Category: Cyber Wars


Some of the biggest names in cryptography condemn NSA spying in open letter

FILE - This Thursday, June 6, 2013, file photo, shows a sign outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world — but not in the United States — that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines, The New York Times reported Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. ((AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Some of the biggest names in cryptography and computer science just released an open letter condemning the surveillance practices of the U.S government. “Media reports since last June have revealed that the US government conducts domestic and international surveillance on a massive scale, that it engages in deliberate and covert weakening of Internet security standards, and that it pressures US technology companies to deploy backdoors and other data-collection features,” said a statement posted to masssurveillance.info. “As leading members of the US cryptography and information-security research communities, we deplore these practices and urge that they be changed.”

In a speech last week, President Obama addressed concerns related to NSA’s 215 domestic phone records collection program, but he did not remark on reports that the U.S. government had weakened encryption as part of its practices.

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WashingtonsBlog

Open Letter from Top U.S. Computer Security Experts Slams NSA Spying As Destroying Security

The NSA Is Making Us All Less Safe

An open letter today from a large group of professors – top US computer security and cryptography researchers – slams the damage to ecurity caused by NSA spying:

Inserting backdoors, sabotaging standards, and tapping commercial data-center links provide bad actors, foreign and domestic, opportunities to exploit the resulting vulnerabilities.

The value of society-wide surveillance in preventing terrorism is unclear, but the threat that such surveillance poses to privacy, democracy, and the US technology sector is readily apparent. Because transparency and public consent are at the core of our democracy, we call upon the US government to subject all mass-surveillance activities to public scrutiny and to resist the deployment of mass-surveillance programs in advance of sound technical and social controls. In finding a way forward, the five principles promulgated at http://reformgovernmentsurveillance.com/ [a site launched by Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, AOL, Yahoo and LinkedIn] provide a good starting point.

The choice is not whether to allow the NSA to spy. The choice is between a communications infrastructure that is vulnerable to attack at its core and one that, by default, is intrinsically secure for its users. Every country, including our own, must give intelligence and law-enforcement authorities the means to pursue terrorists and criminals, but we can do so without fundamentally undermining the security that enables commerce, entertainment, personal communication, and other aspects of 21st-century life. We urge the US government to reject society-wide surveillance and the subversion of security technology, to adopt state-of-the-art, privacy-preserving technology, and to ensure that new policies, guided by enunciated principles, support human rights, trustworthy commerce, and technical innovation.

The Washington Post notes that these are some of the top names in computer cryptography and security, including heavyweights in the government.

Many other top security experts agree:

  • IT and security professionals say spying could mess up the safety of our internet and computer systems
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes:

“By weakening encryption, the NSA allows others to more easily break it. By installing backdoors and other vulnerabilities in systems, the NSA exposes them to other malicious hackers—whether they are foreign governments or criminals. As security expert Bruce Schneier explained, ‘It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create.’”

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Susanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
August 8, 2013

susanne_posel_news_ Anonymous-banner-635

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, who is also the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) warned that if NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden were to be apprehended by the US cyberterrorists would attack.

Hayden was speaking at a Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) meeting when he decried : “I’m just trying to illustrate that you’ve got a group of people out there who make demands, whose demands may not be satisfiable, may not be rational from other points of view, may not be the kinds of things that government can accommodate.”

Currently, Hayden is chair of the BPC Electric Grid Cyber Security Initiative (EGCSI) where knowledge of potential cyber hackers “who haven’t talked to the opposite sex in 5 or 6 years” are waiting in the wings to strike digital infrastructure in the US.

Under Hayden expanded collection of intelligence on suspects foreign and domestic following the attack on 9/11.

Hayden’s program entitled Stellar Wind was the code name for a sensitive compartmentalized unit that gathered information for the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP).

Former President George W. Bush was behind the inception of Stellar Wind; however President Barack Obama has expanded the collection of telecommunications with the assistance of the NSA and the furtherance of spying operations such as the PRISM program.

Hayden claims that hacker groups such as LulzSec, Anonymous, and other “nihilists, anarchists, [and] activists” will respond to any arrest of Snowden.

 

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In the  Administrations  own  words  cyber  attacks  against the  United  States  would  be  interpreted  as  a  declaration of   war. 

Are  we   then to  understand that   cyber  attacks  perpetrated  by the  United  States  against other  countries (Mostly  allies)  are  a  declaration of  war  as  well?

Are  we  also to  understand that  the United  States government (including those in  Congress  who legitimize the  Prism  program) have now  openly  declared  war  upon the  American  people with this  attack on the Tor Network being used  to escape  their snooping and  ever increasing  invasion of  privacy?

Are  we  not  to  use the  same  measure  that  they have  reserved  for  themselves  in the  name  of  National  Security?

How  long and  how  far  will  this  be allowed to  continue without  being  called into  question?

~Desert Rose~

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NSA’s Cyber Army Attacks the Navy’s Tor Network, Gives Spoils to the FBI

Dees Illustration

Eric Blair
Activist Post

It was reported earlier this week that the FBI won a great victory by stopping the largest child porn distributor on the Internet. The FBI’s victory lap was cut short when some of the details of how they did it were more closely examined.

What the FBI actually did was seize a hosting service on the hidden TOR Network.  The owner of the hosting service Freedom Hosting was not directly involved in the production or distribution of child porn, he just provided anonymous hosting used by pedophile pornographers.

The bigger question became how the FBI penetrated the supposedly anonymous TOR Network. That’s where the story gets interesting.

TOR, short for The Onion Router, was originally developed by the Navy Research Laboratory to provide an anonymous secondary internetwork for the government to use.  Supposedly the project was abandoned by the Navy only to be picked up by open-source volunteers who now run the Tor Project.

Despite its beginnings as a government project, most believe TOR to be the best current option for online anonymity.  But does this recent compromise of TOR reveal that it’s also part of the surveillance grid?  The long answer is complicated, but the short answer is no.

First, the NSA has been identified as the source of the malware bomb used to take down Freedom Hosting – not the FBI who claimed victory in the investigation and apprehension.

Arstechnica writes:

Malware planted on the servers of Freedom Hosting—the “hidden service” hosting provider on the Tor anonymized network brought down late last week—may have de-anonymized visitors to the sites running on that service. This issue could send identifying information about site visitors to an Internet Protocol address that was hard-coded into the script the malware injected into browsers. And it appears the IP address in question belongs to the National Security Agency (NSA).

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Interesting that  they  seek to  investigate  those  who leak the  crimes but  do  nothing  to  bring to  justice the  criminals  within the government that  perpetrate  the true  crimes.

If  memory  serves, I  believe  the  term “Declaration of  War”  was  used  when  referring to  a  Cyber  attack directed  at the  United  States.

Was it  not ?

Is it  then  not  safe  to  assume  that the  moment  the  United  States  used the  Stuxnet   virus (created  as  a joint  venture  between the  US  and  Israel);  was   by  US  definition a  declaration  of  war  against  Iran?

Was  it  not ?

Unsanctioned and  unwarranted   declaration of  war by the  United  States  against  Iran.  Or am I  missing   something?    Aside  from the   hypocrisy  of  course!

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                                             GEN Cartwright VJCS.jpg
General James Cartwright
8th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The  Washington Post

Justice Dept. targets general in leak probe

A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as the nation’s second-ranking military officer is a target of a Justice Department investigation into a leak of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Obama administration official said.Retired Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright served as deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was part of President Obama’s inner circle on a range of critical national security issues before he retired in 2011.
The administration official said that Cartwright is suspected of revealing information about a highly classified effort to use a computer virus later dubbed Stuxnet to sabotage equipment in Iranian nuclear enrichment plants.Stuxnet was part of a broader cyber campaign called Olympic Games that was disclosed by the New York Times last year as one of the first major efforts by the United States to use computer code as a destructive weapon against a key adversary.Cartwright, who helped launch that campaign under President Bush and pushed for its escalation under Obama, was recently informed that he was a “target” of a wide-ranging Justice Department probe into the leak, according to the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.Justice Department officials declined to comment on the case, as did Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, which is in charge of the investigation.Neither Cartwright nor his attorney, former White House counsel Greg Craig, responded to requests for comment.

The revelation, which was first reported by NBC News, means that an administration that has already launched more leaks prosecutions than all of its predecessors combined is now focused on one of its own. Since Obama took office, the Justice Department has prosecuted or charged eight people for alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Cartwright was a regular participant in meetings of top national security officials at the White House and was thought to have significant influence with Obama before being passed over as a possible candidate to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A target is a suspect in a criminal case who has not yet been indicted but is expected to be. Federal prosecutors are not required to tell targets that they are under investigation but it is not uncommon for them to do so in cases when an indictment is likely.

The investigation into the Stuxnet leak was launched in June 2012 by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and gained momentum in recent months amid indications that prosecutors were putting pressure on a range of current and former senior officials suspected of involvement.

The leaks surrounding Stuxnet exposed details about what had been one of the most closely held secrets in the U.S. intelligence community, an ambitious effort by the National Security Agency in collaboration with the Israeli government to devise computer code that could cripple Iran’s alleged effort to pursue a nuclear bomb.

 

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NUKEWARS


by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) June 23, 2013

 

North Korea on Sunday blamed the United States for escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and called for “real actions” if Washington wants peace.

“The US can never cover up its true colours as the chief culprit escalating the tensions on the peninsula in a planned and deliberate way,” the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.

“If the US truly wants peace and security on the peninsula, it should take real actions to stop arms buildup and war rackets of threatening and blackmailing the other party, not just uttering words,” it said, according to an English-language text relayed by the KCNA news agency.

The commentary came two days after North Korea’s UN ambassador Sin Son-Ho appealed for an end to UN and US sanctions against Pyongyang.

“The most pressing issue in northeast Asia today is the hostile relations between the DPRK (North Korea) and the US which can lead to another war at any moment,” he said.

 

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CYBER WARS


by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2013


Hong Kong failure to arrest Snowden ‘troubling': US
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2013 – The United States is disappointed by Hong Kong’s “troubling” failure to arrest fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden before he fled the territory, an official said Sunday.
A Department of Justice spokesperson insisted US officials had fulfilled all the requirements of Washington’s extradition treaty with the autonomous Chinese region and were “disappointed” by the decision to let him go.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.

On Sunday, Snowden left Hong Kong and fled for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. Hong Kong officials said the documentation supporting the extradition request had been incomplete.

But the US Department of Justice denied there was anything missing.

“The US is disappointed and disagrees with the determination by Hong Kong authorities not to honor the US request for the arrest of the fugitive,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The request for the fugitive’s arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement,” the statement said.

“At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the US’s provisional arrest request,” it said.

“In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.”

The statement said senior US officials had been in touch with their Hong Kong counterparts since June 10, when they learned Snowden was in Hong Kong and leaking details of secret surveillance programs to the media.

On Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and urged Hong Kong to honor the request for Snowden’s arrest.

The Hong Kong government had said that, as it “has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”

 

China and the United States traded hacking charges on Sunday as Washington accused Beijing of stealing US intellectual property and the Chinese authorities expressed concern over US cyberattacks.

The back-and-forth between the United States and China over cyber spying followed new claims by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the US spy agency was snooping on Chinese targets.

Snowden told Hong Kong’s Sunday Morning Post that US spies had hacked the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing — home to one of six “network backbones” that route all of mainland China’s Internet traffic — and the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which operates one of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest fiber-optic networks.

Snowden, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday, reportedly on his way to Venezuela, also said the US spy agency was hacking Chinese mobile phone companies to gather data from millions of text messages.

NSA chief Keith Alexander, asked by ABC television if his agency carries out such activities as hacking Chinese cellphones to steal SMS messages, said “we have interest in those who collect on us as an intelligence agency.

“But to say that we’re willfully just collecting all sorts of data would give you the impression that we’re just trying to canvass the whole world,” he said.

 

 

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CYBER WARS

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) June 23, 2013


Hong Kong failure to arrest Snowden ‘troubling': US
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2013 – The United States is disappointed by Hong Kong’s “troubling” failure to arrest fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden before he fled the territory, an official said Sunday.
A Department of Justice spokesperson insisted US officials had fulfilled all the requirements of Washington’s extradition treaty with the autonomous Chinese region and were “disappointed” by the decision to let him go.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.

On Sunday, Snowden left Hong Kong and fled for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. Hong Kong officials said the documentation supporting the extradition request had been incomplete.

But the US Department of Justice denied there was anything missing.

“The US is disappointed and disagrees with the determination by Hong Kong authorities not to honor the US request for the arrest of the fugitive,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The request for the fugitive’s arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement,” the statement said.

“At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the US’s provisional arrest request,” it said.

“In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.”

The statement said senior US officials had been in touch with their Hong Kong counterparts since June 10, when they learned Snowden was in Hong Kong and leaking details of secret surveillance programs to the media.

On Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and urged Hong Kong to honor the request for Snowden’s arrest.

The Hong Kong government had said that, as it “has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”

 

Hong Kong has risked the threat of US reprisals in allowing Edward Snowden to leave. But its government insists that the rule of law took primacy for a territory that jealously guards its separateness from mainland China.

On social media, there was talk of political considerations at play in allowing the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor to escape his Hong Kong bolthole.

As Snowden landed in Russia US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared that “the chase is on”.

Russian media reports said he would fly to Cuba and eventually Venezuela, but Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino later said he had requested asylum in Ecuador.

His departure left some supporters in Hong Kong disappointed.

Did the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) want to remove an irritant that threatened to drag on for years, if Snowden fought through the courts against US attempts to extradite him? Did Beijing, with an eye on its overarching relationship with Washington, similarly want no truck with a lingering distraction?

In a press statement confirming the 30-year-old’s shock departure, Hong Kong authorities said the reason was simple: the US government had failed to meet the legal bar needed to justify its arrest warrant issued on Friday.

The statement said that documents provided by the US “did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law”, so the HKSAR government had asked for more information.

As Washington had not met its request, “there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong”, it added, saying that he had left the Chinese territory legally and voluntarily.

While Beijing retains ultimate control over its defence and foreign policy, and the right to veto extradition decisions, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the handover agreement that governed its transfer from British rule in 1997.

 

Read More  Here

TIME      WORLD

Beijing Reacts to Snowden Claims U.S. Hacked ‘Hundreds’ of Chinese Targets

 

 

 

Hong Kong Surveillance

Kin Cheung / AP

The picture of Edward Snowden, former CIA employee who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, on the front page of South China Morning Post at a news stand in Hong Kong, June 13, 2013.

The China Daily, the Chinese government’s English-language mouthpiece, couldn’t have been handed a better story. On June 13, Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency who exposed a vast American electronic surveillance program before fleeing to Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language daily, that the U.S. has for years hacked into Chinese computer systems. After days of silence about the presence of a U.S. whistle-blower on Chinese soil — albeit in a territory governed separately from the rest of the country — the Chinese state media swung into action. “This is not the first time that U.S. government agencies’ wrongdoings have aroused widespread public concern,” opined the China Daily in an editorial. In a separate news article, the official state newspaper wrote that “analysts” believed the bombshells dropped in the Snowden affair are “certain to stain Washington’s overseas image and test developing Sino-U.S. ties.”

Read More  Here

 

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South China Morning  Post

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden tells SCMP: ‘Let Hong Kong people decide my fate’

Ex-CIA operative wants to remain in Hong Kong

Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 7:37am


Edward Snowden says he wants to ask the people of Hong Kong to decide his fate after choosing the city because of his faith in its rule of law.

The 29-year-old former CIA employee behind what might be the biggest intelligence leak in US history revealed his identity to the world in Hong Kong on Sunday. His decision to use a city under Chinese sovereignty as his haven has been widely questioned – including by some rights activists in Hong Kong.

Snowden said last night that he had no doubts about his choice of Hong Kong.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.

Snowden says he has committed no crimes in Hong Kong and has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s legal] system”.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said.

I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law

Snowden, a former employee of US government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who worked with the National Security Agency, boarded a flight to Hong Kong on May 20 and has remained in the city ever since.

His astonishing confession on Sunday sparked a media frenzy in Hong Kong, with journalists from around the world trying to track him down. It has also caused a flurry of debate in the city over whether he should stay and whether Beijing will seek to interfere in a likely extradition case.

Read More  Here

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The Guardian home

NSA whistleblower says he is not in Hong Kong to ‘hide from justice’ and alleges US hacked hundreds of targets in China

Edward Snowden Hong Kong

Edward Snowden told the South China Morning Post that he had no intention of hiding from justice. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden vowed yesterday to fight an expected move by the US to have him extradited from Hong Kong, saying he was not there to “hide from justice” and would put his trust in its legal system.

In his first comments since revealing his identity in the Guardian at the weekend, Snowden also claimed that the US had been hacking Hong Kong and China since 2009, and accused the US of bullying the territory to return him because it did not want local authorities to learn of its cyber activities.

As a debate raged over whether Snowden should be praised or prosecuted for his actions, he told the South China Morning Post: “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”

Snowden claimed that the US had hacked hundreds of targets in Hong Kong – including public officials, a university, businesses and students in the city – and on the mainland. These were part of more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, he alleged.

“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said.

The Post said it had seen a document that, Snowden alleged, supported his claims. The Post said it had not verified the document, and did not immediately publish it.

Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.

A senior Chinese official said last week he had “mountains of data” on cyber-attacks from the US, after Washington turned up the pressure over hacking by China.

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department in Washington, said it was not aware of the hacking claims and could not comment directly, but she rejected the idea that such an incident would represent double standards given recent US criticism of Chinese cyber attacks.

“There is a difference between going after economic data and the issues of surveillance that the president has addressed which are about trying to stop people doing us harm,” she said.

Read Full Article Here

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Jun 12, 2013 10:25

HONG KONG (AFP) – US whistleblower Edward Snowden Wednesday vowed to stay in Hong Kong to fight any extradition bid, and promised new revelations about US surveillance targets, the South China Morning Post reported.

“I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American,” the Hong Kong newspaper’s website quoted him as saying in an exclusive interview.

The SCMP, in a teaser posted online before it publishes the full interview, said the former contractor for the National Security Agency would offer “more explosive details on US surveillance targets”.

Snowden would also discuss his fears for his family and his immediate plans, the newspaper said, after it interviewed the 29-year-old former CIA analyst earlier Wednesday at a secret location in Hong Kong.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” it quoted him as saying.

Snowden vowed to fight any extradition attempt by the US government, the newspaper said, after he came to Hong Kong on May 20 and leaked a global eavesdropping operation by the NSA to the Guardian and Washington Post.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system,” he said

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Exclusive: Top-secret directive steps up offensive cyber capabilities to ‘advance US objectives around the world’

Read the secret presidential directive here

 

 

A cyber-security centre in the US

Obama’s move to establish a cyber warfare doctrine will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

 

Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals.

The 18-page Presidential Policy Directive 20, issued in October last year but never published, states that what it calls Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging”.

It says the government will “identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power”.

The directive also contemplates the possible use of cyber actions inside the US, though it specifies that no such domestic operations can be conducted without the prior order of the president, except in cases of emergency.

The aim of the document was “to put in place tools and a framework to enable government to make decisions” on cyber actions, a senior administration official told the Guardian.

The administration published some declassified talking points from the directive in January 2013, but those did not mention the stepping up of America’s offensive capability and the drawing up of a target list.

Obama’s move to establish a potentially aggressive cyber warfare doctrine will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet.

The directive’s publication comes as the president plans to confront his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a summit in California on Friday over alleged Chinese attacks on western targets.

Even before the publication of the directive, Beijing had hit back against US criticism, with a senior official claiming to have “mountains of data” on American cyber-attacks he claimed were every bit as serious as those China was accused of having carried out against the US.

Presidential Policy Directive 20 defines OCEO as “operations and related programs or activities … conducted by or on behalf of the United States Government, in or through cyberspace, that are intended to enable or produce cyber effects outside United States government networks.”

Asked about the stepping up of US offensive capabilities outlined in the directive, a senior administration official said: “Once humans develop the capacity to build boats, we build navies. Once you build airplanes, we build air forces.”

The official added: “As a citizen, you expect your government to plan for scenarios. We’re very interested in having a discussion with our international partners about what the appropriate boundaries are.”

The document includes caveats and precautions stating that all US cyber operations should conform to US and international law, and that any operations “reasonably likely to result in significant consequences require specific presidential approval”.

The document says that agencies should consider the consequences of any cyber-action. They include the impact on intelligence-gathering; the risk of retaliation; the impact on the stability and security of the internet itself; the balance of political risks versus gains; and the establishment of unwelcome norms of international behaviour.

Among the possible “significant consequences” are loss of life; responsive actions against the US; damage to property; serious adverse foreign policy or economic impacts.

The US is understood to have already participated in at least one major cyber attack, the use of the Stuxnet computer worm targeted on Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges, the legality of which has been the subject of controversy. US reports citing high-level sources within the intelligence services said the US and Israel were responsible for the worm.

In the presidential directive, the criteria for offensive cyber operations in the directive is not limited to retaliatory action but vaguely framed as advancing “US national objectives around the world”.

The revelation that the US is preparing a specific target list for offensive cyber-action is likely to reignite previously raised concerns of security researchers and academics, several of whom have warned that large-scale cyber operations could easily escalate into full-scale military conflict.

Sean Lawson, assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of Utah, argues: “When militarist cyber rhetoric results in use of offensive cyber attack it is likely that those attacks will escalate into physical, kinetic uses of force.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

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By TBC Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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HUFF POST

Obama Cyber Memo Is Just The Latest Sign That The U.S. Is Preparing For Cyberwar

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 06/07/2013 5:43 pm EDT  |  Updated: 06/07/2013 6:07 pm EDT

A top-secret presidential memo published Friday marked the latest sign that the Obama administration is ready to go on the offensive in a potential cyberwar.

On Friday, the Guardian published a secret presidential directive calling on national security and intelligence officials to create a list of potential foreign targets for U.S. cyber attacks. The 18-page document, known as Presidential Policy Directive 20, aims “to put in place tools and a framework to enable government to make decisions” on cyber actions, a senior administration official told the Guardian.

The directive states that cyber attacks can be launched as part of “anticipatory action taken against imminent threats,” but should comply with U.S. and international law and receive approval from the president if they are “reasonably likely to result in significant consequences,” according to the Guardian.

 

Read Full Article and Watch Video Here

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