber assaults on the industries and economies of adversaries, and the potential targets include power plants, pipelines and air traffic control systems.

Foreign nations could also target military control systems, including those used for communications, radar and advanced weaponry.

Because of its advanced industrial base and large number of computer controlled machines connected to the Internet, the U.S. is thought to be highly vulnerable to a cyber attack on its infrastructure.

In a 2007 test at the Idaho National Laboratory, government hackers were able to break into the control system running a large diesel generator, causing it to self-destruct.

A video of the test, called Aurora, still posted on YouTube, shows parts flying off the generator as it shakes, shudders and finally halts in a cloud of smoke.

James Lewis, a former State Department official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said in an interview that the Aurora test ushered in a new era of electronic warfare.

Before the test, he said, the notion of cyber warfare "was mainly smoke and mirrors. But the Aurora tests showed that, you know what? We have a new kind of weapon."

Homeland Security officials said they have not conducted such a test on that scale since. But they demonstrated Thursday how a hacker could tunnel under firewalls in computer systems to take command of industrial processes.

"All systems deployed have vulnerabilities," Edwards said (CBS News, 2011).



Title:
U.S. Calls Out China And Russia For Cyber Espionage Costing Billions
Date: November 3, 2011
Source: Fox News


Abstract: Hey, China and Russia, get off of our clouds.

That's the warning from a new U.S. national intelligence director's report to Congress released Thursday that states China and Russia are the biggest perpetrators of economic espionage through the Internet.

The report, Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, also warns that the efforts to calculate the cost of lost research and development is nearly impossible to calculate but could be costing up to $398 billion. As mobile devices proliferate, it's only going to get easier for spies to steal.

Analysts note that this is the first time the U.S. government report has so openly blamed countries that support cyber attacks and espionage at the national and state level.

"The computer networks of a broad array of U.S. government agencies, private companies,

universities, and other institutions -- all holding large volumes of sensitive economic information -- were targeted by cyber espionage; much of this activity appears to have originated in China," reads the report.

Drawing on data from 13 agencies, including the CIA and FBI, over the past two years, the report concludes that attacks against U.S. government networks and military contracts are on the rise. But one of the most worrying trends is the growing number of attacks on businesses that are smaller than the Fortune 500 companies.

Additionally, the report states that China's intelligence services -- as well as private companies and other entities -- are exploiting Chinese citizens or others with family ties in China who have "insider access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets using removable media devices or e-mail."

As for Russia, the report noted that the "10 Russian Foreign Intelligence Service 'illegals' arrested in June 2010 were tasked to collect economic and technology information."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said the report confirms what he's heard previously about the Chinese.

"Their continued theft of sensitive economic information is a threat to our national security, hurts American businesses and workers, and causes incalculable harm to global economy," Rogers said in a written statement. "This once again underscores the need for America's allies across Asia and Europe to join forces to pressure Beijing to end this illegal behavior."

Rogers and other lawmakers are calling on the Obama administration to confront Beijing in a public way, saying back-channel efforts have been largely ignored.

The report also warns that countries could take advantage of political or social activists who may use the tools of economic espionage against U.S. companies and agencies. It specifically called out "hactivist" groups like WikiLeaks and other "disgruntled insiders leaking information about corporate trade secrets or critical U.S. technology" (Fox News, 2011).



Title:
French Nuclear Power Company Hit By Cyber Attack
Date:
November 2, 2011
Source:
eSecurity Planet

Abstract: French energy conglomerate Areva may have been hit by an attack first detected in September.

"Local reports are consistent only in terms of talking about cyber-espionage, perhaps involving malware rather than some kind of terrifying Stuxnet-style nuclear kit sabotage caper," writes The Register's John Leyden.

"Staff reportedly learned that all might not to be well with Areva systems in mid-September, following a weekend security upgrade that left some systems out of action for three days," Leyden writes. "The National Security Agency Information Systems (ANSSI) reportedly assisted the security upgrade."

Go to "French nuke biz slapped in mystery cyberattack" to read the details (eSecurity, 2011).



Title: Israel Defense Sector 'Hit By Cyberattack'
Date:
November 8, 2011
Source:
UPI

Abstract: Israel's military and intelligence services Web sites crashed for several hours last weekend in what appeared to be a cyberattack, an event that carried the potential of crippling the computer systems of the country's high-tech defense industry.

The Haaretz daily reported Monday that the shutdown was the "biggest computer crash in the history of Israel's online government."

The Web sites of the armed forces, the Mossad foreign intelligence agency and the General Security Service, Israel's internal security branch known as Shin Bet, and several government ministries broke down Sunday.

Authorities denied there had been a cyberattack and blamed a "malfunction" in "the IBM-manufactured storage component" of the government computer system.

The sites were down for several hours.

There was skepticism about the official explanation because the breakdown occurred just days after Anonymous, a shadowy group of global hackers and online activists, threatened to retaliate against Israel for its maritime blockade of the economically crippled Gaza Strip.

In a YouTube video posted Friday, the group accused Israel of "piracy on the high seas" for intercepting two ships -- one Canadian, one Irish -- carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza's beleaguered 1.2 million Palestinians in international waters earlier that day.

Israeli naval commandoes boarded the ships and took them to the port of Ashdod in southern Israel.

"Your actions are illegal, against democracy and human rights, international and maritime law," a computer-generated voice declared on the video.

"If you continue blocking humanitarian vessels to Gaza … then you leave us no choice but to strike back again and again until you stop."

There was no way to authenticate the video. Anonymous threatened Israel in June, although there's no record of a cyberattack before Friday.

Anonymous, which claims to fight for human rights and against Internet censorship, has carried out cyberattacks on several governments and international conglomerates since 2008. During the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria it repeatedly paralyzed government Web sites to support the protesters.

Suspected Anonymous activists have been arrested in a half a dozen countries, including Britain, Australia and Turkey.

The Israeli security establishment has been building a cyberdefense apparatus for some time. But in September, reservist Maj. Gen. Yiftach Ron-Tal, chairman of the Israel Electric Corp., warned the cyberthreat to Israel is growing but that the country isn't adequately prepared to cope with it.

He raised the possibility that Israel's enemies had already implanted viruses in its computer systems that control military and civilian infrastructure like the defense industry and the national power grid.

Israel's military is digitalized down to platoon level and thus becomes vulnerable to cyberattack during combat.

Israel's water, transportation and financial systems, as well as its military command network, face potential cyberattacks.

Ron-Tal, a former commander of Israel's land forces, declared: "We could already have witnessed a silent infiltration that will be activated when the enemy wants.

"We need to be prepared for the possibility that critical infrastructure will be paralyzed."

Sunday's shutdown, if it was a cyberattack, came amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear program and increasing speculation that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was pushing for pre-emptive strikes against the Islamic Republic.

Israel's intelligence establishment has been widely blamed for sabotaging Iran's nuclear program in 2010 with a malignant virus known as Stuxnet. The Iranians claim their systems were hit later by another virus they dubbed "Stars," and blamed Israel again.

Since then the Iranians have made a major effort to build up cyberdefenses and the capability to retaliate.

Little is known of the status of these efforts but the possibility of payback against Israel is clearly a strategic objective for Tehran in the emerging cyber battlefield.

Iranian Gen. Ali Fazli, commander of the Revolutionary Guard's paramilitary Basij organization, claimed in March that Tehran has launched attacks against the Web sites of "the enemies."

The Jerusalem Post reported in August that Israel's military had set up a cyberdefense division, primarily to counter any Iranian threat, within the C4I -- command, control, communications, computers and intelligence -- Directorate.

That move followed Netanyahu's announcement in July that a National Cybernetic Task Force had been established to defend the country's vital infrastructure from Internet strikes (UPI, 2011).



Title:
Brazilian ISPs Under Cyber Attack
Date: November 8, 2011
Source:
IT Pro Portal

Abstract: Security experts warn that several Brazilian ISPs are under attack after a large number of their subscribers were exposed to various malware attacks when visiting Gmail, Hotmail, and also other trusted websites.

The attackers poisoned the cache of the domain name system, which ISPs use to translate domain names into Internet protocol numbers.

This process ultimately affects end users who are directed to some other website which is capable of exploiting software vulnerabilities and trick the user into installing various malware programs.

A researcher with Kaspersky Labs, Fabio Assoloni, on a blog post, stated, "Last week, Brazil's web forums were alive with desperate cries for help from users who faced malicious redirections when trying to access websites such as YouTube, Gmail and Hotmail," published at Secure List.

Assolini also stated, "In all cases, users were asked to run a malicious file as soon as the website opened."

In most of the cases, the malware pushed into the compromised system is a Trojan which steals various online banking credentials and other sensitive information (IT Pro Portal, 2011).



Title: Net Bandits Charged In $14 Million Ad-Fraud Case
Date:
November 9, 2011
Source:
Fox News

Abstract: They took a byte of crime.

A crew of Internet bandits devised an international scheme to hijack more than 4 million computers worldwide so websurfers visiting Netflix, IRS.gov and other popular websites would be rerouted to sites that generated at least $14 million in fraudulent profits, an indictment unsealed in New York alleged Wednesday.

The indictment says 500,000 computers in the United States were infected, including some used by educational institutions, nonprofits and government agencies like NASA. Six Estonians were in custody in that country, and extradition was being sought, authorities said. One Russian remained at large.

“The defendants hijacked four million computers in a hundred countries, including half a million computers in the United States, rerouting Internet traffic and generating $14 million in illegitimate income," assistant director in charge Janice K. Fedarcyk said.

The defendants "engaged in a massive and sophisticated scheme that infected at least 4 million computers located in over 100 countries with malicious software or malware," the indictment said. "Without the computer users' knowledge or permission, the malware digitally hijacked the infected computers to facilitate the fraud."

Searches done on infected computers would be redirected to websites set up by the defendants to generate payments any time a user clicked on an advertisement, the indictment said. The doctored websites mimicked legitimate sites for Netflix, the IRS, ESPN, Amazon and others, it added.

The indictment estimated the defendants "reaped least $14 million in ill-gotten gains."

"The Internet is pervasive because it is such a useful tool, but it is a tool that can be exploited by those with bad intentions and a little know-how,” Fedarcyk said (Fox News, 2011).



Title:
Steam Hacked, Valve 'Truly Sorry'
Date:
November 11, 2011
Source:
CNET

Abstract:
Game download service Steam has been hacked, with intruders getting access to a Steam database that contained gamers' personal information.

Steam is run by Half-Life maker Valve, whose co-founder Gabe Newell confirmed the breach in a statement, saying that the company was "truly sorry this happened."

Newell said the database that was compromised contained user names, encrypted passwords, details of game purchases and email addresses, as well as billing addresses and 'hashed and salted' passwords (hashing and salting are techniques for making passwords difficult to crack, and also make our stomachs rumble).

Credit card information was also contained on the database, but it was encrypted. Steam says it has no evidence of credit card misuse, but advises customers to "watch your credit card activity and statements closely".

Gaming services are still working, but the Steam forums have been shut down for now. Anyone using the Steam forums will have to change their password next time they log in, and customers have been advised to change their passwords on other accounts, if those accounts use the same password.

We have to applaud Valve's response to the situation -- issuing what appears to be a frank account of what happened, as well as an apology, goes a long way to mending broken hearts.

Sony came under fire for failing to quickly notify its customers during the PSN breach and subsequent outage earlier this year -- an attack that saw millions of gamers' personal data nicked and, almost more importantly, the PS3's online services unavailable for a considerable length of time.

Does this latest breach shake your confidence in Steam? How well do you think Valve handed this situation? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook wall (CNET, 2011).



Title:
Alarm Stems Cyber Attack On Italian-Jewish Facebook Page
Date:
November 13, 2011
Source:
JTA News

Abstract:
A Facebook group dedicated to friends of several Jewish communities in northern Italy came under an apparent anti-Semitic cyber attack.

Facebook members with clearly false profile names on Sunday joined the open Facebook group Friends of the Jewish community of Vercelli, Biella, Novara and V.C.O province, and in the course of several hours posted a series of pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic and, in some cases, obscene posts, pictures and videos on the group’s Facebook wall.

A leftist pro-Israel Italian group on Facebook raised the alarm with a post warning that the “Friends” group was under “Neo-Nazi attack” and calling on supporters to alert Facebook and the group’s administrators. Within hours of the alarm, the offending group was listed as "closed" with only six members, and no offensive posts were visible (JTA News, 2011).



Title:
Another US firm Sues Bank After Cyber-Attack
Date: November 15, 2011
Source:
Finextra

Abstract: A US title insurance firm that lost more than $200,000 after cybercrooks using the Zeus Trojan accessed its online account, is suing its bank, accusing it of lax security.

In a case picked up by security blogger Brian Krebs, Virginia-based Global Title Services had its computers infected with Zeus sometime before June last year.

This gave crooks access to the firm's passwords for their online accounts with Chevy Chase Bank (since rebranded by owner Capital One).

On the first of June the criminals began an eight day process of wiring money from the company's account to money mules. A total of 18 transfers, worth more than $2 million, were made.

The bank managed to reverse all but the first three transfers, meaning that Global Title Services suffered actual losses of around $200,000.

The company is suing Capital One, accusing it of failing to act in good faith and arguing that by not employing two-factor authentication it "failed to implement commercially reasonable security procedures for its online banking clients," says Krebs.

According to the complaint: "By operating a single factor identification online banking system, Capital One lefts its customers open to identity theft and failed to take sufficient safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to its client's online banking accounts, including the ability to send wire transfers."

Global Title is asking for a $500,000 judgment, plus pre- and post-judgment interest and attorney's fees with the case slated for trial in April.

Some of the crooks involved have already been convicted and imprisoned for their roles in cyberheist.

The question of whether a bank is responsible for ACH wire fraud committed against customers has been in the spotlight in recent months thanks to several court cases, the outcomes of which have been mixed.

In August Comerica Bank ditched plans to appeal the ruling of a Michigan court and reimbursed a small business customer that was hit by wire fraud scammers. However, previously a presiding magistrate in Maine ruled that Ocean Bank was not responsible for the loss of around $345,000 from a business customer account following a similar cyber-attack (Finextra, 2011).



Title:
Virginia Cyber Attack Exposes More Than 175,000 Campus Affiliates
Date:
November 16, 2011
Source:
CR80 News

Abstract:
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) released a statement regarding an incident of unauthorized access to a campus computing server. The VCU server housed files with the personal information on more than 175,000 current and former faculty, staff, students and affiliates.

Servers supporting a VCU system uncovered suspicious files on one of its servers. During forensic investigation, subsequent analysis then showed the intruders had compromised a second server - thru the first server attack - which contained data on 176,567 individuals.

Data items included either a name or eID, Social Security Number and, in some cases, date of birth, contact information, and various programmatic or departmental information.

Officials asserted the likelihood is very low that any personal data on the individuals in the files was compromised, but it is still notifying all involved via email and first-class mail (CR80 News, 2011).



Title: Norway Hit By Major Cyber Attack On Oil, Defence Industries
Date: November 18, 2011
Source:
International Business Times

Abstract: Data from Norway's oil, gas and defence systems have been stolen in what is feared to be one of the most extensive data espionage in the country's history.

Industry secrets and information about contract negotiations were stolen and "sent out digitally across the country," according to a statement released by Norway's National Security Agency (NSM).

At least 10 different firms, perhaps more, had been targeted in the biggest wave of cyber-attacks seen by the country.

None of the industries, mostly the oil, gas, energy and defence, have been named and it is feared that the number of attacked firms is higher as some may not realise they have been hacked.

Cybercrime: Prevention, Protection, Punishment Against Cyber Attacks (Conference)

"The attacks vary slightly from each other and are tailor-made so they are not discovered by anti-virus solutions. Companies that are targeted are therefore not aware of the attacks until after they have taken place," the NSA said in a statement.

"This means it is probable that industrial secrets from various companies have been stolen and sent digitally out of the country."

It is thought that the attacks may have been carried out by more than one person over the past year.

The methods used were varied, but it is thought that in some individual cases emails armed with viruses which did not trigger anti-malware detection systems were used to steal passwords, documents and other confidential material from hard-drives.

"This is the first time Norway has revealed extensive and wide computer espionage attacks," said NSM spokesperson Kjetil Berg Veire in a statement.

The attacks have occurred more often" when companies were negotiating large contracts," he said.

The NSM said that this type of internet espionage was an extremely cost-effective type of data-theft as that "espionage over the internet is cheap, provides good results and is low-risk."

Norway's oil and gas industry is ranked the third largest in the world, with 2.8 million barrels being produced each day (International Business Times, 2011).



Title: Harrogate Boy Arrested Over Royal Wedding 'Cyber Plot'
Date: November 18, 2011
Source:
BBC

Abstract: A 16-year-old boy from North Yorkshire has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to corrupt the official website of the royal wedding, it has emerged.

The youth from Harrogate was questioned as part of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's E-Crime Unit.

A police spokesman said the alleged offence was in connection with a suspected "denial of service" attack.

The youth was arrested in October and has been bailed until 15 December (November 18, 2011).



Title: U.S. Probes Cyber Attack On Water System
Date: November 21, 2011
Source:
Reuters

Abstract:
Federal investigators are looking into a report that hackers managed to remotely shut down a utility's water pump in central Illinois last week, in what could be the first known foreign cyber attack on a U.S. industrial system.

The November 8 incident was described in a one-page report from the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, according to Joe Weiss, a prominent expert on protecting infrastructure from cyber attacks.

The attackers obtained access to the network of a water utility in a rural community west of the state capital Springfield with credentials stolen from a company that makes software used to control industrial systems, according to the account obtained by Weiss. It did not explain the motive of the attackers.

He said that the same group may have attacked other industrial targets or be planning strikes using credentials stolen from the same software maker.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are examining the matter, said DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard.

"At this time there is no credible corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure entities or a threat to public safety," he said, declining to elaborate further. An FBI spokesman in Illinois did not return phone calls seeking comment.

SCADA Security

Cyber security experts said that the reported attack highlights the risk that attackers can break into what is known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. They are highly specialized computer systems that control critical infrastructure -- from water treatment facilities, chemicals plants and nuclear reactors to gas pipelines, dams and switches on train lines.

The issue of securing SCADA systems from cyber attacks made international headlines last year after the mysterious Stuxnet virus attacked a centrifuge at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran. Many experts say that was a major setback for Iran's nuclear weapon's program and attribute the attack to the United States and Israel.

In 2007, researchers at the U.S. government's Idaho National Laboratories identified a vulnerability in the electric grid, demonstrating how much damage a cyber attack could inflict on a large diesel generator.

Lani Kass, who retired in September as senior policy adviser to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States should take the possibility of a cyber attack seriously.

"The going in hypothesis is always that it's just an incident or coincidence. And if every incident is seen in isolation, it's hard -- if not impossible -- to discern a pattern or connect the dots," Kass told Reuters.

"Failure to connect the dots led us to be surprised on 9/11," she said, describing the September 11, 2001 hijacking attacks as a prime example in which authorities dismissed indicators of an impending disaster and were caught unaware.

Representative Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said that the report of the attack highlighted the need to pass legislation to improve cyber security of the U.S. critical infrastructure.

"The stakes are too high for us to fail, and our citizens will be the ones to suffer the consequences of our inaction," he said in a statement.

Illinois Attack

Several media reports identified the location of the attack as Springfield. City officials said that was inaccurate.

Don Craven, a lawyer and a trustee for the Curran-Gardner Township Public Water District, said late Friday that the small water utility was aware that "something happened" but that he did not have much information on the matter.

"We are aware there may have been a successful or unsuccessful attempt to hack into the system," Craven said by telephone from his Springfield, Illinois, office.

"It came through a software system that's used to remotely access the pumps," he said. "A pump is burned out."

The district serves some 2,200 customers in a rural district West of Springfield. He said there was no interruption in service as the utility operates multiple pumps and wells. Its water comes from an aquifer underneath the Sangamon River.

Craven said he did not know what software at the utility was involved but said he was confident that no customer records were compromised. He said he was mystified as to the reason hackers might have targeted the tiny district.

The general manager of the utility has not returned messages.

Other Attacks?

Quoting from the one-page report, Weiss said it was not yet clear whether other networks had been hacked as a result of the breach at the U.S. software maker.

He said the manufacturer of that software keeps login credentials to the networks of its customers so that its staff can help them support those systems.

"An information technology services and computer repair company checked the computer logs of the system and determined the computer had been hacked into from a computer located in Russia," Weiss quoting from the report in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Workers at the targeted utility in central Illinois on November 8 noticed problems with SCADA systems which manages the water supply system, and discovered that a water pump had been damaged, said Weiss, managing partner of Applied Control Solutions in Cupertino, California (Reuters, 2011).




Title:
Cyber Criminals Attempt To Hack Into AT&T, No Accounts Compromised
Date: November 21, 2011
Source:
Mobil Beat

Abstract: AT&T was the target of an attack today when cyber criminals attempted to access customer information by connecting phone numbers to online accounts.

“We do not know the intent, but we are concerned they may attempt to deceive our customers by sending them unsolicited texts or emails claiming to be from AT&T and requesting sensitive personal information like Social Security numbers or passwords,” an AT&T spokesperson said in an e-mail to VentureBeat regarding the company’s concerns about affected one percent.

The company explained the attack was “an organized attempt to obtain information,” meaning a number of people working together as opposed to a lone hacker. No accounts were successfully breached, however. Those trying to gain access to customer accounts were using “auto script technology,” according to a company statement, which attempted to link AT&T phone numbers to online accounts.

Currently AT&T is looking into who is behind the attack and what they wanted with the information. “In the meantime, out of an abundance of caution, we are advising the account holders involved,” the company said in a statement.

According to Bloomberg, company spokesperson Mark Siegel says less than 1 percent of the company’s mobile customers were affected. To put this in perspective, however, AT&T recently announced over 100 million wireless subscribers. That means less that less than one percent can still be hundreds of thousands of affected customers. Exactly how hackers affected these customers remains to be seen, other than account information was not compromised.

The company also recently experienced a three hour service outage in the Northeast, but says the downtime and the attack are unrelated (Mobil Beat, 2011).



Title:
Another Cyber Attack On Japan Parliament
Date: November 22, 2011
Source:
Voice of Russia

Abstract: Japan’s parliament came under a new cyber attack on Tuesday, when malicious emails were found on computers used in the upper house, officials said on Tuesday.

They added that at least 700 computers had been hit by a virus, with passwords and other sensitive information possibly compromised.

The hack is the latest in a series of cyber attacks on the Japanese parliament in the past few months (Voice of Russia, 2011).




10. THOUSANDS OF LAPTOPS STOLEN


OBAMACSI.COM: Since 2006, thousands of military laptops have been stolen in the United States and the United Kingdom. Why these thefts are being allowed to occur is not yet clear, but it plays nicely into the narrative of impending cyber-terror attacks. Some of these laptops have likely made it onto the black market and into the hands of "terrorists" and will likely be used in future cyber-terror attacks involving the military in the U.S. or England. The alleged thief who stole 2,000 military laptops in Florida just happens to be the leader of a Miami crime family. The cyber-terror scenarios available to the government due to these repeated laptop thefts is unlimited, dangerous, and potentially deadly.


Title:
Laptop With Data On Millions Of Vets Stolen From VA Employee's Home
Date: May 22, 2006
Source: Government Executive

Abstract:
Personal information, including Social Security numbers, of possibly every living U.S. veteran discharged since 1975 was stolen earlier this month from the home of a Veterans Affairs employee, the department announced Monday.

The employee took the electronic data without authorization, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said. Sources said the employee, now placed on administrative leave, worked in the Policy and Planning Group at department headquarters and was performing a statistical analysis on the data as part of an annual department study on veteran population demographics.

The data also contained the names, dates of birth and some disability ratings for up to 26.5 million veterans and some of their spouses, according to a VA statement. The stolen data does not contain medical records, the department said, adding that the FBI and the department's inspector general have mounted investigations.

While the data does not appear to have been deliberately targeted in the theft, the VA is notifying all possibly affected veterans and setting up a special toll-free hotline, 1-800-333-4636. It has also set up a Web site.

VA is in the process of finalizing a contract with the General Services Administration for call-center operations to handle the toll-free calls, GSA spokeswoman M.J. Pizzella said. The department is preparing to spend up to $11 million on the contract, and call volumes could reach tens of thousands of calls per hour, a source said. Pizzella would not confirm those numbers.

The department could have avoided this had the employee followed departmental procedure, said Robert McFarland, who stepped down in April as VA assistant secretary for information and technology. Data removed from computer systems onto devices such as laptops should be encrypted, he said.

"If it was encrypted, then it's going to be useless to anybody, but [the department] doesn't say it was encrypted," he said. Sources said it's probable that the information had been kept in a legacy system that couldn't have been accessed online through a secure virtual private network connection, which is why the employee manually downloaded the data.

"There's a lot of old systems there," McFarland said.

This isn't the first time the department has run into trouble with misplaced veterans' data. In fall 2002, a VA medical center in Indianapolis sold and donated old computers without first wiping their hard drives clean. The new owners found medical information and credit card numbers on the discarded computers.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said he will hold hearings on the latest incident, and may not wait until the investigation is complete before looking into the matter. "It is a phenomenally loud wake-up call to our government as it relates to how sensitive information is handled," he told Government Executive.

Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, released a statement saying his panel will likewise examine the incident, in "the context of previous data compromises."

VA officials have ordered all employees to complete a cybersecurity awareness and a privacy training course by June 30. In addition, the department is conducting an inventory and review of all positions requiring access to sensitive information. Employees with such access will have to undergo an updated background check (Government Executive, 2006)



Title:
Military Laptop Stolen From McDonald's As 'Army Captain Eats A Big Mac'
Date:
April 12, 2008
Source:
Daily Mail

Abstract: A military laptop was stolen from McDonald's as an army captain ate a Big Mac, it has emerged.

An opportunist thief snatched the £1,000 computer from under the captain's chair as he tucked in to a burger, according to the Sun.

Police have launched an investigation into the theft on April 1 from the fast food restaurant on Whitehall, near the Ministry of Defence.

The MoD has confirmed the incident, but said the computer contained no sensitive information and was encrypted.

A spokesman said: "The laptop contained no sensitive information and was encrypted with password protection.

"Police are still investigating the theft."

The theft was despite the Government tightening rules on employees taking their computers out of work after a series of data-loss scandals.

Personal details of more than 600,000 military recruits went missing in January when a MoD laptop was stolen from a car in Birmingham.

It has also emerged that around 600 MoD laptops and PCs had been stolen since 1998.

Whitehall staff are now banned from taking unencrypted laptops or drives containing personal data outside secured office premises (Daily Mail, 2008).



Title:
More Than 700 MoD Laptops Lost Or Stolen
Date: July 18, 2008
Source: The Sunday Times

Abstract
: The Ministry of Defence has been accused of “shocking incompetence” after it was forced to admit that 747 laptops and 131 of its computer memory sticks have been lost or stolen in the past four years.

The latest admission is almost double the number of laptops the government department had already admitted to having stolen after a series of breaches of security.

The MoD also admitted that 26 portable memory sticks containing classified information had been either stolen or misplaced since January.

The Liberal Democrats condemned the latest security breaches, which happened despite a cross-Whitehall drive to tighten procedures, as evidence of incompetence.

Sarah Teather, Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, said: “It seems that this Government simply cannot be trusted with keeping sensitive information safe.

“It is frightening to think that secret MoD information can be lost or stolen.

“How can they expect us to trust them to keep our personal information safe in their unnecessary and expensive ID card scheme?”

However, the MoD insisted that its policies were “generally fit for purpose”, and said all data losses were fully investigated.

At least three of the 26 laptops stolen this year contained information classified as “secret” and 19 had data which should have been “restricted”.

In January a Royal Navy computer was stolen that contained passport, National Insurance and driver’s licence numbers, family details and NHS numbers for about 153,000 people who applied to join the armed forces and banking details of around 3,700.

The breaches of data security by the MoD follow the exposure last year of a catastrophic failure to maintain privacy by HM Revenue & Customs when the department lost CD-Roms containing details of 25 million Britons.

The latest embarrassing details were disclosed by ministers in response to questions tabled in Parliament. Previously the MoD had confessed to 347 laptops being stolen between 2004 and 2007. But Defence Secretary Des Browne was forced to issue revised figures after “anomalies in the reporting process” were discovered.

The official total is now 658 laptops stolen, with another 89 lost. Just 32 have been recovered.

In a separate response, ministers said that 131 of the department’s USB memory sticks had been taken or misplaced since 2004.

Last month the MoD was heavily criticised by a review of its data procedures which warned that basic security discipline had been forgotten and there was “little awareness” of the danger of losing information.

But a spokeswoman for the department said today: “Any loss of data is investigated fully.

“The recent report on data losses by Sir Edmund Burton found that MoD policies and procedures are generally fit for purpose, but also identified a number of areas where MoD needs to do better in protecting personal data.

“MoD has developed, and is now working through, an action plan to address all of the report’s recommendations and bring the department’s handling of personal data to an acceptable state” (The Sunday Times, 2008).





Title:
28 MoD Laptops Stolen Since January As Figures Reveal One Goes Missing Every Five Days
Date: May 14, 2009
Source: Daily Mail

Abstract: A laptop is going missing from the Ministry of Defence every five days, it emerged tonight.

Figures show 28 laptops were lost or stolen from the department since the start of the year, despite a ministerial assurance that 'robust procedures' are in place to 'mitigate against such circumstances'.

Between January 1 and May 11, 20 memory sticks and four personal computers also went missing from the MoD, while a ministerial special adviser also lost a BlackBerry.

In a written parliamentary reply, Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said: 'The MoD takes any loss of information and associated media storage devices very seriously and has robust procedures in place to mitigate against such occurrences.

'New processes, instructions and technological aids are also being implemented to mitigate human errors and raise awareness of every individual in the department.'

The MoD has come under scrutiny before over lost electrical devices, having lost 440 - including 217 laptops - in 2008 (Daily Mail, 2009).




Title:
Stolen Laptop Holds Army Guard Members' Data

Date: August 5, 2009
Source: MSNBC

Abstract: The National Guard says about 131,000 former and current Army Guard members' personal data may be at risk because of the theft of a contractor's laptop.

Those who who could be affected will be notified with an official letter, said Randy Noller, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau.

The laptop, owned by an Army Guard contractor was stolen July 27, Noller said. The computer holds personal information on soldiers enrolled in the Army National Guard Bonus and Incentives Program. The data includes names, Social Security numbers, incentive payment amounts and payment dates

The National Guard Bureau has set up a special Web page, and the Army Guard has a toll-free call center available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 877-481-4957.

The Web site provides steps on how to check credit reports, how to guard against identity theft and who to call if a guard member believes any fraudulent activity occurs with his or her personal information.

Noller told military newspaper Stars and Stripes that officials don’t have any indication yet that the information has been used to open new credit cards or go after soldiers’ bank accounts.

“At least for now, it just looks like somebody wanted to steal a laptop,” he told the newspaper “There’s no evidence that anything has been compromised, but we didn’t want to wait to notify our members about the possible threat” (MSNBC, 2009).




Title:
Another Breach: Military Laptop Stolen
Date: December 17, 2009
Source: CNN

Abstract:
The personal records of thousands of soldiers, employees and their families were potentially exposed after a laptop computer containing the information was stolen over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the military says.

But information security experts for the Army say it's unlikely that the information will be compromised because the data are guarded by three layers of security and encryption passwords.

The security breach happened when the rental apartment of an employee with the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Academy was burglarized in Clermont, Florida, officials said. The theft was reported to local police November 28, but the military was not notified until the employee returned to work three days later.

Military officials say the employee was using the laptop for remote training courses, and it has not been determined whether any protocol was breached.

The computer contained "names and personally identifiable information for slightly more than 42,000 Fort Belvoir Morale, Welfare and Recreation patrons," according to a posting on the Web site for the fort, which is in Virginia.

CNN obtained the notification letter sent, almost two weeks later, to those affected. It says, in part, that the alleged compromised information "includes your name, Social Security number, home address, date of birth, encrypted credit card information, personal e-mail address, personal telephone numbers, and family member information."

The letter recommends steps to guard against the possibility of identity theft.

The military says the lag in notification time was because of a policy requiring risk assessment before alerting those affected.

The Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command operates facilities such as child care centers, bowling centers and outdoor recreation facilities. Those facilities are available to anyone with a military ID, which includes active-duty troops, Department of Defense civilians, family members and retirees.

This isn't the first time a missing laptop has resulted in a potential security breach for the military.

In 2006, a Veterans Affairs Department analyst lost a laptop computer that contained the Social Security numbers and other personal data for more than 26 million veterans and active duty troops.

That incident, in addition to other major data breaches, prompted a national call for protection of personal information. A bill currently under consideration in the Senate would put more protections in place (CNN, 2009).



Title: Thousands Of Laptops Stolen During 9-hour Heist
Date: July 13, 2010
Source: CBS News



Abstract: Thousands of laptops have been stolen from the Florida office of a private contractor for the U.S. military's Special Operations Command. Surveillance cameras caught up to seven people loading the computers into two trucks for nine hours. U.S. Special Operations Command coordinates the activities of elite units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

A spokeswoman said Tuesday that none of the stolen laptops contained military information or software. The Virginia-based company iGov was awarded a $450 million contract earlier this year to supply mobile technology services linking special operations troops worldwide. A company executive says iGov is cooperating with authorities and the March 6 break-in at its Tampa facility remains under investigation (CBS News, 2010).





Title:
Man charged In $7.4M Military-Laptop Theft
Date: February 17, 2011
Source: UPI

Abstract
:
The alleged ringleader of a $7.4 million theft of military laptops was arrested after a McDonald's drive-through camera took his video, Florida police said.

Rolando Coca, 55, the reputed head of a Miami crime family, allegedly drove to a Tampa McDonald's restaurant midway through the 10-hour heist of U.S. military contractor iGov Technologies Inc., and the restaurant's security camera recorded his face, red Lincoln Navigator and the sport utility vehicle's license plate, Hillsborough County, Fla., Sheriff David Gee said.

"That's really one of the things that broke the case for us," Gee said at a news conference.

FBI officials already investigating Coca in connection with other cargo thefts immediately recognized him on the video and arrested him in the Miami area Jan. 25, Gee said, The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported.

Coca allegedly masterminded the March 6 heist, in which two men climbed a ladder, cut a hole in iGov's roof, rappelled two stories down into the warehouse and cut the security systems, Gee said.

About 10 people who later arrived for the overnight burglary started loading the laptops into two semitrailer trucks that later headed for Miami, a popular hub for stolen cargo, he said.

"This was very choreographed and conducted at a very high skill level," Gee said. "They've obviously done this before."

Authorities recovered nearly 2,000 laptops, worth about $4.7 million, in an abandoned Miami warehouse and found other computers in smaller quantities on the eBay online auction Web site and Amazon.com.

The FBI separately arrested suspect Emil Benitez in a sting shortly after the alleged robbery when agents set up a deal to pay $50,000 for some of the laptops, the Times reported.

Benitez was sentenced to two years in federal prison in August.

The laptops contained no sensitive information, military officials said (UPI, 2011).



11. CENSORING THE INTERNET


OBAMACSI.COM: The result of a cyber-terror attack will be internet censorship. Post cyber-terror censorship will likely take the form of the censorship currently being executed in communist China. Early signs that censorship is the driving motivation for government related cyber-terrorism is evidenced the crack-down on internet social media in the wake of the London Riot of 2011. More people are paying attention to the news, government and politics, and the personal computer is the biggest tool used to monitor daily news and information. The government needs a reason to censor, and cyber terrorism is the tool by which they plan to accomplish their goal.


Title:
FBI Warning Of Al Qaeda Hit Lists, Bomb-Making Tips Led To Shutdown Of Blogging Site

Date: July 19, 2010
Source: Fox News


Abstract: A popular website that hosted more than 70,000 bloggers was shut down suddenly last week after the FBI informed its chief technology officer that the site contained hit lists, bomb-making documents and links to Al Qaeda materials, it was reported on Monday. When the WordPress platform Blogetery.com went dead, the initial explanation from the site's host, Burst.net, was that “a law-enforcement agency” had ordered it to shut down, citing a “history of abuse.”

The explanation caused a wave of conspiracy theories in the blogosphere. But according to a report on CNET Monday, Burst.net shut down Blogetery.com when it became spooked by a letter from the FBI, in which the bureau detailed the presence of terrorist materials among the blog posts.

Burst.net CTO Joe Marr explained that the FBI contacted them with a request for voluntary emergency disclosure of information, bringing to their attention that terrorist material presenting a threat to the lives of Americans was found on a server Burst.net hosted. FBI agents said they wanted specific, immediate information about the people who posted the material. Paul Bresson, unit chief for the FBI's national press office, wrote in an email to FoxNews.com Monday that Burst.net shut down the website on its own. "We did not make a request to shut down a website,"

Bresson wrote. Burst.net executives and public relations staffers were not available for comment; answering machines at the office appeared to be disconnected.  Bloggers had been theorizing for days about the shutdown, mostly speculating about conspiracies and anti-piracy movements.  File-sharing news site TorrentFreak claimed it was most likely the work of anti-piracy authorities. The site speculated that it could be part of a new initiative called "Operation: In Our Sites," designed to crack down on Internet piracy and counterfeiting under the authority of Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel.

"Operation: In Our Sites" has already targeted numerous sites including TVShack.net, Movies-Links.TV, FilesPump.com, Now-Movies.com, PlanetMoviez.com, ThePirateCity.org, ZML.com, NinjaVideo.net and NinjaThis.net. Others wondered whether this was a step by the government to assert control over the Web. Just weeks ago, a plan giving the President emergency power to turn off the Internet was approved by the Senate.

The reality turns out to be much more serious. A representative for Burst.net said the company had offered Blogetery's operator his
money back, but that "should be the least of his concerns." “Simply put: We cannot give him his data nor can we provide any other details," the representative said. "By stating this, most would recognize that something serious is afoot” (Fox News, 2010).



Title: 2 British Men Given Jail Time For Inciting Riots On Facebook
Date:
August 17, 2011
Source:
Voice of America

A British court has sentenced two men to four years in prison for their failed attempts to use the social networking site Facebook to incite rioting during last week's unrest in the country.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were convicted of creating Facebook pages aimed at encouraging violent disorder in their hometowns in northwest England.

YouTube-Video

Both men pleaded guilty to creating the pages, which were entitled "Smash Down Northwich Town" and "Let's Have a Riot in Latchford."

Police say they infiltrated the Facebook page of Blackshaw last week and promptly arrested him after no one else joined him for the riot. Sutcliffe-Keenan's page was only up for a few hours before he took it down.

Separately, a British teenager appeared in a London youth court Tuesday to face charges that he murdered a 68-year-old retiree during last week's rioting. Richard Bowes died Thursday of head injuries after being attacked by rioters in west London.  The teenager, whose name has not been released because of his age, was also charged with violent disorder and burglary.

Nearly 3,000 people across the country have been arrested for participating in the riots, which left five people dead.  Almost half of those detained have been charged with riot-related offenses.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the formation of an independent panel to investigate the causes of the riots and hear from victims and affected communities. However, he stopped short of announcing a full public inquiry, which many in the opposition Labor party had wanted.

Clegg said convicted rioters, wearing orange clothing, would soon be put to work cleaning up the devastated communities, as part of a "community payback" plan.

The violence started after the fatal police shooting of a man in London's economically depressed Tottenham neighborhood and quickly spread to other cities across Britain, terrorizing the country for four straight nights (Voice of America, 2011).



Title: VeriSign Demands Website Takedown Powers
Date: October 11, 2011
Source: The Register

Abstract: VeriSign, which manages the database of all .com internet addresses, wants powers to shut down "non-legitimate" domain names when asked to by law enforcement.

The company said today it wants to be able to enforce the "denial, cancellation or transfer of any registration" in any of a laundry list of scenarios where a domain is deemed to be "abusive".

VeriSign should be able to shut down a .com or .net domain, and therefore its associated website and email, "to comply with any applicable court orders, laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement or other governmental or quasi-governmental agency, or any dispute resolution process", according to a document it filed today with domain name industry overseer ICANN.

The company has already helped law enforcement agencies in the US, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, seize domains that were allegedly being used to sell counterfeit goods or facilitate online piracy, when the agency first obtained a court order.

That seizure process has come under fire because, in at least one fringe case, a seized .com domain's website had already been ruled legal by a court in its native Spain.

Senior ICE agents are on record saying that they believe all .com addresses fall under US jurisdiction.

But the new powers would be international and, according to VeriSign's filing, could enable it to shut down a domain also when it receives "requests from law enforcement", without a court order.

"Various law enforcement personnel, around the globe, have asked us to mitigate domain name abuse, and have validated our approach to rapid suspension of malicious domain names," VeriSign told ICANN, describing its system as "an integrated response to criminal activities that utilize Verisign-managed [top-level domains] and DNS infrastructure".

The company said it has already cooperated with US law enforcement, including the FBI, to craft the suspension policies, and that it intends to also work with police in Europe and elsewhere.

It's not yet clear how VeriSign would handle a request to suspend a .com domain that was hosting content legal in the US and Europe but illegal in, for example, Saudi Arabia or Uganda.

VeriSign made the request in a Registry Services Evaluation Process (RSEP) document filed today with ICANN. The RSEP is currently the primary mechanism that registries employ when they want to make significant changes to their contracts with ICANN.

The request also separately asks for permission to launch a "malware scanning service", not dissimilar to the one recently introduced by ICM Registry, manager of the new .xxx extension.

That service would enable VeriSign to scan all .com websites once per quarter for malware and then provide a free "informational only" security report to the registrar responsible for the domain, which would then be able to take re-mediation action. It would be a voluntary service.

RSEP requires all registries including VeriSign to submit to a technical and competition evaluation.

Sometimes, ICANN also opens up an RSEP question to public comment, as seems likely in this case.

But ICANN's board of directors would have the make the ultimate decision whether to approve the anti-abuse policy and the malware-scanning service.

VeriSign is already anticipating that there may be criticisms from internet users "concerned about an improper takedown of a legitimate website" and told ICANN it plans to implement a "protest" policy to challenge such decisions.

The company's move echoes policy development in the UK, where .uk registry Nominet is in the late stages of creating rules that would allow it to suspend domains allegedly involved in criminal activity at the behest of law enforcement (The Register, 2011).



Title: 'Rogue Websites' Bill Introduced In US House
Date: October 26, 2011
Source: Breitbart

Abstract: US lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.

The Stop Online Piracy Act has received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act or Protect IP Act.

The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.

But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organizations for allegedly paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, said the bill "helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.

"Rogue websites that steal and sell American innovations have operated with impunity," Smith said in a statement.

"The online thieves who run these foreign websites are out of the reach of US law enforcement agencies and profit from selling pirated goods without any legal consequences," he said.

"The bill prevents online thieves from selling counterfeit goods in the US, expands international protections for intellectual property, and protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit products," Smith said.

Howard Berman, a Democrat from California who co-sponsored the legislation, said it is "an important next step in the fight against digital theft and sends a strong message that the United States will not waiver in our battle to protect America's creators and innovators."

The House Judiciary Committee is to hold a hearing on the bill on November 16.

The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) said the House bill "raises serious red flags.

"It includes the most controversial parts of the Senate's Protect IP Act, but radically expands the scope," the CDT said in a statement. "Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs.

"Internet Service Providers would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior," the CDT said. "Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rightsholders allege hasn't done enough to police infringement.

"The bill represents a serious threat to online innovation and to legitimate online communications tools," it said.

The Obama administration has come in for some criticism for shutting down dozens of "rogue websites" over the past year as part of a crackdown known as "Operation in Our Sites."

US authorities in November, for example, shut down 82 websites selling mostly Chinese-made counterfeit goods, including golf clubs, Walt Disney movies, handbags and other items (Breitbart, 2011)


Title: The Non-Existent 'Cyber War' Is Nothing More Than A Push For More Government Control
Date: October 28, 2011
Source:
Tech Dirt

Abstract:
Reason's recent post, "Cyber War: Still Not a Thing," addresses the claims of various politicians that America is under constant attack from hackers and other cyber criminals. While various DDoS attacks on prominent government websites would seem to indicate a larger problem, the real issue here is the use of "war" rhetoric to remove all sense of proportion, thus greasing the wheel for overreaching legislation.

Ever since Vietnam, the U.S. government has shown an odd propensity for dragging us into unpopular (and unwinnable) wars. Between the protracted Iraq "War" (nearly a decade at this point), our involvement in Afghanistan and our intervention in Libya , Americans are finding that the old concept of "war" doesn't really fit what's going on here.

Back on the home front, various unwinnable wars continue to suck down tax dollars and erode civil rights. The War on Drugs. The War on Terror. The political system is no longer interested in mere skirmishes or "police actions." Everything is a capital-W "War."

A multitude of problems arise from couching these situations in catastrophic and adversarial terms. Declaring "war" on drugs has brought the battle to the home front and turned our law enforcement into an ad hoc military force. The slightest of violations is met with excessive force. There are dozens of stories of people whose houses have been invaded by SWAT teams armed with automatic weapons. Uninvolved children have been thrust into violent situations by the perceived wrongdoing of their parents. When a person possessing a couple of ounces of marijuana is treated like a Colombian drug lord, the system is being abused.

Using the word "war" automatically defines your opponent as violent, no matter how untrue that designation is. Declaring the nation to be in the midst of a "cyberwar" allows law enforcement and government security agencies to escalate their response to perceived threats. Every reaction becomes an overreaction. No matter what your opinion of Anonymous and like-minded hackers might be, it's pretty safe to say that most of us do not consider them to be a violent threat.

All previous indications point to this being handled just as badly as any previous "war." The point will come when people are overrun in their own homes by armed tactical units in response to actions like DDoS attacks which, as Reason points out, are usually "undirected protests" with "no tactical objective." Truly innocent citizens will be swept up in this as well, considering the number of computers out there that have been "zombified" and pressed into service as part of a botnet. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has already demonstrated that it needs
nothing more than an IP address to mobilize.

In times of war, corners are cut and rights are treated as privileges. When the enemy is invisible and the list of possible suspects grows exponentially with each broadening of the definition of "hacking," the "war" becomes a convenient excuse for law enforcement fishing expeditions and violent tactical reactions. California has already decided police can
search your phone without a warrant and the list of municipalities willing to expand police power with warrantless searches and abuse of "probable cause" continues to grow.

The ugliest part of this whole "war" concept is that underneath all the tough talk and tougher action is a good old fashioned money grab. Reason cites Sen. Barbara Mikulski's quote, "We are at war, we are being attacked, and we are being hacked," while pointing out that Maryland is home to the U.S. Cyber Command Headquarters. A
Baltimore Sun piece digs deeper into this money grab:

Mikulski, the state's senior senator, sits on the intelligence and appropriations committees. She said that she and Rep C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who sits on the appropriations and intelligence committees in the House, are Maryland's "one-two punch" on Capitol Hill. Mikulski also was named recently to a cyber security task force, which will focus on governance, technology development and work force development nationwide.

O'Malley called for the establishment of a "National Center for Excellence for Cyber Security" in Maryland, more education and work force training, and an economic development strategy for cyber security in the state.

The computer design and services sector, which includes cyber security, employs about 60,000 mostly high-paid workers in Maryland, and grew despite the national recession, at a 7.2 percent annual clip through November 2009, state officials said.

An earlier Reason piece points out even more examples:

Beginning in early 2008, towns across the country sought to lure Cyber Command's permanent headquarters. Authorities in Louisiana estimated that the facility would bring at least 10,000 direct and ancillary jobs, billions of dollars in contracts, and millions in local spending. Politicians naturally saw the command as an opportunity to boost local economies. Governors pitched their respective states to the secretary of the Air Force, a dozen congressional delegations lobbied for the command, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal even lobbied President George W. Bush during a meeting on Hurricane Katrina recovery. Many of the 18 states vying for the command offered gifts of land, infrastructure, and tax breaks.

The city of Bossier, Louisiana, proposed a $100 million "Cyber Innovation Center" office complex next to Barksdale Air Force Base and got things rolling by building an $11 million bomb-resistant "cyber fortress," complete with a moat. Yuba City, California, touted its proximity to Silicon Valley. Colorado Springs pointed to the hardened location of Cheyenne Mountain, headquarters for NORAD. In Nebraska the Omaha Development Foundation purchased 136 acres of land just south of Offutt Air Force Base and offered it as a site.

Proposed cybersecurity legislation presents more opportunities for pork spending. The Cybersecurity Act of 2010, proposed by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) called for the creation of regional cybersecurity centers across the country, a cyber scholarship-for-service program, and myriad cybersecurity research and development grants.

Underneath any faux "war" is the lure of unregulated tax dollars. Building a force to counteract an undefinable foe is an open-ended "goal". In addition, this sort of thing gives government entities more of what they really want: power, money and control.

A rough Beltway consensus has emerged that the United States is facing a grave and immediate threat that can only be addressed by more public spending and tighter controls on private network security practices.

It's a war alright. A war on civil liberties. It's a million (or more accurately, 7.9 billion) reasons to regulate and track internet usage and criminalize yet another section of the U.S. population. Tactical operations will now be mobilized against people who bring a laptop to a gunfight. And much like any other war, once it's underway, it's nearly impossible to stop (Tech Dirt, 2011).



Title: Cameron Warns On Internet Crackdown
Date:
November 1, 2011
Source:
Press Association

Abstract: Fears of cyber attacks and rising online crime must not be an excuse for a "heavy-handed" crackdown on freedom on the internet, David Cameron has said.

Addressing an international cyberspace conference in London, the Prime Minister said it was essential to strike a balance between the needs of online security and the right to free expression.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was not acceptable for governments to try to close down social media and mobile phone networks at times of social unrest.

However critics contrasted his comments with Mr Cameron's response to the London riots when he suggested preventing people using websites and mobile phones to plot violence and disorder.

"It's very easy to defend the case of black and white - human rights against dictatorships around the world," John Kampfner, the chief executive of the Index on Censorship, told the conference.

"But as soon as our own Western-style stability of the state is called into question, well then freedom of expression is expendable. There should be one rule for all including Western governments."

The call by Mr Cameron and Mr Hague for human rights online to be respected was seen as a direct challenge to Russia and China - both represented at the conference - who have been pressing for tighter regulation of the internet through binding international treaties.

Britain, in contrast, has been arguing for internationally agreed "norms of behaviour", ensuring the free flow of information and ideas in cyberspace while taking concerted action to tackle online crime.

"We cannot leave cyberspace open to the criminals and the terrorists that threaten our security and our prosperity but at the same time we cannot just go down the heavy-handed route," Mr Cameron told the conference.

"Do that and we will crush all that is good about the internet and the free flow of information - the climate of creativity that gives such life to so many new ideas and new movements" (Press Association, 2011).


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  798k v. 1 Nov 23, 2011, 4:37 PM David Chase Taylor