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The Cyberwarriors

Who they are, what they do, and how to become one.

US needs 'digital warfare force'

960th Network Security Squadron
The US has set up specialised detachments dealing with IT problems

The head of America's National Security Agency says that America needs to build a digital warfare force for the future, according to reports.

Lt Gen Keith Alexander, who also heads the Pentagon's new Cyber Command, outlined his views in a report for the House Armed Services subcommittee.

In it, he stated that the US needed to reorganise its offensive and defensive cyber operation

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U.S. Steps Up Effort on Digital Defenses, Has Attacked al Qaeda, Iran

Published: April 27, 2009

This article was reported by David E. Sanger, John Markoff and Thom Shanker and written by Mr. Sanger.

When American forces in Iraq wanted to lure members of Al Qaeda into a trap, they hacked into one of the group’s computers and altered information that drove them into American gun sights.

When President George W. Bush ordered new ways to slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb last year, he approved a plan for an experimental covert program — its results still unclear — to bore into their computers and undermine the project.

And the Pentagon has commissioned military contractors to develop a highly classified replica of the Internet of the future. The goal is to simulate what it would take for adversaries to shut down the country’s power stations, telecommunications and aviation systems, or freeze the financial markets — in an effort to build better defenses against such attacks, as well as a new generation of online weapons.

Just as the invention of the atomic bomb changed warfare and deterrence 64 years ago, a new international race has begun to develop cyberweapons and systems to protect against them.

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A Pentagon Cyber-Command Is in the Works

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Obama administration is finalizing plans for a new Pentagon command to coordinate the security of military computer networks and to develop new offensive cyber-weapons, sources said last night.

Planning for the reorganization of Defense Department and intelligence agencies is underway, and a decision is imminent, according to a person familiar with the White House plans.

The new command would affect U.S. Strategic Command, whose mission includes ensuring U.S. "freedom of action" in space and cyberspace, and the National Security Agency, which shares Pentagon cybersecurity responsibilities with the Defense Information Systems Agency.

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Computer Spies Breach Fighter-Jet Project

By SIOBHAN GORMAN, AUGUST COLE and YOCHI DREAZEN

APRIL 21, 2009, 11:58 A.M. ET

WASHINGTON -- Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project -- the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever -- according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks.

Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.

The latest intrusions provide new evidence that a battle is heating up between the U.S. and potential adversaries over the data networks that tie the world together. The revelations follow a recent Wall Street Journal report that computers used to control the U.S. electrical-distribution system, as well as other infrastructure, have also been infiltrated by spies abroad.

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Carolyn notes: I pay for a subscription to the Wall Street Journal online because it has the world's best news about cyberwar and cybercrime. This newspaper also was one of the first, and IMHO the best, at giving an advance warning about today's world economic meltdown. Also, in many locations you can get a print version of the Wall Street Journal delivered to your doorstep every morning.

Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated By Spies

From Jeanne Meserve
CNN
April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Computer hackers have embedded software in the United States' electricity grid and other infrastructure that could potentially disrupt service or damage equipment, two former federal officials told CNN.
The ex-officials say code also has been found in computer systems of oil and gas distributors.

The ex-officials say code also has been found in computer systems of oil and gas distributors.

The code in the power grid was discovered in 2006 or 2007, according to one of the officials, who called it "the 21st century version of Cold War spying."

<snip>

The U.S. power grid isn't the only system at risk. The former officials said malicious code has been found in the computer systems of oil and gas distributors, telecommunications companies and financial services industries.

<snip>

Security experts say such computer hacking could be the work of a foreign government -- possibly Russia or China -- seeking to compromise U.S. security in the event of a future military conflict.

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Official: Millions spent defending Pentagon computers from attack

By Adam Levine
CNN Pentagon Supervising Producer
April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military has spent at least $100 million defending its computer network from and responding to cyberattacks, according to a top official responsible for network security.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has highlighted the need to increase personnel involved in cybersecurity.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has highlighted the need to increase personnel involved in cybersecurity.

The money was spent over the last six months responding to incidents that affected the Pentagon's networks, according to Brig. Gen. John Davis of the U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for military cybersecurity.

The money also went toward training and investment in tools and technologies needed because of infiltrations and viruses, he said.

Davis said he was asked by the head of Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, to track the costs in an effort to analyze the price of reacting to incidents that threaten the military's cybersecurity.

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China analysts dismiss cyber-espionage claims

March 30, 2009

From CNN News

Analysts in China are dismissing claims that nearly 1,300 computers in more than 100 countries have been attacked, and have become part of a cyber-espionage network apparently based in China.
The network was discovered after computers at the Dalai Lama's office were hacked, researchers say.

"This is purely another political issue that the West is trying to exaggerate," Song Xiaojun, a Beijing-based strategy and military analyst, told China Daily, a state-run newspaper.

Zhu Feng, a professor with the school of international studies at Peking University, added: "Cyber security has been a global issue, but this time those who see China as an emerging threat again have picked the subject as a new weapon."

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Major cyber spy network uncovered

From BBC News, March 29, 2009

An electronic spy network, based mainly in China, has infiltrated computers from government offices around the world, Canadian researchers say.

They said the network had infiltrated 1,295 computers in 103 countries.

They included computers belonging to foreign ministries and embassies and those linked with the Dalai Lama - Tibet's spiritual leader.

There is no conclusive evidence China's government was behind it, researchers say. Beijing also denied involvement.

The report comes after a 10-month investigation by the Information Warfare Monitor (IWM), which comprises researchers from Ottawa-based think tank SecDev Group and the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies.

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Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries

By JOHN MARKOFF
The New York Times website
March 28, 2009

TORONTO — A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

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How to Become a Cyberwarrior -->

A History of Cyberwar

Arlington, VA – June 28, 1999

Inside a room within a Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) office, a telephone rings. An officer picks it up. “JTF,” he says. That’s shorthand for Joint Task Force, Computer Network Defense.

For five heartbeats, he listens, then turns to the others now crowding him. “That was Attrition. The main Army web site just got defaced.”

Someone brings www.army.mil up on a monitor. An expanse of black with stark white text proclaims, “global hell/GHQ is alive. global hell/gH will not die. global hell/gH will always be here.”

As usual, they have just minutes before Attrition.org and a dozen other hacker websites advertise the news. Minutes to shut down www.army.mil. Minutes to slam the door on whatever Global Hell is up to this time.

Global Hell is a big deal, or so some people believe. Antionline's John Vranesevich has told reporters that Global Hell is getting funding from al Qaeda’s Khalid Ibrahim through a drop point in an El Cajon, CA Little Caesar's pizza shop. In reality, Ibrahim is an Egyptian electrical engineer living in Herndon, VA who, in a deal to avoid a prison sentence for an immigration violation, is working for a New York Federal Attorney to entrap Global Hell by pretending to be a terrorist. He uses a simple hacker trick to make his Internet Relay Chat (IRC) connection appear to originate with a dial-up line in New Delhi, India

Soon Attrition’s latest news about the Army website attack will reach the myriad hacker undergrounds, terrorists and the cyberwarriors of enemy nations. Soon many of them will rush to comb www.army.mil for Global Hell’s back doors. They will find nothing. The JTF has just taken the webserver offline.

Many people say say the Attrition team is evil incarnate. They say the Attrition website rewards computer criminals by publicizing their exploits. The Attrition website carries essays on Blacks that would even embarrass the Ku Klux Klan. Other essays glorify dirty tricks, burglary, and murder.

Worse, at this time (Jume 28, 1999) the leader of Attrition, Brian Martin, runs three Internet Relay Chat groups for Global Hell. A Manhattan Federal prosecutor allegedly is trying to indict him for defacing the website of The New York Times. (Despite raiding Martin, the F.B.I. never was able to tie him to the crime, despite Vranesevich's accusations.)

In a few days, Martin will meet a crowd of his fans as a speaker at the latest Defcon convention. Most hackers think Defcon is some sort of underground hacker gathering. In reality, it is run by Federal contractors as a way to keep tabs on the hacker scene.

Few people know that Brian Martin, too, is a Federal contractor. What the JTF people know is that he keeps on saving their hides.

Tyson’s Corner – Aug. 22, 2001

Inside the office of a Pentagon contractor, a screen glows. A blizzard of colors represents hundreds of thousands of attacks on Department of Defense computers. The man running this program is looking for patterns.

Most of what he sees, he says, represents attacks by the sorts of people who gather at the Defcon conventions. They dream of defacing some “dot mil” website, of becoming underground heroes. Few actually break in. Most of them are just “script kiddies.” The problem, he says, is that they create a fog of war that cloaks the dangerous attacks.

He massages the data. The screen lights with a new display. A jagged diagonal descends through a landscape of confusion. He smiles and points. “This represents a concerted attack.” Perhaps organized by an enemy nation. Perhaps terrorists.

He blames the National Security Council (NSC) for the script kiddie fog. It all goes back to a 1997 meeting. “It was the evil seed,” he recalls. Back then, Richard A. Clarke was the NSC member in charge of cyberspace policy. There, at that meeting, the NSC came to an agreement to make common cause with the hackers of Defcon.

The fog of cyberwar is just one of the problems that Richard A. Clarke’s apparent Defcon strategy has unleashed. Far worse lies ahead, a trap that would spring just twenty days later: Sept. 11, 2001.

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