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NRT: A global cyberwar against everyone

Written By: - Date published: 11:31 am, March 14th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: International, Spying, us politics - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256The original of this post is here at No Right Turn.

The latest NSALeak: the NSA is deliberately spreading malware on a massive scale to spy on everyone:

Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.

The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.

The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan. GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic.

This isn’t the sort of targeted operation they aimed at Belgacom – its effectively a global cyberwar against everyone. They infected 100,000 computers already, and they plan to infect millions – well beyond any possible number needed strictly for “national security”. Why? So they can pwn you:

One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE, can be used with a variety of “plug-ins” that enable the agency to gain total control of an infected computer.

An implant plug-in named CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, for example, is used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations taking place near the device. Another, GUMFISH, can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs. FOGGYBOTTOM records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts. GROK is used to log keystrokes. And SALVAGERABBIT exfiltrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.

We’ve already seen that they target ordinary people without any “national security” reason whatsoever, spying on their movementscommunicationssex lives. This is more of the same. That’s their vision of the future: an omniscient surveillance system, spying on everything we do, forever.

Unless we use our democratic power while we still have it to cut their budgets, outlaw their spying, and shut them down. Time to pull the plug on the spies, before they pull the plug on our democracy.

14 comments on “NRT: A global cyberwar against everyone”

  1. Jim in Tokyo 1

    IMHO Labour need to go on the warpath over this.

    Latest Greenwald has teh NSA boasting that changes of government rarely impact their global total surveillance programme because

    in many of our foreign partners’ capitals, few senior officials outside of their defense-intelligence apparatuses are witting to any SIGINT connection to the U.S./NSA.

    Labour’s emphasis needs to change from “what John Key knew” to “here is new evidence of NZs complicity in the illegal NSA/GCHQ dragnet, and here is what we will do to safeguard NZers”.

    For Labour to have any credibility on this they need to admit that things got out of hand under THEIR watch and prove that they are now prepared to put surveillance quislings to the sword.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Things got out of hand long before Helen Clark. Waihopai has been in operation since 1989 and the five eyes network has its roots in WWII.

      • Jim in Tokyo 1.1.1

        I agree that Echelon / Waihopai has a dubious past pre-September 11 2001 regarding industrial espionage, but the Snowden leaks paint a pretty clear picture showing a change in tactics around 2004 from (loosely) targeted interception to a new approach to blanket global surveillance made possible by real-time deep packet inspection and the massive caching of all internet traffic.

        NYTimes does a good job of linking this post WTC attack ‘raw take’ strategy to specific legislation introduced in 2002 and subject to secret rulings on interpretation in 2004 and 2006.

        I guess everyone’s free to draw a line at what they deem reasonable surveillance, I’m picking the 2001 US patriot act, parts of which we seem to have adopted first secretly through defacto 5 eyes ties and more recently through overt legislation GCSB and TICS bills.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          I’m against any sort of blanket surveillance. It has far too much potential for misuse, and is in effect the use of military tactics against a civilian population: a war crime.

          Not only that, the erosion of trust it represents is destabilising: a truly perverse outcome.

    • karol 1.2

      That article says there is some diferences between governments – some governments, more positively inclined towards the US enable more US-dominated surveillance. Some countries make it more difficult for the NSA.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        Yes, like ours tried to during the fifth Labour government. The whole point of Snowden’s evidence is that the NSA has been finding ways to do it anyway regardless of sovereignty, and in fact regardless of the US constitution.

        The CIA is implicated in similar behaviour.

        There’s a knotty paradox here, though: HUMINT is always going to involve trying to get people into high places. What would the US give for an agent in the People’s Central Committee, for example? Or the PCC an MP or congressional representative or two?

        Politicians are legitimate targets for spies.

        That should set the cat among the pigeons.

    • Murray Olsen 1.3

      Yep, the only reasonable thing to do is to start again and build what we democratically decide we need, by ourselves and for ourselves. The US spy agencies such as the SIS and GCSB that we pay the bill for have been totally incompetent at doing anything in our interests. The one foreign attack that they should have picked up, on the Rainbow Warrior, they probably provided SIGINT and logistic support for. Get rid of the lot.

  2. Tracey 2

    i would like to hear mr mapp speak to something like this.

    thats scary stuff and i think those couple of paras would scare most computer users, middle claas and all

  3. Populuxe1 3

    I would also like to hear about the cyber threat from Russia, China, Iran, and for all I know, Australia. Just if you have time in between screaming imotently about the Great White Satan. Pretty sure it’s not just the US we have to worry about.

  4. Tracey 4

    has someone from those countries blown the whistle?

  5. BLiP 5

    Working hand-in-glove with the governments they now own, the corporations are laying down the infrastructure . . .

    . . . Today’s phones come with two separate processors: one is a general-purpose applications processor that runs the main operating system, e.g. Android; the other, known as the modem, baseband, or radio, is in charge of communications with the mobile telephony network. This processor always runs a proprietary operating system, and these systems are known to have backdoors that make it possible to remotely convert the modem into a remote spying device. The spying can involve activating the device’s microphone, but it could also use the precise GPS location of the device and access the camera, as well as the user data stored on the phone. Moreover, modems are connected most of the time to the operator’s network, making the backdoors nearly always accessible . . .

    . . . probably can’t prevent the inevitable, but you can slow it down just a tad.

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