Tag Archives: hactivism

When the Cyber Peacekeepers are not in Town; the cyberbattles of the 21st century

BBC’s Newsnight was invited to listen in at the conference on Cyber Defense and Network Security.  Here are excerpts of their report.

Overall, the US military aims to recruit 10,000 “cyber warriors”, and is apparently prepared to relax the usual entry criteria. They will accept long hair, even someone who can’t run too well.  But there is a minimum requirement. Recruits will naturally be at the top of their field. They will be “a professional elite… trusted and disciplined, and precise… collateral damage is not acceptable,” Lt Gen Hernandez told delegates….

John Bumgarner, from the US Cyber Consequences Unit in Washington told Newsnight there will soon be a need for a virtual UN peacekeeping force – in cyberspace.”We’ve seen cyber incidents between Russia and Georgia, and that’s ongoing. We’ve seen incidents between Pakistan and India and that’s ongoing. We’ve seen stuff between China and India… between Israel and other Middle Eastern states. The UN needs to figure out how they can deploy peace keepers in the digital borders of a nation, virtual peacekeepers that would protect the peace.”

Sir John thinks the cyber threat is growing by definition because use of the internet is growing. But he sees this as more than a purely military domain.”There’s quite a lot of talk about cyber warfare, and cyber attacks as if this is a military issue. Of course there are military aspects to it and military infrastructure aspects to it, and in the event of some future state-to-state conflict undoubtedly this would be a huge feature. But in the immediate term this is something which is happening now, the attacks and the downloading and the theft and the invasion of privacy are happening now on a day-by-day basis.”…Stewart Room of Field Fisher Waterhouse said there was now a need for an amnesty – instead of punishment – for companies that suffered a data loss or cyber-attack.  An amnesty, he argued, would help to encourage companies to come forward and discuss what went wrong – so that others could learn, fast.  He is also calling for a new “cyber law”, to formalise best practice….

Headlines about cyber attacks pop up almost daily now. One of the most startling was the attack on the global intelligence firm Stratfor over Christmas, for which members of the loose-knit hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility.John Bumgarner analysed the data released for the Guardian newspaper and concluded that thousands of British email addresses and passwords – including those of defence, intelligence and police officials as well as politicians and Nato advisers – had been revealed.  Mr Bumgarner chuckled when we asked if the Stratfor release might dent people’s confidence in the ability of even the most security-conscious of organisations to keep data safe.  “We’re taking it on blind faith… really when you give your information out as a private citizen to a corporation you’re praying that that corporation will protect your data… as much as possible, but they can only do so much.”

Excerpts, Susan Watts, Call for cyberwar ‘peacekeepers’ , BBC, Jan. 26, 2012

Protesting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Lithuania’s central bank said Friday (Jan. 27, 2012) it had been hit by a cyber-attack, but had eventually overcome the assault on its website and other online services.  In a statement, the bank said that the denial-of-service attack — in which many outside computers overload the target’s IT system — from a group of countries took place early Friday morning…The bank said that the attacks were launched from computers apparently located in countries including Canada, China, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States…No public claim of responsibility had been made for the attack so far.  It was not clear if it was linked to Lithuania’s signature Thursday of a controversial international online anti-piracy accord.  Critics of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) warn that it could significantly curtail online freedom, and several governments have come under attack by groups including “hacktivist” grouping Anonymous.

Lithuanian central bank hit by cyber-attack, Agence France Presse, Jan. 28, 2012

Text of ACTA (pdf)

Negotiating History

Rapporteur

We Have Every Right to Be Furious About ACTA

One More Reason to Occupy Nigeria: the severe environmental damage

The Nigerian cell of the Anonymous collective has continued its ongoing campaign against government corruption issuing a statement listing its demands.  Sent to the International Business Times on Tuesday via email the statement has since been re-posted on Pastebin – indicating that it is likely authentic.  In it the collective promised to continue mounting its ongoing series of cyber assaults against the Nigerian government should its demands for “justice” and an end to violence against protesters not be met. Specifically Anonymous Nigeria’s demands were six-fold:

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU CUT THE COST OF GOVERNMENT BY 60%

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU ELIMINATE WASTE IN GOVERNMENT

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU TACKLE CORRUPTION AND POLITICAL PATRONAGE

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU REDUCE THE PUMP PRICE OF FUEL TO N65

“WE DEMAND THAT YOU FIND OUT AND PROSECUTE MEMBERS OF THE FUEL CABAL,” read Anonymous’ statement. Later adding the final demand:

“WE DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE END TO THE KILLING OF INNOCENT PROTESTERS”

The statement follows the collective’s unified and ongoing support of all Occupy movements. Though the root cause of the Occupy movement is difficult to discern, the earliest call-to-arms stemmed from a blog post in Adbusters magazine.  Inspired by the Arab Spring and Spain’s Democracia real YA platform, Adbusters called for all like-minded individuals unhappy with the current global political and economic system to march on Wall Street and mount an ongoing sit-in-protest.

The post quickly captured the imagination of several groups, leading to the #occupywallstreet hash-tag trending on Twitter. The movement gained significant mainstream attention outside of Adbusters’ native U.S. base when the Anonymous collective took notice and publicly voiced its support.  Reiterating Adbusters’ post, Anonymous issued the above video on its AnonOps website citing a series of undisclosed actions perpetrated by “corrupt” governments and corporations as its motivation for the sit-in.  Since Adbusters’ and Anonymous’ call-to-arms the Occupy movement has spread to cities across the world, seeing citizens pitch tents in public squares and mount sit-in-protests against the world’s current political and economic systems. In all the campaigns Anonymous has openly voiced its support for the movement, publicising its live video feeds and reporting any incidents of police violence against protesters.

The Nigerian cell of Anonymous has followed this pattern, publicly voicing its support and reporting any incidents of violence against Occupy protesters. The group has already taken credit for identifying the deaths of in-excess of 10 participants in the Occupy Nigeria protest. Ending its statement Anonymous Nigeria promised it would continue its “peaceful” protest – many Anons list identify themselves as pacifists and are hostile to any and all acts of physical violence

Alastair Stevenson, Occupy Nigeria: Anonymous Demand End to Government Corruption, Jan. 11, 2012

Uncensored Communication as a Human Right;hackers, satellites and internet freedom

Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into orbit.  The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.  The project’s organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.  Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.  Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit – usually only for brief periods of time – but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.  The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project.

“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” Mr Farr said.  He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.

Although space missions have been the preserve of national agencies and large companies, amateur enthusiasts have launched objects into the heavens.  High-altitude balloons have also been used to place cameras and other equipment into what is termed “near space”. The balloons can linger for extended amounts of time – but are not suitable for satellites.  The amateur radio satellite Arissat-1 was deployed into low earth orbit last year via a spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts from the International Space Station as part of an educational project.  Students and academics have also launched other objects by piggybacking official rocket launches.  However, these devices have often proved tricky to pinpoint precisely from the ground.  According to Armin Bauer, a 26-year-old enthusiast from Stuttgart who is working on the Hackerspace Global Grid, this is largely due to lack of funding.

The Berlin conference was the latest meeting held by the Chaos Computer Club, a decades-old German hacker group that has proven influential not only for those interested in exploiting or improving computer security, but also for people who enjoy tinkering with hardware and software.  When Mr Farr called for contributions to Hackerspace, Mr Bauer and others decided to concentrate on the communications infrastructure aspect of the scheme.  Mr Bauer says the satellites could help provide communications to help put an amateur into space.  He and his teammates are working on their part of the project together with Constellation, an existing German aerospace research initiative that mostly consists of interlinked student projects….

“It’s kind of a reverse GPS,” Mr Bauer said. “GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are. We would use GPS co-ordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations.”  Mr Bauer said the team would have three prototype ground stations in place in the first half of 2012, and hoped to give away some working models at the next Chaos Communication Congress in a year’s time.  They would also sell the devices on a non-profit basis.  “We’re aiming for 100 euros (£84) per ground station. That is the amount people tell us they would be willing to spend,” Mr Bauer added.

Experts say the satellite project is feasible, but could be restricted by technical limitations…..”There is also an interesting legal dimension in that outer space is not governed by the countries over which it floats. So, theoretically it could be a place for illegal communication to thrive. However, the corollary is that any country could take the law into their own hands and disable the satellites.”……….

Asked whether some might see negative security implications in the idea of establishing a hacker presence in space, Farr said the only downside would be that “people might not be able to censor your internet”.  “Hackers are about open information,” Farr added. “We believe communication is a human right.”

Excerpts, By David Meyer, Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship,BBC, Jan. 4, 2012