Category Archives: cyber war

NSA and GCHQ: Das Leben der Anderen……..

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“US and British intelligence agencies illegally hacked into a major manufacturer of Sim cards to steal codes and facilitate eavesdropping on mobiles, a US news website says. The Intercept website said that the information came from former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The company allegedly targeted – Gemalto – says it is taking the allegations “very seriously”. It operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. The Intercept says that “the great Sim heist“…………”

Das Leben der Anderen, the lives of others……….

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

From Stuxnet to Sony: CyberWar Chickens Coming Home to Roost?……….

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KuwaitCox2     ChristmasPeanuts

Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

There is a lot of media and official noise about the hacking of Sony documents. There are also threats of more damage to the company for producing a film spoof of Kim Jon Un of North Korea. There are claims that North Korea is responsible, being upset about the film. Maybe they didn’t get the famous haircut quite right in the film, or maybe it is the inevitable stupidity and silly thrust of the film.
Now there is much talk of the ‘terrible’ act of hacking and terrorism and how to respond. But wait: is hacking another country such a terrible act? A terrorist act? Weren’t the same media clinking glasses over the various cyber attacks on another country’s institutions only recently? Weren’t congressmen and women and senators going publicly orgasmic over the series of cyber attacks on official Iranian websites? Reportedly, strongly and deliberately and proudly disclosed by the usual unnamed sources to be the joint work of Israeli and American experts.

I commented several times in my postings on this cyber aggression, from Stuxnet to Duque to Flame and other malware, allegedly targeting the Iranian nuclear program and possibly other infrastructure. I even opined that “Live by Cyber war, Die by Cyber War“. I even wrote something about “cyber chickens coming home to roost“. And apparently they are starting now. This alleged North Korean attack and other allegedly Iranian cyber attacks in the past year. I have also written that cyber battles and cyber wars are equalizers: they are relatively cheap and any nation can excel in waging them.
Cyber counterattacks can be understandable, for they are done in retaliation for other cyber attacks. It happens. What irks me is the fact that American theatres have caved in to blackmail and fear and decided not to show the stupid film, The Interview. As has Sony now in deciding to “withdraw” the film, which makes one wonder what more information did the hackers get their hands on.

That reaction is an even more serious development: it means other hackers will be able to blackmail publishers, film-makers, and other cultural parties. Thus curtailing the right of free expression. Thus imposing a piece of the ‘political ambience’ of North Korea or wherever the hell they are located into the United States and other countries.

Cyber Wars as Great Equalizers: Tit for Tat?………

Cyber Jingoism: CyberSecurity, Cyber Wars, and the New Cyber Powers………

Cyber Wars: Malware, Mahdi, and Hail Mary in Iran and Israel……

Israel and the West: only Arab and Muslim Hacking is Terrorism, Ours is Kosher……
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Cyber Wars as Great Equalizers: Tit for Tat?……….

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Oct 28, 2014:“”The first cyberattack, codenamed Olympic Games, was carried out on Natanz and was declared by the US President, but it met our heavy (defensive) response,” Jalali told reporters in a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday. The senior commander said the US changed its cyber commander following the failure in the cyberattack on Natanz, adding that the US general was forced to retire several months ago “due to the wrong information and data that he had presented to President Obama”…………  The disclosures about Obama’s role in the cyberwar against Iran appear to show beyond doubt that the US, with the help of Israel, was behind the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran’s centrifuge machines – used to enrich uranium. The revelation then indicated that Washington and Tel Aviv were also behind the Flamer and Duqu virus attacks………..”

This just came out of Iran, out of the blue. Nothing new here about the American-Israeli cyber war on Iran. Nor about the Iranian counter cyber war. Live by cyber war, die by cyber war. American and Saudi and possibly other ‘systems’ have also been hacked by foreign malware. Could be by Iranians, or Chinese or Russians. Could be Martians or Cryptonians doing it, for all the evidence that we have. Nobody can prove anything. Could be proverbial young hackers in a proverbial garage in California doing it all. The beauty of it is that there never is any proof, no casus belli. Tit for tat, tat for tit.

Cyber wars are the great equalizer of our time, I have opined in the past. This is one war no side can claim to have supremacy in, not for long anyway. If they can send malware into your system, chances they are also capable of creating defenses against your malware. A source in Shiraz or Belize can do as much harm as a source in Tel Aviv or Boston or Novosibirsk. And the beat goes on, will go on, pending some future international convention by all sides equally to mutually cease and desist.



Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

A Losing Cyber Battle: Did Putin Declare War on the Internet?……


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“Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the Internet a project controlled by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), saying Russia needs to fight “for its interests” online. The Russian president made the remarks on Thursday, stressing that the Internet was a special project by the CIA and “is still developing as such.” Putin also warned the Russian people against making Google searches, emphasizing that every entry made into Google goes through servers in the United States. Putin’s remarks come on the backdrop of revelations made public by US surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden…………….”

to this report from Iranian Press TV, Mr. Putin is beginning to sound like the Saudi Mufti or a conservative Iranian ayatollah. The Internet was largely developed by the U.S. Defense Department for official communications. When its access was expanded to civilian institutions and some universities we got the “Internet” as we know it now. The CIA no doubt uses it and keeps tab on some people, as notoriously does the NSA. As does General Motors and Toyota and Amazon and Walmart and Samsung and many others: how do you think they know exactly what kind of advertisements to send uninvited to your computer screen?

As no doubt does the Russian equivalent of the CIA or the NSA. As do almost all governments around the world and their intelligence agencies. True, their interest might not be as extensive (nor as prurient) as the NSA or the British GCHQ, but it probably has to do with how much man/hour, money, and technical know-how a government is able and willing to devote to spying…………… 

From Nuclear Assassination to Cyber Assassination?………..


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“Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran. Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile programme have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel’s external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations. Ahmadi was last seen leaving his home for work on Saturday. He was later found with two bullets in the heart..…………..”

Like the murders of the scientists and physics academicians in Berkeley Tehran, it is probably all part of a war of terror.
Unless there is a personal angle, which is not likely.


Cyber Jingoism: CyberSecurity, Cyber Wars, and the New Cyber Powers…………


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“Many Western countries, and the Russian Federation, have designated cybersecurity threats as a top priority risk against national security, says the Rand Corp. In a study (.pdf) conducted for the Swedish government, which is developing a cybersecurity strategy, Rand says countries including many of Sweden’s neighbors, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Russian Federation have prioritized cybersecurity as a top tier national security issue. That higher prioritization hasn’t always resulted in greater funding. The United States, Great Britain and France have allocated significant funds toward cybersecurity, but the Netherlands hasn’t made a formal commitment to increase spending despite characterizing cybersecurity as a high priority …………”

Like I wrote before, this Cyber War and Cyber Security is the “equalizer”. Unlike conventional weapons or nuclear weapons, there are no Cyber Super Powers. Any country can be a Cyber Power. It can be the USA or Israel or Iran or China or Russia or even Molodva!

Some Western powers, especially the USA, seem to be working to define new things like Cyber Security and Cyber Aggression. It is no doubt tempting to seek a jingoistic definition of Cyber Laws and proper Cyber behavior. It is tempting to argue for a new Cyber doctrine that is not unlike the old European Imperialist doctrines. One that favors current world powers. It might go like the following:

“What we and our friends do to you is not Cyber Aggression, what you do to us is Cyber Aggression, Even if it is the same thing that we do to you“.

Of course it probably will not wash. I have provided down here links to some of my more recent posts on this topic:

Mr. Obama as the Hacker in Chief? Cyber Wars and Cyber Intrusions

Israeli Cyber Wars: Are the Mullahs Striking Back?

Why the GCC Likes Booz: Cyber Wars Reach the Gulf

Cyber Wars, Cyber Battles, Self-Inflicted Infections

Cyber Pearl Harbor: Kosher Judeo-Christian Hacking vs. Halal Muslim Hacking

When is Cyber Attack an Act of Aggression? Depends on the Gods

Cyber Wars: Flame of Persia, Mother of All Malwares

Israel and the West: only Arab and Muslim Hacking is Terrorism, Ours is Kosher

Duqu Hits Iran: Virus Du Jour beats a Shooting War

Soviet Iranian Cyber Wars, a Congressman’s Cyber Photo


Cyber Wars: Malware, Mahdi, and Hail Mary in Iran and Israel………..


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                          Neck of the woods

“Who knew that when the Messiah arrived to herald the Day of Judgment he’d first root through computers to steal documents and record conversations? That’s what Mahdi, a new piece of spyware found targeting more than 800 victims in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, has been doing since last December, according to Russia-based Kaspersky Lab and Seculert, an Israeli security firm that discovered the malware. Mahdi, which is named after files used in the malware, refers to the Muslim messiah who, it’s prophesied, will arrive before the end of time to cleanse the world of wrongdoing and bestow peace and justice before Judgment Day. But this recently discovered Mahdi is only interested in one kind of cleansing – vaccuuming up PDFs, Excel files and Word documents from victim machines. The malware, which is not sophisticated, according to Costin Raiu, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, can be updated remotely from command-and-control servers to add various modules designed to steal documents, monitor keystrokes, take screenshots of e-mail communications and record audio………..”

A Mahdi malware. If it is aimed specifically at Iran, which is very likely, the Iranians will retaliate and create their own malware for the enjoyment of whoever sent them the Mahdi (and Stuxnet and Duqu and Flame and other cyber invaders). The Iranians may choose to call their malware the Seder or the Passover if they think it were Israelis behind the Mahdi attack, or they may choose Hail Mary if they think it were Americans. Yet the Iranians will not, mainly because of their religion which precludes mocking other religions (especially mocking Mary or Jesus or Moses or Passover is a no no among Muslims).

Sarkozy as Big Brother: Lurking at Jihadist and Terrorist Websites……..


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French President Nicholas Sarkozy means well. In the wake of horrific antisemitic murders reportedly pulled off by a Qaida-trained killer, Sarkozy is proposing to lock up frequent visitors to pro-terrorist websites. However understandable, the move would cripple open source attempts at understanding terrorism trends without stopping terrorists. “Anyone who regularly consults internet sites which promote terror or hatred or violence will be sentenced to prison,” Sarkozy argued to a political rally in France on Thursday. “What is possible for pedophiles should be possible for trainee terrorists and their supporters, too.” But terror porn doesn’t work like kiddie porn. For one thing, visitors to jihadist websites like the al-Shmukh forum aren’t just terrorist wannabees. They’re also lurking terrorism researchers or, um, journalists like us. And there’s law enforcement and intelligence officers monitoring them to discern the next moves of potentially dangerous people. ………….

No doubt Sarko is electioneering. He is in a tough race against the socialist Francois Hollande, and he always veers to the right when in trouble, just like any good Republican candidate in the USA. Going to a Jihadist website doesn’t make one a Jihadist or an enabler, just like going to white supremacist websites doesn’t make one a white supremacist. There is, besides the legitimate research and information value, the entertainment value in both these types of sites.

Europeans have been doing this ‘censorship’ more often lately. They have blocked and banned television networks and now websites. Yet they feign outrage when one of our dictators or despots does the very same thing, especially if that dictator or despot is not one of their allies.
This is what an American would call “sanctimonious European bullshit”. Yet there is plenty of it on this side o the Atlantic as well (you know that if you follow the political campaigns this year).

Israel and the West: only Arab and Muslim Hacking is Terrorism, Ours is Kosher………

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Israel said on Saturday that it will respond to cyber-attacks in the same way it responds to violent “terrorist” acts, by striking back with force against hackers who threaten the Jewish state. The message from Deputy Foreign Minister Dany Ayalon came after a self-defined “Saudi hacker” from a cabal known as “group-xp” published details of more than 6,000 Israeli credit cards online. “It is necessary to send a message to everyone who attacks or tries to attack Israel, including in cyberspace,” Ayalon said in quotes published widely in Israeli media. Hackers stand warned, he said, “that they are putting themselves in danger and that they will not benefit from any immunity against reprisal actions from Israel.” Cyber-attacks amount to “terrorism that must be treated as such. In cyberspace, we have active capacities and we can hit those who try to hit us.” Ayalon also applauded the United States for declaring that “all attacks in their cyberspace will be considered as a declaration of war and they will react as if it had been a missile attack………..

The great and very useful term of “chutzpah” must have been created for a situation like this. No wonder the Iranian officials always talk about arrogance and arrogant powers. I have thought they were being repetitive and self-righteous and boring. Now, I am see that the West and the Israelis are as repetitive and self-righteous and boring (almost more boring over the past year or two).
Western powers and Israel have been sending viruses and worms and hacking into computer systems all over the world in recent years, especially Iran. Just look up Stuxnet and Duqu and others. Western and Israeli media publicly brag about their hacking and worming prowess against other nations and their ability to disrupt industry and communications. Yet when they receive some of their own medicine, as some Saudis recently hacked into Israeli systems and published secret data, they threaten war. All I can say for now, very succinctly, is: WTF?


Duqu Hits Iran: Virus Du Jour beats a Shooting War……….

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Iran has developed a software program that can “control” the newly discovered Duqu spyware, the director of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization has announced. “The software, capable of controlling this virus (Duqu), has been provided to organizations and institutions,” IRNA quoted Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali as saying on Sunday. Duqu, discovered on September 1, 2011, is a sophisticated Trojan which acts as a backdoor into a system and facilitates the theft of private intelligence. Security software manufacturer Symantec says parts of the Duqu code base are nearly identical to the infamous Stuxnet worm, “but with a completely different purpose.” The Duqu malware has reportedly infected a number of systems in Iran. “All of the centers and apparatuses suspected of being infected with the virus are under control,” Jalali said, adding that countering and cleansing processes have been carried out at the infected institutions. Stuxnet, first indentified by Iranian officials in June 2010, is a malware designed to infect computers using supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems made by the German company Siemens …………..”

This Duqu in a new one. Duqu, Stuxnet, Stars, WTF, why not? Let them come: that is a clean war, better than the bloody alternative that some regional absolute potentates are hoping to goad the West into. Anything beats a shooting destructive war, or a war of terror street assassinations that kills civilians, or any war on behalf of absolute kleptocratic tribal princes.