Archive for the ‘Cyber Warfare and Cyber Espionage’ Category

The U.S. Admits That It Is Waging Cyber War Against Al Qaeda

May 24, 2012


Last week, AQAP launched a new series of banner attack ads focusing on them fighting the Americans, with US-flag-draped coffins, the official explained. The State Department team countered the attack by buying space on the same site with new ads, featuring the coffins of Yemeni civilians. Photo by Reuters


Hillary Clinton Boasts Of US Cyberwar Against al-Qaeda — The Telegraph

The US State Department has taken to hacking al-Qaeda’s websites in Yemen and filling them with American propaganda, Hillary Clinton has said.

In a rare public admission of the covert cyber war against extremists, the Secretary of State said cyber experts based at at her department hacked Yemeni tribal websites, and took down messages about killing Americans.

“Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,” Mrs Clinton said yesterday.

In response “extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet,” she said.


More News On The U.S. Waging Cyber War Against Al Qaeda

U.S. hacks Web sites of al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen — Washington Post
Clinton: U.S. hacked Yemeni al Qaeda websites — CBS/AP
US hackers take cyber war to al-Qaeda sites — Sydney Morning Herald
US hacked Al-Qaeda wesbsite, Clinton reveals — AFP
US unveils new tactics to tackle Al Qaeda propaganda — RT
U.S. Admits Hacking Yemeni Al-Qaeda Websites — Radio Free Europe
U.S. Government Used Cyber Attacks Against Al Qaeda — Daily Tech
U.S. Now Fighting Al Qaeda for Hearts and Minds of Internet Users — New York Magazine

Who Will Make The Decision To Launch A Cyber Attack?

May 24, 2012

Military Debates Who Should Pull The Trigger For A Cyber Attack — Aol Defense

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA: The American military is intrigued by the offensive uses for cyber-warfare, but it is struggling to figure out how to do it. What impact can cyber weapons have on the battlefield? What organizations should take the lead? And who makes the decision to pull the trigger?

“We’ve been thinking 90% defense, 10% offense. That’s bass-ackwards for us,” said the outspoken Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright, the recently retired vice-chairman of the Joint Staff, speaking at last week’s Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, co-hosted by the US Naval Institute and the industry group AFCEA. (Click here for more on Cartwright’s remarks, with video). “The offense always has the advantage.”


My Comment: If the target is a sovereign government …. I would think that it would be the President (with the backing of Congress) who would authorize such an attack. But as the abilities to wage cyber war change and become diverse …. and the targets become diverse (from governments to individuals) …. a better definition and set of guidelines will definitely need to be worked out.

North Korea Wages Cyber War Against The South

May 12, 2012

Electronic jamming signals from North Korea have affected scores of civilian flights in and out of South Korea amid rising tensions with Pyongyang
North Korea Wages Cyber War On The South As Military Blocks GPS And Disrupts Flights And Shipping — The Daily Mail

Electronic jamming signals from North Korea have affected scores of civilian flights in and out of South Korea, leading to Seoul to announce they will lodge an official complaint with the UN over its reclusive neighbor.

‘We’ve confirmed the GPS (global positioning system) jamming signals have been stemming from the North,’ Lee Kyung-Woo, a deputy director at the state Korea Communications Commission said.

A total of 553 aircraft on route to and from Incheon and Gimpo, South Korea’s two main gateways, reported a failure with their GPS signals between April 28 and May 6.


More News On North Korea Waging Cyber War Against The South

North Korean GPS blocking sparks cyber war fears — The Register
North Korea pumps up the GPS jamming in week-long attack — Ars Technica
North jamming South Korea’s GPS — UPI
North Korea Jams GPS And Fails — Strategy Page
N.Korea’s GPS Jamming Is Terrorism Pure and Simple — Chosun Ilbo editorial

DoD and NSA get increased cyber powers

May 10, 2012

Remember the NDAA? Yeah, for a variety of reasons that bill got a lot of attention last year — mostly focused on the question of detainment of terrorists. But there are some other nuggets in the bill, including one tidbit about “military activities in cyberspace.” The existing version of the NDAA does grant the Defense Department the ability to conduct such military activities, but only “upon direction by the President” and if the purpose is to “defend our Nation, Allies and interests,” subject to existing laws.

Here’s the existing text:


Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the capability, and upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests, subject to—

(1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and

(2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).

However, the House Armed Services Committee is getting ready to do a markup on the NDAA that includes a change to that section (section 954), which expands the powers of the Defense Department, and basically gives it broad powers to conduct any military actions online — with it specifically calling out clandestineoperations online. Here’s the text they want to substitute:


‘‘(a) AFFIRMATION.—Congress affirms that the Secretary of Defense is authorized to conduct military activities in cyberspace.

‘‘(b) AUTHORITY DESCRIBED.—The authority referred to in subsection (a) includes the authority to carry out a clandestine operation in cyberspace—

‘‘(1) in support of a military operation pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (50 U.S.C. 1541 note; Public Law 107-40) against a target located outside of the United States; or

‘‘(2) to defend against a cyber attack against an asset of the Department of Defense.

‘‘(c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Secretary of Defense to conduct military activities in cyberspace.’”

Note a bunch of slightly sneaky things going on here. First, it gives blanket powers to the DoD, rather than saying it can only take actions on the President’s direction. While we may not have much faith that the President wouldn’t let the DoD do such things, giving such blanket approval upfront, rather than requiring specific direction is a pretty big change.

Second, and perhaps more important, the new language specifically grants the DOD (and the NSA, which is a part of DOD) the power to conduct “clandestine operations.” This is (on purpose) left basically undefined. Combine this with the fact that the “Authorization of Use of Military Force” is so broadly defined in the current government, this then grants the DOD/NSA extremely broad powers to conduct “clandestine” operations with little oversight. Related to this is that it removes the restriction that the DOD must take actions that are “subject to the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflicts.” Instead it lets them use such powers, without these restrictions, against anyone declared an enemy under the AUMF (lots and lots of people) or in any effort to stop a cyberattack against the DOD — which again you can bet would be defined broadly. This is a pretty big expansion of online “war” powers for the Defense Department, with what appears to be less oversight. And all done while people are looking the other way…