March 14, 2013
Cyber-espionage and cyber-attacks have become a focus of the federal government with fear-mongering about compromises to US infrastructure, utilities corporations, nuclear plants, transportation and financial institutions. This type of terrorism can be completely fabricated and the purveying worry by the American public is all that is necessary for this type of scare tactic to be successful.
James Clapper, director of National Intelligence spoke this week to the Senate Intelligence Committee decrying about cyber-attacks more devastating than could be enacted by China or Russia.
According to a report published by Mandiant Corp, the Chinese corporation APT1 was alleged as having syphoned data from 141 corporations with more than 110 of those companies being American based while Canadian and British corporations were also reported to have been affected. Mandiant maintains that hackers responsible for these attacks were sponsored by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, under the cyberware division “Unit 61398”.
The Unit 61398 was previously known as the 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army’s General Staff Department’s 3rd Department cannot be confirmed because there no references to them in documents; however intelligence operatives assert that this group is central to Chinese espionage. Project 2049 Institute, a non-governmental organization (NGO) claimed that they are the “premier entity targeting the United States and Canada, most likely focusing on political, economic, and military-related intelligence.”
Clapper pointed to hacker groups mobilized would be able to “access some poorly protected U.S. networks that control core functions, such as power generation” although their ability to cause “high-impact, systemic disruptions will probably be limited.”
Clapper’s assertions are supported by:
• Robert Mueller, director of the FBI
• John Brennan, director of the CIA
• Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, head of the DIA
• Philip Goldberg, head of the State Dept Bureau of Intelligence & Research
• Matthew Olsen, head of the NCTC
Deutsche Telekom (DT), Parent Corporation to T-Mobile has devised a free online portal called “Security Dashboard” that will map out cyber-attacks across the globe with the assistance of database networks working in tandem.
Thomas Kremer, member of the Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance for DT explains: “New cyber-attacks on companies and institutions are found every day. Deutsche Telekom alone records up to 450,000 attacks per day on its honeypot systems and the number is rising. We need greater transparency about the threat situation. With its security radar, Deutsche Telekom is helping to achieve this.”
With this portal a digital attack is recorded in real-time in order to see the specific country being affected by this digital terrorism. Kremer states that most attacks are automated meaning that the hackers go into a website looking for weaknesses in the system prior to launching a full blown attack.
This week JP Morgan & Chase Co. website was taken down in a distributed denial of service attack. The contents of the website were replaced with this message: “Our website is temporarily down, but our branches and Mobile Apps are available. Please try again later.”
The personal financial records of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others were leaked out as a tabloid media site reported. The website that published the information has seen over 565,000 views since its inception.
The data published includes social security numbers, home addresses, personal phone numbers, credit reports and various other financial information.
The domain .su once belonged to the Soviet Union, yet since the dissolution of the nation, it has since lost its ties.
A group calling themselves the Tunisian Cyber Army (TCA) have ties to al-Qaeda while waging cyber warfare against the US State Department and the Department of Defense; as well as websites for the US Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Personnel Management.
TCA has claimed to have syphoned personal data and sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and private emails. Bragging about their hack, TCA said on Twitter: “We and #Electronic-Al-QAEDA got access to one of the most largest american gaz companies” and “One of the largest companies on #USA is #Under attack by #TCA & #AQECA #then #chinise hackers will act.”
While cyber-espionage abounds, the Obama administration has proposed a plan to fund federal surveillance agencies to gain access to digital databases to spy on the financial dealings of Americans with the assistance of the Department of Treasury.
The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will require a detailed report from financial institutions incorporated in the US on “suspicious behavior”, transfers of large amounts of money or other red flags that would trigger the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the National Security Agency (NSA).
The Treasury could empower surveillance agencies to analyze data to identify patterns under the guise of pro-actively attacking before a cyber-attack occurs.
By combining law enforcement and surveillance agencies, this plan will undoubtedly cross-over restrictions afforded to Americans under right of privacy. Simply with the suspicion that a target is involved with terrorist organizations can trigger a massive surveillance operation without regard for falsely accusing an individual.
FinCEN will collaborate with the Join Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) to share otherwise secret information with intelligence agencies around the world.
Another development to trace and continuously survey the American public has come from the Pentagon under DARPA projects to develop a real-time “Twitter” feed of all conversations, emails and all other digital communications.
These speech-to-text programs will analyze with crowdsourcing technologies to record and store all conversations. This endeavor is called Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text (EARS) and is the brainchild of Matt Lease, computer scientist at the University of Texas.
DARPA has granted Lease with $300,000 for two years to develop the project entitled, “Blending Crowdsourcing with Automation for Fast, Cheap, and Accurate Analysis of Spontaneous Speech” which will record and store everyday conversations for retrieval at a later date.
These conversations could be stored a servers owned by individuals or corporations. They could be syphoned from every day devices used by the majority of the American public; such as smartphones, cameras and other audio recorders. By using crowdsourcing and voice analysis software, those recorded could be identified and strategically tracked as the day goes on and they keep engaging in conversation with others.
EARS could prove quite useful for the Obama administration with regard to digital surveillance that could be justified by the latest on slot of cyber-attacks. By indiscriminately spying on everyone, the Obama administration and federal surveillance agencies could simply say that this software application were necessary for the maintenance of national security with regard to protecting our digital infrastructure.
But then, this would also create cause to keep people from verbalizing their thoughts as their voice would be under continuous surveillance and recorded; stored on a server in an undisclosed location and under the thumb of an unknown entity.