Saturday, 20 July 2013

$15,000 disappears from Dubai expat account after email hacked

A Dubai-based Indian expatriate was shocked when his cheque issued to a property developer he was invested with, bounced last week. 
Anil Abraham was sure his bank had sufficient funds.
He immediately called his bank in India only to be told by the Branch Manager that the money was transferred at his request, first through e-mail, and then followed by a written and signed document supporting his email.
The money was transferred to someone named Garry Albert Frazer, to a Westpac bank account in New Zealand.
Not only did Abraham not have any clue about who Frazer is, he did not know how the bank managed to obtain a signed affidavit from him instructing the bank to transfer the amount.
Abraham’s email account containing all his vital personal information had been hacked.
“Frazer or whoever that hacked into my email had managed to obtain crucial details about my bank account in India.
“The person then corresponded with the manager in India, writing to him to transfer the amount and later forging my own signature to send additional documents,” says Abraham.
Abraham says he used to use his Gmail account to communicate with the bank.
“So he first wrote to the bank, requesting the money to be transferred. When the bank replied and requested another written document, he managed to access my scanned passport copy before forging my signature,” he says.
According to him, the bank too was vulnerable as they did not opt for personal verification.
“The incident occurred in June (first week) but I got to know about it only after the cheque bounced in July.
“He could have easily obtained another set of $15,000 and none of us would have known about it,” said Abraham.
The letter issued to the bank had errors at three different places. Kerala was spelt as KEERALA and 15 as Fivteen
“The manager says we can file a formal complaint and they would forward the same to the State Police,” adds Abraham.

Hackers Inc.
This is not the first time hackers have managed to convince banks to send wire transfers.

Keep your Gmail safe
Meanwhile here’s a tip for all those who have still not secured their emails, Google has introduced a two-step verification where you email is linked to your mobile phone and whenever someone tries to access your email from an non-trusted device, Google will send a verification code to your phone via SMS which need to be entered for the email to be accessed.
This protects the email from potential hackers and they will not be able to access your mail even when they have your password.

There are various means through which Google is willing to reach you in order to keep your password secure.
It can send verification codes to your cell phone via text message.
In case you don’t always have your primary phone, add backup phone numbers and the SMS verification code will be sent to the other pone as well.
Google even offers to call your cell or landline phone with your verification code.
Users can even print or download a one-time use backup code for times when the phones are not available.
The facility is most handy when a person is travelling and you don’t have roaming enabled.
Not just the Google Authenticator app for Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry generates verification codes that can be used as well. Google says the app works even when your device has no phone or data connectivity.

Selling Secrecy: Israel Turning The World’s Cyber Problems Into Economic Opportunities

Israel conceals some of its best-kept secrets deep in the inhospitable Negev Desert: its nuclear research center near Dimona, its advanced agricultural research programs, its base for Unit 8200 of the army’s intelligence corps.
Now, the heat-drenched region’s largest city, Beer Sheva, is hoping to turn the world’s need for secrecy into new shekels. The country’s first-ever private cybersecurity incubator is being established in Beer Sheva under a partnership between the Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners and Ben Gurion University. The incubator is set to open its doors in October in a facility built at a cost of 50 million new shekels (NIS; US$12.5 million) in a new technology park conveniently located near the Israel Defence Force’s likewise new computer technology and intelligence base in the city, which opened for business last week.
The Israeli government estimates that more than 10,000 technology employees will move south to the cybersecurity center, and the Israeli Cabinet this week announced a major additional investment (NIS 500 million, or US $125 million) for economic development, housing, services and infrastructure improvements to accommodate the growth. Jerusalem Venture Partners has meanwhile begun searching for cyber startups to nurture. By 2020, JVP projects a NIS 1.4 to 1.7 billion increase in economic activity in the Negev each year, most of it in the realm of the cyber industry. But those figures, like most cited by the government and its partners regarding the plans for the Negev, are not fully quantified; other economic benefits are typically described  as “several billion” or “hundreds of millions,” the proponents being characteristically cagey about disclosing too many details.
Israel’s competitive advantage: security-tuned army graduates
“The initiative comes in the wake of rising cyberthreats and increasing attacks on critical infrastructure in Israel and around the world,” said JVP founder and chair Erel Margalit.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told delegates at Israel’s 3rd Annual Cybersecurity Conference in Tel Aviv last month that Israel is uniquely set up for cyber challenges due to its own experience in protecting cybersecurity. “Today cyber is part of the battlefield,” Netanyahu said. “This is not tomorrow’s warfare, it is already here today.”
In the face of cyberattacks by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel needs a digital Iron Dome to protect against terrorism -- the virtual equivalent of the country’s air defense system, which intercepted and destroyed hundreds of rockets and artillery shells launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip toward Israeli cities last November, Netanyahu said.
Numerous cybersecurity startups are already at work in Israel, including Check Point, ICQ, NICE and AudioCodes, and current cyberexports are worth “several billion dollars,” according to Israel’s Ministry of the Economy. Meanwhile, General Electric (NYSE:GE) has established its international cybersecurity center in Tel Aviv, and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) is preparing to do the same, according to Israel National Cyber Bureau head Eviatar Matania.
The cybersecurity industry’s success will in turn make Israel more secure, said Naphtali Bennett, Israel’s minister for the economy, who in 2005 sold his own cyber startup/anti-fraud software company Cyota to American computer network security company RSA Security for US$145 million. “The cybersecurity industry is one with special weight in the state of Israel,” Bennett said.
Israel’s own security situation engenders defensive thinking and the ability to adapt to constantly changing threats, which is an asset in the cybersecurity industry, said Joe Lonsdale, a U.S. cybersecurity expert and co-founder of software company Palantir. “Israel has this really unique advantage here where everyone goes through the army and they have really smart people like (army unit) 8200,” Lonsdale said. “The U.S. doesn’t have that.”
The Israel National Cyber Bureau was established in 2011 and charged with developing cyber-related industries, promoting them internationally, and developing educational programs to nurture talent and assist with startups and company exits in both the civilian and the defense sectors.The starting point of the educational program is called Magshimim Leumit, in which select students aged 16 to 18 are exposed to the latest knowledge in the cyber field by experts in the IDF and academia. The students then develop computer languages and are taught to build algorithms and thought processes, analyze computerised systems, and think creatively. Notably, Israel’s security agency, the Mossad, is involved, though the government will not divulge the exact nature of that involvement.
Upon graduation, many of these cyber students go into the specialist security units in the IDF, such as Unit 8200, network with others with similar training, and join cyber startups following their military service. In other cases, the students continue with their education; for those who choose that route, the government has created the NIS 32 million ($US $8 million) academic research fund through the Ministry of Science and Technology. An additional NIS 16 million (US $4 million) is available in scholarships for students studying for advanced academic degrees in the cyber field. The INCB is also working on establishing an online school and research institute for cyber studies.
Then there’s the MASAD program to promote national and defensive cyber technologies in cooperation with the Directorate of Defence research and development, part of the Ministry of Defence. It’s getting NIS$10 million (US$2.5 million) for this year and last. For cyber startups, Israel has the Kidma program, which is investing NIS 80 million (US $20 million) over two years in the advancement of cyber defence research and development through the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labour.
The crossover investments between the government and the private sector are appropriate, Matania said, because of what he described as the synergy between defense needs and economic needs.
Defense-civilian sector crossover
The JVP is involved in the Kidma program to promote investment and receives $500,000 from the government for every $100,000 the partnership invests, which translates to $600,000 for a startup company to get its product to the market. Companies that graduate from the incubator receive follow-up investment from JVP’s main fund or an additional venture capital fund.
JVP aims to nurture cyber startup companies from the embryonic stage through to exit from the program via acquisition, merger or initial public offering (IPO) of stock. It works with cyber entrepreneurs to polish their ideas, build a team, set up their product and make the right connections. Each startup remains in the incubator for 18 to 24 months, with about eight startups in the incubator at a given one time.
According to JVP partner Yoav Tzruya, the incubator’s proximity to Ben Gurion University and the military’s communication core is intended to ensure it snags all the best cyber talent. “In JVP we have an ongoing conversation with those major units. They do understand that they have to start cooperating with the industry so that eventually the skill set goes back to them.
“The IDF has invested a lot over the last few years in cyber,” Tzruya said. “Now it’s starting to find its way into the cyber civilian industry. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in cybersecurity companies -- 30 new startups in 2009, and 70 last year.”
The downside of all this commercial development is that the government may relinquish some control of security know-how from the military to the civilian sector. Israel’s ministries of Defence and the Economy are currently discussing whether the cyber industry should be regulated through legislation -- something the industry is opposed to.
Not every technology is created equal – there’s a difference between cyberattack and cyberdefense products, Tzruya said, adding that any legislation should be aimed at “guns for hire” that offer services rather than defense products. “Obviously, companies offering services related to things like cyberattacks could be monitored to an extent to prevent misuse of such a skill set,” he said. “However, Netanyahu wants to take the startup nation and make it the cyber nation. You can’t build that from a commercial perspective if you have strict regulatory restrictions.”
Tzurya argued that self-censorship was the country’s best defense. “These people can’t leave their know-how in the army once they leave, but they’re very conscious about not misusing it.”
One industry guru in fact advises entrepreneurs to steer their products toward the civilian sector rather than pitch them to the defense industry.  “Shy away from defence sector,” advised Gior Yaron, chair of the executive council of Tel Aviv University. “As a startup entrepreneur who’s been there and done that more than once, [I can say that] dealing with [the] defense industry is the kiss of death.”
It’s easier in the banking, health or insurance sectors, which are of necessity updating huge amounts of data to online storage systems,” Yaron said. “We are talking about a huge market. And they have bigger pockets. It’s a security problem and an economic opportunity.”
Israeli entrepreneurs’ defence and intelligence sector training places them well to offer cyberdefense solutions for big data, says Palantir’s Joe Lonsdale. In a world where firewall technology is often outdated and hacking is a given, it’s necessary to find creative ways to detect hackers and determine their intentions, Lonsdale said. “It’s not just about teaching the computer how to stop the bad guys; it’s also about building systems that allow analysts to see what’s going on … using the machines to put the data into a conceptual form that people can understand.”
One interesting theme, he added, was extending human intelligence within organizations rather than relying on automated systems.
“Let’s say you work at a big bank: It’s going to be a very different response if it’s say, the Russian fraudsters probing you to try to access your transactional systems to try to steal your money, versus the Iranians who just care about taking you down, because that’s their job. Really understanding deeply what the attackers are doing and who they are, and what their motivations are, becomes really important. That’s something that Israel does well.”

India NTRO releases guidelines to protect against cyber attacks

Cyber attacks on ministries, including home, external affairs, power and telecom, could soon constitute cyber-terrorism and could be punished with life imprisonment.
Tough new guidelines were released by national security advisor Shivshankar Menon on Friday by which these ministries with critical information networks could be declared protected systems as defined by the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), the country's elite technical intelligence agency.
The guidelines have been drawn up by the NTRO's National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre to protect the country's digitized information networks — in public and private sectors — from cyber attacks, said Muktesh Chander, part of the joint working group that framed the guidelines.
Calling the guidelines topical and important, Menon said, "India's cyberspace is under attack from not one or two but several countries."
Cyber space is the most open and democratic, so it is important to maintain its privacy and secure it as well, he added.
"Now these are not necessarily always in conflict. What it does mean is that we have to probably change definitions of privacy. There are things which we can no longer do in this domain," he said, likening cyber space to a goldfish bowl where very little can be hidden.
On the privacy debate, Menon said, "It is very easy to convert this into a government versus private individuals. But, that's not the issue here. It is about privacy from each other as well. Frankly, the technology empowers individual and small groups with the same capacities that governments used to have. It used to be a monopoly of governments to be able to do some of these things. Today it's no longer so."
NTRO chairman Alhad G Apte said these guidelines try to bring a dynamic equilibrium to avert instability in the chaotic cyber space.
After the guidelines, framed through public-private partnership, were released, the NTRO will begin work on identify eight critical sectors, including energy, aviation, telecom and National Stock Exchange. Entities with digitized systems will be asked to declare themselves as protected systems. The NTRO will also monitor if they are following the guidelines.

NSA Chief : We have concrete proof Terrorists Benefit from Snowden's Actions

The director of the National Security Agency said he has proof that terrorist groups are benefitting from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's public disclosure about agency data-gathering efforts.
Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, also commander of U.S. Cyber Command, spoke yesterday with Pete Williams, chief justice correspondent for NBC News, at the annual Aspen Institute Security Forum in Colorado.
"We have concrete proof that … terrorist groups and others are [already] taking action, making changes, and it's going to make our job tougher," said Alexander, comparing the leaks of such sensitive information to, in football parlance, giving the enemy the U.S. playbook.
There are reasons that such information is kept secure, the general said, and it's not because the American people aren't trusted.
"The reality is that terrorists use our communications devices," Alexander said. "They use our networks, they know how to plan around this. They use Skype, they use Yahoo, they use Google. They are amongst us and they're trying to kill our people."
Snowden, now a fugitive wanted by the United States, was a system administrator who ran what is called the SharePoint account as a contractor for NSA in Hawaii, Alexander said.
The former NSA contractor's responsibility, the general said, was to move data, and as a system administrator he had access to thumb drives and other tools.
"What we had is a person who was given the responsibility and the trust to do this job. [Snowden] betrayed that responsibility and trust and took this data," Alexander said.
Meanwhile, the general added, the U.S. government is "taking actions to fix this."
In his leaks to the media, Snowden described two NSA surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress created in 2008. Section 702 of FISA authorizes access to records and other items of foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act broadened FISA to allow the FBI director or another high-ranking official there to apply for orders to produce telephone records, books and other materials to help with terrorism investigations.
Revelations about the programs have launched a nationwide debate about citizens' privacy, because Section 215 allows NSA to collect something called metadata -- information about call length and connections -- for phone calls that occur inside the United States and between the United States and other countries.
In 2012, these programs resulted in the examination of fewer than 300 selectors, or phone numbers, in the NSA database, Alexander said.
"That's a very focused effort," the general said. "It's based on a nexus to al-Qaida and terrorism … meant to connect the dots between foreign intelligence agencies and the … FBI."
In the same year, he added, that surveillance effort helped stop 42 different plots, and 12 people were caught providing material support to terrorists. And 41 of the terrorist actions that were prevented would have affected U.S. allies like Germany, France, Denmark and other countries around the world, the general said.
Pulling such information together is like putting together a puzzle or connecting the dots, Alexander said.
"What we're trying to do for the United States is to provide that information to the FBI," he added. "What you can't afford to do is what we did in 9/11 -- not have enough information to connect the dots. We all came together as a country and said never again. We don't want another 9/11."
The track record since 9/11 is extraordinary, the general said, referring to the work of the FBI, CIA, NSA and the Defense Department to the nation.
In a comment to Alexander, Williams said Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook and several other computer and communication companies wrote to the administration and copied Alexander, requesting the legal authority to publicly disclose the number of national security requests for information they get from NSA.
"Would you be in favor of that?" Williams asked the general.
Alexander said yes, but with a caveat.
"These carriers are compelled to support us in these programs, they don't have a choice … and these are global companies. They are oftentimes compelled, if they have a headquarters in another country, to do the same thing -- a lawful intercept program," the general said.
The FBI and the NSA are examining how to comply with the computer and communication companies' request "without hurting any of the ongoing FBI investigations," Alexander said.
"From my perspective, what the American people and the rest of the people of the world should know, what these companies are doing, they're compelled to do," the general said.
"And I will tell you," Alexander added, "they know that they're helping us save lives here and in other countries around the world, and that's good business."

New ransomware uses Organized Crime unit threat to scare users

New “ransomware” attempts to terrify users into paying up by using the name of Britain’s SOCA crime unit – the Serious Organized Crime Agency, dealing with drugs, people smuggling, human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud and computer crime.
The malware locks computer screens, and a message purportedly from SOCA pops up stating that their computer will only be unlocked if they pay a fine.
“Computer users find that their screens are locked, and at the same time they receive a message purporting to be from SOCA which states that their computer screen will only be unlocked if they pay a fine,” SOCA said in a statement today. “In reality, the computer has been infected with malicious software (malware), disseminated by cyber criminals for financial gain.”
“SOCA will never contact members of the public and demand money in this way. Anyone contacted in this manner should never pay any money, and should seek immediate advice on removing the malware from reputable computer specialists.”
Ransomware is currently a common scam  – and on the increase, according to a report in V3. Several WeLiveSecurity   relating to recent “ransomware” attacks can be found here. An in-depth analysis of a malware campaign – the Home Campaign - which infects users with ransomware can be found here.
Previous ransomware campaigns have threatened user with the FBI and other law enforcement bodies. The warning coincided with an overall 27% rise in fraud in Britain, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), much of which was attributable to online scams.
“Similar versions of the malware, often claiming to be from other law enforcement bodies or private companies, are also in circulation,” SOCA says. “Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to this, or any other, form of fraud, are advised to report it to Action Fraud at

Google Glasses still vulnerable to WiFi spoofing hackers

girl lookign silly wearing Google Glass
Google Glass users are still vulnerable to attack, despite an emergency patch fix, according to security firm Symantec.
Symantec director of security strategy Sian John told V3 that while Google has managed to patch the QR vulnerability in its Glasses, the technology is still exploitable.
"The vulnerability allowed Google Glasses to be configured, via QR codes, to connect to a wireless network of choice. Once connected, the wearer's activities could be viewed remotely via the internet and the glasses could even be configured to redirect to a webpage running malicious code. This would happen automatically in the background making the hack hard to detect until it was too late," she said.

"Google has now fixed this vulnerability, but there is still an issue around open network traffic, namely hackers impersonating connections that you believe to be secure, such as your home or company network."
The exploit would let hackers mount the same trick they used with the QR code exploit, tapping into the technology to see everything the user is doing. John said the potential exploit is a good example of the wider issues around open WiFi use and wearable technology.
"The issue with wearable technology is that is makes everything you are doing more personal. Whether using something like Google Glass for personal or business use, the potential for unauthorised access to what you are viewing and doing on the device is clearly a concern," she said.
"As open WiFi access becomes more prevalent it's likely we'll see more potential threats but by taking sensible precautions on how we access the internet on wearable devices, we can reduce the risk considerably."
Google declined V3's request for comment on the report and whether it is working on a fix.
However, John said there are protection measures available that can fix the vulnerability. "The answer here is to encrypt all wireless traffic when travelling out and about – connection to secure websites or connecting via a VPN – so that people can't look at everything that you are doing," she explained.

EU ‘Smart Border’ IT project slammed by privacy body

European Union flags
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, has criticised a European Commission IT project aimed at keeping track of the movements of EU citizens between borders, branding it "costly, unproven and intrusive."
Hustinx said today that Smart Border system, which would see EU citizens providing biometric data including 10 fingerprints, were "disproportionate".
He said: "In a democratic society, the EDPS questions the necessity of the collection and storage of excessive amounts of personal information, particularly when two or four fingerprints are sufficient for verification."
He said it was an unnecessary IT project, considering other systems that are already in place: "The creation of yet another large-scale IT database to store massive amounts of personal information is a disproportionate response to a problem that other recently created systems may be able to help solve."
The biometric information would be used to keep track of the length of time so-called "third-country" residents – people who migrate to European countries from outside the EU – stay in Europe.
Law enforcement authorities would be given access to the data, something which the EDPS said sets an uncomfortable trend. "The general trend to give law enforcement authorities access to the data of individuals, who in principle are not suspected of committing any crime, is a dangerous one," an EDPS statement said.
"The EDPS strongly recommends that the precise added value of such access, compared with access to existing biometric databases, be identified."
The EDPS is an independent authority tasked with protecting the personal data and privacy for EU citizens. The Smart Border concept was created by the European Commission to simplify the immigration process into the EU to assist with short term working permits.
V3 contacted the EC for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

Car hack attack a possible theory behind journalist's death

The upcoming DEFCON hacking conference will have many presenters touching on a great number of subjects, including that of car hacking.
Security researcher Charlie Miller, former NSA and current Twitter employee well known for finding flaws in a variety of computer systems and programs, and Chris Valasek, Director of Security Intelligence at IOActive, are scheduled to speak about the potential security risks associated with using cars with on-board computers.
"Automotive computers, or Electronic Control Units (ECU), were originally introduced to help with fuel efficiency and emissions problems of the 1970s but evolved into integral parts of in-car entertainment, safety controls, and enhanced automotive functionality. This presentation will examine some controls in two modern automobiles from a security researcher's point of view," the two said in the presentation abstract.
"We will first cover the requisite tools and software needed to analyze a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. Secondly, we will demo software to show how data can be read and written to the CAN bus. Then we will show how certain proprietary messages can be replayed by a device hooked up to an ODB-II connection to perform critical car functionality, such as braking and steering. Finally, we'll discuss aspects of reading and modifying the firmware of ECUs installed in today's modern automobile."
Although definitely not the first ones to tackle the subject, the issue is slowly gaining prominence as more and more cars have such a system on board and are connected to the Internet.
Coincidentally, the recent tragic death of noted journalist Michael Hastings - and the (still unclear) circumstances of which have given rise to many theories about whether the death was accidental or the result of foul play - has also brought attention to the subject of car hacking.
Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke has shared with The Huffington Post his thoughts on whether it's possible and likely that such an attack resulted in Hastings' untimely death.
He thinks that publicly known details about the crash and burn of Hastings' car are consistent with a car cyber attack, but that it's impossible to tell whether it really happened that way.
"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," he said, but pointed out that even if the onboard computers hadn't melted in the fire that enveloped the car that crashed into the tree, the Los Angeles Police Department likely wouldn't have the expertise to trace such an attack.
"I think you'd probably need the very best of the U.S. government intelligence or law enforcement officials to discover it. So if there were a cyber attack on the car - and I'm not saying there was - I think whoever did it would probably get away with it," he concluded.

EX CIA, NSA chief : EU politicians Not Aware of what their own Security service Doing

The Australian Financial Review held an exclusive interview with General Michael Hayden on a wide range of national security issues. Mr Hayden is the only American to have led both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. He served as director of the NSA between 1999 and 2005, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton. He was appointed director of the CIA by President George W. Bush in 2006 and retired in 2009. Between his NSA and CIA roles Mr Hayden was the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence over 2005 and 2006, which meant he was the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the US armed forces.
Mr Hayden is currently a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University School of Public Policy, a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy, and a director of Motorola Solutions, which provides two-way radios, smart tags, bar code scanners, and specialist public safety products to law enforcement agencies and business.
Mr Hayden stated that this is the most in-depth, on-the-record interview he has given to print or visual media since retiring as director of the CIA in 2009. He has not given an Australian interview before.
AFR: What do you think are the next generation of cyber threats that we will face?
Gen. Hayden: Most of the unpleasant cyber events we’ve experienced to date are most accurately described as “cyber espionage”. The next level, and we are in this right now, is using the cyber domain to destroy someone’s information and/or to degrade their network.
We’ve seen this in several recent cases, including the attacks that destroyed thousands of Saudi Aramco computers, the Iranians’ denial of service offensives against American banks, and so on. We are into that level of conflict now.
The Stuxnet virus that disabled some of Iran’s nuclear facilities – and I am not commenting on who may or may not have created it – highlights the potential for cyber weapons to inflict physical damage.
We are moving from a world in which most cyber problems are mainly about stealing your data to a world in which cyber is being used to deliberately create direct kinetic consequences: effects on your information, effects on your networks, and other adverse physical effects on assets that are valuable to you. As surely as night follows day, these cyber security risks are going to expand over time.
AFR: In a world where human activity is becoming increasingly electronically integrated and mediated by copper/wireless/fibre communications, will core telecommunications networks effectively have to become national “public goods” again and heavily constrained by national security considerations?
Gen. Hayden: Vital communications infrastructure will inevitably become more constrained by non-market national security issues. I don’t think we are going back to the situation at the height of the industrial age when telcos were state-run and/or controlled monopolies largely because they were so complicated at the time – only states could manage them.
We are in a completely different era now. But if you’ve got a foreign company supplying you with essential communications infrastructure and/or helping build your network, the detailed knowledge that company obtains can be a powerful intelligence tool for foreign security services to leverage off to map out and target your telecommunications network for espionage and other malicious purposes.
I know we are in an era of globalisation – we want our firms to be able to compete globally. But governments also have to bear some accountability and responsibility for their own self-defence.
We definitely need the agility, creativity and innovativeness of the private sector to do modern telecommunications properly. I get that. The last thing you want is the American phone system being run by the Internal Revenue Service. You need the private sector to do communications well.
But the state also has a role in putting in place oversight mechanisms to ensure that the private owners of critical infrastructure do not respond just to market forces, and do not ignore “non-market” national security concerns.
AFR: Some private companies are becoming more vocal about the need to actively defend themselves against cyber attacks in the absence of state support. Is this something the private sector should do, or is it the exclusive remit of government?
Gen. Hayden: Liberal democracies like yours and mine have inherent trouble providing adequate self-defence because of a range of civil liberties that come hand-in-hand with the freedom our societies offer.
The United States is arguably constrained more by this desire to protect civil liberties than many other countries. And so I understand the great temptation for private firms. They feel they have to provide for their own cyber security defence much more than they have to do in our traditional physical world.
So I understand some want to have the ability and the legal authority to be aggressive in defending their business. I get that. And the longer your government and my government are late in providing adequate cyber defences, the stronger the temptation for private companies to do aggressive defence themselves will become. However, I am not yet ready to endorse this as the appropriate response.
The problem is that whereas your government and mine have very clear rules and roles for defending us across land, sea and air, they don’t yet in cyber. Firms are far more on their own in the cyber domain than they are in the physical domain. So I can see the pressures building on them to engage in active or offensive cyber defence. But I am not yet convinced they should be doing it. One would hope that over time they can work with government to get more comfort about their cyber security.
AFR: Have you ever had any direct exposure to the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei?
Gen Hayden: Two or three years ago Huawei was trying to establish a pretty significant footprint here in the United States. And they were trying to get people like me – as the former head of NSA and the CIA – to endorse their presence in the US. To serve on their local board, or to have some other kind of commercial relationship with them.
I reviewed Huawei’s briefing paper, which said all the right things. One could almost honestly judge that were actually trying to genuinely put my mind at ease.
But God did not make enough briefing slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be okay. This is not blind prejudice on my part. This was my considered view based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer.
My conclusion was that, “No, it is simply not acceptable for Huawei to be creating the backbone of the domestic telecommunications network in the United States, period.” And frankly this is where I think the state has a role to play – to ensure we don’t make decisions that compromise the foundations of our national security.
AFR: Have you come across insidious hardware implants in telecommunications equipment provided by non-US manufacturers before? If so, can you generally describe the implants’ capabilities/purpose?
Gen Hayden: It is impossible for me to comment about operational matters. I can give you a more generalised remark. I recognise the danger of implants and backdoors in telecommunications networks. Beyond that, just a foreign firm gaining the intimate knowledge they would get by helping build a telecommunications network is a sufficient “first-principles” national security problem to give you serious pause before you even consider the presence of backdoors.
AFR: When intelligence agencies issue strong warnings to government about the national security risks posed by specific companies, do they typically have a clear evidentiary basis when doing so? Do politicians always listen?
Gen. Hayden: When you are the intelligence guy in the room, and you say “I advise against this course of action,” I have found in America’s system, and I assume it is the same in Australia, whether it was David Irvine [Director-General of ASIO], Steve Merchant [Defence’s former Deputy Secretary of Intelligence] or Dennis Richardson [Secretary of Defence and former head of ASIO], or any other senior intelligence expert providing the advice, for a minister to say, “Well that’s very interesting, but I choose to ignore the intelligence community’s warning to me”, that’s almost an unnatural act in a political system that is transparent and which has to be responsive to the body politic.
As head of NSA or CIA I would always make sure I knew what I was talking about before I issued such a warning, because I knew that in our system these warning carry tremendous weight in the discussion. Maybe there are differences between what happens in Canberra and what happens in Washington. But in Washington, if the top intel guys take a hard line and say, “No, we believe this action to be unwise”, that’s a real strong point in the conversation. That will exert real influence on the decision-maker.
AFR: Does Huawei represent an unambiguous national security threat to the US and Australia?
Gen. Hayden: Yes, I believe it does.
AFR: Do you think hard evidence exists within democratic, English-speaking intelligence networks intelligence network that Huawei has engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese state in the past?
Gen. Hayden: Yes, I have no reason to question the belief that’s the case. That’s my professional judgement. But as the former director of the NSA, I cannot comment on specific instances of espionage or any operational matters.
AFR: I just want to confirm this is correct. You believe that it is reasonable to assume that hard evidence exists that Huawei has engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese state?
Gen. Hayden: Yes, that’s right. And, at a minimum, Huawei would have shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with. I think that goes without saying. That’s one reality.
But frankly, given the overarching national security risks a foreign company helping build your national telecommunications networks creates, the burden of proof is not on us. It is on Huawei. And based upon the House Intelligence Committee’s open hearings in America last year, Huawei was well short of providing any comforting testimony that would make me begin to question the intuitive premise that Huawei presents serious national security risks on a first-principles basis. In fact, I don’t think Huawei has ever really tried hard to meet this burden of proof test.
Let make some broader points. Number one: I understand the theory of Chinese state capitalism where the government classifies specific private companies as ‘national champions”. Their success is strategically important to the state. It is well known Huawei falls into that camp.
Number two: I understand the Chinese espionage effort against the West. As an intelligence professional, I stand back in awe at the breadth, depth, sophistication and persistence of the Chinese espionage campaign against the West.
The third point is that China does not confine itself to espionage against what you or I would call “state secrets”. They have a much broader definition of legitimate espionage to include intellectual property, commercial trade secrets, and the negotiating positions of private entities. In other words, they don’t limit themselves in the way we do in the English-speaking community.
Finally, as highlighted wonderfully in the House Intelligence Committee’s open hearings with Huawei officials last year, these guys are not even transparent to themselves. There’s no transparency around who appoints the board of directors or controls the ownership of the business. And there’s no independent Chinese government oversight committee that could give us continuing confidence that Huawei or ZTE would not do what they promised not to do.
Look, I also understand that this can be tough on business in Australia and the US because we’re in essence taking the lowest bidder out of the competition. But, frankly, this isn’t very hard for us to do in the security domain: I mean, it’s almost reflexive given what we believe.
AFR: Have the Snowden leaks compromised the flow of intelligence from the US to its alliance partners?
Gen. Hayden: The Snowden leaks have the potential, if not already the reality, to be the most single most destructive leak of American security information in our history. And I make that statement with full knowledge that Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanson led to sources being executed. I understand that. As sad as that is, they revealed very limited, singular sources.
Snowden is attempting to reveal the underlying architecture of the US intelligence gathering network. We’ve lost cups of water before. We’ve lost buckets of water. Yet this is a guy who is exposing the very plumbing that pipes the information. He’s exposing the methods through which we access information.
Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has stated that we are already seeing the enemy respond to Snowden’s leaks. There is undoubtedly going to be a long-term impact on the American technical intelligence community’s ability to collect information.
How does this affect our partners? We have already made it clear that we are quite generous in how we share our intelligence with other nations. If there is less intelligence being gathered there will be less to share, as surely as night follows day. Make no mistake: the Snowden leaks are a really big deal for our national security.
AFR: Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor?
Gen. Hayden: He’s certainly not a hero. The word traitor has a very narrowly defined legal meaning that he may not in the end quite meet. I personally think Snowden is a very troubled, narcissistic young man who has done a very, very bad thing.
I don’t think Snowden spied for the money, and he probably did not spy for the power. He seems to have revealed this information because of his ideological embrace of transparency as a virtue.
It is a little like the Boston bombers. The issue is at what point does Islamic fundamentalism flip-over and become a genuine national security threat? Likewise, at what point does a cultural tendency towards transparency flip-over to become a deep threat inside your system? They are similar issues.
AFR: Why do you think Snowden selected Hong Kong as his initial base?
Gen. Hayden: It’s very mysterious why Snowden chose Hong Kong. The great puzzle is that he ran up his flag as the protector of American privacy. He then slid into the role of the protector of everyone’s privacy. Yet he’s taken up residence in China, Russia, and now he is trying to get to Venezuela. None of these nations feature in a list of the world’s top internet privacy regimes. It is therefore a remarkable journey he’s chosen to undertake.
AFR: Will the Snowden leaks increase the probability of national security threats materialising?
Gen. Hayden: Of course they will. Look, the intelligence services like the ones I used to head – and DSD, ASIO, and ASIS – they’re there to prevent surprises. They’re there to inform policymakers so that they don’t end up with those nasty binary national security choices too late in the game.
The intelligence infrastructure is designed to allow leaders to shape situations, and mitigate risks, well in advance of crises actually occurring. Insofar as Snowden’s leaks have impaired the ability of intelligence agencies to collect information, political leaders in Western democratic states will have commensurately less forewarning and knowledge of crises beginning to build. That can ultimately mean these events blow-up and the Prime Minister or President is forced to deal with two unpleasant choices – accepting an event’s damage or taking difficult action in response to it – rather than having the opportunity to thwart it all in advance.
AFR: What’s the biggest lesson for the US national security community from the Snowden affair? What can they do to prevent these leaks happening again?
Gen. Hayden: This is really hard for many reasons. And the bad news is that it will likely happen again. We all recognise the value of sharing sensitive information, making it readily accessible, and not stove-piping it, or sealing it off. The lesson of 9/11 was the importance of sharing information.
And we Americans and Australians need to recruit from Edward Snowden’s generation. The problem is that this is a generation of people whose views on secrecy, privacy, transparency, and government accountability are a bit different from the folks supervising them, and certainly different from my generation.
We nonetheless need to recruit from this group because they have the skills that ASIO, ASIS, DSD, NSA and CIA require to fulfil their lawful mandates. So the challenge is how to recruit this talent while also protecting ourselves from the very small fraction of that population that has this romantic attachment to absolute transparency at all costs.
One solution I do not favour is turning the American intelligence community into the East German stasi, with everyone reporting on everyone else. That’s not who we are, that won’t work. Even if you thought that was a good idea – and it is a horrible one – it would not work inside our culture or the Australian one. So that’s not the answer.
I do think that there are technological tools out there that give us a higher probability of detecting the “high volume leaker”. We should be able to set up mechanisms that allow us to detect anomalous behaviour inside our own network. This would not be foolproof, but it might help you ask: “Why is this guy on a workstation in Oahu, Hawaii tapping into large volumes of sensitive documents back at NSA, Fort Meade?”
AFR: Do you have any issues with the media reporting of the Snowden leaks?
Gen. Hayden: Yes, our 24/7 constant news networks have really mangled this so story badly that Americans don’t quite understand what it is that their government is or is not doing. When the media gives us a proper opportunity to explain exactly what it is the US intelligence community does for its people, then I think we can make Americans very comfortable.
The second public relations issue has been in other states. You’ve got a bunch of countries in Europe hyperventilating about America’s foreign intelligence operations. But the truth is that all nations conduct espionage. Nobody has claimed that America’s Bill of Rights, which protects the individual privacy of our citizens, was a global treaty. No one can claim that these nations aren’t doing similar things against America and many others. If some countries do have a legitimate compliant about our espionage activities, it’s frankly because we are just better at it than they are.
One explanation for the response in some European countries is that politicians on the continent are often not aware of what their own security services are doing. Their parliamentary oversight committees don’t have anything remotely like the access inside the security services that our Congress has.
AFR: What is the difference between NSA’s meta-data collection activities and the data-retention regimes in place across 27 EU nations to assist law enforcement and national security agencies lawfully conduct investigations?
Gen. Hayden: All telecommunications and internet service providers in North America and Europe are required to respond to lawful information requests by the sovereign states in which they are located for policing or national security purposes. The French may do this a bit differently than the way we do it, and the Germans may do it a bit differently than the French. But every country has the right to go to their communications providers and collect information subject to the laws of that land.
AFR: If the US is able to lawfully compel leading privately owned companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others, which as listed entities on stock exchanges are subject to tough disclosure standards, to facilitate its foreign intelligence gathering efforts, do more authoritarian states, like China and Russia, have a greater ability to coerce their own private companies to do the same?
Gen. Hayden: Of course they do. American firms were responding to narrowly crafted court orders to provide information to the American government for very specific and targeted national security reasons. In more closed and controlling countries like China they have created entire non-government systems, or complexes, of universities, institutions and other entities like “cyber militias” that actively conduct espionage on behalf of the state. Have a read of the public Lockheed Martin report that documents this.
AFR: How is PRISM different to the standard foreign signals intelligence collection carried out by most countries?
Gen. Hayden: It is not. It is simply a reflection of an anomaly in America’s FISA Act that treated all communications routed via the United States as if they were between our citizens and therefore of the United States. But with modern telecommunications there are now communications between foreign nationals that happen to be on a server sitting in Washington state. And so the FISA Act was amended in 2008 to allow the NSA under court supervision to treat these exchanges as the foreign communications they truly are.
AFR: You say there is a key difference between the espionage practices of the US and its allies and China’s spying. What is it?
Gen. Hayden: Listen, I fully admit: we steal other country’s secrets. And frankly we’re quite good at it. But the reason we steal these secrets is to keep our citizens free, and to keep them safe. We don’t steal secrets to make our citizens rich. Yet this is exactly what the Chinese do.
I believe the Chinese today are engaging in unrestricted espionage against the West that is comparable to the unrestricted submarine warfare waged by Imperial Germany in 1916. The intensity of Chinese espionage is certainly greater than that what we saw between the US and the Soviets during the Cold War.
The problem is China’s view is that industrial espionage by the state against relatively vulnerable private enterprise is a commonly accepted state practice. This is just unacceptable.
Industrial espionage by the Chinese has probably now become the core issue in the Sino-American relationship. It is not an irritant. It is not a peripheral issue. Believe me, I work closely with America’s congress and government, and this is now the dominant issue between the two countries, and runs the risk of undermining the entire relationship.
AFR: What do you think about the rise of Chinese power, how should we respond to it, and what does it mean for American (and Australian) diplomacy?
Gen. Hayden: I get asked all the time whether the growth of China’s power is good or bad. I am an intelligence officer – and the way I put it is that Chinese power just “is”. It’s an artefact of China’s trajectory to date.
What the growth of Chinese power really necessitates is a prudent response from countries like ourselves and Australia. Not because we view the Chinese as inherently aggressive or because we think war with China is inherently inevitable. We simply need to balance the growth of Chinese power in the region and take the necessary precautions to make it much more difficult, or highly unlikely, for China to make a dumb decision in 3, 5, 10 or 15 years.
In 2009, 2010, and into 2011 we had an awful lot of Chinese triumphalism. This was not China as an emergent state – as most of the world perceives them – it was the restoration of China. And I think the Chinese made mistakes in cutting against their own self-interest with this approach. You know, suddenly defining their claims to the South China Sea as “core national interests” was very counter-productive.
And the Chinese style made it easy for American diplomacy to effectively engage in the region. We are now doing joint exercises with the Philippines, we have two littoral combat ships berthed in Singapore, we’ve got Marines in Darwin, and now the Vietnamese are saying, “Hey you guys used Cam Ranh Bay all that time, why can’t you use it again?” You’ve got everyone out there now welcoming an American return.
And I think the Chinese have now recognised that. Certainly, in 2012 and so far in 2013, they’ve changed their style a little bit. Because the previous approach was triggering a response from countries in the region that actually made is much easier for America to conduct this “pivot” back towards them. My hope is that the Chinese understand this.
AFR: Will China become the next super-power?
Gen. Hayden: I would also offer to you this. I am very confident China is not a juggernaut. Sure, this is a state that has had remarkable growth. And that’s a good thing. It really is. But they’ve got so many embedded fundamental flaws: whether it’s demographics, inequality, the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, or environmental challenges.
My expectation is that this will be an inward facing society because of these problems for a long time to come. But my fear is that the Chinese Communist Party, whose legitimacy has not been based on ideology for a decade or three, but on 10 per cent real GDP growth each year, my fear is that as that noses over, the Party will not be able to default to legitimacy of “Confucian merit”. We all know from the Chinese blogosphere about the deep problems the Party has with its moral merit in the community. So my fear is that the Party seeks legitimacy in that last refuge of self-preservation: nationalism.
Having said that, I think the probability of major power conflict is less than it was during the Cold War. The economic and social integration of the Chinese and West’s economies is much higher than it was between the Soviets and the United States during the Cold War. That augurs well for us having a chance of controlling this competition.
And, as I have said elsewhere, I don’t think China is an enemy of the United States. There is no good reason for China to be an enemy. There are logical, non-heroic policy choices available to the leaders of both nations that will allow the relationship to remain competitive, if occasionally confrontational. But it never has to get to actual conflict.
AFR: Some Australian experts/commentators publicly argue that we should “free-ride” off the US alliance, and the extended nuclear deterrence it affords. To this school of thought, we can continue to spend less than half what the US does as a share of GDP on defence. Do you have any comments on this argument?
Gen. Hayden: Let me make clear first that this is not a North American who is complaining. The Australians have been generous and show up in a lot of places like Afghanistan. But I think it would be foolhardy for other countries to rely on some abstract American nuclear umbrella to ensure stability in the Pacific and in the coming competition in the Indian Ocean.
In addition, we cannot do it alone to the extent we did in the Cold War. America’s current policy is focused on the demands of balancing the growth of Chinese power in concert with our regional friends – not in isolation.
This is not something the United States would be able or willing to do on its own in the way we may have been willing or able to constrain Soviet power in the 1950s or the first half of the 1960s. The bottom line is that we want to collectively make it difficult, if not impossible, for the Chinese to make a stupid decision in the years ahead that really harms our way of life.
AFR: Is leasing Virginia-class nuclear-powered but conventionally-armed submarines off America a viable strategic option for Australia to consider?
Gen. Hayden: Yes, I think that sounds like a reasonable option although I claim little expertise on the matter. I would really underscore the importance of undersea combat in this context of the strategic goal of balancing Chinese power. We’ve got the best minds in the American air force and navy talking about air-sea battle. And the critical conflict in any area denial campaign could very likely take place in what is known as subsurface warfare. This is, therefore, a very important capability, and one that Australia could make a vital contribution to. Correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection is that Australia’s defence white paper in 2009 stated quite clearly that undersea warfare was going to be a critical element in the strategic relationship with China?

AnonGhost #opBurma target list & operation

The AnonGhost hacking team has spread the word on their forum that the #opBurma operation is initiated. Instead of August the 15th the original date of #opBurma - it seems that #opBurma is going to be started earlier.
#opBurma started


Burmese Government does not consider Rohingya Muslims as citizens and are hated by the Buddhists. Rohingyans have long demanded recognition as an indigenous ethnic group with full citizenship by birthright, claiming a centuries-old lineage in Rakhine. But the Government regards them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh and denies them citizenship.
Operation Burma
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said at a recent visit to Myanmar, discrimination against the Muslim community, particularly the Rohingyas in Rakhine State, was the root cause of the violence, stressing the need for the authorities to take steps to address “long-standing issues of deprivation of citizenship, freedom of movement, and other fundamental rights” for the Rohingyas.

Even Nobel Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, does not consider Muslims as citizens. Speaking at London School of Economics meeting last week during her visit to the UK, she said Rohingya Muslims should be considered as permanent residents but not as citizens. During a press conference in Downing Street last Thursday, she did not condemn the killings of Rohingya Muslims, instead she said, “Ethnic conflict plaguing the country” should be investigated and “dealt with wisdom.” Eight Muslim pilgrims along with one escort – a Muslim lady – and one helper, were killed in Taungup, at about 3:00pm on June 3 by a gang of hundreds of Buddhist Rakhines, according to a pilgrim who returned from Thandwe after seeing the eight Muslim pilgrims.
The victims were Muslim pilgrims returning to Rangoon in a bus from Thetsa Masjid in Thandwe, southern Arakan, on June 3. “The culprits were celebrating triumph spitting and tossing the wine and alcohol on the dead bodies lying on the road,” said an eye witness.
“These innocent people have been killed like animals,” said Abu Tahay, of the National Democratic Party for Development, which represents the country’s much-persecuted stateless Muslim Rohingya community.
“If the police cannot control the situation, maybe the (unrest) is going to spread,” he said, adding that the biggest fear was for Rakhine state, where there is a large Muslim minority population including the Rohingya.
Meanwhile, Rakhine Buddhists burned down a Rohingya Muslim village – Anauk Pin – in Rathidaung Township on June 9 at about 8:30 am, where 60 houses were burned down. Eight Rakhines and 8 Rohingyas died.
Another Rohingya village – Muzardiya – was also burned down where two Rohingyas were killed. Similarly Rohingya village –Tharapin – was also burned down and most of Rohingya villagers were killed. These villagers are stranded between Rakhines villages and Mayu River.
About 800,000 Rohingya live in Myanmar, according to the UN, which describes them as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

Mauritania Attacker

Mauritanian Attacker aims to promote "correct Islam" by striking at servers hosted by countries they see as hostile to sharia law. "There is no Islam without sharia," he said.
Mauritania is renowned for its strict Islamic law. The sale of alcohol is forbidden and it is one of only a handful of states where homosexuality and atheism are punished by death.
The quality of Mauritania's religious scholars and koranic schools, or madrassas, attract students from around the world. Mauritanians have risen to prominent positions in regional jihadist groups, including al Qaeda's north African branch AQIM.
As hackers from the region organise into groups, the Maghreb is emerging as a haven for hacktivism as it lacks the laws and means to prosecute cyber criminals, Herberger said.
"There's a great degree of anonymity and there's a great degree of implied impunity," he said.
Security sources in Nouakchott said they were not aware of the activities of Mauritania Attacker.
He says he supports Islamists in Mauritania but opposes his government's support for the West, which sees the country as one of its main allies in its fight against al Qaeda in the region.
With tech-savy young Muslims in the Maghreb chafing under repressive regimes, analysts anticipate a rise in hacktivism.

AnonGhost has seen no action from Anonymous

AnonGhost said that the Anonymous spirits has showed no real support in #opMyanmar - this is why we need #OpBurma

#opBurma Target & Damage List 

AnonGhost has said that they will target everything and that they will not leave anyone unharmed.

AnonGhost members that are going to work on the #opBurma operation

Mauritania Attacker - Virusa Worm - SpitFir3 - Deto Beiber - BL4ckc0d1n6 - Dr.SàM!M_008 - Kais Patron - Ian Surgent - M3GAFAB - Gbs Aremiey - Mr Domoz - Tak Dikenal - Chahid inj3ctor - b3ta - AnonxoxTN - Spec Tre - PsyferR - Raka 3r00t - Gh0st_3xp10!t - PirateX - kopra1337 - Bl4ck Jorozz - Riad Spamer - VirUs AsEr AlrOoh - Younes Lmaghribi - Zaky - Joker Inside - AreTheiS

Saudi Hackers defaced UAE Gov Website

The official website of the United Arab Emirates’ National Transport Authority (NTA) has been breached and defaced by Saudi hackers SNipEr AL BaHa, CrAzY HaCkEr, and SNIPER MAKKA, HackRead reports. The attack took place a few hours ago.
Visitors of,,, and are presented with a picture of Sheikh Mohammad Al-Arefe, an Arabian preacher persecuted by the Saudi regime for helping Muslims in Syria.
In addition to the preacher’s picture, the hackers also posted a protest message in Arabic against the UAE and Qatar.
The hackers are displeased that the two countries are “cooperating” with Iran, Israel, and the United States.
Currently, all four domains are still defaced. A mirror of the defacements can be found on