S&T, Cyberwar, Education, Propaganda, Softwar
with special focus on Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
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This page includes:
- ICT, Internet, websites, computerisation
- ICT outsourcing/offshoring
- Cinema (because of link with computer animation); propaganda
- Cyberwar, Cyberespionage, Cyberactivism, and hacking
- Surveillance, Snowden, NSA
- Mobile phones
- Education and educational institutions such as Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
Sundry articles on the Sony hack
Compiled by Tim Beal
Updated: 16 January 2015
Number of articles: 173
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We could have stopped the Paris attacks
William Binney, Mary Fitzgerald, and Kirk Wiebe 23 November 2015
William Binney and Kirk Wiebe worked at the NSA for decades, before blowing the whistle on mass surveillance. They say they invented a surveillance system that could have given citizens more freedom and security….
openDemocracy’s Editor in Chief Mary Fitzgerald sat down to talk with NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Kirk Wiebe at the World Forum for Democracy on 19 November 2015, less than a week after the Paris attacks.
Kirk Wiebe: Why am I here? I met Bill Binney at the NSA about 30 years ago and immediately respected the kind of work he did. Now he and I did not work in the same literal organisation – the same general organisation of analysis, but working on different aspects. His work ended up influencing my work however, because they were part of a chain called the Command and Control Network of Military Forces and that was something we were trying to understand. So for all those years I would see Bill Binney and chat a little bit, and I became a manager and we collaborated over the years and he actually ended up helping my people make some breakthroughs that were very important because I was looking at weapons systems and he was looking at the commanders that commanded those weapon systems.
Anyway, at the end of my career, I had an opportunity to go down and work with Bill when he was working on breakthrough technology to deal with packets of modern-day digital communications, which was changing NSA’s way of doing business. Michael Hayden, the Director of NSA who came in in 1999, pretty much said to everyone: “We need to own the net.” It’s important to know what those words mean, because if you have seen the Snowden slides, there is a slide concerning General Alexander at a briefing in an outpost, Harrogate, in England, in which he is quoted as saying, “Collect it all.”
Now, you know GCHQ is partners with NSA, and so are three or four others, the Five Eyes arrangement. So here you have these five countries turning their machinery on the internet, and the internet has, possesses, collects the world’s communications and then the telephone network was merged with those so that we have one giant web circling the globe where everyone is connected now. A huge source of potential intelligence, as you might imagine. But Bill was trying to solve the issues of volume, velocity and variety.
[NSA] [Surveillance] [Liberal]
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
by Bill Blunden
November 30, 2015
Glenn Greenwald has written an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. In this editorial he asserts that American spies are motivated primarily by the desire to thwart terrorist plots. Such that their inability to do so (i.e. the attacks in Paris) coupled with the associated embarrassment motivates a public relations campaign against Ed Snowden. Greenwald further concludes that recent events are being opportunistically leveraged by spy masters to pressure tech companies into installing back doors in their products. Over the course of this article what emerges is a worldview which demonstrates a remarkable tendency to accept events at face value, a stance that’s largely at odds with Snowden’s own documents and statements.
For example, Greenwald states that American spies have a single overriding goal, to “find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks.” To a degree this concurs with the official posture of the intelligence community. Specifically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence specifies four topical missions in its National Intelligence Strategy: Cyber Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterproliferation, and Counterintelligence.
Yet Snowden himself dispels this notion. In an open letter to Brazil he explained that “these [mass surveillance] programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”
And the public record tends to support Snowden’s observation.
[Espionage] [Imperialism] [Liberal]
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Executive Summary: North Korea's Cyber Operations: Strategy and Responses
By Victor Cha, James Andrew Lewis, Jenny Jun, Scott LaFoy and Ethan Sohn
NOV 23, 2015
North Korea is emerging as a significant actor in cyberspace with both its military and clandestine organizations gaining the ability to conduct cyber operations. However, there is no comprehensive standard literature about North Korea’s cyber capabilities that takes an integrated view of the topic. Existing research is fragmented in pockets of strategic, technical, and policy pieces, though no individual study reaches far enough to create a standard reference document about North Korea’s cyber capabilities. This report aims to fill this void, integrating Korean and English language information sources, existing work in each respective field, and creating a foundation for future deeper research.
China building its own uncrackable smartphone
By Cory Bennett - 11/19/15 04:21 PM EST
China is seeking to construct its own uncrackable smartphones in an attempt to evade U.S. surveillance programs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The effort is part of the Asian power’s efforts to develop homegrown technology to replace foreign products.
The majority of the smartphone operating systems and processors in China rely on either Apple or Google technology. Hackers frequently infiltrate phones through these components, and China fears that American companies are compromised by U.S. intelligence agencies.
In response, Beijing and leading Chinese tech firms are working together to build a secure smartphone for government officials that relies on a domestically built operating system and processor chip, according to the Journal.
The efforts include smartphone maker ZTE, chip-design company Spreadtrum Communications and e-commerce giant Alibaba, which last year had its initial public offering on the U.S. stock market.
The goal is to build a phone for government agencies and state-owned enterprises that keeps out foreign cyber spies.
[Cyberespionage] [China confrontation]
How a telecom investment in North Korea went horribly wrong
After years of success, Pyongyang has turned on its partner
By Martyn Williams
IDG News Service | November 17, 2015
An Egyptian company that launched North Korea's first 3G cellular network and attracted as many as 3 million subscribers has revealed that it lost control of the operator despite owning a majority stake.
The plight of Orascom Telecom and Media Technology in North Korea takes place against a backdrop of rapid telecom modernization and a public eager to adopt a new technology. It's ultimately a lesson in the perils of getting into bed with a government that's not known for respecting international law.
When Orascom announced plans to launch the 3G service in 2008 it met with skepticism. The North Korean government severely limits its citizens' ability to communicate and has jailed or killed anyone who speaks out against the regime. The regime has regularly threatened war against its foes and was under sanctions at the time for a 2006 nuclear test.
[FDI] [Koryolink] [Orascom]
ISIS Has Help Desk for Terrorists Staffed Around the Clock
by Josh Meyer
NBC News has learned that ISIS is using a web-savvy new tactic to expand its global operational footprint -- a 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk to help its foot soldiers spread its message worldwide, recruit followers and launch more attacks on foreign soil.
Counterterrorism analysts affiliated with the U.S. Army tell NBC News that the ISIS help desk, manned by a half-dozen senior operatives around the clock, was established with the express purpose of helping would-be jihadists use encryption and other secure communications in order to evade detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.
The relatively new development -- which law enforcement and intel officials say has ramped up over the past year -- is alarming because it allows potentially thousands of ISIS followers to move about and plan operations without any hint of activity showing up in their massive collection of signals intelligence.
S. Korea-US intelligence cooperation: all the hallmarks of unrequited love
Posted on : Nov.11,2015 17:34 KST
An NSA document pledging to review Samsung products to hack Apple, Data: The Intercept
Relationship can be described as a paradox, where cooperation is more about the US’s own interests
In an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, Thomas Drake, a former employee for the US’s National Security Agency (NSA), described the NSA’s relationship with Germany by saying, “It’s a sort of paradox in that relationship.”
Drake was drawing attention to the fact that, while Germany and the NSA are partners, the NSA does not hesitate to spy on Germany when the US’s national interest is on the line.
The concept of a paradoxical relationship also applies exactly to relations between South Korea and the NSA. The Hankyoreh became the first newspaper to report that the NSA analyzed a number of products by Samsung Electronics in an effort to develop hacking technology.
[Hacking] [US SK alliance] [US dominance]
Snowden leaks: South Korea’s North Korea program a target of “double hacking”
Posted on : Nov.11,2015 17:25 KST
An NSA document about S. Korea‘s North Korea intelligence gathering, Data: Der Spiegel
A document shows question and answer detailing interest in South and North Korea, from NSA
The “double hacking” of a South Korean intelligence organization’s North Korea hacking program by the US National Security Agency (NSA) around 2006 is drawing renewed attention. While there had been many previous allegations of monitoring even among friendly intelligence agencies, it marked the first documented case.
One of the Snowden documents, titled “Is there ‘fifth party’ collection?,” is designed in a question-and-answer format as part of an NSA operational manual, with one employee asking questions about sigint (signals intelligence) and another answering them. Dated January 8, 2007, it was first made public in January of this year by the German weekly Der Spiegel. A portion of the document was shared in some reports at the time by the South Korean and international press, but little was known of the hacking against South Korea.
[Hacking] [Cyberwar] [US dominance]
Snowden leaks: S. Korea a member of Sigint Seniors Pacific
The NSA’s Sigint Seniors Pacific intelligence alliance, Data: The Intercept
Posted on : Nov.10,2015 16:54 KST
Documents provide first evidence of S. Korea taking part in Pacific counterpart of “Five Eyes” alliance
One of the details in the documents released by Edward Snowden concerned South Korea’s participation in Sigint Seniors Pacific (SSPAC), a signals intelligence alliance formed by the US National Security Agency (NSA) with countries in the Pacific region to go along with its so-called “Five Eyes” alliance with four other Anglophone countries. No specifics had previously been available on South Korea’s role in regional intelligence activities spearheaded by the NSA.
A Snowden document released for the first time in March by New Zealand’s local press, titled “National Security Agency Relationship with New Zealand,” notes that South Korea was part of SSPAC along with the Five Eyes -- the US, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand -- and a number of other Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and India, as well as France. Indeed, one New Zealand news outlet referred to the group as the “Ten Eyes.” The name “Seniors Pacific” alludes to its status as a framework for high-level sigint discussions in the region. France was included; major Asian countries like China and Japan were not. According to multiple foreign affairs and national security experts, France was likely brought on board because of its Pacific territories such as New Caledonia, while China was left out because it is the target of US intelligence collection. Japan, which is close to the US, may have been passed over because of its past record of initiating hostilities in the Second World War.
[SIGINT] [US dominance] [Snowden]
Snowden leaks: Private companies address hacking while government sits idle
Posted on : Nov.10,2015 16:09 KST
Telecoms say they were left to look into the possibility that routers from Cisco came with bugs
The Hankyoreh confirmed that South Korea’s largest internet service providers - including SK Telecom (SKT), LG Uplus (LGU+), and KT - contacted Cisco, a US company that makes routers and other network equipment, in connection with documents leaked by Edward Snowden, former contractor for the US’s National Security Agency (NSA). According to the documents, the US has been putting bugs in Cisco’s routers and using them for online snooping.
With South Korea government agencies like the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning sitting on their hands, companies in the private sector were forced to take action themselves.
When asked by a Hankyoreh reporter whether it had contacted Cisco after Snowden leaked documents last year detailing how the NSA had installed “backdoor” hacking programs in some of Cisco’s routers, SK Telecom responded on Oct. 19 that it had done so. Company representatives added that no vulnerabilities had been detected.
Snowden leaks: Lack of homegrown equipment leaves S. Korea vulnerable to hacking
Posted on : Nov.10,2015 17:04 KST
The “Ten Eyes” intelligence sharing network, Data: The Intercept
Almost all routers used in S. Korea come from the US, some of which were tampered with by US’s NSA
Many believe that the ability of the US - and other members of the “Five Eyes” - to carry out indiscriminate surveillance of internet activity around the world was made possible by the US monopoly on the technology for network communications equipment.
A significant number of the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, former contractor for the US’s National Security Agency (NSA), make it all too clear that the NSA and the UK‘s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) manipulated routers to collect data.
Routers are a key device for internet networks that provide the route for the safe and rapid transmission of network packets. In plain language, they are the junctions on the information superhighway.
By hacking a router, one gains control over major waypoints on the internet and can monitor the information that is passing through. This became public knowledge through the documents that Snowden leaked in 2013.
The internet began as a network linking computers in the US Pentagon. Since the US has taken the lead in internet technology and regulations, US companies have achieved dominance in the industry that produces network technology for the internet.
[Hacking] [Snowden] [US dominance]
A decade into a project to digitize U.S. immigration forms, just 1 is online
A wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, Calif. Many immigrants express frustration by the U.S. government’s archaic, error-filled application system, most of which remains paper-based. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
By Jerry Markon November 8
Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.
A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that’s now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically. The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper.
American intelligence and national defense 2.0
Robert David Steele 10 November 2015
An Open Source (Technologies) Agency, far removed from the secret intelligence world, would radically reduce wars and illegal immigration, increase trade and shared prosperity, and convert the USA into a “Smart Nation”.
On 06/17/11, I wrote the first instalment of National intelligence and national defense, published at the Campaign for Liberty, suggesting that we could both cut the secret intelligence budget by three quarters, and radically increase the amount of open source decision-support (as opposed to secret mass surveillance).
Of course nothing happened, but now, to my enormous delight, I am hearing that there is a very tentative discussion in some of the darkest corners of the US government of a proposal to terminate three of the secret agencies that reside within the Department of Defense (DoD) – the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Geospatial Agency (NGA). This should happen, if not in the closing year of the Obama Administration, then in 2017 under the first Independent president and a diversified Congress in which Independents, Greens, and Libertarians and others (e.g. Constitution, Working Families) win the 20-30 seats being vacated.
[NSA] [Intelligence] [CIA] [Destabilisation] [Outsourcing]
N.Koreans Take to Social Media
North Koreans are increasingly taking to social media, be it in an official capacity to spread propaganda or to communicate with the outside world away from prying eyes.
Last week, the North's official Instagram account, posted photos of nation founder Kim Il-sung in hanbok or traditional Korean dress, as well as pictures of ordinary North Koreans roller skating in Pyongyang.
The North has embraced social media since Kim Jong-un came to power, bolstering the number of cyber warfare experts to 6,000. According to the Defense Ministry, there were 162 pro-North Korean websites and 1,622 social media accounts supporting Pyongyang as of July 2014.
North Korea discriminates between locals and foreigners when it comes to Internet use. One foreigner who visited North Korea said a USIM chip for the Koryo Link 3G service enables connection to the Internet but costs a staggering US$5 for a 30-minute connection.
Fervent foreign supporters of the regime are not put off. Shin Eun-mi, a Korean-American woman who embarked on a bizarre stage tour of South Korea extolling the regime after visiting Pyongyang on a package tour, has been back to Pyongyang.
S. Korean government stays mum as WTO candidate is hacked
Posted on : Nov.9,2015 17:34 KST
The NSA’s Xkeyscore hacking program, Data: The Intercept
Response to hacking contrasts sharply with New Zealand, where allegations sparked a spirited debate
Months after the fact, it was brought to light that a South Korean diplomat and university professor’s email accounts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Seoul National University were spied on in 2013 by a New Zealand intelligence agency using surveillance software developed and administered by the US government’s National Security Agency (NSA). The surveillance of this diplomat’s emails was reported by the New Zealand media this past March, but the South Korean government has yet to make any kind of response.
In March 2015, the New Zealand Herald and called The Intercept, the investigative news website, reported that a New Zealand intelligence agency called the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) had used the XKEYSCORE surveillance program, which was developed by the NSA, to spy on the email accounts of eight candidates for director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) during the campaign, which lasted from the end of January until the end of April 2013, on behalf of the New Zealand candidate.
[Hacking] [SK NZ] [WTO]
Speech: Kennedy Graham on GCSB spying
Kennedy Graham MP on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 18:22
01.04.15 - General Debate - Part 10
Video of 01.04.15 - General Debate - Part 10
It is time the Government leveled with the public on the question of spying.
It is time the Government gave an honest account of how much, in what circumstances, and with what moral and legal justification it undertakes electronic interception.
Because all the public has been getting lately is a stylistically shallow assurance from the Prime Minister that he has been advised by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) that everything it is doing is within the law. That is demonstrably lame, to a point of self-contradiction. It is like releasing a murder suspect on the grounds that he told the police not to worry as he is innocent.
On something as important as the nexus between civil liberties and State power, we deserve something better than this. The Green Party recently laid a complaint with the Inspector-General regarding revelations that the GCSB has been undertaking mass surveillance through electronic intercepts of people in the Pacific region.
There are two target categories. The first is foreign governments, and the second is New Zealand citizens. Spying on Pacific neighbours is offensive. Spying on New Zealanders is essentially illegal.
[Hacking] [SK NZ] [WTO] [Snowden] [NSA] [Greens]
Why the Hankyoreh is reporting on documents leaked by Edward Snowden
Posted on : Nov.9,2015 17:38 KST
Despite South Korea being implicated in leaks, the government and intelligence services have failed to respond
For two reasons, the Hankyoreh has decided to look into the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, former contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA).
First, nearly all of the information related to South Korea in the documents that Snowden made public in 2013 remains unexamined. Despite the direct implications for the national interest of documents indicating that South Korea was the subject of surveillance by Five Eyes - a partnership of intelligence organizations from the five countries of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia - the South Korean government and its intelligence community have apparently not been proactive in getting to the bottom of this. We also thought it would be worth exploring the nature of South Korea’s relationship with the NSA.
Another reason had to do with news that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) had purchased an allegedly illegal online surveillance program from a foreign company. While snooping is the bread and butter of intelligence organizations, a number of security experts argue that the development of internet technology has ushered in an age of indiscriminate surveillance that is distinct from the past.
[Hacking] [Cyberespionage] [Tribute] [Snowden] [NSA]
Snowden leaks: foreign intelligence collected data on S. Korean companies
Posted on : Nov.9,2015 18:15 KST
An image from the UK‘s GCHQ with analysis of South Korean companies
Such first evidence shows that UK intelligence agency gathering info on companies that provide corporate email services
Evidence that Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a UK intelligence agency, collected and analyzed data from the servers of South Korean corporations using a program that it developed has been found in the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA). The corporations in question were IT companies that provided corporate e-mail services to organizations such as the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and NICE Credit Information Service.
This is the first time that documentary evidence has shown that foreign intelligence agencies have collected and analyzed online data about South Korean companies. While it is unclear whether actual hacking took place, the mere fact that these companies were regarded as the subjects of periodical surveillance is shocking.
After reviewing around 40 documents leaked by Snowden and published at the end of last year by the German media, the Hankyoreh concluded that GCHQ used an internet snooping program of its own creation called Flying Pig to collect and analyze online communication data on Mailplug, a South Korean company, around 2011.
Flying Pig is a program that collects and analyzes online information, and in particular information that has been encrypted by the SSL and TLS protocols, which were designed to tighten up internet security.
The standard internet communications protocol, known as HTTP, has been criticized for its security loopholes. This led to the development of the SSL and TLS protocols, which are currently used largely in e-commerce and e-mail.
[Cyberespionage] [Snowden] [NSA] [UK]
Xkeyscore - a form of “intelligence imperialism”
Posted on : Nov.9,2015 18:21 KST
Leaks some US and former Commonwealth countries using program to collect, search and analyze data
Xkeyscore is a key program used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to collect, organize, and search data. Internal NSA documents released by the Intercept describe it as a “DNI [digital network intelligence] exploitation/analytic framework.” It can be used by the NSA to search for information through specific email addresses or keywords. A document stating that the candidate names, genders, email addresses, and the term “candidacy” were used as keywords to search for information during the 2013 election for World Trade Organization director-general gives a hint of the program‘s capabilities.
[Cyberespionage] [Snowden] [NSA] [UK] [SK NZ]
S. Korean President may have been monitored on 2009 visit to UK
Posted on : Nov.9,2015 17:52 KST
The locations of 150 servers for NSA’s Xkeyscore hacking program, Data: The Intercept
Government yet to provide a clear response on possibility of monitoring by the so-called “Five Eyes”
News that South Korea had been the subject of monitoring by the so-called “Five Eyes,” an intelligence group representing five Anglophone nations, first broke in 2013-14 with revelations by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. The nature of the monitoring and the South Korean response remain unclear, however.
A case of monitoring in 2009 by British intelligence provides an example. In June 2013, the Guardian newspaper reported that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had intercepted emails, telephone calls, and computer access records for world leaders and other delegates during the April 2009 G20 summit in London. While the document contained no specific reference to South Korea, it did refer to “diplomatic targets from all nations,” suggesting that South Korean attendees were also among those monitored. Another document surfaced showing that GCHQ was capable of accessing text message servers and customer information for key telecommunications providers in Britain. Yet another document mentioned that GCHQ used a program code-named “Royal Concierge” to examine sigint (signals intelligence) activity at hotels where monitoring targets were staying, providing more circumstantial evidence of monitoring of world leaders.
[Cyberespionage] [Snowden] [NSA] [UK] [SK NZ]
N. Korea launches new remote learning app
Phone app and course materials developed by the Kim Chaek University of Technology - local media
November 6th, 2015
North Korea has launched an online education system, complete with an accompanying cellphone app, according to the most recent issue of the monthly issued Pictorial Korea magazine.
The online learning tool was developed by the Kim Chaek University of Technology, and allows users with mobile devices to attend lectures remotely.
“Using cellphones, (students) can attend all lectures of the college at their convenience and copy necessary study materials onto their cellphones and read them any time,” the article reads.
[ICT] [Education] [Demobilization]
Net of insecurity: The kernel of the argument
Fast, flexible and free, Linux is taking over the online world. But there is growing unease about security weaknesses.
It took years for the Internet to reach its first 100 computers. Today, 100 new ones join each second. And running deep within the silicon souls of most of these machines is the work of a technical wizard of remarkable power, a man described as a genius and a bully, a spiritual leader and a benevolent dictator.
Linus Torvalds — who in person could be mistaken for just another paunchy, middle-aged suburban dad who happens to have a curiously large collection of stuffed penguin dolls — looms over the future of computing much as Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs loom over its past and present. For Linux, the operating system that Torvalds created and named after himself, has come to dominate the exploding online world, making it more popular overall than rivals from Microsoft and Apple.
The making of a vulnerable Internet: This story is the fifth of a multi-part project on the Internet’s inherent vulnerabilities and why they may never be fixed.
But while Linux is fast, flexible and free, a growing chorus of critics warn that it has security weaknesses that could be fixed but haven’t been. Worse, as Internet security has surged as a subject of international concern, Torvalds has engaged in an occasionally profane standoff with experts on the subject. One group he has dismissed as “masturbating monkeys.” In blasting the security features produced by another group, he said in a public post, “Please just kill yourself now. The world would be a better place.”
There are legitimate philosophical differences amid the harsh words. Linux has thrived in part because of Torvalds’s relentless focus on performance and reliability, both of which could suffer if more security features were added. Linux works on almost any chip in the world and is famously stable as it manages the demands of many programs at once, allowing computers to hum along for years at a time without rebooting.
[Linux] [ICT] [Cybersecurity] [US dominance] [Media]
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Germany 'investigates alleged GCHQ spying in Angela Merkel's office'
Sophisticated spyware was found on a senior official’s laptop, according to Germany's Spiegel magazine
By Justin Huggler, Berlin
7:51PM GMT 26 Oct 2015
Germany is reportedly investigating a new case of suspected spying by Britain or the US inside Angela Merkel’s office.
Investigators have found sophisticated spyware on a senior official’s laptop, according to Spiegel magazine.
The programme in question, known as Regin, is believed to be used by both GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA).
“There is an inquiry into malicious software,” German federal prosecutors have confirmed. Officially, the investigation is against “persons unknown”.
But sources told Spiegel there is “no doubt” in the German intelligence community the spyware is the work of either GCHQ or the NSA.
South Korea seeks hackers to defend against North Korean cyberattacks
By Anna Fifield October 25 at 12:30 AM ?
SEOUL — A new army of South Korean soldiers was intently focused on fending off the enemy attack. Where were they coming from? What tactics were they using? And how best to neutralize them?
The attackers were probably North Korean — that’s a given on this divided peninsula, which remains stuck in a state of war — but those manning the defenses weren’t armed conscripts along the demilitarized zone. No, they were some of South Korea’s savviest computer whizzes, and they were dealing with that most 21st century of invasions: the cyberattack.
“I do think about how I’m going to defend us against an attack from North Korea,” said Lee Kyung-won, a 16-year-old high school student from Suwon who was part of a team fighting a hypothetical cyberwar during a “white hat” hacking competition here this week.
Having endured numerous cyberattacks — apparently stemming from North Korea — in recent years, South Korea is bolstering its technological defenses.
[Hacking] [Attribution] [Media]
'Are you a traitor?' The BBC Panorama interview with Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden and Peter Taylor 15 October 2015
'The question is, if I was a traitor, who did I betray?' This is the exclusive full transcript of the interview with Edward Snowden, aired on BBC World TV on 10 October 2015.
Peter Taylor: Why did you decide to do what you did?
Edward Snowden: When I was sitting at my desk, working with tools of mass surveillance every day, I saw that all of our communications were being intercepted all of the time in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing. And this was something that was occurring without our knowledge, without our consent.
I worked as an infrastructure analyst. I had a special level of clearance, called ‘Priv Ac’, privileged access. Where normal people have to request access to this document or that document, I had access to everything by nature of my role.
And that included documents from the British government.
The documents, they established that mass surveillance, the surveillance of populations instead of individual suspects, was occurring every day, all the time.
We're expected to trust these agencies, with complete access to the total details of our lives.
PT: And they're expected to trust people like you, a trust that you betrayed. The trust works two ways.
ES: I fulfilled the roles and the obligations of my oath in a manner which they did not. I haven't benefited in any way from disclosure of this information. Moreover, I have never published a single document. I worked with journalists who in American society at least are the representatives of the public in determining what the public interest is in understanding certain facts, and realities that the government many times would prefer to keep secret.
Cyberspace Becomes Second Front in Russia’s Clash With NATO
October 14, 2015 — 11:00 AM CEST
Russian computer attacks have become more brazen and more destructive as the country grows increasingly at odds with the U.S. and European nations over military goals first in Ukraine and now Syria.
Along with reported computer breaches of a French TV network and the White House, a number of attacks now being attributed to Russian hackers and some not previously disclosed have riveted intelligence officials as relations with Russia have deteriorated. These targets include the Polish stock market, the U.S. House of Representatives, a German steel plant that suffered severe damage and The New York Times.
U.S. officials worry that any attempt by the Russian government to use vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure like global stock exchanges, power grids and airports as pressure points against the West could lead to a broader conflict, according to two people familiar with the debate inside government and who asked to not to be named when discussing intelligence matters. When NATO officials met last week, they voiced alarm about Russia’s rapid involvement in Syria, including the firing of cruise missiles, and vowed the biggest reinforcement of their collective defense since the end of the Cold War.
[Russia confrontation] [Response] [Cyberwar] [Hacking] [Attribution]
Google Degenerates into Ministry of Truth; All Knowledge Must Now Be Pre-approved by Search Algorithm
By Jonathan Benson
Global Research, October 14, 2015
Gone are the days when you could search Google and pull up neutral, relevant content appropriate to your search query. The search engine giant is reportedly pioneering a new search algorithm that will tailor search results not based on popularity or accuracy, but rather on what Google itself deems to be truthful or untruthful.
The world’s new “Ministry of Truth”, Google believes that screening and censoring information requested by its users will help avoid “websites full of misinformation” from showing up at the top of the search list. Known as the “Knowledge Vault,” the novel algorithm is described by The New American as “an automated and super-charged version of Google’s manually compiled fact database called Knowledge Graph.”
Google’s Knowledge Graph, in case you didn’t know, was the search engine’s first attempt at becoming a purveyor of knowledge rather than just information – a “smart” search tool, if you will, designed to enhance the relevancy of search results by analyzing various facts, figures, and other data appropriate to a user’s intended query.
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
by Luciana Bohne
Thank you for refusing the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964, athough, I must say, Harold Pinter made spectacular use of its pulpit by hurling an uncompromising indictment against the Axis of Good.
While the assault on Iraq was disemembering a people and a country, Pinter noted in 2004 that in the collective culture of empire, “Nothing ever happens even as it’s happening.” Therefore, along the ecocidal and homicidal path of empire, the victims—the legions of unremembered dead—remain namelss and uncounted.
The Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 goes to a “dissident” Belorussian scribbler who, in the post-communist era, has flattered smug imbeciles with tales of the new Evil Empire of Russia and of its bloodthirsty Tsar Vladimir the Terrible. She joins the canon—past and present– of cultural-imperialist, orientalists, sovietologists, russologists, sinologists, and sundry praise-singers of global racialized Western liberalism with historical and political bollocks that satiate the insatiable logophagia of the self-worshipping West, blood-spattered behind its cardboard shield of human rights.
[Softwar] [Nobel Prize]
Ideological war starts over history textbooks
Government will author single book
By Jung Min-ho
The government announced Monday that it will monopolize the right to author history textbooks for secondary schools, throwing the nation into an ideological war over how students should learn modern history.
Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea said the government's decision to take back the publication rights from eight private publishing firms is aimed at "correcting left-leaning history textbooks."
[Textbook] [Softwar] [Propaganda]
Why Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be president, in five words
By Chris Cillizza October 12 at 9:34 AM ?
Here's an exchange from Bernie Sanders's appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday:
And, in those five words, Sanders showed why — no matter how much energy there is for him on the liberal left — he isn't getting elected president.
Why? Because Democrat or Republican (or independent), capitalism remains a pretty popular concept — especially when compared to socialism. A 2011 Pew Research Center survey showed that 50 percent of people had a favorable view of capitalism, while 40 percent had an unfavorable one. Of socialism, just three in 10 had a positive opinion, while 61 percent saw it in a negative light.
Wrote Pew in a memo analyzing the results:
Of these terms, socialism is the more politically polarizing — the reaction is almost universally negative among conservatives, while generally positive among liberals. While there are substantial differences in how liberals and conservatives think of capitalism, the gaps are far narrower.
In addition, a recent Gallup poll showed that half of Americans said they would not vote for a socialist. It was, in fact, the least acceptable characteristic tested, behind Muslim and atheist.
[Public opinion] [Governance] [Indoctrination] [Socialist]
Putin and the Press: “The Demonology School of Journalism”
By Prof. James Petras
Global Research, October 12, 2015
The major influential western print media are engaged in a prolonged, large-scale effort to demonize Russian President Putin, his politics and persona. There is an article (or several articles) every day in which he is personally stigmatized as a dictator, authoritarian, czar, ‘former KGB operative’ and Soviet-style ruler; anything but the repeatedly elected President of Russia.
He is accused of hijacking Russia from the ‘road to democracy’,as pursued by his grotesquely corrupt predecessor Boris Yeltsin; of directing the bloody repression of the ‘freedom loving Chechens’; of jailing innocent, independent and critical oligarchs and robber barons; of fomenting an uprising in the ‘democratic, newly pro-Western’Ukraine and seizing control of Crimea; of backing a ‘bloody tyrant’ in Syria (elected President Bashar Assad) in a civil war against ISIS terrorists; of running the Russian economy into the ground; and of militarily threatening the Baltic and Eastern European NATO member countries.
In a word, the media have propagated an image of an ‘out-of-control autocrat’, who makes a mockery of ‘democratic’ norms and ‘Western values’, and who seeks to revive the ‘Soviet (aka Evil) Empire’.
[Putin] [Russia confrontation] [Media] [Demonisation]
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Exclusive: Edward Snowden on Cyber Warfare
By James Bamford and Tim De Chant on Thu, 08 Jan 2015
Cyber warfare used to be the stuff of sci-fi movies and military exercises. But with the advent of the Stuxnet worm, the Sony Pictures hacking—which was allegedly carried out with the backing of the North Korean government—and this week’s assault on German government websites, large-scale cyber attacks with suspected ties to nation states are growing increasingly prevalent.
Few people have lifted the veil on cyber warfare like Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who leaked a massive number of documents to the press.
[Cyberwar] [Cyberespionage] [Stuxnet] [Snowden]
What @Snowden Told Me About the NSA’s Cyberweapons
U.S. systems — but how extensive confrontations are in the opposite direction is not public information.
From MonsterMind to TreasureMap, we’ve only just scratched the surface of the United States’ hyper-clandestine offensive capabilities.
• By James Bamford
• September 29, 2015
To Stephen Gerwin, chief of the Howard County Bureau of Utilities, it was “a peculiar project.” His workers were told they needed to get background checks and sign nondisclosure forms before they could begin work on a wastewater pump station in a forested area near the Little Patuxent River. “You sign a document that says if you say anything,” he told the Washington Post in 2014, “you go to jail for a million years.”
According to restricted documents and blueprints that I reviewed, what makes the pump station so sensitive is that it is intended to supply upwards of 2 million gallons of water each day to a massive, highly secretive construction project code-named Site M.
Located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland, and scheduled to be completed in 2016, Site M is the future home of U.S. Cyber Command, an NSA-affiliated organization created six years ago to direct the United States’ digital wars. It will host a mammoth cyberbrain — a 600,000-square-foot, $896.5 million supercomputer facility called the High Performance Computing Center-2.
Because technology of that size requires a vast amount of water for cooling, the NSA is paying $40 million for the new pump house.
As buildings, computer labs, and research spaces go up at Site M, the United States is entering a new era of warfare. In both the media and the public conscience, concern over a cyberattack has overtaken the Cold War fear of a nuclear confrontation. Or perhaps, in some ways, the fears are merging: Cyberweapons crossed the “kinetic” threshold with the U.S.-Israeli Stuxnet digital strike on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in 2010, progressing from erasing hard drives and stealing data to disrupting or destroying physical objects. (The same technique employed in Stuxnet — implanting a virus to send a system out of control — could be used to derail a train or bring down a dam.) And U.S. President Barack Obama has refused to take off the table the use of nukes in response to a severe cyberattack.
As the Internet turns into a battlefield with dangerous real-world implications, there’s an urgent need for the United States to begin thinking of ways to de-escalate this new kind of warfare. But that requires extensive dialogue and debate, both of which are impossible without cyber-transparency. People should know what digital arms America owns, how they are used, and the rules that govern them. The same openness that has long allowed the public to gain an understanding of the risks and benefits of nuclear weapons should apply to digital ones as well.
Instead of transparency, however, the Obama administration is offering the public a distorted view of cyberwarfare. It’s not just that officials aren’t talking about the top-secret likes of Site M. They’re also hammering an incomplete narrative: that foreign governments — or other actors — are constantly attacking America. What people don’t know is how aggressively and for how long the United States has been the one doing the striking.
[Cyberwar] [Cyberespionage] [Stuxnet] [Snowden] [US global strategy]
Apple Enables 'Pyongyang Time' for iPhones
Apple's smart devices began showing Pyongyang Time separately from Seoul Time with the launch of the new iOS 9 operating system.
North Korea announced last month it will set its clocks back half an hour behind South Korea and Japan, joining a small handful of countries, including India and Iran, that spurn the convention of GMT +/- full hours.
Until then, the North set its clocks on Coordinated Universal Time plus nine hours, calibrated on the position of Tokyo to Greenwich.
Most countries set their times in one-hour increments. Half-hour increments cause a lot of inconvenience in exchanging aviation, maritime navigation and meteorological data.
President Park Geun-hye at the time claimed North Korea's decision to set its clocks 30 minutes out of whack with the rest of the world "goes against efforts to promote inter-Korean cooperation and peace."
Industry watchers say Apple is merely trying to accommodate a significant number of people in North Korea who use iPhones, which are not officially sold there. But foreigners who frequently visit the North or affluent North Koreans who have been abroad still use them.
North Korea does not offer 3G or LTE mobile communication services, but smartphones can be used by tapping into Wifi connections. The North started manufacturing its own smartphones last year under the brandname "Pyongyang Touch," which resemble the iPhone in appearance and are evidently made in China.
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The Higher Management of Pine Gap
by Desmond Ball, Bill Robinson and Richard Tanter
18 August 2015
The full report is available here.
The higher management of Pine Gap is and has always been an entirely American affair. To understand Pine Gap today, it is necessary to understand the organisations of the US intelligence community and military concerned with the acquisition of technical intelligence, and their politics over the past five decades. For the first two decades, responsibility for operation of the ground control station at Pine Gap resided with the Ground Systems Division of the Office of ELINT within the CIA’s Directorate for Science and Technology. However, by the early 1990s control passed to the Systems Acquisition and Operations Directorate of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). In the mid-2000s the NRO itself underwent a profound change towards new organisational structures for integrating the imagery and SIGINT operations and making the whole system more responsive to users. The latest phase of these changes in the NRO stresses the role of ground systems, including Pine Gap, in creating ‘a single networked information collection and distribution system’ worldwide. The fundamental transformation of the higher management structure is more than an organisational matter. Along with the militarisation of the facility, it has important implications for Australia’s involvement in the project. It warrants serious public discussion, which requires, in turn, greater transparency by the Australian authorities. As a ‘joint’ facility, its management structures are just as much of interest to Australians as to the US contractors to whom the NRO largely speaks.
[SIGINT] [US global strategy] [Australia]
The Massive OPM Hack Actually Hit 21 Million People
The massive hack that struck the US Office of Personnel Management affected some 21.5 million people, all of them people who had information stolen about them from a backgrounds investigation database used for evaluating people who sought classified clearances from the government.
The new figure was released today in an advisory published by OPM.
“The team has now concluded with high confidence that sensitive information, including the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of 21.5 million individuals, was stolen from the background investigation databases,” OPM wrote in the statement. “This includes 19.7 million individuals that applied for a background investigation, and 1.8 million non-applicants, predominantly spouses or co-habitants of applicants.”
It later was revealed that the hackers, who are believed to be from China, also accessed another database used for conducting background investigations for security clearances.
There is concern that if the Chinese government got hold of lists containing the names of Chinese nationals who had been in touch with US government workers, this could be used to blackmail or punish them if they had been secretive about the contact.
[Hacking] [Espionage] [Subversion]
North Korea is operating a science search engine, report says
The North Korean portal is accessible by smartphone and is used to improve farming practices.
By Elizabeth Shim | Aug. 6, 2015 at 12:25 PM
North Korea has built an online portal for the country’s scientific community that allows users to access the data of major research institutions in the country. Photo by Katharine Welles/Shutterstock
SEOUL, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- North Korea has built an online portal for the country's scientific community, and the search engine can be accessed from smartphones, according to a report.
The pro-Pyongyang outlet Choson Sinbo published a story on the portal Wednesday, but the site has been in operation since November 2013 and smartphone service began in November 2014, South Korean outlet CBS No Cut News reported.
The comprehensive site "Yolpung," meaning "fever" in Korean has gathered the database of each major scientific research institute in North Korea. Participants include Kim Il Sung University, the North Korean Confederation of Science and Technology's Central Committee, North Korea's Education Committee, the Grand People's Study House – also known as the central library in Pyongyang – and various agricultural agencies.
According to the Choson Sinbo, the portal is "widely used in the practices of collective farms...according to sources, know-how on crop cultivation methods adjusted to agricultural, technological resources and recent weather patterns is available."
In addition to text documents, video and multimedia also are online.
The slogans "Pyongyang Mind" and "Pyongyang Speed" are enjoying resurgence under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Construction in the city of Pyongyang is booming as a wave of new economic activity has taken hold across all sectors, including technology.
[S&T] [ICT] [Agriculture] [Construction]
Exclusive: US bugs Japan on trade and climate
America is spying on the Japanese PM and major corporations ahead of trade talks, and sharing the intelligence with Australia.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the top levels of the Japanese government are being spied on by America, and the information shared with allies including Australia, according to secret intelligence documents published by WikiLeaks.
Leaked top secret reports and technical documents from the United States National Security Agency (NSA) reveal that the US has secured deep access to the inner workings of the Japanese government, routinely obtaining highly sensitive information on issues including US-Japanese relations, trade issues and climate change policy. This information is shared with its “Five Eyes” partners, including Australia.
[Espionage] [Five Eyes]
NIS leaked security details in apparent attempt to distract from their illegal spying
Posted on : Aug.1,2015 20:04 KST
Leak of info on N. Korean weapons transactions called a “Faustian bargain trafficking in confidential information for national security”
After previously blasting allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) monitored civilians as “risking our own security,” the agency and ruling Saenuri Party (NFP) have leaked security details beneficial to themselves over the past few days.
The opposition blasted the party on July 31 as “the real ones hurting security and breaking the law.”
Lee Jong-kul, floor leader for the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), attacked the Saenuri Party over the leaks at a supreme council meeting that day.
“The ‘hacking success’ the NIS praised itself for was intelligence about North Korean weapons transactions that was a highly sensitive secret in diplomatic and security terms, which was nonetheless leaked to the press by a ruling party lawmaker,” Lee said.
“This was a Faustian bargain trafficking in confidential information for national security,” he added.
The episode Lee referred to was a report in the National Assembly Intelligence Committee on July 27 that the NIS used a remote control system (RCS) hacking program in an attempted hack of 200 items of North Korean illegal weapons trafficking intelligence. After the session, the committee chairperson, ruling and opposition party committee secretaries, and NIS spokesperson agreed that the information was a confidential national security matter that should not be leaked to the press. A day later, it was reported in news outlets as information from a “ruling party source.”
The opposition believes the Saenuri Party deliberately leaked details to the press about the “hacking success” against North Korea to deflect allegations about civilian surveillance.
WikiLeaks says U.S. spied on another ally – this time, Japan
Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari speaks at a news conference at the Westin Resort in Lahaina, Maui, on July 30. (Marco Garcia/Reuters)
By Anna Fifield July 31 at 11:22 AM
The United States has for years been intercepting phone calls between Japanese officials on sensitive issues including trade, climate change and bilateral relations, according to a cache of cables that anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released Friday.
With American and Japanese officials meeting in Hawaii — along with representatives of 10 other Pacific Rim nations — to try to close the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, WikiLeaks released the potentially damaging cables that included conversations about trade.
The release could pose another hurdle to the already difficult TPP negotiations and will compound Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s domestic woes. Abe is facing loud protests at home over his attempts to loosen the restrictions on Japan’s military and allow it to play a more active role in its alliance with the United States.
In the cache dubbed “Target Tokyo” released Friday, WikiLeaks alleges that the National Security Agency had 35 targets in Japan going back at least as far as 2006, when Abe began his first stint as prime minister.
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Microsoft Launches Windows 10 Without the Usual Hype
The company tries to win fans with a design redo and extensive tests
by Dina Bass and Ashlee Vance
from Bloomberg Businessweek Reprints
July 29, 2015 — 2:00 PM CEST
Over the past 20 years, releases of new Windows operating systems have been marked by midnight sales parties, junkets crammed with reporters, and Microsoft’s biggest marketing campaigns. The introduction of Windows 10 on July 29 is much quieter: no ringing the Nasdaq opening bell, no promos with sitcom stars or Rolling Stones songs—just 13 parties around the world to thank volunteers who’ve helped debug and refine the operating system during the past year. “Having a big launch with celebrities, it might be newsworthy, but it’s not necessarily the step to a billion happy and engaged Windows users,” says Windows chief Terry Myerson.
Windows 8, released in 2012, annoyed users by making the PC into a tablet, eliminating familiar features like the Start Menu in favor of a touchscreen system based on taps and swipes that only a small percentage of PCs could take advantage of or accommodate at all. The new edition restores the Start Menu and lets users switch more easily between the touchscreen setup and a more traditional point-and-click interface. It’s a lot more natural than the Windows 8 setup, if not exactly revolutionary.
Microsoft has also replaced its decrepit Web browser, Internet Explorer, with a new one called Edge, which is missing some customization options at launch but otherwise compares favorably with Chrome and Safari. The company’s Siri-like virtual assistant, Cortana, is built in, so you can bark out, “Tell Tim I’m running late,” and the OS will send an e-mail.
Hacking Team says N. Korea among countries they refuse to work with
Posted on : Jul.27,2015 18:08 KST
Italian company has been criticized for selling hacking programs to countries with poor human rights records
The CEO of Hacking Team, the Italian company that sold hacking software to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), said that the company had refused to do business with North Korea.
“There are a number of countries we have rejected as clients. Some are obvious such as North Korea, Syria or Iran,” said David Vincenzetti, founder of Hacking Team and its current CEO, in an interview with American technology and economy publication Business Insider on July 24. Vincenzetti was responding to the question, “If it’s not illegal, are there any groups or countries you absolutely will not sell your services to?”
His response could mean that North Korea contacted the company to purchase a hacking program, but the company refused to work with it.
After Hacking Team was hacked on July 6, its internal data was made public, revealing that the company had sold hacking programs to countries with poor human rights records. This earned the company severe criticism from human rights organizations. But the company has denied these charges, claiming that it only provided its services to legal criminal justice organizations.
On July 14, Vincenzetti told local media in Italy that the company would stay in business despite the data leak, and he reiterated these plans during the interview on Friday.
“We will continue to develop a new version of our software based on work that our engineers were doing before the attack and that was not compromised,” he said.
By Kwon Oh-sung, staff reporter
Is counter-propaganda the only antidote to propaganda?
Jeremy Druker 26 July 2015
Russia Today is packed full of lies. But aren't there motes aplenty in our own eyes onto the world? Is media credibility shot, and can we hope to improve trust in news? An academic conference this autumn in Prague aims to bring journalists and acdemics together to explore the problem
This fall’s conference – Populism, authoritarianism, and the media: The age of mediocracy and mediacracy – will take place in Prague, 12-14 November. The event will address the influence of authoritarianism and populism on the development of the media and communication industries in Central and Eastern Europe as well as other regions of the world. Confirmed speakers include: Peter Pomerantsev; Endre B. Bojtár, Benjamin De Cleen; Jirí Pehe, Christopher Walker, and Anna Matušková. For a full list of themes to be addressed, please see the call for papers. All other details can be found on the conference website. This gathering is part of the international conference series Prague Media Point, an annual event that addresses both global and regional issues related to the transformation of media industries and politics.
After months, if not years, of life in the shadows, Russian propaganda has hit the mainstream. No longer relegated to nasty disinformation campaigns in far-off Eastern Europe countries, we now have RT as a dominant presence on our TVs at home and on the road. We read what seem like weekly articles on the so-called troll factories, and now envision hordes of young Russians being paid to swarm social media with tweets that subtly support Kremlin positions.
One, in short, no longer has to search far to learn that the West is a moral cesspool that hypocritically advocates for respect for human rights abroad but incarcerates innocent people at home, engages in widespread police brutality, and corrupts family values.
Worried that such views might be spreading among their own populations, especially in the post-communist states, governments have finally sprung into action.
[Media] [Propaganda] [Softwar] [Shill] [Russia confrontation]
NK goes digital to spread propaganda
Updated : 2015-07-23 16:59
By Lee Han-soo
North Korea's efforts to promote its system are going viral, thanks to YouTube.
The country's propaganda website, "Uriminzokkiri," run by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, has about 11,000 subscribers _ six times more than in October 2010. A video posted on the website has had more than 10 million clicks, and Twitter subscribers have doubled.
Uriminzokkiri started using the Internet in August 2010, utilizing Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to share articles, photos and videos.
A peek inside North Korea’s intranet
Not much is known about North Korea’s intranet — the Internet-like system that links up libraries, universities and other organizations throughout the country but goes no further than the country’s borders.
Few foreigners get a chance to access it and delve into the websites and services it offers, but thanks to sharp-eyed Aram Pan and his DPRK360 Facebook page, we now know a little more.
The Singaporean photographer spotted this poster on the wall of the e-library in Rason in the country’s north east. It details some of the sites available from computers in the facility.
N.Korean Hackers Get Access to 'Unbeatable' Tools
Suspected North Korean hackers launched a cyber attack against five websites in South Korea using leaked data of a top Italian hacking software company. Hacking Team, a Milan-based company, had its data breached by an unknown individual, resulting in leaking alleged internal emails, invoices and source code.
The hackers infiltrated the websites related to North Korean matters including one run by North Korean defectors. They planted viruses in the personal computers of users who accessed the homepages, which then enabled them to gain access to all of the information in the computers.
NIS hacking targeted South Korean nationals in China
Posted on : Jul.22,2015 17:16 KST
Modified on : Jul.22,2015 17:16 KST
The offices of NanaTech, the company that brokered the hacking program transaction between the National Intelligence Service and Hacking Team, an Italian Company, is closed, with mail bursting out of the mailbox, on July 21 in Seoul’s Mapo district. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Prosecutors’ investigation could follow, as previously, the NIS had claimed that their hacking effectors were directed only at North Korean agents
The National Intelligence Service’s chief target after purchasing a remote control system (RCS) program from the Italian security firm Hacking Team was an unspecified number of South Korean nationals in China, it has been alleged.
The allegations of hacking against South Korean nationals - which is illegal even when they are overseas - is making a prosecutors’ investigation appear increasingly likely.
“[The NIS’s] targets were purely mobile phones,” said NanaTech president Heo Son-gu in a July 21 interview with the Hankyoreh. The company brokered the hacking program transaction between the NIS and Hacking Team.
“The chief target was in China,” Heo explained.
N. Korea blames S. Korea for hackings
Seizing on recent disclosures, Uriminzokkiri claims NIS behind hack attacks in both Koreas
July 20th, 2015
North Korea’s state-run Uriminzokkiri outlet said Monday that hackers will not be able to evade severe punishment for their actions.
The South Korean government has recently taken a hit over the National Intelligence Service’s purchase of equipment from Italy’s Hacking Team, facing accusations that the hacking equipment was used against its own citizens. The North Korean media, however, picked up the story from a different angle.
“These (hacking tools) were purchased in January 2012, which was the election period; in other words, the current South Korean regime was using this to get rid of its political opponents,” the Uriminzokkiri article stated.
“These eavesdropping devices and hacking equipment are essential in finding out the election pledges of one’s opponent so that they can take countermeasures. The (NIS) agency asked the company that sold this system for hacking programs to hack into 20 peoples’ accounts.”
The North Korean outlet goes on to accuse the South Korean agency of purchasing these devices in order to “perform cyber terror in our republic.”
“The agency confessed that they used this program on 87 foreign computers and mobile phones and most of these devices were used in IP addresses related to us,” it said.
Uriminzokkiri describes this as clear evidence of South Korea attempting cyber terror in North Korea since 2012. They state that the unknown hackings in South Korea were carried out by NIS even though the South Korean government had blamed the DPRK.
Hacking recently made the news in South Korea once again as one of the employees of the National Intelligence Agency committed suicide after leaving a lengthy will stating that none of these hacking tools were used against South Korean citizens and they were also not used in the election process.
NIS director says snooping software only targeted “overseas North Korean agents”
Posted on : Jul.15,2015 16:09 KST
Modified on : Jul.15,2015 16:09 KST
National Intelligence Service security staff hold back journalists from asking Director Lee Byung-ho (left) questions about the hacking program the NIS purchased under the name ‘South Korea Army Division 5163’, at a hearing of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, July 14. (by Lee Jeong-woo, staff photographer)
Despite denials, experts raise evidence that the program purchased from Italian company could have been used domestically
On July 14, National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Lee Byung-ho acknowledged to the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that the spy agency had purchased hacking software called RCS (Remote Control System), which it is accused of using to place smartphones and computers under illegal surveillance.
Lee claimed, however, that the purchase was not intended to monitor South Korean civilians at home but rather North Korean agents operating overseas, according to lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties who are on the committee.
But based on emails that the NIS exchanged with Hacking Team, the Italian company from which it purchased RCS, experts think there is a high likelihood that the software was also used for domestic surveillance.
Did the agency really not monitor civilians?
North Korea to introduce second cellular provider
A second provider, Byol, is expected to offer wireless services only to North Koreans.
By Elizabeth Shim | July 8, 2015 at 9:57 PM
The mobile phone is becoming a central component of everyday life for many North Koreans, and more households own two mobile phones as a way around prohibitively expensive service plans. In this photo from North Korean state media, an online shopping mall is featured on a mobile interface. File photo by Yonhap
SEOUL, July 8 (UPI) -- North Korea is making a dent in the country's wireless-service monopoly, by introducing a second cellular provider in its growing mobile phone market.
A source in Pyongyang told North Korea Tech, a U.S.-based news outlet, that the state has selected the firm Byol, meaning star in Korean, as an alternative domestic provider of wireless services.
Byol has already been in operation inside the reclusive country, offering cable-based Internet to Pyongyang's foreign residents, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
The differentiated Internet service for foreigners in North Korea was established so ordinary North Koreans would not be able to access websites outside the country or make international phone calls, South Korean television network SBS reported.
With the new changes, however, Star is expected to offer wireless services only to North Koreans.
Byol, compared to the existing network of Koryolink, also is expected to be easier to operate.
Radio Free Asia reported North Korea's decision reflects the state's wish to diminish Koryolink's powerful monopoly, and Martyn Williams of North Korea Tech said North Korea has selected Byol to reduce the exercise powers of its majority shareholder, the Egyptian firm Orascom.
Orascom holds a 75 percent share in Koryolink, but Byol is expected to merge with Koryolink, a move designed to lessen the percentage of Orascom's share of revenue in Koryolink's profits, estimated to be $540 million at the official exchange rate, according to North Korea Tech.
The mobile phone is becoming a central component of everyday life for many North Koreans, and more households own two mobile phones as a way around prohibitively expensive service plans.
Hillary Clinton - Hacking problem not limited to China
IOWA CITY, Iowa (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that hacking by countries such as China and Iran posed a broad threat to U.S. security and business, and the federal government had not done enough to protect U.S. information.
"It's not only the Chinese. We know that other governments - Russia, North Korea, Iran - have either directly or indirectly sponsored hacking," said the former secretary of state during a campaign stop in Iowa, a key state in deciding the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. "And we worry about terrorist organizations getting access to the capacity."
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US spying on French officials is unacceptable, says François Hollande
French foreign ministry summons US ambassador after leaks reveal NSA spying on French presidents
Agence France-Presse in Paris
Wednesday 24 June 2015 09.47 BST Last modified on Wednesday 24 June 2015 10.01 BST
France’s president, François Hollande, has described reported spying by the US on senior French officials as unacceptable and said Paris would not tolerate actions that threaten its security.
Hollande released the statement after an emergency meeting of ministers and army commanders on Wednesday, following WikiLeaks revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on the last three French presidents.
“France will not tolerate actions that threaten its security and the protection of its interests,” the president’s office said, adding that allegations about US spying on French interests had been revealed in the past.
“Commitments were made by the US authorities. They need to be recalled and strictly respected.”
[Surveillance] [France] [NSA] [WikiLeaks]
François Hollande holds emergency meeting after WikiLeaks claims US spied on three French presidents
NSA documents appear to show that American agents spied on Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Hollande, even listening to their phone calls
Kim Willsher in Paris
Wednesday 24 June 2015 08.07 BST Last modified on Wednesday 24 June 2015 09.38 BST
The French president, François Hollande, is holding an emergency meeting of his country’s defence council after claims that American agents spied on three successive French presidents between 2006 and 2012. According to WikiLeaks documents published late on Tuesday, even the French leaders’ mobile phone conversations were listened to and recorded.
[Surveillance] [France] [NSA] [WikiLeaks]
Press Release Top French NSA Targets Top French NSA Intercepts
English | French
Today, 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks began publishing "Espionnage Élysée", a collection of TOP SECRET intelligence reports and technical documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) concerning targeting and signals intelligence intercepts of the communications of high-level officials from successive French governments over the last ten years.
The top secret documents derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications of French Presidents Francois Hollande (2012–present), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012), and Jacques Chirac (1995–2007), as well as French cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the United States. The documents also contain the "selectors" from the target list, detailing the cell phone numbers of numerous officials in the Elysee up to and including the direct cell phone of the President.
Prominent within the top secret cache of documents are intelligence summaries of conversations between French government officials concerning some of the most pressing issues facing France and the international community, including the global financial crisis, the Greek debt crisis, the leadership and future of the European Union, the relationship between the Hollande administration and the German government of Angela Merkel, French efforts to determine the make-up of the executive staff of the United Nations, French involvement in the conflict in Palestine and a dispute between the French and US governments over US spying on France.
The Ridiculous Nature of Saudi Intelligence: What the Saudi Cables Released by WikiLeaks Say and Don’t Say
By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, June 23, 2015
WikiLeaks released the first batch of the so-called “Saudi cables” on June 19, 2015. By June 22, a total of 61,214 of the documents were released online. More than half a million of these cables are in the hands of WikiLeaks.
The documents are believed to have been hacked from the Saudi Foreign Ministry in May 2015 by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army as retaliation to the House of Saud’s war against Yemen. The Yemen Cyber Army probably is not Yemeni and almost certainly is an outward show for another actor wishing to either penalize Riyadh or even possibly manipulate it.
In the Arab World there is great interest about the documents. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akbar has also partnered itself with WikiLeaks to release the so-called Saudi cables, as it has with previous leaks. The Saudi cables, however, do not tell the world and Wikileaks readers anything new about Saudi Arabia.
What is missing from the Saudi cables that WikiLeaks released heretofore are any documents about the House of Saud’s support for Al-Qaeda and the other armed gangs that are wreaking havoc inside Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. This is important and noteworthy.
The Timing of the Release: Targeting Rapprochement between Moscow and Riyadh?
There are some very important questions to be asked and thought over about the Saudi cables. Are the release of the Saudi cables retaliation for Saudi aggression in Yemen or punishment for efforts by the House of Saud to exert itself independently from Washington? Why is the crisis in Syria and Saudi support for the foreign fighters ravaging Syria largely left out of the leaks? If Saudi involvement in the fighting in Syria was seriously mentioned in the cables released by WikiLeaks it could incriminate other countries, such as the US, Britain, France, and Turkey.
[Saudi Arabia] [WikiLeaks] [Outsourcing] [Al Qaeda]
US Getting Better at Cyber Blaming, Not Cyber Security
Color me skeptical about the Sunday Times report that Edward Snowden’s archive got cracked. Not saying it couldn’t happen despite 256 bit encryption, accidents do happen, but the story as presented reeks of psyops bullshit unloaded by the NSA-GCHQ team with the help of obliging media in the UK.
What I think is happening is that the United States is upping its game…in public cyberattribution.
Honestly parsing and presenting a cyberattribution dossier is a thankless job. Remember how the Obama administration looked foolish on the Sony hack?
Sure you don’t. That was so…four months ago.
[Cyberwar] [China confrontation] [Sony]
North Korean websites suffer Internet outage
By Kim Hyo-jin
Major North Korean websites have been out of action for 10 straight days, according to reports Friday.
The websites hosted on Chinese servers have not been accessible since June 3, Yonhap News Agency reported. They include Pyongyang's propaganda website, Uriminzokkiri, websites of Kim Il-sung Broadcasting University and DPRK Today.
"Web servers are running with no disruption, but we are not sure of the reason why the websites are unreachable," an official of Xinwang, a Chinese server management company, was quoted as saying. Xinwang hosts the server of Uriminzokkiri.
But websites of Pyongyang's state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, and state-controlled media outlet KCNA are operating. Their servers are allegedly hosted inside North Korea.
The problem's cause has not been verified, but some experts suggested a possible cyberattack.
Data-collecting spyware reportedly found at Iran nuclear talk venues
By Carol Morello and Brian Murphy June 10 at 2:03 PM ?
Sophisticated spyware linked to Israel infected computers at luxury hotels used as venues for nuclear negotiations with Iran, a Russian cybersecurity firm said Wednesday, but the extent of any possible data breach was not immediately known.
Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab did not specifically identify Israel as the mastermind behind the complex — almost undetectable — virus it stumbled across in early spring during a routine test.
But Eugene Kaspersky, chairman of the company, told a news conference in Moscow that it was most likely “state-sponsored malware” whose stealth and date-grabbing technology he described in Hollywood movie terms: “Kind of a mix of ‘Alien,’ ‘Terminator’ and ‘Predator.’”
The apparent attempt at cyberspying on the high-level talks marks another escalation in the widening world of Internet espionage that has governments and militaries spending huge amounts on spyware and countermeasures.
[Cyberespionage] [Israel] [Iran deal]
North Korea’s new tech: hybrid tablets and ‘iMacs’
Photos and video from Pyongyang's Spring trade fair show new tablets, hybrids and iMac copies
June 2nd, 2015
Pictures obtained by NK News and video from the Korean Central Television (KCTV) show new tech products on display at the 18th Pyongyang Spring International trade fair, including new laptops, tablets, hybrids and possible copies of iMac computers.
The fair started on May 11 and ran for three days. According to the DPRK’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), it was attended by numerous countries in Asia and Europe.
Also at the fair, however, were some of North Korea’s technology companies, apparently with a host of new products. The DPRK showcased supposedly domestically produced gadgets, from LED monitors to sleek-looking laptops.
While North Korea is known to import some tablets from China, at least three different North Korean models were visible at the trade fair.
Yonhap News Agency spotted the possible successor to the 2012 ‘Samjiyon’ tablet, the “Myohyang”. According to the South Korean media outlet, the updated tablet had a higher resolution screen and TV connectivity.
“It is stylish and simple to use, and watching TV is possible. The battery capacity is large and the touch screen works well,” the tablet’s salesman said in comments carried by Yonhap.
Also on display was what appeared to be a more entry-level offering, called the “Big Sea” (Daeyang).
The tablet looks to offer little improvement over the three-year-old Samjiyon, with only a marginally faster processor and lower screen resolution.
“There isn’t much of a reason for quick increase in the technology. There is little competition – something that has driven better specs in other countries – and no internet services demanding better and faster processors,” Martyn Williams, author of the North Korea Tech blog told NK News.
A Case Study in Distortion and Bias on Syria by PBS
by Rick Sterling
“Frontline” is an influential television program which examines important foreign and domestic issues. The shows tend to be technically well done – combining concise writing with compelling video. Many North Americans watch and have their beliefs shaped by “Frontline” documentaries.
Last week Public Broadcasting System channels across North America broadcast the Frontline special titled “Obama at War”. The 52 minute video portrays the following:
* Origins of the Syrian conflict
* Response of the Obama administration
* Evolution of the conflict
* The run-up and response to alleged chemical attacks in 2013
* Emergence of ISIS, Nusra and other extremist groups
* Where is the conflict headed? Where is US policy headed?
The video is online here. The approximate time stamp of some key moments in the video are noted in text below.
On the positive side, the documentary acknowledges that:
* It is a violation of international law to provide weapons to a non-state actor trying to overthrow a sovereign state.
* The overthrow of the Libyan government led to chaos and increased sectarianism and violence.
* There might not be any easy solutions; escalating US involvement as demanded by the “Syrian opposition” and interventionists might actually make things worse.
In addition, the program shows the inner workings and debate process in the Obama administration.
That said, following are some key problems with the documentary.
Promotes “Syrian Opposition” that is more American than Syrian.
Three “Syrian Opposition” members (Ouabi Shahbandar, Murhaf Jouejati and Amr al Azm) appear 12 times through the documentary, using about 7% of the total time. In reality all of the three are U.S. Citizens; none of them has lived in Syria for many years or decades.
Ouabi Shahbandar is the “Syrian Opposition” member given prominent attention in the video. He came to the US at age 8. At Arizona State University in 2003 he was a young Republican neoconservative on the rampage, strongly supporting GW Bush and the invasion of Iraq, denouncing war protesters as “terrorists” and allying with far right figures such as David Horowitz. In the past decade he has worked for the US Dept of Defense.
Murhaf Jouejati teaches at the National Defense University (US Dept of Defense). A third voice is from Amr Al Azm who is leader of the US funded “Day After Project” intended to plan for development after regime change in Damascus. In short, all three “Syrian Opposition” voices are aligned and committed to US not Syrian national interests.
[US Syria policy] [Media] [Diaspora] [Propaganda]
China might be building vast database of federal worker info, experts say
By Kevin Liptak, Theodore Schleifer and Jim Sciutto, CNN
June 6, 2015
Washington (CNN)—The massive hack that may have stolen the personal information of four million federal employees appears designed to build a vast database in what could be preparation for future attacks by China against the U.S., cybersecurity experts advising the government told CNN Friday afternoon.
Law enforcement officials also said Friday that the hack appears to have been carried out by the same Chinese hackers who attacked Anthem Insurance earlier this year, in which information on tens of millions of customers was stolen.
U.S. officials believe the breach, which was revealed Thursday and affected current and former federal workers from nearly every government agency, could be the biggest ever of the government's computer networks.
"The extent of personal data stolen makes this attack an order of magnitude greater than any we have seen of its kind in the past," said California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who was briefed on the attack.
China has called the allegation that it was behind the attack irresponsible. But the experts said that the goal behind the attack is to build a database of federal employees -- using the stolen personal information to fool and impersonate government workers -- to set up future "insider" attacks. By revealing who has security clearances and at what level, the Chinese may now be able to identify, expose and blackmail U.S. government officials around the world, the experts added.
The connection between the hacking attack and the Anthem incident was first reported by The New York Times.
The cybersecurity experts added that some government agencies have not been following the government's own best practices for cybersecurity, such as updating operating systems with latest protections.
The Office of Personnel Management, which is conducting background checks, warned it was urging potential victims to monitor their financial statements and get new credit reports.
[Hacking] [China bashing]
With a series of major hacks, China builds a database on Americans
By Ellen Nakashima June 5 at 5:55 PM ?
China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary, U.S. officials and analysts say.
Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as the health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the officials and researchers said.
“They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target [for espionage], whether electronically or via human recruitment.”
The targeting of large-scale databases is a relatively new tactic and is used by the Chinese government to further its intelligence-gathering, the officials and analysts say. It is government espionage, not commercial espionage, they say.
China hacked into the federal government’s network, compromising four million current and former employees' information. The Post's Ellen Nakashima talks about what kind of national security risk this poses and why China wants this information. (Alice Li/The Washington Post)
“This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big-data theft and big-data aggregation,” said a U.S. government official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s part of a strategic plan.”
[Hacking] [China bashing]
Whispers of dissent in North Korea suggest waning loyalty to Kim Jong-un
Though the true state of politics in Pyongyang remains opaque, sources in the capital report early signs of discontent. Daily NK reports
Kim Jong-un at the Wonsan Baby Home and Orphanage on 1 June. Despite a tightly controlled public image, sources say the leader’s popularity is on decline. Photograph: Xinhua/REX Shutterstock/Xinhua/REX Shutterstock
Choi Song-ming for Daily NK, part of the North Korea network
Thursday 4 June 2015 05.00 BST
The North Korean regime has always relied on public loyalty to the ruling Kim dynasty to maintain its totalitarian grip on power. But following a series of apparent high-profile executions, sources within the country suggest that cracks are beginning to show amid a growing willingness to express dissatisfaction with Kim Jong-un’s leadership.
Criticism of the alleged recent execution of the defence chief, Hyon Yong-chol, has been circulating in the capital, sources say, although it is impossible to verify these claims independently.
“Kim’s popularity among citizens has rapidly declined,” a woman from South Pyongyang, who asked to remain anonymous, said during a phone conversation on 31 May. “People say that considering the fact that Kim had executed dozens of high-ranking officials within the few years since coming to power, ‘there’s no hope left’.”
Stories of Ordinary North Koreans and Human Rights
by Guest Blogger for Scott A. Snyder
May 7, 2015
Darcie Draudt is a research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Last Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the U.S. delegation convened a meeting on the human rights situation in North Korea that featured testimony of North Korean escapees. The event was part of North Korean Freedom Week, hosted annually since 2004 by a coalition of U.S. and South Korean NGOs focused on increasing awareness and mobilizing action to promote freedom for the North Korean people. The UN meeting took a turn when the testifiers were interrupted by a statement the DPRK delegation, who had previously been assured they would have an opportunity to speak following the defectors and faced vehement objections most notably from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.
This is only the latest testament to the power of personal narrative and the saga unfolding between the North Korean state and the people who have chosen to leave its borders illegally. Some escapee accounts have been subject to public scrutiny of the veracity or intention of the testifiers, leading to debate on the policy implications of the issue as a whole. Shin Dong-hyuk, whose story is famously told by journalist Blaine Harden in Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, had become a prominent example of the prison camps in North Korea. However, earlier this year Shin admitted to fabricating some of the details of his captivity, perhaps resulting from North Korea’s refutation of his story as a whole.
There exists ample and growing information rigorously collected that attests to the pervasiveness of the suffering. A recently published book on the topic by Sandra Fahy, Marching Through Suffering: Loss and Survival in North Korea, addresses these issues. Fahy’s book is the latest installment in David Kang and Victor Cha’s “Contemporary Asia in the World” series from Columbia University Press.
[Propaganda] [Defector] [Sanctions]
U.S. tried Stuxnet-style cyberattack on North Korea but failed: sources
May 30, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO – The United States tried to deploy a version of the Stuxnet computer virus to attack North Korea’s nuclear weapons program five years ago but ultimately failed, according to people familiar with the covert campaign.
The operation began in tandem with the now-famous Stuxnet attack that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010 by destroying a thousand or more centrifuges that were enriching uranium. Reuters and others have reported that the Iran attack was a joint effort by U.S. and Israeli forces.
According to one U.S. intelligence source, Stuxnet’s developers produced a related virus that would be activated when it encountered Korean-language settings on an infected machine.
But U.S. agents could not access the core machines that ran Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, said another source, a former high-ranking intelligence official who was briefed on the program.
The official said the National Security Agency-led campaign was stymied by North Korea’s utter secrecy, as well as the extreme isolation of its communications systems. A third source, also previously with U.S. intelligence, said he had heard about the failed cyberattack but did not know details.
Outsourcing Oppression: Trafficked Labor from North Korea
By Sarah E. Mendelson
When it comes to North Korea, nothing is beyond the pale. The hermit kingdom is known for summary executions, abducting foreign citizens, and for hacking entertainment giant Sony. According to new research, Pyongyang is also trafficking its citizens, selling their labor in exchange for foreign currency. In a compelling report by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, researchers Yoon Yeo-sang and Lee Seung-ju describe interviews with 20 North Koreans who were sent to foreign countries to earn money for their families, only for it to end up in the regime’s coffers. Trading in domestic positions that pay pennies for only slightly less-meager salaries abroad, these workers have generated between $1.2–$2.3 billion a year for the government. Even better for the regime, the payments are in hard cash, a dear commodity for a nation living under years of sanctions.
[Labour] [Softwar] [Sanctions] [Agency]
True or false: the 'kooky' North Korea stories they couldn't make up – but did
North Koreans live in an internet-free vacuum but western bloggers, intelligence agencies and 24-hour news are making up for it, says Anna Broinowski, whose book The Director is the Commander dispels some of the crazier rumours
Monday 1 June 2015 04.12 BST Last modified on Monday 1 June 2015 06.19 BST
If any country proves sensationalism beats truth in the social media economy, it’s North Korea. Sealed off from the outside world since 1953, the country’s 24.9 million people exist in an internet-free vacuum, which western bloggers, intelligence agencies and the 24-hour news cycle have been quick to fill.
Facts are notoriously difficult to verify. Credible accounts, such as the 2014 UN report on human rights abuses inside North Korean prisons, vie for eyeballs against the sensationalist claims of defectors, satirists, politically aligned “experts” and propaganda emanating from North Korea’s own news agency, KCNA.
The habits of former leader Kim Jong-il fuelled a rumour industry worth billions of clicks. A rapacious gourmand with insteps and Eraserhead hair, Dear Leader was both pop icon and ruthless dictator: as known for his love of Cognac and squadron of Joy Division babes as he was for the cunning nuclear brinksmanship with which he dissuaded the Bush administration from dispatching him the same way it had dispatched his “failed-state” colleague, Saddam Hussein.
Now, with Kim’s son Kim Jong-un in charge, the rumour business is booming. In the past three years, we’ve learned that Kim 2.0 executed a Pyongyang traffic lady for sneezing (false); was voted 2012’s “sexiest man alive” (false); poisoned his aunt Kim Kyong-hui (false); assassinated his pop-singer girlfriend Hyon Song-wol for making porn (false); and oversaw the Sony Pictures hack in retaliation for the Kim Jong-un assassination spoof, The Interview (debatable).
When he disappeared for a month in 2014, there was speculation he had been ousted by a coup (false); killed by his generals (false); contracted gout (who knows?); or broken his ankle after growing fat from eating cheese (he does appear to have gained weight).
The malleability of digital media, and the speed with which consumers can embed and reframe North Korean content before passing it on, means even truthful accounts of Kim Jong-un’s ruthless moves to shore up his inherited power are frequently embellished. When Kim executed his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in late 2013 for insubordination, mainstream news feeds reported Jang and five aides had been stripped naked and fed to 120 starving dogs. The story went viral, before it was traced back to a Chinese satirist’s blog on Tencent Weibo.
Critical thinking just goes out the window on North Korea
Chad O’Carroll, NK News
Only this month, South Korea’s national intelligence agency reported Kim had publicly obliterated another insider, general Hyon Yong-chol, with an anti-aircraft gun. The story was widely circulated before the agency adjusted its claim: Hyon had been “purged” for “dozing off” at official events, but might still be alive.
“Critical thinking just goes out the window on North Korea,” observed Chad O’Carroll, founder of the NK News website. David Straub of Stanford University identifies “an exponential increase” in the number of people circulating anything “even remotely plausible about North Korea” – and in established media passing it on. And with consumers happy to buy entertainment as news, “kooky North Korea” stories do a roaring trade.
[Media] [Propaganda] [Agency]
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Expanded Communications Satellite Surveillance and Intelligence Activities Utilising Multi-beam Antenna Systems
by Desmond Ball, Duncan Campbell, Bill Robinson and Richard Tanter
28 May 2015
The recent expansion of FORNSAT/COMSAT1 (foreign satellite/ communications satellite) interception by the UKUSA (Five Eyes or FVEY) partners – the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – has involved the installation over the past eight years of multiple advanced quasi-parabolic multi-beam antennas, known as Torus, which can simultaneously intercept up to 35 satellite communications beams from single antenna installations.2 This report identifies sites now performing Torus FORNSAT/COMSAT collection activity and some of their operational parameters.
Public awareness of the Torus program is largely a product of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The first published reference to the use of Torus technology for SIGINT appears in a slide published in a book by Glenn Greenwald in May 2014. A Top Secret SI Powerpoint presentation to the 2011 Five Eyes Annual Conference outlined a ‘New Collection Posture’, known as ‘Collect-it-all’ then being pioneered at NSA’s Menwith Hill Station (MHS) in Britain as Project ASPHALT. The slides describe a new and increasingly comprehensive approach to SIGINT collection from communications satellites (COMSATs) and state that ‘Torus increases physical access’, enabling the MHS station team to ‘sniff it all’ before collecting and processing everything of interest.3 (Figure 1)
[Surveillance] [Five Eyes]
Elaborating on the issue of “North Korean hackers”
Fight against North Korean cyber threats benefited from a series of significant events. First and foremost, the Sony pictures documents that were leaked, stolen by hackers in November 2014 in anticipation of the release of the “The Interview” film at the end of the last year. WikiLeaks have recently published these documents and it is normal for experts and unexpected for supporters to argue about the Pyongyang hackers. There are more than 20,2 thousand SPE documents published on the site, more than 173 thousand emails and more than 2,2 thousand email addresses, including email addresses of the US government employees.
There is quite a lot of interest, as is pointed out in the preface of the documents, as Sony is not only busy with the production of entertainment content: the company “has ties with the White House and with the US military-industrial complex” (there are more than 100 email addresses of the US government in the archives). Wikileaks believes that the corporation is lobbying the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) on issues related to copyright, Internet policy, piracy and trade agreements. Published correspondence show that company representatives not only discussed these topics with the MPAA but directly with politicians as well. It also demonstrates Sony’s close ties with the Democratic Party of the United States. Specifically, Sony’s CEO Michael Lynton dined with the US President Barack Obama.
It seems to the writer that in conjunction with the fact that “the company’s work has been paralysed since the Intranet has been disabled” it is more than obvious that the attack on internal network of the company was an inside job rather than the fantastic capabilities of the North Korean hackers that miraculously were able to penetrate computers that are not linked to the Internet. And Wikileaks the source of the leak, not particularly friendly to North Korea, also says that North Korean authorities were not involved in the hacking.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/05/rus-v-razvitie-temy-severokorejskih-hakerov/
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German govt accused of lying to parliament about NSA spying
Published time: April 29, 2015 19:15
Angela Merkel’s government has been accused of lying to the country’s parliament after it was alleged that it knew German spies were conducting economic espionage for the NSA. Revelations show that some spooks were even spying on German companies.
Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, who is a close ally of Chancellor Merkel denied on Wednesday that he had lied to parliament about the German Intelligence Agency (BND) cooperating with the National Security Agency (NSA). He said that the allegations are untrue and he could disprove the claims through documents, which need to remain secret
Bild newspaper ran a report Wednesday saying that he had been “lying in black and white” with regards to the case; a picture of the minister with Pinnochio's long nose was used to convey the message.
[Surveillance] [US dominance] [Germany]
WikiLeaks republishes all Sony hacking scandal documents
Julian Assange says data ‘belongs in the public domain’ and says hacked files shed light on extent of cooperation between government and Hollywood
US intelligence officials asserted that the hack was sponsored by North Korea, something other experts have cast doubt upon.
Sam Thielman in New York
Friday 17 April 2015 11.27 BST
WikiLeaks has republished the Sony data from last year’s hacking scandal, making all the documents and emails “fully searchable” with a Google-style search engine.
The move provides much easier access to the stolen information. Searching the name of, for example, former Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, whose controversial comments were revealed by the hack, immediately yields nearly 5,700 results.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, said: “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”
A group calling itself Guardians of Peace distributed the files originally in November last year by seeding the files to peer-to-peer filesharing services across the internet; the files spread quickly and affected the release schedule for several movies, in particular the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview, which made fun of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
US intelligence officials asserted that the hack was sponsored by North Korea, something other experts have cast doubt upon.
[Sony] [Hacking] [Canard] [WikiLeaks]
The Sony Archives
Today, 16 April 2015, WikiLeaks publishes an analysis and search system for The Sony Archives: 30,287 documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and 173,132 emails, to and from more than 2,200 SPE email addresses. SPE is a US subsidiary of the Japanese multinational technology and media corporation Sony, handling their film and TV production and distribution operations. It is a multi-billion dollar US business running many popular networks, TV shows and film franchises such as Spider-Man, Men in Black and Resident Evil.
In November 2014 the White House alleged that North Korea's intelligence services had obtained and distributed a version of the archive in revenge for SPE's pending release of The Interview, a film depicting a future overthrow of the North Korean government and the assassination of its leader, Kim Jong-un. Whilst some stories came out at the time, the original archives, which were not searchable, were removed before the public and journalists were able to do more than scratch the surface.
Now published in a fully searchable format The Sony Archives offer a rare insight into the inner workings of a large, secretive multinational corporation. The work publicly known from Sony is to produce entertainment; however, The Sony Archives show that behind the scenes this is an influential corporation, with ties to the White House (there are almost 100 US government email addresses in the archive), with an ability to impact laws and policies, and with connections to the US military-industrial complex.
[Sony] [Hacking] [Canard] [Corporate power] [WikiLeaks]
Thousands could launch Sony-style cyberattack, says ex-hacker
Ninety percent of companies are vulnerable to a crippling hack, experts tell "60 Minutes."
by Steven Musil
April 12, 2015 10:00 AM PDT
Ninety percent of companies are vulnerable to cyber attacks, security experts say.
The chances of another company suffering the devastating effects of a cyberattack like the one perpetrated on Sony last year are not as remote as we would like to believe, security researchers say.
Given the current security levels for most companies, 90 percent of them would be vulnerable to such an attack, which destroyed 3,000 computers and released sensitive information and proprietary content, security experts tell "60 Minutes." And there is no shortage of technically proficient people willing to launch such an attack, said Jon Miller, a former hacker who now serves as vice president of strategy at Cylance, an antivirus software maker.
"There are probably a couple thousand, three, four, five-thousand people that could do [the Sony] attack today," Miller tells "60 Minutes"' Steve Croft in an interview airing Sunday evening on CBS television stations. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.) "Not all of them are in friendly countries and the number is growing rapidly."
Who spends more on ‘propaganda’? The debate rages on.
We are in the midst of yet another round of “who spends more on propaganda?” between Western officials, the news organisations that (by and large) echo their views, and RT — Russia’s equivalent to the BBC World Service.
This has been an ongoing saga for months.
It goes like this.
The Guardian publishes a spiel about how Russia is winning the “information war” and “outgunning” the BBC because of its allegedly lavish budget and bottomless pit of funding.
RT then publishes a response, correcting the misinformation with figures about its budget.
Next, a Twitter war between Western journalists and officials and prominent RT hosts, editors and writers breaks out, with each side accusing the other of lies and distortions.
There’s quite a long back and forth about numbers and logistics and ethics and it eventually cools down until the Guardian regroups and finds another way to spin RT into a dire threat to all that is right and good in the world.
Wash, rinse, repeat, etc.
Internet privacy, funded by spooks: A brief history of the BBG
By Yasha Levine
On March 1, 2015
jacob-appelbaum-torFor the past few months I’ve been covering U.S. government funding of popular Internet privacy tools like Tor, CryptoCat and Open Whisper Systems. During my reporting, one agency in particular keeps popping up: An agency with one of those really bland names that masks its wild, bizarre history: the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG.
The BBG was formed in 1999 and runs on a $721 million annual budget. It reports directly to Secretary of State John Kerry and operates like a holding company for a host of Cold War-era CIA spinoffs and old school “psychological warfare” projects: Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio Martí, Voice of America, Radio Liberation from Bolshevism (since renamed “Radio Liberty”) and a dozen other government-funded radio stations and media outlets pumping out pro-American propaganda across the globe.
[Propaganda] [Covert] [Softwar] [Shill] [Media]
U.S. Propaganda 101: Illegally Invade Countries, Fund the Media, Call it “Independent”
By Julie Lévesque
Global Research, April 08, 2015
Foreign Policy Magazine recently had a column called Cranks, Trolls, and Useful Idiots, in which the author, Dalibor Rohac, hunts down “Russia’s information warriors” who, he claims, have infested the web with their lies and propaganda on websites potentially paid for by the Russian government.
“Throughout the conflict in eastern Ukraine, these sites have systematically regurgitated Russian propaganda, spreading lies, half-truths, and conspiracy theories, often directly translated from Russian sources…
The Czech weekly Respekt published a feature article about the mysterious “news” site Aeronet (also known as AENews). Started in 2001 by aviation fans, the domain has changed ownership several times. Since the summer of 2014 it has regularly published articles accusing the new Ukrainian government of fascism and claiming that American and British mercenaries were fighting in eastern Ukraine. (Dalibor Rohac, Cranks, Trolls, and Useful Idiots, Foreign Policy, March 12, 2015)
First let’s look at the weakness of the claims in the article.
[Propaganda] [Covert] [Softwar] [Shill] [Media]
Executive Order 13694 as Performance Art: Deterring Cyberattacks With Sanctions?
by Bill Blunden
The White House has announced a new sanctions program that will authorize the executive branch to penalize malicious cyber “actors” whose behavior endangers “the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.” Sadly the President is opting for theater that creates the perception of security rather than actually making it more difficult for attacks to succeed.
Obama’s new executive order rests on a strategy of deterrence, a cold war idea that’s been revived by the likes of former NSA director Mike McConnell and more recently by current NSA Director Mike Rogers. The basic idea is this: if enemies fear retaliation they’re less likely to launch an attack (nuclear, cyber, or otherwise).
But deterrence is useless if you can’t figure out who attacked you. Malware isn’t like an ICBM that leaves a clear trail going from point-A to point-B. Thanks to Ed Snowden it’s public knowledge Five-Eyes Intelligence agencies have invested heavily in developing anonymity technology and conducting deception operations that aim to conceal the origins of their clandestine attacks. It would be naïve to believe that other countries aren’t doing the same.
Consider the following scenario. A Japanese spy targeting sensitive information in the United States could launch their campaign out of China, outsourcing the bulk of their work to local outlaws who use indigenous tools and tactics. Advanced anti-forensic methods could be wielded to cast suspicion elsewhere, away from Japan, and investigators would no doubt recognize the political expedience of accusing China over an ally.
One can imagine the hazards, not to mention embarrassment, associated with rash accusations. In 2009 the presiding republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, in lieu of hard evidence recommended that the United States execute a “show of force” against North Korea in response to run-of-the-mill denial of service attacks on South Korean and U.S. websites. Cooler heads prevailed and the attacks were eventually traced back to a VPN circuit in Florida.
It’s interesting to watch history repeat itself with the data breach at Sony. Yet the public clamors for POTUS to do something. This new program, which threatens would-be “actors” with economic sanctions, is something. So that’s what Obama is doing.
Boldly clambering down into the rabbit hole of attribution is bad enough, but there are additional questions that arise with respect to this new executive order. For example, if the United State is going to penalize other countries for alleged cyberattacks does this mean that other countries will be able to seek redress from the United States for American cyberattacks?
[Cyberwar] [Attribution] [Rhetoric] [Sony]
NK opens first online shopping mall
North Korea launched its first online shopping mall, called Okryu, on Apr. 1.
By Lee Min-hyung
North Korea has launched its first online shopping mall, the regime's state-controlled media reported Tuesday.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the North opened the shopping mall, called Okryu, last Wednesday, offering various items including food, medicine, bags, cosmetics and daily necessities.
North Korean citizens can order products with their smart phones or computers, with "high quality but cheap" domestic items then delivered straight to their homes, according to the KNCA.
Experts say the online mall reflects the recent market changes in the regime.
"The North appears to have launched the online mall to encourage consumer spending," said Tak Sung-han, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. "These days, the regime is trying to secure more capital. The online mall is a good example of the ever changing market in the North."
[Daily life] [e-commerce]
North Korean Hackers or South Korean Disorderliness?
nk-military-computersAs it turned out, mysterious ‘DPRK combat hackers’ delivered a new strike: South Korea accused North Korea in hacker attacks on the computer systems of its NPPs, accomplished at the end of 2014. As it turned out, the computers from which the attack was launched, were located in the North-East of PRC, in Shenyang, as well as in a number of other cities, located not far from the border with DPRK. There were also identified other coincidences with the previous hacker attacks, which have been ascribed to Pyongyang
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/04/05/rus-severokorejskie-hakery-ili-yuzhnokorejskoe-razgil-dyajstvo/
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Truth about Story of North's Hacking at "Nuclear Power Plant" in S. Korea Laid Bare
Pyongyang, March 26 (KCNA) -- The Park Geun Hye group of south Korea let "the government joint investigation team" release results of temporary interim investigation in which it claimed that the hacking at the nuclear power plant was conducted by the north.
The Central Internet Institute of the DPRK made public an open statement laying bare truth about the case on Thursday.
The statement clarified the background against which the "cyber attack" occurred and the above-said story was cooked up.
It was reported that from December 9 last year cyber attack was mounted six times on computer networks at the head office of the hydraulic and atomic energy company LTD of south Korea and nuclear power plants under it and computers of thousands of core elements working there.
Finding it hard to accurately investigate the existence of the hacking group, the puppet group claimed that the IP addresses chased so far are concentrated on Shenyang, China, there were traces of access to IP address of the DPRK and phrases used for attacks were "north Korean style expressions." After producing this fictitious evidence, the group cooked up the above-said results and opened them to public.
The open statement brought to light the absurdity of the malignant code "Kimsuki", IP address and "north Korean style expression" presented by the puppet group as evidence to prove that the attack was made by the north.
Information Warfare: Automated Propaganda and Social Media Bots
That Moron Who Spews Garbage and Doesn’t Listen to Reason May Be a Bot
Global Research, March 23, 2015
Washington's Blog 22 March 2015
NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia.
The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.
It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion.
Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.
Such manipulation includes flooding social media with comments supporting the government and large corporations, using armies of sock puppets, i.e. fake social media identities. See this, this, this, this and this.
In 2013, the American Congress repealed the formal ban against the deployment of propaganda against U.S. citizens living on American soil. So there’s even less to constrain propaganda than before.
Information warfare for propaganda purposes also includes:
?The Pentagon, Federal Reserve and other government entities using software to track discussion of political issues … to try to nip dissent in the bud before it goes viral
?“Controlling, infiltrating, manipulating and warping” online discourse
?Use of artificial intelligence programs to try to predict how people will react to propaganda
Some of the propaganda is spread by software programs.
'Pinkoes and Traitors': a tunnel vision of broadcasting history
David Elstein 20 March 2015
Jean Seaton’s latest history of the BBC is mired by typos, inconsistencies and factual errors. Far from incidental, this is symptomatic of a broader carelessness that ultimately undermines her analysis.
Pinkoes and Traitors – the BBC and the nation 1974-1987 by Jean Seaton, Profile Books, 326pp, £30
Asa Briggs was 74 when OUP published the fifth volume of his History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom. As ITV does not make an appearance until the fifth book, essentially these volumes are a history of the BBC, and to take the story forward, the BBC appointed Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at Westminster University.
Seaton’s new book Pinkoes and Traitors: the BBC and the nation 1974-1987, dedicated to Briggs, now in his 94th year, appears 28 years after the last year it covers, and has been at least a dozen years in preparation. Compared to the 1200 pages of volume five, which appeared just five years after the last year it covered, Seaton’s text is a mere 326 pages in length (though she assures me it was three times longer before the lawyers got at it). There is a new publisher (Profile Books). Presumably, another new author will be needed to bring the story anywhere near up to date.
US Psychological Warfare in Ukraine: Targeting Online Independent Media Coverage
By George Eliason
Global Research, March 20, 2015
If you are a journalist writing about or a person concerned about issues like Free Speech, read or write in alternative media or news, Occupy movement, Ferguson, Gaza, Ukraine, Russia, police brutality, US interventionism, fair government, homelessness, keeping the government accountable, representative government, government intrusions like the NSA is doing, or you are liberal, progressive, libertarian, conservative, separation of church and state, religion, …
If you have a website, write, read, or like something in social media that strays outside the new lines the war isn’t coming, its now here.
What would we do? Disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive, corrupt, usurp or destroy the information. The information, please don’t forget, is the ultimate objective of cyber. That will directly impact the decision-making process of the adversary’s leader who is the ultimate target.”- Joel Harding on Ukraine’s cyber strategy.
Welcome to World of Private Sector IO (Information Operations)
IO or IIO (Inform and Influence Operations) defined by the US Army includes the fields of psychological operations and military deception.
[IO] [Russia confrontation]
To Inform is to Influence
IO, SC, PD, what's in a name?
IO, Cyber, SC, PD Community Calendar
Purpose of this blog
To share experiences, research and informed opinions on Information Operations, Strategic Communication, Public Diplomacy, Inform and Influence Activities, Influence Engagement, marketing, advertising, social media, electronic warfare, deception, operational security, cyber and computer network operations, including attack, exploit and defend.
Mr. Joel Harding is an adviser and consultant for information operations, strategic communication and cyberwarfare.
US lawmaker says N. Korea Web outage was response to Sony hack
By Kim Hyo-jin
North Korea's Internet blackout was payback for its hacking of Sony Pictures, said a U.S. lawmaker in charge of overseeing cyber security at a Washington-based think tank event, Tuesday.
According to U.S. media, Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, virtually admitted that the North's Internet was shut down in retaliation for its Sony hack at a cyber security policy event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"There were some cyber responses to North Korea," McCaul was quoted as saying, referring to the north's alleged role in Sony hack.
U.S. media reported that when asked if the North Korea internet outage was one of the responses, McCaul said, "Yes."
[Sony] [Canard] [Cyberwar]
U.S. cyber-defense strategy doesn’t work, NSA chief says
By Ellen Nakashima March 19 at 3:05 PM ?
The government’s efforts to deter computer attacks against the United States are not working and it is time to consider boosting the military’s cyber-offensive capability, the head of U.S. Cyber Command told Congress on Thursday.
“We’re at a tipping point,” said Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who also directs the National Security Agency, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We need to think about: How do we increase our capacity on the offensive side to get to that point of deterrence?”
Rogers noted that the command, which launched in 2010, has focused mostly on defense. But, he said, “in the end, a purely defensive, reactive strategy will be both late to need and incredibly resource-intense.”
His testimony picks up where his predecessor, retired Gen. Keith Alexander, left off. Alexander, who retired last year and started a cybersecurity firm, had long advocated a more robust offensive capability. But concerns over the years from the White House, the State Department and even some within the Pentagon that the use of cyberweapons could trigger unintended consequences and might harm diplomatic relations have slowed their deployment.
Rogers said that President Obama has not yet decided to delegate authority to him to deploy offensive tools.
The Company Securing Your Internet Has Close Ties to Russian Spies
Kaspersky Lab has published reports on alleged electronic espionage by the U.S., Israel, and the U.K.—but it’s yet to look at Russia
Carol Matlack, Michael A Riley and Jordan Robertson
1:00 AM NZDT
March 20, 2015
Kaspersky Lab sells security software, including antivirus programs recommended by big-box stores and other U.S. PC retailers. The Moscow-based company ranks sixth in revenue among security-software makers, taking in $667 million in 2013, and is a favorite among Best Buy’s Geek Squad technicians and reviewers on Amazon.com. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Eugene Kaspersky used to work for the KGB, and in 2007, one of the company’s Japanese ad campaigns used the slogan “A Specialist in Cryptography from KGB.” The sales tactic, a local partner’s idea, was “quickly removed by headquarters,” according to Kaspersky Lab, as the company recruited senior managers in the U.S. and Europe to expand its business and readied an initial public offering with a U.S. investment firm.
In 2012, however, Kaspersky Lab abruptly changed course. Since then, high-level managers have left or been fired, their jobs often filled by people with closer ties to Russia’s military or intelligence services. Some of these people actively aid criminal investigations by the FSB, the KGB’s successor, using data from some of the 400 million customers who rely on Kaspersky Lab’s software, say six current and former employees who declined to discuss the matter publicly because they feared reprisals. This closeness starts at the top: Unless Kaspersky is traveling, he rarely misses a weekly banya (sauna) night with a group of about 5 to 10 that usually includes Russian intelligence officials. Kaspersky says in an interview that the group saunas are purely social: “When I go to banya, they’re friends.”
[Canard] [Cybersecurity] [Kaspersky] [Cyberespionage]
Evidence Links N.Korea to Nuclear Hacking Attack
An investigation suggests that North Korea was behind the cyber attack against Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation in December of last year.
The investigation team that probed the attack said the malicious codes were similar to ones used by North Korean hackers, and the attacks were also traced to North Korean IP.
The hackers obtained reactor blueprints and other sensitive data and posted them online. They sent out some 6,000 e-mails with malicious codes to 3,600 KHNP staff aiming to disable their hard drives.
The hackers also blackmailed the government demanding that it shut down nuclear reactors and give them US$10 billion.
"Only five computers were actually harmed and the operation and safety of reactors were not compromised," an investigator said. He added that the hackers appear to have been more interested in causing a panic.
The strongest evidence was IP addresses that were traced back to the North. The hackers used a South Korean Virtual Private Network service in order to hide their tracks, but 25 North Korean IP addresses and five more IP addresses allocated to a North Korean communications service provider were traced to the VPN.
The malicious code used by the hackers was also almost identical to those used by North Korean hackers in the past.
"IP addresses consist of 12 digits, and nine of those numbers matched the IP address used by North Korean hackers when they posted threats against the government through a server in Shenyang, China," an investigator said.
The hackers may have used relay stations along the China-North Korea border to access the Internet.
Investigators plan to team up with U.S. and Chinese law enforcement to track down the hackers. The e-mail and social media servers the hackers used are based in the U.S., while some IP addresses were traced to China.
[Hacking] [Canard] [Cyberactivism]
China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets
In an extraordinary official document, Beijing admits it has special units to wage cyberwar—and a lot of them. Is anybody safe?
A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks.
China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks.
Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis.
[Cyberwar] [Double standards] [Media]
Hollywood War Films, An Instrument of Military Indoctrination: The “American Sniper” Reviewers’ Consensus
By Dr. T. P. Wilkinson
Global Research, March 13, 2015
Since American Sniper has become one of the “top grossing films of all time”, garnering a few Academy Award nominations and at least one, if trivial, award, there have been even more reviews written about this insidious and insipid strip of celluloid. Unsurprisingly all of them contain the same swill. I had to return to my own review just to see if I had perhaps omitted anything essential or if anyone might have thought in an at least similar direction.
The defensive focus of vocal support for the film is equally and unsurprisingly the condition of “veterans”. In fact this is probably the single most abused excuse for US war film production since the US regime withdrew its uniformed forces from Vietnam. To be fair—although by no means generous—some of the reviewers suggested that critical attention be focused on those who initiate and manage the wars that create such neglected veterans. As I have argued elsewhere, this is still the “wrong war thesis” and remains a kind of apology for the centuries of carnage wrought by the regime in Washington.
On the other side of the phony political divide are those who claim that Mr Eastwood does not present the humanity of Iraqis fairly. Of course this begs the question as to why, if Americans were concerned about Iraqi humanity, they would derive such satisfaction from destroying Iraq and maiming or murdering millions of its inhabitants, while plundering and pillaging the country for nearly fifteen years? The fact that the film has generated such high gross receipts is certainly proof that Americans are not at all concerned with the humanity of Iraqis (or anyone else for that matter) but enjoy war and murder as entertainment.
Nuclear Hacker 'Needs Money'
A hacker on Thursday published another cache of confidential documents about South Korean reactors after threatening late last year to "destroy" nuclear power plants at Christmas.
The self-described "president of an anti-nuclear reactor group in Hawaii" on Thursday afternoon tweeted a demand for money while publishing internal files of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation as well as what he claimed were transcripts of telephone conversation between President Park Geun-hye and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"I need money. Various countries in northern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America have showed an interest in buying files on the nuclear power plants," he tweeted. "I'm afraid that it'll pose a hurdle to President Park's exports of nuclear power plants, if I should sell them in entirety. [Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jick], I'm giving you time to consider this offer."
The hacker left an email address on an American web portal.
Lim Jong-in, the presidential national security adviser, said the attack probably originated in North Korea.
[Hacking] [North Wind] [Blame]
10,000 copies of The Interview to be sent to North Korea by balloon
South Korean activists will take part in mass launch of balloons with the Hollywood film attached this month despite threats from Pyongyang
Tuesday 10 March 2015 06.14 GMT
South Korean activists vowed Tuesday to sneak copies of Hollywood satire “The Interview” across the border by propaganda balloon later this month, in defiance of North Korea’s repeated threats.
Up to 10,000 copies of the film - a comedy about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un - and 500,000 political leaflets are scheduled for a balloon-launch around 26 March.
An earlier plan by activists and the US-based Human Rights Foundation to send 100,000 copies of the film in January was postponed until after last month’s Lunar New Year.
[Interview] [Propaganda] [Subversion]
‘The Interview’ as anti-North Korean propaganda
As subversive propaganda, attention-grabbing Sony-produced movie flops
March 9th, 2015
Months have now passed since the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the furor has largely died down. It has not dissipated entirely, though, and may yet reignite: The FBI and NSA have made their allegations, but have refused, on grounds of national security, to substantiate them. Some trust the government’s assertions, many in cybersecurity do not. Nevertheless, the debate over whether North Korea was behind the Sony hack has run out of much of its steam. Indeed, the Washington Post article on the resignation of Amy Pascal from Sony did not mention North Korea at all.
Whatever the future course of the Sony hack, the role of the U.S. state raises interesting questions, illustrates disquieting aspects of elite thinking, and leaves behind some mysteries. One is the way officials, and the military-industrial complex, were involved in the production of The Interview as a propaganda vehicle. Just how successful was the movie as subversive propaganda, helping to bring about the collapse so fondly anticipated by many, from President Obama downwards? The answer seems to be that it was a dismal failure.
[Propaganda] [Subversion] [US NK policy] [Sony] [Interview]
Snowden: New Zealand spying on Pacific countries
Xinhua, March 5, 2015
New Zealand is spying on its neighbors and allies, including countries in the Pacific region, new documents released by U.S. fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden showed Thursday.
According to the documents, published by the local NZ Herald newspaper, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, Nauru and Samoa were targets of the New Zealand Government Communication Security Bureau (GCSB).
Information collected from across the Pacific was then shared with New Zealand's Five Eyes partners, the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia. The revelations also raised questions about whether New Zealanders living in the Pacific were subject to the mass surveillance operation.
Snowden files expose NZ's part in America's spy network
Wed, 4 Mar 2015
Edward Snowden New Zealand's role in the vast United States spy network is about to be revealed, giving an unprecedented insight into the workings of our intelligence agencies.
The Herald -- with investigative journalist Nicky Hager -- is working on stories based on files from the United States National Security Agency (NSA), taken by whistleblower Edward Snowden in the biggest intelligence breach in history.
Internationally, the information obtained by Snowden has sparked concerns about the behaviour of the intelligence agencies in the grouping of Five Eyes nations, of which New Zealand is a member.
[Surveillance] [NZ] [Cyberespionage]
#snowdenNZ : The price of the Five Eyes club: Mass spying on friendly nations
By Nicky Hager, Ryan Gallagher
5:00 AM Thursday Mar 5, 2015
New Zealand's electronic surveillance agency has dramatically expanded its spying operations during the years of John Key's National Government and is automatically funnelling vast amounts of intelligence to the US National Security Agency, top-secret documents reveal.
Since 2009, the Government Communications Security Bureau intelligence base at Waihopai has moved to "full-take collection", indiscriminately intercepting Asia-Pacific communications and providing them en masse to the NSA through the controversial NSA intelligence system XKeyscore, which is used to monitor emails and internet browsing habits.
[Cyberespionage] [Five Eyes] [Subordinate]
#snowdenNZ / How foreign spies access GCSB's South Pacific intelligence
6:49 AM Thursday Mar 5, 2015
Edward Snowden claims John Key hasn't told the truth on mass surveillance
In September last year, Edward Snowden said he had seen large quantities of metadata from New Zealanders' communications while working in the NSA's regional headquarters in Hawaii.
He was presumably referring to New Zealanders' communications intercepted during the Asia-Pacific regional monitoring conducted at Waihopai and other allied bases.
• NZ spies on its Pacific friends
• The price of the Five Eyes club
The Snowden documents show how foreign intelligence staff follow a step-by-step process to access the GCSB's South Pacific intelligence, including the metadata and communications of New Zealanders living, holidaying and interacting in that region.
#snowdenNZ : Leaked documents show New Zealand spies on its Pacific friends and sends the data to the US
Updated less than a minute ago 5:00 AM Thursday Mar 5, 2015
David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.
EXCLUSIVE: GCSB collects phone calls, emails and internet data from NZ's closest and most vulnerable neighbours, secret papers reveal
John Key and Barack Obama in the Oval Office last year. New Zealand's electronic surveillance agency has dramatically expanded its spying operations during Key's prime ministership. Photo Getty Images
John Key and Barack Obama in the Oval Office last year. New Zealand's electronic surveillance agency has dramatically expanded its spying operations during Key's prime ministership. Photo Getty Images
New Zealand's spies are targeting the entire email, phone and social media communications of the country's closest, friendliest and most vulnerable neighbours, according to documents supplied by United States fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden's files reveal a heavy focus on "full-take collection" from the Pacific with nearly two dozen countries around the world targeted by our Government Communications Security Bureau.
Information from across the Pacific is collected by New Zealand's GCSB but sent onto the United States' National Security Agency to plug holes in its global spying network, the documents show.
American Sniper's Most Pernicious Lie is the One No One's Discussing
by Adam Johnson
During the initial invasion in March 2003 our hero fights "al Qaeda in Iraq", over a year before AQI even existed - lumping Saddam with 9/11 and perpetuating a dangerous Neocon fantasy.
American Sniper has gotten lots of negative feedback from those who see it as being both a whitewash and a jingoistic claptrap.
[Propaganda] [Iraq] [Al Qaeda] Disinformation]
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Exclusive: China drops leading technology brands for state purchases
By Paul Carsten
BEIJING Wed Feb 25, 2015 8:47am EST
(Reuters) - China has dropped some of the world's leading technology brands from its approved state purchase lists, while approving thousands more locally made products, in what some say is a response to revelations of widespread Western cybersurveillance.
Others put the shift down to a protectionist impulse to shield China's domestic technology industry from competition.
Chief casualty is U.S. network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O), which in 2012 counted 60 products on the Central Government Procurement Center's (CGPC) list, but by late 2014 had none, a Reuters analysis of official data shows.
Smartphone and PC maker Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has also been dropped over the period, along with Intel Corp's (INTC.O) security software firm McAfee and network and server software firm Citrix Systems (CTXS.O).
The number of products on the list, which covers regular spending by central ministries, jumped by more than 2,000 in two years to just under 5,000, but the increase is almost entirely due to local makers.
The number of approved foreign tech brands fell by a third, while less than half of those with security-related products survived the cull.
[Cybersecurity] [China confrontation] [Cyberespionage]
The Propagandists of Empire
by Michael Welton
The international community of left intellectuals and educators faces several urgent challenges in its struggle against the depredations of empire. As educators, our first task is to find the critical tools to understand the relationship between propaganda and empire. John MacKenzie’s marvellous study Propaganda and Empire: the Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (1984) reveals how the rulers of the British Empire used every representational medium at their disposal (postcards, theatre, dance halls, music, posters, children’s literature and penny journalism, films, scholarly treatises and school textbooks) to legitimize their nefarious actions in the world. Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost: a story of greed, terror and heroism in colonial Africa (1999) chillingly tells the story of how the colonial horrors in the Congo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were intentionally hidden from the public. Public opinion was consciously manipulated and intense pressure placed upon those early voices of human rights, like E.D. Morel, who dared to speak out. Even today, Hochschild observes, Belgium museums provide no trace of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Congolese who were forced into the service of King Leopold’s lust for wealth and personal aggrandizement.
In Covering Islam (1981), Edward Said demonstrated convincingly that many educative forms (schools, cartoons, books, comic strips and films) constructed a uniform iconography of Islam and the Arab. This unquestionably derogatory iconography provides the perceptual frame that profoundly inhibits an open, learning relationship to the other.
Hollywood’s Service to Empire
by Paul Street
The United States corporate media’s function of transmitting ideology and propaganda in service to those atop the nation’s reigning and interrelated structures of Empire and inequality is hardly limited to the news. Equally if not more significant for that that task are “entertainment” media, including – of special interest on the eve of the 2015 Academy Awards – the US movie industry. Far from restricting their hearts-and minds-influencing powers to the (Aldous) “Huxlean” mass diversion, distraction, and infantilization, US movies (like US television sit-coms and dramas and video games) are loaded with richly “Orwellian” political and ideological content.
US citizens are being more than merely entertained when they sit before the nation’s 40,000 commercial movie screens. They are also propagandized by a film industry whose owners and executives are deeply biased on behalf of the aforementioned hierarchies.
Many Americans would find it strange to think of their local Cineplex as propaganda sites. But more than six and a half decade ago, the notion of US movies as tools of propaganda was hardly debatable for right-wing McCarthyites determined to eliminate leftists from Hollywood. As US Court of Appeals Justice Bennett C. Clark explained in upholding the conviction of ten Hollywood screenwriters and directors who refused to “confess” current or past Communist Party membership in 1949, US motion pictures play “a critically important role” as “a potent medium of propaganda dissemination” (quoted in Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America [Boston, 1998], 328).
There Goes the Guardian, Lying About Ukraine…Again!
by Eric Draitser
The western media is busily trying to prop up their failed narrative of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine in a desperate attempt to legitimize their consciously deceitful reporting. To do so, they are now relying not on experts or western intelligence reports, but a discredited blogger and his corporate media chums.
On February 17, 2015, The Guardian ran a story with the headline “Russia shelled Ukrainians from within its own territory, says study.” The title alone is enough to convince many casual observers that yes, the mainstream media reporting on the civil war in Ukraine has been correct all along. You see, it’s all because of Russian aggression, or so the meme would go. But closer analysis of this story, and the key players involved, should cause any reasonably intelligent and logical person to seriously doubt the veracity of nearly every aspect of the story.
Let’s begin first with the headline and subhead which, as anyone in media knows, is often all that will be read by many readers. The headline leads with a conclusion: Russia shelled Ukraine from within Russian territory. Simple. Clear. Why bother reading further? Well, in reality, the article both overtly and tacitly admits that the so called “study” (more on that later) has not reached that clear conclusion, not even close. Here are some key phrases sprinkled throughout the piece that should give pause to any serious-minded political observer or analyst.
Despite the declaration in the headline, a close reader encounters phrases such as “near conclusive proof,” “estimated trajectories,” “likely firing positions,” and other ambiguous phrases that are more suggestive than they are declarative. In other words, these are mere rhetorical flourishes designed to lead casual, uninformed readers to make conclusions that are simply not backed up by the evidence.
[Propaganda] [Ukraine] [Media] [Russia confrontation]
Kim Jong-un defies gravity with new haircut
North Korea’s supreme leader channels Kim Jong-il and 1980s hip-hoppers Kid ’n Play by rocking a Brylcreemed flat top
Kim Jong-un and his new haircut. Photograph: Xinhua News Agency/Rex
Friday 20 February 2015 21.25 GMT
Kim Jong-un, the hair icon? The North Korean supreme leader’s attention-grabbing antics on the world stage, as well as – possibly – his reaction to his portrayal on the silver screen, suggest Kim cares deeply about his public image, something perhaps newly evidenced by the trapezoid-shaped haircut he unveiled on Wednesday at a politburo meeting.
Doing away with his previous look, a centre-parted shaved-sides cut, his new look, a Brylcreemed crest, is startlingly similar to the flat top, a late-1980s style popularised by hip hop acts like Kid ’n Play, and most recently seen on the catwalk at Christopher Raeburn and MAN at last month’s men’s collections.
[Media] [Bizarre] [Silly] [Mockery]
Add brilliance to our gunners! Digital artist asks why we laugh at North Korea
Painter says he is interested in the way a totalitarian state responsible for human rights abuses is considered a source of amusement in the west
Kim Jong-un factory
This picture of Kim Jong-un was one of the most popular memes of 2014. Can a random generator produce anything better? Photograph: KCNA /Reuters
Friday 20 February 2015 05.00 GMT
An artist may well have invented the internet’s dream: a North Korea meme generator.
Inspired by the release of 310 new political propaganda slogans by North Korea last week, Eric Drass, a painter and digital artist based in the UK, has used a mathematical algorithm to randomly generate a new set of political phrases.
Like a typical Tweetbot, the program adds the words to a randomly selected picture of Kim Jong-un before tweeting them as @NK_markov.
The original statements released by the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea covered everything from green-fingered encouragement: “Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!” and “Grow vegetables extensively in greenhouses!”, to orders to celebrate the legacy of the Kim dynasty.
JPMorgan Goes to War
The bank is building a new facility near the NSA’s headquarters to attract new talent
Jordan Robertson and Michael A Riley
1:00 AM NZDT
February 20, 2015
JPMorgan Takes Military Tact to Fighting Cybercrime
In the days following the massive breach of JPMorgan Chase’s computers last summer, the bank’s security chief, James Cummings, rarely left his operations center in its Manhattan headquarters. He directed a select group of colleagues to search for links to the Russian government. There was little evidence of a government tie, especially so early in the investigation, but Cummings, a former head of the U.S. Air Force’s cybercombat unit, was confident they’d find more.
Convinced that it faces threats from governments in China, Iran, and Russia, and that the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to help, JPMorgan has built a vast security operation and staffed it increasingly with ex-military officers. Soon after joining the bank in early 2014, Cummings helped hire Gregory Rattray—like Cummings, a former Air Force colonel—as chief information security officer. Together the men oversee a digital security staff of 1,000, more than twice the size of Google’s security group. To make it easier to woo military talent, the bank built a security services facility in Maryland near Fort Meade, home of the National Security Agency.
[Cyberwar] [Hacking] [Militarisation] [USG]
Cyber Firm: The NSA Is Out-Hacking the Chinese and the Russians
February 17, 2015 By Aliya Sternstein Nextgov
A new report exposes the agency's efforts to penetrate systems in multiple countries.
The exposure of an all-star hacker group thought to be affiliated with the National Security Agency is both a feather in the spy agency’s cap and a setback for intelligence-gathering on Islamic extremists, some threat analysts say.
Aliya Sternstein reports on cybersecurity and homeland security systems. She’s covered technology for more than a decade at such publications as National Journal's Technology Daily, Federal Computer Week and Forbes. Before joining Government Executive, Sternstein covered agriculture and derivatives ... Full Bio
On Sunday, Kaspersky Lab, a research firm headquartered in Moscow, published an analysis implying the “Equation Group” is the same entity behind the so-called Stuxnet worm. That malware is believed to be a joint NSA-Israeli invention that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in 2009 or 2010.
Collapsist Narratives and State Strength: Reading The Interview through Han Sorya’s Jackals
By David Fields | February 18, 2015 | No Comments
As The Interview opened in Europe and Brazil, a broader audience learned what Americans who had seen the film already knew. It is raunchy, in poor taste, and replete with tiresome portrayals of Asian female sexuality and gratuitous references to Korean canine consumption. At a macro-political level it also perpetuates the myth of North Korean “collapsism” that prevents many from taking North Korea seriously and stunts the development of a policy beyond the “wait and see” approach. The Interview feeds the mistaken hope that the Kim regime is just a façade, that North Korea is a giant theater with elaborate props, and that popular discontent is brewing just below the surface, perhaps just waiting for a little foreign stimulus to encourage the masses to tear the whole structure down.
In the film’s climactic scene the protagonists assassinate Kim Jong-un using a Soviet tank gifted to Kim Il-sung by Joseph Stalin. The ironic visual gag reassures viewers that North Korea is an apparition of the Cold War and sooner or later will go the way of the Soviet republics, collapsing under the weight of its own mismanagement and brutality.
This has been the hope of many in the West for more than two decades, yet it has not happened. The Kim regime appears to be built on a different and much firmer foundation than the constituent parts of the former USSR.
How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last
"Equation Group" ran the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered.
by Dan Goodin - Feb 17, 2015 8:00am NZDT
CANCUN, Mexico — In 2009, one or more prestigious researchers received a CD by mail that contained pictures and other materials from a recent scientific conference they attended in Houston. The scientists didn't know it then, but the disc also delivered a malicious payload developed by a highly advanced hacking operation that had been active since at least 2001. The CD, it seems, was tampered with on its way through the mail.
It wasn't the first time the operators—dubbed the "Equation Group" by researchers from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab—had secretly intercepted a package in transit, booby-trapped its contents, and sent it to its intended destination. In 2002 or 2003, Equation Group members did something similar with an Oracle database installation CD in order to infect a different target with malware from the group's extensive library. (Kaspersky settled on the name Equation Group because of members' strong affinity for encryption algorithms, advanced obfuscation methods, and sophisticated techniques.)
Kaspersky researchers have documented 500 infections by Equation Group in at least 42 countries, with Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Syria, and Mali topping the list. Because of a self-destruct mechanism built into the malware, the researchers suspect that this is just a tiny percentage of the total; the actual number of victims likely reaches into the tens of thousands.
[Cyberespionage] [Cyberwar] [NSA] [Equation]
The Little Lies That Sink News Stars
by Patrick Cockburn
The exposure of fake or exaggerated tales of journalistic derring-do by Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News now suspended without pay, will ignite a small glow of satisfaction in the breasts of many foreign correspondents. The arrival of anchors, editors or “celebrity” correspondents in the middle of a crisis, war, or at any other time, has always been the bane of reporters on the ground. I remember a friend on Time magazine, in the days when it was a power in the land 40 years ago, vainly trying to explain to his bosses why he was having difficulty arranging their fact-finding tour of Kuwait in the middle of Ramadan.
Williams’s credibility first began to disintegrate when he was challenged on his claim that he had been in a Chinook helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Iraq War of 2003. In fact, the missile hit a Chinook flying half an hour ahead of his own. But he wasn’t the only journalist to be carried away by the idea that his life was in imminent danger at that time. I was then in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, and used to enjoy visiting a hotel called, so far as I recall, the Irbil Tower. Fox News was based on an upper floor of the hotel, the entrance to which, opposite the lift, was protected by a sandbag emplacement though not a shot was fired in Irbil during the conflict. In fact, the Fox team really was in some danger – a nervous receptionist at the front desk told me – because the weight of the sandbags was such that it might lead to the collapse of the shoddily built hotel.
Journalists very seldom lie about their war exploits, because, among other reasons, they are likely to be exposed by their colleagues. Usually, there is no reason to lie because almost any story can be given an appearance of truthfulness by judicious selection of the facts. My father, Claud Cockburn, an author and journalist, got into trouble for attacking what he called “the heresy of the facts”, making the point that there are not a finite number of facts lying around like nuggets of gold ore in the Yukon until they are picked up by some journalistic prospector. He argued that, on the contrary, there are an infinite number of facts and it is the judgement of the journalist that decides which are significant or insignificant. He explained that, in a sense, all stories are written backwards, beginning with the writer’s “take” on what matters and only then proceeding to a search for facts that he or she judges to be important. All this seemed to my father to be a matter of common sense, and he was taken aback to be criticised for confusing decent truth-loving reporters with black-hearted propagandists who make up stories.
Russian researchers expose breakthrough in U.S. spying program
By Joseph Menn
San Francisco Tue Feb 17, 2015
(Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.
That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.
Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said. (reut.rs/1L5knm0)
[Surveillance] [Cyberwar] [Cyberespionage]
Talking Loud and Carrying a Small Stick: The Implications of America’s Sony Response for Extended Deterrence
By Egle Murauskaite
16 February 2015
Obama - Sony HackDiscussions over the nature of the cyber attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, launched in an attempt to prevent the release of “The Interview,” continue to spark heated debate, and the US response to it has been at the epicenter of these discussions. Indeed, the US course of action constitutes many significant “firsts,” with potentially damaging reverberations for its extended deterrence policy on the Korean peninsula, in Northeast Asia and globally. The publicity surrounding this incident highlights the problematic issue of what is an appropriate response to cyber offensive actions that seem to be increasingly the weapon of choice for otherwise marginalized states like North Korea.
[Sony] [Canard] [Response] [USG] [Sanctions]
Why Now North Korea?
I try to start from the premise that people do certain things for a reason, although often not for the reason they claim. This is certainly the case with US Presidents, especially since the CIA and Pentagon ganged up to assassinate John F. Kennedy a US President who was deviating from their program. Since that time if a US President, whether his name was Lyndon Johnson or Dick Nixon, Gerry Ford or Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George W. “Baby” Bush, stated a reason for a major US action in the world, I took that as a starting point to find out what the true reason behind such an action might be.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/02/16/why-now-north-korea/
[Sony] [Canard] [USG] [False flag]
American Information Weapon Used against European Politicians
Georgy Voskresensky | 13.02.2015 | 00:00
Anonymous first appeared in 2003 on Internet image boards as a group of hackers espousing the freedom of speech and operating as an «anarchist global digital brain». It is an instrument or a weapon designed to be used in information warfare. It has an advantage - in many cases it is extremely hard to define who exactly used it. But there was no problem of this kind when Anonymous published a 1993 photo report of Angela Merkel visiting the youth club Elbterrassen and meeting with a bunch of skinhead and other friends, one of whom makes a Nazi salute.
Berlin responded with due explanations but it’s not what matters. The publication of 12-year old pictures took place right before the Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Washington on February 9 and after the meeting between the German Chancellor, French President François Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that lasted for many hours.
Anonymous asked if a politician who was a member of GDR’s Socialist Youth Organization, an «East Berlin’s spy» and who hobnobbed with Nazis could be trusted to run Germany.
The information attack had been preceded by an important event – the Chancellor opposed the idea of providing Ukraine with lethal arms. Angela Merkel addressed the Munich Security Conference on February 7 to say «The progress that Ukraine needs cannot be achieved by more weapons.» She reiterated this stance a number of times while on a visit to the United States and Canada. In America Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, responded first. The Senator compared Angela Merkel and François Hollande's talks with Vladimir Putin to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. Mrs. Nuland as usually used obscene language talking about the head of the leading European state.
[US global strategy] [Imperialism] [IO] [Cyberactivism] [NGO]
How North Korea built up a cadre of code warriors prepared for cyberwar
There's still debate over North Korea's role in the Sony hack and its technical skills to orchestrate the breach, but since then the US military has redoubled efforts to contain – and potentially dismantle – the hacker squads within that wild-card nation.
By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer February 6, 2015
When Steve Sin was an Army intelligence officer in 2009, North Korea was starting to make its mark as a player in the burgeoning realm of cyberwarfare, and South Korea was its new battleground.
Then a major in the Pentagon’s South Korea branch of its Directorate of Intelligence, Mr. Sin was given an assignment: track the Korean press and hacker forums, then report back. At that time, even Army specialists stationed in the south had little insight into precisely how skilled these new North Korean computer warriors were becoming.
“The cyber thing was new, even in 2009, and we were really interested in their military capabilities,” says Sin, now a senior researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. “We didn’t have a lot of classified data at all, so we figured, ‘Well, this is a good place to start.’ ”
Recommended: How well do you know hacker movies?
At that time, it appeared North Korea was capable of carrying out simple operations such as distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks in which soldiers tested their abilities to overwhelm websites with Internet traffic, Sin says. Their capabilities grew and attacks became more numerous, but still basic. Between 2009 to 2011, North Korea was “allegedly responsible for a series” of attacks against South Korean commercial, government, and military websites, “rendering them briefly inaccessible,” according to a 2014 Pentagon report to Congress.
But the Sony Pictures breach that the US government blames on North Korea has caused a wholesale reassessment of that nation's technical capabilities and willingness to strike. That attack is sparking debate both inside the government and out about how tough the hack was, what skills the North Korean military actually has in the cyber realm – and whether it would risk the ire of the Pentagon to take down a film company.
[Sony] [Canard] [Cyberwar]
Did America Accidentally Give the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon to Terrorists?
Next time Brian Williams or his carefully-coiffed successor assigns blame to some foreign actor for a cyberoutrage, I expect the “Cyber Threats Intelligence Integration Center” to figure prominently in the coverage.
[Hacking] [Blowback] [Sony] [Iran] [Cyberwar]
Obama to create new agency to coordinate intelligence about cyberthreats
Feb. 10, 2015 | 1:18 p.m. EST
By KEN DILANIAN, AP Intelligence Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is setting up a new agency designed to coordinate cyberthreat intelligence that currently is spread across the federal government.
The agency will be modeled after the National Counter Terrorism Center, which was established after 9/11 to coordinate terrorism intelligence. The lack of such an agency before led to missed opportunities to thwart the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, announced the new "Cyber Threats Intelligence Integration Center" in a speech Tuesday at the Wilson Center in Washington.
U.S. companies have been buffeted by a series of damaging cyber incidents in recent years — some from nation states, others from criminal groups. Government expertise in analyzing the various cyberthreats resides in a number of agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
The NSA Acknowledges What We All Feared: Iran Learns From US Cyberattacks
By Kim Zetter
After the Stuxnet digital weapon was discovered on machines in Iran in 2010, many security researchers warned that US adversaries would learn from this and other US attacks and develop similar techniques to target America and its allies.
A newly published document leaked by Edward Snowden indicates that the NSA feared the same thing and that Iran may already be doing exactly this. The NSA document from April 2013, published today by The Intercept, shows the US intelligence community is worried that Iran has learned from attacks like Stuxnet, Flame and Duqu—all of which were created by the same teams—in order to improve its own capabilities.
[Cyberwar] [Stuxnet] [Blowback]
Great Britain Creates a Cyber Brigade to Manipulate Public Opinion
With each passing day Great Britain is losing its posture of a proud international power since this state has become widely recognized for what it is – an obedient servant of Washington that is losing credibility at a record pace. Therefore, British authorities have been seeking ways to “achieve greatness” in most any “important” field. At the same time, they realize perfectly clear that, given the deepening economic and social crisis in the Kingdom, it could hardly aspire to achieve success in such areas of creative as the reconstruction of its image of a great industrial power, naval warfare champion or a flourishing cultural center. No wonder that over the last decade Britain’s focus was devoted to purely destructive activities, such establishing conditions for new conflicts around the globe and providing “assistance” to the White House in its quest for military and political interventions in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and the list goes on.
It’s no coincidence then that the White House advised London to establish a special unit within its military structure – the British Cyber Command, transferring up to 1500 officers under its command “for the starters”. One must note that Washington has already created its on special unit for cyberwarfare back in 2009. This unit goes under the name of United States Cyber Command, with its headquarters being located at the military base Fort Meade (Maryland).
According to The Guardian, the 77th brigade will formally come into being in April. The brigade will be carrying out covert operations in social networks exclusively, in an effort to spread disinformation and manipulate the population of certain countries, which should create “favorable conditions” for applying political pressure or executing of regime change scenarios in the strategically important regions of the world. Its headquarters will be located to the west of London in Newbury (Berkshire) while it’s official Insignia will be a famous badge of Chindits (a mythical god-like lion guarding temples in Myanmar and other countries in South-East Asia), that was used by a a British India ‘Special Force’ participated in the suppression of guerrilla Japanese troops deep in the forests of Southeast Asia.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/02/11/rus-v-britanii-sozdayut-internetarmiyu/
[Cyberwar] [Subversion] [Psych war] [Social media] [IO] [Propaganda] [Softwar]
British army creates team of Facebook warriors
Soldiers familiar with social media sought for 77th Brigade, which will be responsible for ‘non-lethal warfare’
Ewen MacAskill, defence correspondent
Saturday 31 January 2015 11.48 GMT
The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.
The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.
The brigade will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations.
Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.
The 77th will include regulars and reservists and recruitment will begin in the spring. Soldiers with journalism skills and familiarity with social media are among those being sought.
[Cyberwar] [Subversion] [Psych war] [Social media] [IO] [Propaganda] [Softwar]
Sony Pictures boss steps down
By Zhang Rui
China.org.cn, February 6, 2015
Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and head of the film studio, will step down nearly three months after a massive hack attack on the group, which revealed embarrassing emails she had sent.
"I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home," Pascal said in a statement. "I am leaving the studio in great hands."
"I have always wanted to be a producer. Michael (Lynton) and I have been talking about this transition for quite some time and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to pursue my long-held dream and for providing unparalleled support," Pascal said. "I am so proud of what we have all done together and I look forward to a whole lot more."
Since Pascal has led the studio, Sony Pictures amassed over US$46 billion in global theatrical box office revenue and 315 academy award nominations. Some of the films Pascal helmed include the James Bond films, "The Da Vinci Code," "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," and "Moneyball." Her career with Sony has spanned nearly 20 years.
During the Sony hack, Pascal got into controversy for racist remarks about President Obama's presumed choice in movies that surfaced in leaked emails, some emails are highly critical of stars like Angelina Jolie. Pascal also faced criticism for approving the film that may have inspired the hacking: "The Interview," which starred Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists tasked with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Chinese State-Sponsored Hackers Suspected in Anthem Attack
Michael A Riley and Jordan Robertson
8:42 AM NZDT
February 6, 2015
(Bloomberg) -- Investigators of Anthem Inc.’s data breach are pursuing evidence that points to Chinese state-sponsored hackers who are stealing personal information from health-care companies for purposes other than pure profit, according to three people familiar with the probe.
The breach, which exposed Social Security numbers and other sensitive details of 80 million customers, is one of the biggest thefts of medical-related customer data in U.S. history. China has said in the past that it doesn’t conduct espionage through hacking.
The attack appears to follow a pattern of thefts of medical data by foreigners seeking a pathway into the personal lives and computers of a select group -- defense contractors, government workers and others, according to a U.S. government official familiar with a more than year-long investigation into the evidence of a broader campaign.
The latest theft continues a string of major breaches of companies including Target Corp., Home Depot Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. that have touched the private data of hundreds of millions of Americans and increased pressure on the U.S. government to respond more forcefully. Though President Barack Obama promised action against North Korea after the destruction of property at Sony Pictures Entertainment, corporations and the government have struggled to come up with appropriate responses to attacks that fall into a gray area between espionage and crime.
[Hacking] [Canard] [China confrontation]
Cybersecurity, Nuclear Safety, and the Need for a Security Regime in Northeast Asia
by Scott A. Snyder
January 8, 2015
The U.S.-DPRK tit-fo-tat over the Sony hack has continued into the new year, with the Obama administration announcing sanctions on three organizations and ten individuals on January 2 and North Korea responding with indignation two days later. But the media focus on the Sony hack obscures a potentially much more dangerous hacking incident that has also been attributed to North Korea involving release of personal information of over 10,000 employees of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company (KHNP), which operates twenty-three nuclear reactors in South Korea. This story line includes demands by the hackers that KHNP shut down at least one South Korean reactor by Christmas Day (a threat that was ignored). There are also reports that the origins of the hack may have been traced to Shenyang, a city that houses a known platform for North Korean cyber operations. Specialists on nuclear plant systems assert that the hacking incident posed no real danger to the operation of South Korean plants, but they do highlight the sensitivity—and potential vulnerability—of South Korean nuclear facilities to a potential North Korean attack. This eventuality is potentially as damaging as the threat of North Korean nuclear use that South Korea now faces if indeed North Korea has developed a mid-range payload delivery capability.
[Hacking] [Canard] [Cybersecurity] [Cyberactivism] [MISCOM]
Gunman As Hero, Children As Targets, Iraq As Backdrop: A Review of ‘American Sniper’
"American Sniper" is well acted, slickly produced, and occasionally gripping. It's also war propaganda.
By Janet Weil, January 30, 2015. Originally published in CodePink.
American Sniper, the latest blockbuster by director Clinton Eastwood about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, is having a major moment.
Articles about the film’s big opening weekend, its star and co-producer Bradley Cooper, and its six Academy Award nominations fill mainstream, alternative, and social media alike. Controversies involving Michael Moore’s and Seth Rogen’s critical comments, and their subsequent explanations and apologies, have flooded twitter.
The film’s audio track begins with the recitation of Allahu Akbar from a mosque in Fallujah. (The Iraqi scenes were filmed in Morocco.) Then the screen fills with U.S. Humvees, rolling through the destroyed streets of a former residential district, and the rumble of the vehicles interweaves with the repetition of the call to prayer, creating an auditory/emotional confrontation between the exotic, dangerous Orient and the techno-military U.S. forces.
Hollywood’s ‘Furriner’ Problem
In films like American Sniper and The Interview, Americans are the heroes and "furriners" are the targets: an undifferentiated group of people so alien that they're practically subhuman.
By John Feffer, February 4, 2015.
I was waiting to buy a ticket to see the new film American Sniper when the guy next to me provided a capsule review. It was a fantastic movie, he told me. The main character, Chris Kyle, was a great guy, and the film really showed what the war over there was like.
“And the Taliban are evil,” he added. “They were just doing terrible things, using kids to throw bombs and stuff.”
The fellow told me that the movie had inspired him to look up more information about Chris Kyle on the Internet and learn about his tragic death. But despite this additional research, he still believed that Kyle was fighting against the Taliban. In fact, American Sniper is about Kyle’s four tours in Iraq.
“American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood and White Fear
by Joseph E. Lowndes
Liberal writers have been lining up for the last month to decry American Sniper along predictable, ideologically comfortable lines. “Macho Sludge” was the title of an Alternet piece by David Masciotra. Chris Hedges called it “a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity.” These reviewers, driven perhaps by their own political distaste of American Sniper miss much – or most of what is at work politically in the film. Straight propaganda rarely makes for compelling entertainment, so the enormous popularity of American Sniper (hauling in $30.6 million in its fourth weekend to total to nearly $250 million in 17 days of broad release) suggests that it has reached far beyond the hard core of ultraconservatives one would expect to embrace the film these reviewers describe.
Let’s start with Clint Eastwood himself, who says that American Sniper was meant to criticize war. “The biggest antiwar statement any film” can make is to show, he said, “the fact of what [war] does to the family and the people who have to go back into civilian life like Chris Kyle did.” There are two Eastwoods in the popular imagination – the celebrant of violence in the Sergio Leone “spaghetti westerns” and the Dirty Harry movies; and the lamenter of violence in films such as Unforgiven and Gran Torino. But as American Sniper demonstrates, those two modes are not so far apart. Eastwood does here what he has done repeatedly in his career – resolves his hero’s ambivalence, psychic pain, and sense of structural powerlessness through masculine honor, sacrifice, and vulnerability (often played out on a highly racialized landscape).
Eastwood hit on this formula in one of the first films he directed, The Outlaw Josey Wales. In that film a poor farmer in the Missouri Territory becomes a Confederate guerilla when his home is attacked by Union soldiers. Like the protagonist of American Sniper (Chris Kyle) seeing the World Trade Center come down, Josey Wales sees no choice but to take up arms, and in so doing proves to be an lowndesunusually good, if reluctant, marksman and killer. In both films, the purposes of war remain ambivalent. Both Wales’s and Kyle’s challenge, ultimately is to work out a postwar existence. As Josey says to a Comanche warrior, “Dyin’ ain’t so hard for men like us . . . its living that’s hard.”
‘American Sniper’ misfires in Iraq
By Liz Sly February 2 at 4:14 PM ?
BAGHDAD — It is not only in America that Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war blockbuster “American Sniper” is proving controversial.
After just a handful of sometimes rowdy screenings, the film has been pulled from Baghdad’s only movie theater amid complaints from the Iraqi government — as well as viewers — that it “insults” Iraqis.
Similar allegations have clouded the film’s release in the United States, though not its box office success. Critics have hailed its gripping portrayal of real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his exploits in Iraq as a cinematic triumph. Commentators have denounced it as being simplistic and giving a one-sided portrayal of the conflict.
Hackers Use Old Lure on Web to Help Syrian Government
By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt
Feb. 1, 2015
WASHINGTON — To the young Syrian rebel fighter, the Skype message in early December 2013 appeared to come from a woman in Lebanon, named Iman Almasri, interested in his cause. Her picture, in a small icon alongside her name, showed a fair-skinned 20-something in a black head covering, wearing sunglasses.
They chatted online for nearly two hours, seemingly united in their opposition to the rule of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader still in power after a civil war that has taken more than 200,000 lives. Eventually saying she worked “in a programing company in Beirut,” the woman asked the fighter whether he was talking from his computer or his smartphone. He sent her a photo of himself and asked for another of her in return. She sent one immediately, apologizing that it was a few years old.
“Angel like,” he responded. “You drive me crazy.”
What the fighter did not know was that buried in the code of the second photo was a particularly potent piece of malware that copied files from his computer, including tactical battle plans and troves of information about him, his friends and fellow fighters. The woman was not a friendly chat partner, but a pro-Assad hacker — the photos all appear to have been plucked from the web.
To gain access to information on the devices of Syrian opposition members, hackers posed as women on Skype, identified the types of devices the targets were using and sent photos laden with malware.
The Syrian conflict has been marked by a very active, if only sporadically visible, cyberbattle that has engulfed all sides, one that is less dramatic than the barrel bombs, snipers and chemical weapons — but perhaps just as effective. The United States had deeply penetrated the web and phone systems in Syria a year before the Arab Spring uprisings spread throughout the country. And once it began, Mr. Assad’s digital warriors have been out in force, looking for any advantage that could keep him in power.
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Hollywood Propaganda: Why do Critics Love “American Sniper”?
By Jonathan Cook
Global Research, January 27, 2015
I watched American Sniper the other night and it really is the most puerile propaganda imaginable. It is not even as though it is simply unfair to the “enemy” – that is, mostly ordinary Iraqis, who are shown to be ruthless and heartless killers filled with irrational hatred for the American soldiers sent to liberate them from … well, in this re-write of history it is seemingly from al-Qaeda. It is equally unfair to the US soldiers there, presenting them either as good guys being heroes or as good guys being traumatised by their exposure to the natives’ savagery.
And, of course, it also massively distorts the truth about Chris Kyle – a man who at best was so blinkered by his own childish jingoism that, by his own account, he never entertained a doubt about killing “Arabs”, even women and children, and at worst was a psychopath whom the US army gave a licence to go on a killing spree.
But even if one ignores the movie’s politics and its absolute failure to grasp documented facts about the invasion of Iraq and instead assesses it purely on its technical aspects, it’s a pedestrian affair at most. The romantic scenes, for example, are cliched and poorly written.
In other words, the only reason audiences could be raving about American Sniper, ensuring it becomes one of the biggest-grossing films in history, is that it closely aligns with the mood of self-pity that currently dominates in the US: the sense that those dark-skinned foreigners we tried to liberate were not only evil but, worse, ungrateful too.
'American Sniper' Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize
By Matt Taibbi | January 21, 2015
I saw American Sniper last night, and hated it slightly less than I expected to. Like most Clint Eastwood movies – and I like Clint Eastwood movies for the most part – it's a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of a fortune cookie that serves up a neatly-arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time.
It's usually silly to get upset about the self-righteous way Hollywood moviemakers routinely turn serious subjects into baby food. Film-industry people angrily reject the notion that their movies have to be about anything (except things like "character" and "narrative" and "arc," subjects they can talk about endlessly).
This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. The message of Forrest Gump was that if you think about the hard stuff too much, you'll either get AIDS or lose your legs. Meanwhile, the hero is the idiot who just shrugs and says "Whatever!" whenever his country asks him to do something crazy.
Forrest Gump pulled in over half a billion and won Best Picture. So what exactly should we have expected from American Sniper?
Not much. But even by the low low standards of this business, it still manages to sink to a new depth or two.
“American Sniper’s” biggest lie: Clint Eastwood has a delusional Fox News problem
Tuesday, Jan 27, 2015 10:35 AM NZST
The insanities and fantasies at the heart of "American Sniper" explain everything about the state of the 2015 GOP
Sophia A. McClennen
Much has been made recently about the inaccurate representation of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.” We’ve learned that, despite the fact that the film depicts Kyle as a hero and a martyr, the real American sniper was heartless and cruel. Rather than struggle with moral dilemmas as we see in the film, the actual man had no such hesitation and no such conscience.
But to focus on “American Sniper’s” depiction of Kyle is to miss the larger problems of the film. In addition to sugarcoating Kyle, the film suffers from major myopia — from a complete inability to see the larger picture. And that is why criticism of the film has to look at its director, Clint Eastwood, and the troubling ways he represents a dark, disturbing feature of the GOP mind-set.
Unregulated cyberspace a cause for concern
Author: Zach Montague, Delma Institute
24 January 2015
China and the US are entering a new and troubling phase of cybersecurity. The recent crash of North Korea’s internet network reveals just how inexperienced world leaders are in dealing with cyber conflict. It shows how one reckless act in the cyber realm can quickly devolve into a bigger international crisis. The confusion and ambiguity surrounding this sequence of events has left the US and China entangled in a high profile cybersecurity standoff.
The FBI director, James B. Comey, revealed new details Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, about the stunning cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., part of the Obama administration's effort to challenge persistent skepticism about whether North Korea's government was responsible for the brazen hacking. (Photo: AAP)
An American comedy film, The Interview, allegedly provoked North Korea into hacking the Sony Entertainment Network, drawing attention from the FBI, the UN Security Council, the White House, and top officials in South Korea and Japan. Soon after, an FBI report formally implicated North Korea in the attack. While President Obama promised to ‘respond proportionally’, North Korea’s entire internet network suddenly went offline.
The FBI has stood by its accusation that Pyongyang was responsible but few outside experts are convinced. There is growing speculation that North Korea’s internet blackout was caused by a sophisticated cyber attack engineered by the US.
As leading experts on cybersecurity have pointed out, one of the biggest challenges with cyber attacks is attribution. Both state and non-state actors can launch attacks with intricately disguised origins, which can introduce uncertainty into the response process. It is hard and sometimes even impossible to respond appropriately when a major cyber attack takes place. The inherent uncertainty in US–China relations already makes for volatility. But with some of the world’s most sophisticated cyber war capabilities, conflict could escalate quickly over faulty intelligence.
The cause of North Korea’s internet outage may never be known. But what will matter more in the long term is what policymakers believe happened. This will inform future decisions regarding cybersecurity.
[Sony] [Canard] [USG]
N.Korean News Agency 'Spreading Malware'
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency has spread malware on the Internet, Radio Free Asia in the U.S. claimed on Tuesday.
Malicious codes have been found in photo files carried by KCNA, the radio station said quoting Trend Micro, a U.S. computer security agency.
The malware is automatically downloaded to visitors' computers if they open the photo files, and constantly monitors them, according to RFA.
It collects basic information such as the user's name and address from the computer and conveys it to the monitor.
Infection has occurred chiefly in South Korea, and damage has been on the rise since October last year, Trend Micro said.
U.S., Germany Urged to Give Up at Once Screening of Anti-DPRK Movie: DPRK FM Spokesman
Pyongyang, January 21 (KCNA) -- The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK released the following statement on Wednesday:
The U.S. and its vassal forces are becoming desperate in their moves to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.
According to a report, the U.S. recently presented to the Berlin international film festival the ill-famed and undesirable movie "The Interview" slandering the DPRK and fanning up terrorism.
Not content with reckless provocations, seized with morbid repugnancy and inveterate enmity toward the DPRK, the U.S. ruling quarters prodded a pseudo movie company into daring produce and distribute the movie hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. This lashed its army and people into great fury.
[Sony] [Interview] [Terrorism] [Assassination]
US infiltrated N. Korean internet as far back as 2010
Posted on : Jan.20,2015 15:47 KST
A theater security guard looks at a poster for “The Interview” at the Los Angeles premiere, Dec. 11. “The Interview” is a story of a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Sony cancelled its release this week. (Reuters/Yonhap News)
Intelligence gleaned was a key part of President Obama fingering North Korea as culprit in hack on Sony for “The Interview”
The US National Security Agency (NSA) infiltrated North Korea’s internet system and was monitoring hacker activity there as far back as 2010, recent news reports say.
The operation, which involved support from South Korea and other countries, took place well before the high-profile hack on Sony Pictures last November.
According to reports, the US government was able to affirm North Korea’s responsible for the hack because it has been closely monitoring the system it had hacked into. The company was alleged targeted as producer of “The Interview,” a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
US intelligence authorities breached the Chinese internet network linking North Korea to the outside world as early as 2010 and was able to directly infiltrate the North Korean network to monitor online operations through the Malaysian lines favored by North Korean hackers, the New York Times reported on Jan. 18, citing former US officials and computer experts. According to the report, the US was assisted by South Korea and other allies, allowing it to detect early signs that North Korea was attempting to hack Sony. A confidential NSA document quoted by the newspaper reported that a hacking program for tracking internal activities in the computers and networks used by North Korean hackers had been successfully planted by 2010.
Intelligence on North Korea intercepted by authorities through the program was reportedly decisive in US President Barack Obama’s assertion on Jan. 2 that the North Korean government and Workers’ Party were behind the hack.
“Mr. Obama’s decision to accuse North Korea of ordering the largest destructive attack against an American target - and to promise retaliation, which has begun in the form of new economic sanctions - was highly unusual,” the New York Times noted.
“The United States had never explicitly charged another government with mounting a cyberattack on American targets,” it continued.
[Sony] [Canard] [NSA]
U.S. Hacked N.Korean Networks Before Sony Attack
Washington fingered North Korea in the cyber attack on Sony Pictures last year because the National Security Agency had earlier hacked North Korean networks, the New York Times reported Sunday.
The NSA tapped into the North Korean networks and placed a tracking code with the help of allies like South Korea in 2010.
"The American spy agency drilled into the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world, [and] picked through connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers," the daily said citing newly declassified NSA documents and accounts from former U.S. government officials.
The NSA has reportedly stolen inside information from China on a wide-ranging scale over the past 10-odd years.
"It did not take long for American officials to conclude that the source of the attack was North Korea, officials say," the daily added.
It is unclear why the officials failed to alert Sony despite warnings of retaliation from the North over the teaser trailer of "The Interview," a dud caper about the assassination of leader Kim Jong-un.
[Sony] [Canard] [Cyberwar]
US NSA hacked DPRK years before Sony attack
Xinhua, January 20, 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) secretly broke into the computer systems of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2010, the New York Times reported Monday, an apparent effort by the U.S. side to convince skeptics it has evidence that Pyongyang was behind last year's cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Citing former U.S. and foreign officials, computer experts briefed on the operations and a newly disclosed NSA document, the newspaper said the U.S. spy agency penetrated directly into the DPRK networks with the help of South Korea and other American allies after first hacking the Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world.
The NSA began placing malware in the DPRK networks in 2010, first focusing on the DPRK's nuclear program and its leadership, but the focus shifted after a cyberattack in 2013 on South Korean banks and media companies, the report said.
As for the Sony attack, U.S. investigators concluded that the hackers spent more than two months, from mid-September to mid- November, mapping Sony's computer systems before carrying out the attack that began on Nov. 24.
The evidence gathered by the U.S. malware proved critical in persuading President Barack Obama to accuse the DPRK of ordering the Sony attack and to promise retaliation, which has begun in the form of new economic sanctions, it said.
It's the first time the United States has publicly charged another government with mounting a cyberattack on American targets.
But the New York Times also raised questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony beforehand about the attack, which the U.S. said was probably caused by the release of "The Interview," a movie that features an assassination attempt against DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Sony hack.
Many experts are skeptical that DPRK was the culprit, or the lone culprit, suggesting that it was an insider, a disgruntled Sony ex-employee or an outside group mimicking DPRK hackers, the newspaper said.
"Many remain unconvinced," said the report. "It would not be that difficult for hackers who wanted to appear to be North Korean to fake their whereabouts."
[Sony] [Canard] [Cyberwar] [Legality] [Evidence]
GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media
• Snowden files reveal emails of BBC, NY Times and more
• Agency includes investigative journalists on ‘threat’ list
• Editors call on Cameron to act against snooping on media
The Guardian, Monday 19 January 2015 15.04 GMT
The journalists’ communications were among 70,000 emails harvested in less than 10 minutes on one day in November 2008 by GCHQ. Photograph: GCHQ/EPA
GCHQ’s bulk surveillance of electronic communications has scooped up emails to and from journalists working for some of the US and UK’s largest media organisations, analysis of documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
Emails from the BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, the Sun, NBC and the Washington Post were saved by GCHQ and shared on the agency’s intranet as part of a test exercise by the signals intelligence agency.
The disclosure comes as the British government faces intense pressure to protect the confidential communications of reporters, MPs and lawyers from snooping.
The journalists’ communications were among 70,000 emails harvested in the space of less than 10 minutes on one day in November 2008 by one of GCHQ’s numerous taps on the fibre-optic cables that make up the backbone of the internet.
The Sony hack: A brave new world of cyber confusion
The U.S. government narrative blaming North Korea faces an unprecedented level of scrutiny from experts
January 16th, 2015
The hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in late November 2014 has generated a new clash between the United States and North Korea, a furor over what by most accounts is a very bad film, a huge number of articles – for a selection of over a hundred see here – and it must be admitted a certain amount of entertainment, tempered by concern. The incident has breached a number of barriers. It is the first time the U.S. has made an assassination film, and a comedy at that, about a living foreign leader, rather than fictional one. It is the first time that the U.S. has formally accused another state (as opposed to foreign nationals) of a cyber-attack. It may be the first time that the U.S. has refused to confirm or deny a cyber-attack on the institutions of a foreign government.
And it is the first time that there has been such a surge of expert dissension and scepticism. Usually when there is a stoush between the U.S. and a foreign country – not an unusual event it itself – the “experts” and the mainstream media stand pretty firmly behind the government. The official line is received wisdom, incontestable, not to be seriously challenged but to be regurgitated with variation. True, a few “respectable” voices have been raised questioning the government narrative over the Ukraine, Russia and Vladimir Putin and reported in the mainstream press: John J. Mearsheimer in Foreign Affairs, former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and the occasional journalist – Eugene Robinson and Katrina vanden Heuvel in the Washington Post, Patrick L. Smith in Salon. However, in general the “experts” have stood in solidarity with the administration, frequently offering advice how to deepen the crisis; for instance Michael Weiss in Foreign Policy advising “How to Kneecap the Thug in the Kremlin” (it’s not only the North Koreans who use intemperate language).
How different things are with the Sony hack. Here the prevailing opinion amongst cybersecurity experts seems to be that North Korea was not involved.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
North Korea to U.S.: Show evidence we hacked Sony
By Madison Park and Dana Ford, CNN
January 14, 2015
(CNN)—A North Korean ambassador insisted that his country had nothing to do with the massive computer hack at Sony and called for the United States, which has blamed North Korea, to provide evidence.
The United States hit North Korea with new sanctions this month after the FBI said the country was behind the attack. Some technology experts say others could be involved, such as former employees of the studio. But the FBI director has expressed "not just high confidence, but very high confidence," that North Korea was behind the hacking.
In a rare press briefing on Tuesday, An Myong Hun, North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, emphatically denied his country's involvement.
"My country has nothing to do with the Sony hacking. It is out of sense to do that, and we very want United States to provide evidence," An said.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
Centcom Accounts Hacked: Just Another Inconvenience for Pentagon or Harbinger of Big War?
Boris Novoseltsev | 14.01.2015 | 00:00
On January 12, the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the US military command were suspended for a few hours after being hacked by a group claiming to back Islamic State. The United States Central Command (US Centcom or Centcom) is a theatre – level Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defense with the area of responsibility to include the countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. The Centcom forces are striking the positions of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
On the one hand, it’s just another battle of the cyberwar waged by the United States to become a factor of the contemporary international situation. On the other hand, the episode has specific features to make it stand out among other events of this kind.
It’s not an easy walk to hack the accounts of US state agencies, especially the Department of Defense, which allocates billions for enhanced cyber defense. Whatever it is - phishing or imperfect defense – the fact is that a US state structure went under a successful attack.
Everybody Wants Their Own Stasi
When it comes to intelligence, everybody, be they democracies, dictatorships, or in between, wants it all. That includes the intelligence agencies--who treasure data as the wellspring of their effectiveness, influence, and leverage--and the presidents and prime ministers at the top of the heap—who are supposedly looking out for Joe Sixpack and his rights.
No leader relishes the potential political cost of having presided over the “Next Pearl Harbor”. So Western intelligence services have gotten themselves on a hopeless treadmill, where their mission is defined as the forensically and legally dubious task of preventing attacks (as opposed to the constitutionally unambiguous and straightforward job of investigating actual crimes i.e. the aftermath of attacks, and identifying and punishing their perpetrators).
The thirst, in particular, for blanket surveillance is such a powerful imperative that in the United States circumventing constitutional limits on domestic intelligence gathering has become a science, a dark art, and a religion, complete with its own enduring churches and priesthood.
So it’s not surprising that the kneejerk reaction to the Charlie Hebdo murders is not, “Hmmm, it is very difficult to stop small, ad hoc one-off terrorist attacks (now consecrated as the “lone wolf” menace) before they happen, so maybe we should concentrate on reducing the threat by improving relations with the Muslim world”; it’s “More intensive surveillance is needed.”
Trouble is, attacks keep happening, and the only solution they can propose is “We’ll find that needle by piling more hay on the stack.”
Was Margaret Cho’s North Korea act biting comedy or just racist?
By Abby Phillip January 12 at 2:11 PM ?
Tiny Fey, Margaret Cho and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)
We’ve officially reached the point in the news cycle where things have gotten weird.
At Sunday night’s Golden Globes, Hollywood was in a “Je Suis Charlie,” free-speech-loving tizzy. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler proclaimed their right to defend North Korea-lampooning comedy flick “The Interview,” despite the fact that without the controversy, no one wanted to see it.
[Sony] [Interview] [Mockery] [Diaspora]
Marget Cho panned for NK parody at Golden Globes
By Rachel Lee
Korean-American comedian Margaret Cho showed up at the 2015 Golden Globes and took a moment to mock North Korea with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who co-hosted the show.
Cho's performance was widely criticized because she used a thick, over-the-top Asian accent to portray a North Korean general.
Cho appeared in a skit at the event, playing a North Korean general with a penchant for American entertainment. The fictional general doubled as a journalist for something called "Movies Wow! Magazine."
Cho, playing the role of North Korean, also posed for a photo with Meryl Streep.
Later in the show, Cho joined Poehler and Fey onstage.
"In North Korea we know how to put on a show," she said in a heavy accent. "This is not a show. No. You no have thousand baby playing guitar at the same time. You no have people holding up many card to make one big picture. You no have Dennis Rodman. No basketball at all."
The performance drew plenty of criticism.
"Still not funny. The Asian stereotyping bit still old, even pretending to be North Korean. Worst bit of the night," said Twitter user @DaveSaitzyk.
Fey and Poehler made critical remarks about the film "The Interview," which the United States government said prompted a North Korean hacking attack on Sony Pictures.
The hosts said that they were there to honor "all of the movies that North Korea was OK with."
[Sony] [Interview] [Mockery] [Diaspora]
Britain’s GCHQ Domestic Spying Apparatus to be granted Greater Surveillance Powers after Paris Attacks
By Steven MacMillan
Global Research, January 13, 2015
Following the tragic events in Paris, David Cameron is meeting with security heads to potentially grant the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) even greater spying powers. In a disgusting (yet predictable) move by Cameron and fellow Western leaders, these latest attacks are being used as a justification for illegal GCHQ and National Security Agency (NSA) spying, and as a pretext to further expand the surveillance state – which is already at heights never seen before in human history. This is the first time that governments have had the capacity and technological capability to monitor the behaviour, conversations, opinions and habits of the people on such a grand scale, in a quest to predict the behaviour of entire populations.
Tony Porter, the governments own surveillance commissioner, is worried at the level of spying in Britain and the lack of knowledge the public has about the pervasiveness of government snooping. Referring mainly to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras in the UK, Porter recently revealed how he is troubled by the apathy and ignorance of many citizens who don’t understand how the information is used, and he points out that the data obtained from these devices can be used to “predict behaviour”. Along with the sophistication and level of GCHQ spying – which compiles copious amounts of data on the public with no warrant, it unveils the surveillance state that Britain has become, even surpassing George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future in his book 1984. Across the water in the US, high-level NSA whistleblower William Binney has been warning the public about Stasi-style surveillance for years, describing the NSA as “totalitarian” in nature and their practices as “a total destruction of the rights you thought you had under the constitution”. He also states that the objective of the surveillance state is “to set up the way and means to control the population.”
The modus operandi of imperialist propaganda
22 December 2014
Coming soon to a theater near you, a US imperialist propaganda blockbuster, the latest production from CIA Pictures, made in participation with Pentagon Entertainment, and with the collaboration of American Media Partners: Cyberwar North Korea.
Such an announcement would have been useful last week, to alert American public opinion to the impending avalanche of entirely unsubstantiated assertions by US government officials, rebroadcast uncritically by the major newspapers and television networks. The target of the blitz was North Korea, blamed for the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which led the studio to cancel the premiere of The Interview and withdraw the film from circulation.
Zero facts and evidence have been made public to support the claims of North Korean hacking. The isolated Stalinist regime was certainly hostile to the film, a comedy based on the premise that the CIA contracts two American journalists (played by James Franco and Seth Rogen), to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after he agrees to be interviewed by them.
But Pyongyang has vociferously denied any role in the hacking attack on Sony, and proposed Saturday to join the US government in an investigation of the attack’s origins, declaring, “Whoever is going to frame our country for a crime should present concrete evidence.” This offer was quickly dismissed by Washington, which has presented no evidence whatsoever.
Hacker claims to have cracked North Korea’s intranet
In email Q&A, “Slipstream” says they leaked the Red Star operating system – and claims to have more
January 12th, 2015
In the week running up to the New Year, many were surprised to see what appeared to be an entirely authentic version of North Korea’s famous OS X knock off, Red Star, appear online.
Claiming responsibility for the 2.2g download was a hacker, or hackers, by the name of Slipstream, claiming they had been “pulling data out of DPRK’s ass since 2014.” Slipstream further used the download to ask for donations in crypto-currency dogecoin.
DPRK watchers got their first taste of Red Star back in March 2014 when images of the system appeared online brought back from the country by computer scientist Will Scott. But this was the first time that a fully operation and, it seems, entirely genuine, version was available for download by anyone who wanted to use it.
[Hacking] [Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
How to Stop the Next Hack:
Deterrence in Cyberspace
By Clint Hinote
January 4, 2015
In late December, Washington accused North Korea of being “centrally involved” in a cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. Agents associated with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime, U.S. officials said, gained access to Sony’s computer network and released troves of sensitive files. The leak was followed by threats that North Korea would attack any theaters that ran The Interview, a satirical film that pokes fun at Kim. In response, many theaters refused to show the movie, and Sony pulled it (Sony later backpedaled, opting for a limited release). In turn, another film has been scrapped because it was set in North Korea, and Fox Studios decided that it would not risk distributing it. In both cases, the North Korean regime influenced decision makers by threatening punishment. This is deterrence at work.
The US Still Cannot be Rational When Dealing with North Korea
Framing North Korea
by Stansfield Smith
When it comes to North Korea, for the US government and its media, time stands still. They remain fixated in the 1950s Joe McCarthy worldview: the Red-Yellow peril, a monster capable of unimaginable evil, threatens our civilization and freedoms. North Korea’s Kim family is presented as three reincarnations of a Communist Dr. Fu Manchu.
The US makes a racist comedy about murdering a foreign head of state, and with a straight face, calls it an issue of “artistic” freedom. Obama showed himself happy to push this line, and pressed for its distribution after Sony withdrew it.
What war hysteria would grip the US political elites if Putin endorsed a Russian comedy about murdering Obama, or if Iran made one about killing Netanyahu!
[Sony] [Double standards]
FBI director stands by claim that North Korea was source of Sony cyber-attack
•James Comey says hackers ‘got sloppy’ and revealed undisguised IP addresses
•Other studies have challenged FBI view and pointed finger of blame elsewhere
Oliver Laughland in New York
theguardian.com, Wednesday 7 January 2015 22.16 GMT
The FBI director, James Comey, arrives at the funeral of the murdered New York police officer Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn this week. Photograph: Peter Foley/EPA
The FBI director, James Comey, has stood by the bureau’s conclusion that the North Korean government was responsible for the mammoth computer hack on Sony pictures, saying the hackers “got sloppy” and allowed their location to be identified on a number of occasions.
Speaking at Fordham University’s international conference on cyber security on Wednesday, Comey said: “I have every confidence about this attribution, as does the entire intelligence community.”
[Sony] [Canard] [FBI] [Evidence]
USA, North Korea and Hollywood (II)
Alexander Vorontsov | 07.01.2015 | 16:08
The hackers’ attack against Sony Pictures on November 24, 2014 threw the entire studio of the Hollywood giant into disarray with the computers wiped out. Media called it the biggest corporate hack in history.A group purporting to be the Guardians of Peace took the responsibility for the act. (1) The data stolen by hackers included personal information about Sony Pictures employees and their families, e-mails between employees, information about executive salaries at the company, copies of unreleased Sony films and other information to be made accessible via internet. The perpetrators demanded to cancel the planned release of the film The Interview (2) and threatened to attack movie-goers. A message from the Guardians of Peace group posted online warned of a 9/11-like attack on movie theaters that screen the Sony Pictures Entertainment film. (3) At some point people panicked. After the threats of a terrorist attack the New York premiere of the Sony movie was cancelled. Screenings have also been cancelled at thousands of theaters across the country. The US administration was really concerned over the goings-on. After some time it peremptorily accused Pyongyang of complicity with no evidence to substantiate the claim. It only cited the results of FBI investigation. (4) The accusations were as groundless as in the case of the Malaysian Boeing airliner that went down in Ukraine. They followed the same pattern: “We know who is guilty, we possess the facts that cannot be made public because it’s hush-hush information. So you have to take our word for it.” Here is another example of the same tactics in use. In 2003 America accused Iraq of pursuing a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) program though the US administration knew it was not true.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
N. Korea denies involvement in hacking of South's nuclear power operator
SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Yonhap) -- North Korea again denied its involvement in the hacking of South Korea's nuclear power station operator Sunday, calling the allegation "a trumped-up plot against the communist country."
The state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) has suffered a series of cyber attacks that has raised safety concerns in a country that relies on 23 nuclear reactors for one-third of its energy needs. Over the past week, an anonymous anti-nuclear group posted a series of documents and operating manuals for a number of South Korean nuclear reactors on the Internet.
South Korean officials have not ruled out the possible involvement of North Korea, which has a track record of waging cyber attacks on major financial institutions, government websites and media organizations in the South.
"South Korea is blindly trying to link the recent hacking of its nuclear power stations to us," said the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea. "It is a totally groundless fabrication."
South Korea should first come up with evidence if it wants to blame the incident on North Korea, the newspaper said.
On Saturday, the Minju Joson, the North Korean cabinet's official newspaper, also denied the North's involvement in the hacking incident, saying it is the same scheme as the one to link the 2010 sinking of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan to the North.
South Korea has concluded North Korea torpedoed the 1,200-ton South Korean warship near the tensely guarded West Sea border, killing 46 South Korean sailors. Pyongyang has denied the attack.
A joint investigation team of South Korean government and prosecution officials has been looking into the hacking of the KHNP to determine who is behind the incident. On Wednesday, the team said a suspect in the hacking attack was found to have used multiple Internet protocol addresses based in China.
USA, North Korea and Hollywood (I)
Alexander Vorontsov | 06.01.2015 | 11:40
2014 was another year of lasting conflict between the Unites States and North Korea.The tensions between the two countries will affect the decision making process in 2015. Sony Pictures Entertainment, a Hollywood old timer, is the distributor of the movie The Interview, a satirical comedy deriding the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The movie tells a story about two journalists who killed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and paints North Korea in negative and sarcastic terms. There was an immediate sharp response from Pyongyang. Sony Pictures came under massive cyber-attack before screening. The movie incited anger in North Korea and provoked subversive actions allegedly committed by North Korean government against the distributor. It deteriorated the relations between the countries.
[Sony] [US NK policy]
North Korea and Sony: Why So Much Doubt and What about Deterrence?
By James A. Lewis
07 January 2015
What deterrent measures can be used against cyber attacks? One of the joys of the internet is that anyone with a keyboard and a connection can be an expert. Opinion substitutes for research. The uninformed debate over the Sony cyber incident is the most recent example of the internet’s limitations. An earlier essay discussed why the evidence pointed to North Korea as the most likely suspect. Since then, the US government has assigned the blame to the North, with the President imposing new sanctions. These are not steps to be taken lightly and suggest a high degree of confidence within the Obama administration as to the North’s culpability.
That, however, was not enough for many “experts.” Some of the skepticism comes from past missteps by the Intelligence Community—from Iraqi WMD to denials of domestic spying—which make suspicion understandable. But those intelligence missteps were driven by political motives: intelligence information released to win public support for a questionable course of action.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence] [MISCOM}
Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom - China, Russia, or the US?
Beijing and Moscow are rightly chastised for restricting their citizens’ online access – but it’s the US that is now even more aggressive in asserting its digital sovereignty
The Observer, Sunday 4 January 2015
Recent reports that China has imposed further restrictions on Gmail, Google’s flagship email service, should not really come as much of a surprise. While Chinese users have been unable to access Gmail’s site for several years now, they were still able to use much of its functionality, thanks to third-party services such as Outlook or Apple Mail.
This loophole has now been closed (albeit temporarily – some of the new restrictions seem to have been mysteriously lifted already), which means determined Chinese users have had to turn to more advanced circumvention tools. Those unable or unwilling to perform any such acrobatics can simply switch to a service run by a domestic Chinese company – which is precisely what the Chinese government wants them to do.
Such short-term and long-term disruptions of Gmail connections are part of China’s long-running efforts to protect its technological sovereignty by reducing its citizens’ reliance on American-run communication services. After North Korea saw its internet access blacked out temporarily in the Interview brouhaha – with little evidence that the country actually had anything to do with the massive hacking of Sony – the concept of technological sovereignty is poised to emerge as one of the most important and contentious doctrines of 2015.
[Cyber sovereignty] [Sony]
“The Interview” Enveloped in Storm of Netizen Criticism
By Christopher Green | January 04, 2015
>A poster advertizing controversial film “The Interview,” which has attracted angry netizen comment in South Korea and elsewhere. | Image: Wikicommons
There is a broad strand of public opinion in South Korea that would disagree vociferously with Steven Denney’s characterization of a “new nationalism” on the Korean peninsula. To this group, the Korean nation (???) is one, and criticism of the individual, in particular by outsiders, often represents criticism of the people(s) of north (DPRK) and south (ROK) alike.
[Interview] [Propaganda] [Racism] [Nationalism]
U.S. slaps new sanctions on N. Korea in response to Sony hack
Updated : 2015-01-03 15:40
The United States announced retaliatory sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to the communist nation's alleged cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures, warning the actions are just the "first aspect" of its response.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order that authorizes the secretary of the treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities associated with the government of North Korea, the White House said in a statement.
Three North Korean entities and 10 officials were named in the sanctions, including the Reconnaissance General Bureau, Pyongyang's primary intelligence organization, accused of arms trading and other activities banned under U.N. resolutions, according to the Treasury Department.
[Sony] [Canard] [Sanctions]
Despite experts’ doubts, Obama sanctions N. Korea over Sony hack
By Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 2, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration imposed sanctions Friday on three entities and 10 individuals tied to the North Korean government in what it called the first step in a proportional response to the devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
In a lengthy call with reporters, several senior administration officials said the entities and people sanctioned under Friday’s executive order by President Barack Obama weren’t directly involved with the Sony data breach.
But they confirmed that the sanctions, designed to isolate North Korea from the global financial system, are the first issued in direct response to a cyberattack on a U.S. corporation, and they said North Korea was to blame.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/01/02/251886_despite-experts-doubts-obama-sanctions.html?sp=/99/104/244/106/&rh=1#storylink=cpy
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence] [Sanctions]
Sony insider -- not North Korea -- likely involved in hack, experts say
Who is responsible for Sony breach?
Sony halted its planned Christmas Day wide release of "The Interview" after the majority of theater owners opted against showing it in the face of threats of physical violence from hackers. (Ed Araquel / Columbia Pictures)
By Ryan Faughnder and Saba Hamedy contact the reporters
'We can't find any indication that North Korea either ordered, masterminded or funded' Sony hack -- Norse exec
Norse data on Sony breach points to a former studio worker who may have collaborated with outside hackers
'You don't want to jump to conclusions in a cyberattack. Attributing attacks is really a non-scientific art'
December 30, 2014, 5:50 PM
Federal authorities insist that the North Korean government is behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment..
Cybersecurity experts? Many are not convinced.
From the time the hack became public Nov. 24, many of these experts have voiced their suspicions that a disgruntled Sony Pictures insider was involved.
Respected voices in the online security and anti-hacking community say the evidence presented publicly by the FBI is not enough to draw firm conclusions.
They argue that the connections between the Sony hack and the North Korean government amount to circumstantial evidence. Further, they say the level of the breach indicates an intimate knowledge of Sony's computer systems that could have come from someone on the inside.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
N.Korea Fingered in Email Threats to Sony
The North Korean Army's General Bureau of Reconnaissance has been fingered in a spate of threatening emails to Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to Kyodo News on Thursday.
Sony is the studio behind "The Interview," a mediocre caper about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that has become an unlikely hit.
The FBI believes that North Korean hackers sent threatening emails to Sony executives using an IP address in Shenyang, China, Kyodo quoted a diplomatic source as saying.
The bureau operates a hacker unit whose members are reportedly waging cyber warfare from the Chinese cities of Shenyang and Dandong.
Washington is expected to ask Beijing to provide information on the IP address in question, "as it would be strong evidence to show the involvement of North Korea's General Reconnaissance Bureau in the cyberattack on the U.S. unit of Japan's Sony Corp.," Kyodo added.
Beijing holds the key to preventing further cyber attacks by North Korean hackers, it said.
Last year, Sony Pictures was threatened by a hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" to stop the release of the film that "would destroy regional peace and ignite a war," and details including staff emails were leaked online.
Kyodo claimed the recent Internet outage in North Korea, apparently a revenge attack for the hacking of Sony, did not originate from the U.S. government but from a hacker group.
U.S. imposes sanctions on N. Korea following attack on Sony
By Carol Morello January 2 at 2:12 PM ?
The Obama administration imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday, the first known U.S. response since authorities concluded the repressive government was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
President Obama, while vacationing in Hawaii, signed an executive order authorizing the sanctions. U.S. officials described them as a response to North Korea’s “ongoing provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies,” including the attack on Sony.
“This attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment clearly crossed a threshold for us,” said one official, citing concerns about the growing sophistication and danger posed by cybersecurity threats in general.
[Sony] [Canard] [Sanctions] [Evidence]
German govt denies Merkel staffer’s laptop infected by US/UK malware
Published time: December 29, 2014 11:25
The German government has denied reports a laptop belonging to a top Merkel aide was infected with the highly-sophisticated Regin virus - malware believed to be a product of British and US spy agencies.
Earlier, Bild reported that Regin spy software was discovered on the USB stick of one of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s senior staff members. Merkel’s Head of the Department of European Policy took the stick home to polish a draft of a speech she had been writing. She saved the document on the USB device using her laptop. At work the next day, virus-scanning software revealed the flash drive was infected with Regin spy software.
Additional checks turned up no infections on any of the 200 high-security laptops in the Chancellery, sources from German security services said, according to the report.
A German government spokesperson refuted the claims on Monday afternoon.
"Such a pattern of attack has explicitly not occurred," Christiane Wirtz said in Berlin. She added that the IT systems of the Federal Chancellery were not infected. "That is, in this context, the most important statement."
Cyber-security company Symantec first warned of Regin at the end of November. A back door-type Trojan, Regin, is able to“provide its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance.”
Activists Determined to Float Kim Jong-un Caper into N.Korea
Activists here are determined to goad the North Korean regime by floating pirated DVDs of the Hollywood caper "The Interview" across the border.
The run-of-the-mill flick has become an international cause célèbre by focusing on a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and sparking a North Korea-linked hacking attack on distributor Sony Pictures.
The U.S. Human Rights Foundation has agreed to fully fund a project to send "The Interview" to the North, Park Sang-hak of Fighters for Free North Korea said Tuesday.
"A few days ago, we received 50,000 DVDs and as many USBs of 'The Interview' with Korean subtitles."
But floating that much merchandise across the border attached to helium balloons presents a formidable challenge.
"We're first of all going to float balloons carrying 10,000 DVDs and USBs on any day in January when the wind blows in a northerly direction, and the remaining 90,000 DVDs and USBs later," Park said.
"The Interview" seems to have already been smuggled into the North, with some North Korean users of South Korean mobile phones that automatically connect to South Korea's roaming service watching the film on their phones.
"If defector groups buy mobile phones in South Korea and send them to the North through China, the phones automatically connect to South Korea's roaming service," said Kim Sung-min of Free North Korea Radio. "I've talked with two North Koreans who've watched the movie on their phone. They said they were disappointed because the movie feels like a cartoon."
They said given how unlike the real Kim Jong-un the movie character is, the regime has inadvertently given a massive marketing boost to a B-movie that would otherwise have sunk like a stone.
The North has set up a taskforce led by a three-star general in the State Security Department to crack down on anyone smuggling the film into its hallowed borders.
[Sony] [Canard] [Propaganda] [Interview] [Subversion]
NK repeats calls for joint probe into Sony hacking
By Jun Ji-hye
North Korea is continuing to deny allegations that it carried out a cyber attack on Sony Pictures, and is urging the U.S. government to accept its offer to conduct a joint investigation into the incident.
"The United States needs to accede to our demands for the probe before it experiences bigger mishaps," stated the Minju Chosun, one of Pyongyang's state-controlled media outlets, Tuesday.
The argument came after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that the repressive state was responsible for the Sony hacking, without providing evidence to support the claim because of the "protection of sensitive sources."
U.S. President Barack Obama said that Washington would respond "proportionally" to the attack.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence] [Joint investigation]
Who Was Behind the Cyberattack on Sony?
by Gregory Elich
The cyberattack on Sony Pictures unleashed a torrent of alarmist media reports, evoking the image of North Korean perfidy. Within a month, the FBI issued a statement declaring the North Korean government “responsible for these actions.” Amid the media frenzy, several senators and congresspersons called for tough action. Arizona Senator John McCain blustered, “It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.” President Barack Obama announced his administration planned to review the possibility of placing North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a move that would further tighten the already harsh sanctions on North Korea. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama warned darkly. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
In the rush to judgment, few were asking for evidence, and none was provided. Computer security analysts, however, were vocal in their skepticism.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
Doubts on N. Korea claim? FBI briefed on theory Sony hack was inside job
By Judson Berger
·Published December 30, 2014
A security firm has brought new evidence to the FBI that it claims points to a laid-off employee and others as the hackers behind the massive cyber-breach at Sony, even as the bureau publicly stands by its explanation that North Korea executed the attack.
Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president for market development at cyber intelligence firm Norse, told FoxNews.com that his company was turning over "raw data" to the FBI on Tuesday. He said the company also briefed the FBI for "two or three hours" on Monday during a meeting in St. Louis.
"They were very open" to the new information, Stammberger said.
Among other details, he said Norse has data about the malware samples that point to "super, super detailed insider information" that only a Sony insider would have.
[Sony] [Canard] [Evidence]
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