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Pentagon Cyber Wars 109

Doctor Arcane sent us a link to an ABC Article on Cyber Warfare. Talks about crack attempts on the pentagon and the likes. Cyberwarfare may be the stupidest name I've ever heard of, but it probably does represent the first steps in how war will work in the future. Does it creep you out as much as it does me? [ Speaking of creeping out: I'm flying home today. I'm absolutely exhausted:physically, mentally, and emotionally. but I do have an official IBM-Blue Part-of-the-Hive t-shirt hand delivered by an elite cadre from the collective to show for my week. Next year I want that thinkpad *grin*. But I'm airborne today, so hold off ont he mail please pretty please until tomorrow. Can't wait to get back to a normal schedule after all the craziness ] wait until tomorrow ]
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Pentagon Cyber Wars

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  • by Erich ( 151 )
    Hey, CT... need to make use of that percent key and check to make sure those brackets match up.

    Oh, and I worked for a private company this summer that did work for the military (made plane parts and stuff). Security is tight. Like, all classified information is on computers on a seperate network which is enclosed in a pressurized pipe system. You can't get to the network without changing the pressure and shutting down the network. All the computer rooms are metal lined to prevent eavesdropping.

    I can't imagine that important stuff at the pentagon is any less secure. If you do crack into the pentagon from the internet you're probably not going to find much except personal emails from some secretary or some insecure scripts the webmaster uses. I seriously doubt that you're going to find top secret military documents or alien invasion plans.

  • Then again, you'd probably end up in Singapore..
  • Ok, "cyberwarfare" has to be the stupidest non-word I've seen in a while. Who came up with the the mistaken idea that the prefix "cyber" refers to computers or the internet? The prefix "cyber" means "relating to government" (the Greek word for government is "kybernisi").

    So, therefore, "cyberwarfare" means "war between governments" or "government-sponsored war" or something to that effect. Isn't nearly all war between and sponsored by governments?
  • I disagree. The term "hacker" refers to a knowledge and love of computers (which often includes programming). There's no distinction between "bad" hackers and "good" hackers. They're all hackers.

    However, I agree that "hacker" is not a synonym for "person who breaks into systems." Some of those people may in fact be hackers, while a large majority of they would be what I call either "script kiddies" or "hax0r d00ds."

    So, where this article uses "hacker," they may or may not be correct. The people they refer to may very well be hackers, but they just as easily might not be.

    However, "crackers" is not the appropriate terminology, since crackers refers to the talented asm coders who remove copy protection schemes from software.
  • so what was his rationale for making "cyber = high-tech network technology" when "cyber" in fact means "relating to government" or something to that effect?
  • Posted by tid242:

    keep in mind that while this article states a "percieved" threat on a, for the most part, secure system doesn't mean that there aren't similar threats abounding.

    true story:

    during the gulf war a group of scandanavian hacker-type people offered to crash the US Military communications network in the ME for several million dollars. saddam, the brawny idiot he is, declined the offer.

    afterwards US analysts came to the conclusion that the hackers could have crashed our military networks and it was a very real threat in the future. i'm not saying that it would have caused iraq to win the war, i don't think they stood much of a chance personally, but such an attack on our military communications networks abroad could seriously fuck up our shit and cause a lot of problems. as our networks going down during key moments in the gulf war could have suddenly made our war over in iraq a lot more complicated.

    sorry about the sketchy details, i read about it in time magazine a long time ago (uh...like after the gulf war...).

    anyway the point is that there is a threat, but no so much a threat on the pentagon's secret shit.

  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by OGL:

    I had the pleasure of installing an ip logger this week and found myself being port scanned by different 14 year olds at a random location across the globe around once every two hours. This is probably going on on every campus in every school in America. Face it, if you have a machine which has a static ip, and you run some kind of service on it, someone's gonna make a try. Luckily for national security most of them are just retarded kiddie hax0rs with no life.

  • Don't ask how I know, but I have it from reliable sources that clasified data may not be kept on a computer connected to external networks.

    I don't know if they have that command center under a mountain, but when they do need to transport data long distances, they have not forgotten the bandwidth or security avaiable in a military convoy filled with 8mm (or whatever technology) tapes. When they need a lesser amount of data, they have networks they trust, but though they may run IP they are not internet connected.

    Of course they do have internet connected computers, lots of them. Orange book rules (or is it red book) prevent any system less then A1 (or B2, I can't recall) to store even low classification information on a net connected system.

  • Crypto export laws etc. don't apply to the U.S. military. The Russian computers would probably not be any more secure, regardless of any changes in computer laws no more than >90% of the machines in the US would. In any event I'm pretty sure that Russia doesn't give a rats ass about U.S. encryption laws.

    The encryption laws should be changed but not for these reasons.

    The only changes which would effect the security of individual computers would be somewhat akin to a propoganda campaign like during WWII. Just change the slogan from "loose lips sink ships" to "loose ports aid terrorist cohorts" or something.

    I'm suprised that any foreign attacks on US military computers don't originate from US ISPs. If you're going to go to the trouble of cracking into a Russian machine, why not just extend it and crack into a US machine after that. The more jurisdictions you cross the better. Beauracracies don't like to cooperate with each other.

    For that reason I think the whole conclusion is a sham. Most of the attacks from Russia are actually from Russian citizens and they for the most part aren't organized groups, or aren't organized with any particular faction. The cold war is more or less dead and gone to the public, they need a reason to bring it back (buzzword enabled no less) to squeeze more quarters from every dollar of the US citizens.

  • Just another attempt to rein in the chaos of the net.
    Gee, people don't seem afraid of porn, maybe they'll be afraid of cyburworfare!. Just imagine! Big bad racist garbage-can-lid-throwin dudes like Kevin Mitnick could be walking the streets! Take part in your community to help support increased cryptography restrictions, and the death penalty for anyone who uses a "handle".

    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • All that proves is how central the US military is in American society.
    As a rule, the inventions follow the money. If other government agencies (or private citizens) had that kind of research capital, I think we'd have a different sort of inventions now. I don't think "the Super" would have been one of them.

    The military invented the internet, yes, but it would have happened anyway. Probably under the control of (shudder) AT&T.

    Wouldn't it be nice if there were non-military agencies that had a budget for Advanced Research Projects like the internet? Think of just how disney life would be.

    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • Fall down! The computer says you're dead!

    Did not!

    Does too!


    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • Every day tens of breakin attempts are made.

    I attempted to do the worm and injured my spine.

    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • Data classified secret or top secret cannot be accessed on a machine with outside access- no exceptions. Anything less is considered by the Federal Government to be a breach of security, punnishable by a minimum of $20,000 (possibly a LOT more) and possibly a 20 year stint in a Federal Pen.
  • Just as often as the fsckups with stuff that genuinely should have been classified "ts" is the situations where something that should have been classified at a lower level got classified "ts" or "secret"- even though it really was confidential or unclassified in nature. It's a fscking nightmare to straighten out something incorrectly classified. (Which is part of the reason why things like the "ts" stuff getting out in the open by accident happen)
  • I don't know if they have that command center under a mountain...

    Been to Colorado Springs lately? Cheyenne Mtn, sits adjacent to Pike's Peak.

    Orange book rules (or is it red book) ...

    I believe it's the Orange, and IBM seems to have the redbooks [ibm.com].
  • I don't know if they have that command center under a mountain...

    Been to Colorado Springs lately? ;-) NORAD inside Cheyenne Mtn., sits adjacent to Pike's Peak. It was always `rumored' that their computers were not solid-state equipment to guard against EMF pulses, and upon asking them that on a tour, my question was prompty disregarded.

    Orange book rules (or is it red book) ...

    I believe it's the Orange, and IBM seems to have the redbooks [ibm.com] ;-)

    And do they really want people to believe that they put sensitive nat'l security info on a system accessable by the World?
  • Lousy Kirk. In that episode, he was all: "Prime Directive? What Prime Directive?"

    Okay, I admit, that was a cool episode. And, admittedly, Kirk is one damn good diplomat. I wish they were still showing old ST around here. Grrrr.
  • You know, I would take this whole thing seriously if it weren't for the fact that the entire staff of ABC are so disconnected they might as well be luddites. They really made asses of themselves with that report.
  • Oooohhhh... you're a homicidal maniac.
    Oops, I think I pissed him off.
  • Hmmmm... I always thought crackers were white folks from down south... the opposite of yankees.
  • Hmm..

    Does any other airlines have internet on board?

    Just wanted to know which airline to select next time. :)
  • begin rant
    rabid peacknik mode on

    > don't forget that it was the US Military that invented your precious Internet

    The military did invent the internet. Credit given where credit is due.

    >And, most great technological creations came out of war.
    WTF? great inventions like nuclear weapons... Its nice living less than an hour from the end of life as we know it...isnt it

    >It's the end of the cold war that has brought about a general lack of funding for general research
    Not true, it's moved a lot of research into the private sector, building things that don't explode...

    >a lot of us computer people work for Defense contractors
    Same goes for Microsoft. That doesnt make them automatically right...

    >A lot of Americans still believe a strong military is important
    The same forward - thinking bunch who believes New Mexico is a foriegn country, Reagan knew what he was talking about, and Elvis is still alive...

    >Just because you don't think so doesn't mean your point of view is necessarily gospel.
    same for you...

    rabid peacenik mode off
    end rant
  • Of couse I knew, but you don't argue by giving both sides of the issue. I was replying to a post extolling the virtues of the military's research. I was simply trying to make the point that the purpose of any military is to kill people and break things, and therefore the goal of military research would be easier and more efficient ways to kill people and break things.
  • If I may, Singapore is no more part of Malaysia than Mexico is part of the US. It is an island just off the Malaysian peninsula.

    Their laws are harsh but have you ever walked in the city ? You can literaly eat off of the sidewalk/pavement.

    And anyway - I for one am glad that yank kid got his ass wupped for spraying graffiti in their country. Who the hell does he think he is. Bet you he'll think twice about doing that again, even now when he's on good 'ol US of A soil.
  • I disagree. "Crackers" are crunchy food items that go good with soup.
  • So even the probability to cause a WWIII would not make some idiots change encryption regulations. They complain about being attacked through cracked computers on ex-"enemy 1" networks but they forget to mention that they have done everything they can to create this situation.

    Very typical of american politics. They feed terrorists in Afganistan and Algeria for years and after that they are concerned that american tourists (f.e. one of Intel vice-CEOs) are being killed. They do anything they can to prevent computers around the world from being secure and after that they complain that they are being f... from russian boxes. Just brilliant...

    Mil.heads, whatever...
  • Simon I think that you have hit the nail on the head. I am an American and I do think our way of life is worth defending. Its been a long time since a battle has taken place on American shores and I believe that some of my fellow Americans have taken all this 'freedom' for granted.
  • At least not in the situation you described. Financial disruption isn't considered to be an acceptable grounds for war by the American government, or most gov's for that matter. In all likelyhood, if the attacks could be proven and their origin verified, you would see extreme economic and trade sanctions taken against country B.

    There is a better example of cyber-war that could lead to a bomb-war though. Let's say that country B got sick of negotiations, and took out the telco and power grids in a major urban center. Chaos would reign (imagine New York with no power or phones for three days). Would we attack then? Yes. Reagan pretty much set the standard for those types of intrusions with attack on Libya in the 80's. For those that don't remember, that was a sticky situation for the US. You had Libyan non-government civilians attacking US citizens outside of US held land (i.e. no direct military threat or national disruption). Reagan drew the "line in the sand" and basically said that if the action is supported by a foreign government, and brings real, deliberate, physical harm to US citizens, we have the right to attack and defend ourselves. An attack on the stock market would hurt, but it wouldn't cause the kind of harm that he defined (and his statements are held as the litmus test of such interventions today).

    I'd also like to add another point to your statement. It isn't actually required for a hacker to gain access to encrypted or secure networks to gain important information. Imagine the strategic value in locating a message on a non-secure military email server, from some Army generals secretary, indicating that the said general was about to leave with his troops to go visit some "military situation" before that information was made public. This information could be leaked to the press or an enemy government and tip them off to a potential attack before it came.

    Also, regarding secure encrypted communications, it isn't always necessary to read that information to know somethings up. In WWII the Pacific Allied armies sucessfully predicted an incoming Japanese attack (on New Guinea I think) by monitoring their radio communications. Now, we couldn't actually understand what those communications were saying, but when Allied codebreakers noticed a massive increase in the number of transmissions being sent to one area, they correctly predicted that an attack would come from there, and the Allies were able to fend off the attack. Now, imagine you're an enemy of the US and American armies are sitting right across your border threatening to attack (the Saddam Hussein situation). What would you surmise if your government paid cracker informed you that he just detected a massive increase in the communications networks of the American army? That's what the Pentagon is worried about.

  • I suspect that there's actually quite a lot of potentially dangerous information even on the "public" network. You never know what might turn out to be damaging. Many organizations' telephone directories are confidential, with good reason; memos and spreadsheets get passed around; file sharing gets left on accidentally or on purpose; you name it. It's too easy to just happen to leave indirectly sensitive information on the wrong machine.

    If my assumptions about basic human nature are correct, there are probably illegal gateways from the "secure" net to the "public" net, too. It's just too inconvenient to have to go to a different machine to get your email, and just to cool to "beat the system" and make your own solution.
  • I believe journalists noted a drastic increase in late night pizza deliveries to the White House and Pentagon shortly before the Gulf War started.

    What was that about using military resources to aid private corporations? Oh, yes, I recall both Israeli and Chinese intelligence engage in industrial espoinage too. Looks like we're in good company.

    I do not believe there exist many nations that do not spy on all their buddies.
  • The Army is begging for $$$

    An interesting thought, but perhaps it's not the army and not even about money. The FBI has been pushing pretty hard against digital privacy lately--they could be orchestrating these "attacks" to promote a sense of insecurity so that more Americans will be sympathetic to the FBI's stance against privacy.

    Just a fun guess.
  • My father was an old Sperry Univac (yes, from before Sperry, long before Unisys) Field Engineer who worked on secure government computers. He told me about one machine which was powered by a generator, which in turn was belt-driven from an electric motor. Why the Rube Goldberg power supply? So that the computer would not produce any fluctuations in power draw that could be detected through the power grid. Mind you, this was back before solid-state computers, so this might have been a reasonable concern. Dad tells great punch card stories! :-)
  • Also written before Gibson had so much as learned how to use a word processor. There may have been an interview where he said he didn't want to know how computers worked, so that reality wouldn't get in the way of his creativity.
  • I believe the usage of "cyber-" referring to computers comes from Norbert Weiner's 1948 paper "Cybernetics" on automatic control systems. According to WWWebster [m-w.com], the Greek kybernan means "govern" in the sense of controlling or steering. In addition, I seem to remember an anecdote that someone suggested the word "Cybernetics" to Weiner as a nonsense word that he could make to mean whatever he wanted.
  • This happened to the company I work at now. I have no idea what we were bidding on that the French would be interested in. One day we were paid a visit by some spooks (that's a CIA/NSA/OSI reference). They informed us that our company was one that had been targeted by French assets.

    It may be mere coincidence, but a few weeks earlier one of the guys who worked here had met a French girl in a bar. She was the standard French girl : beautiful, mysterious, flirtatious, etc. She claimed that she was an out of work "nanny" and needed a place to stay. He agreed to let her stay at his place until it was time for her to go back to France. According to him she never asked him about work or anything like that, but it makes you think....

  • What about TANG!

    TANG! was invented for the space program.

    So was Velcro!

    So was Freeze Dried Food!

    So was.... well lots of other things.

  • I know. The gov't has had IW groups for a long time now. Their job...wait around until a defensive mauever is necessary, or until they are given the order to attack. Most of these attacks,
    no matter where they come from or how systematic they seem, the gov't wouldn't come forward with this story if they hadn't already had the situation under control.
  • The 250 billion $ / year defense budget could fund 2,500,000 freeware programmers at 100,000 $ / year. Enough to write a new kernel, GUI and all applications one thousand times over every year. Good thing we have our priorities straight.
  • Hey Simon, wake up. We are living in what is known as a War-Time economy. Meaning that nearly the largest driving force behind our economy is military industry. We need to keep this machine fueled because the corporations that produce arms make A LOT of money. We spend too much time worrying about future war and ignoring future peace. Defending our lifestyle is hogwash.
  • Hey, don't forget that it was the US Military
    to invented your precious Internet, okay?
    Taxpayer military funding is what payed for

    And, most great technological creations came
    out of war. What better way to speed up
    innovation? It's the end of the cold war that
    has brought about a general lack of funding for
    general research anymore...

    Besides, a lot of us computer people work for
    Defense contractors. Cut the Military funding,
    and our jobs are gone... There is another side
    to this issue. It's not just wasting money. A
    lot of Americans still believe a strong military
    is important. Just because you don't think so
    doesn't mean your point of view is necessarily

    Thanks for reading.
  • Man these people have the balls and no life.. Most of their connections are lease lines, so that just one hell of journy just to get into the switching system..
  • It's always been this way. Ever since WWII the United States has needed to continue the great war machine and to keep funding coming in. Without any actual war taking place, they needed to come up with bullshit like so to keep the funds rolling in. You also have to think about who this article is targeted at. Many a person will cringe at the word "hacker", yet they don't really understand what it implies. All this publicity surrounding attacks on pentagon computers is just obvious fund raising, too bad we can't send in Ken Starr.
  • While this is probably true, that someone could take out our computers during time of war or some other critical time, but I see this as a terrific example of how we have become too reliant upon our machines. People used to win wars by using their skill and cunning to attempt to outsmart the enemy, now it just a matter of locking on your missles from thousands of miles away and pushing the little red button while getting head from an intern.

    There was a good article in Wired about a year ago that outlined what could happen in the future if a so called "Cyberwar" were to happen, and perhaps this bullshitting by the government is just one of the first steps in an already thought out war, with no casualities, no battles, just 1's and 0's flying at each other over copper and fiber.
  • Yeah, but I wonder if articles like this are red herrings to give hackers [and foreign powers?] the impression that the gov't is "really worried" about this, when there perhaps they feel that they really have no reason to worry. I mean, it would lend authenticity to the perceived "threat".

    Then again, now that I've brought this up, maybe the cat is out of the bag and I'm going to mysteriously disappear in the middle of ...
    Mark Conty
  • Reuters retracted that news item. There's another story here in /. about it...
    Mark Conty
  • Just to clarify something, just as the US was the first country to utilize the atomic bomb for warfare the US is also one of the first to utilize hacking computer and phone systems for warfare. Iraq was the hackee in 1991. This has been published in the news so should be researchable.

    Also, I worked for the DOD in '86-87 as a student and I am well aware that they seperate their networks. Computers are VERY CLEARLY labled as secure or insecure and are on seperate networks. If they have continued that policy and I can think of no reason for them not to then I would be VERY suspicious of anyone claiming there were gateways between the non-secure and secure networks. The DOD does not mind double duty when re-entering data. There are many ways to get info into a computer without using a network. Also work is divided up between that which needs a secure system and that which does not. The Walker spy ring did wonders for fixing holes in American security by revealing we had TOO MANY secrets and thus too many people needed secret clearence to do mundane jobs.

  • I've always heard "cracker" used as someone who reverse-engineers software. Or, someone who decrypts. And "hacker" as someone who breaks into machines without authorization.
  • >Cut the Military funding,
    >and our jobs are gone

    Ending WWII also put an end to SS Officer's jobs.
    Your job as a weapons builder can't be used as an argument for maintaining military funding.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam