GCHQ DDOS hacktivist group Anonymous

Pot, kettle?

In a document published by NBC here, whistle-blower Edward Snowden has revealed in his latest leak that the UK’s NSA counterpart GCHQ had used one of Anonymous’ own illegal tactics against them and performed a Denial Of Service Attack against their IRC server in 2011.

SONY DSC

GCHQ agents infiltrated various hacktivist groups who were baited into disclosing information over IRC on various cyber attacks they had performed.  This information was later used against them aiding prosecution.  But what is of further significance is the DDOS attacks the GCHQ performed against the hacktivists’ servers.

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silde2As you can see, a planned DDOS attack was carried out against the servers and resulted in a downtime of at least 30 hours.  No matter which way you look at it, this action by GCHQ is illegal, and it would have risked disruption to other services with no connection to Anonymous or its allies.

Dr Steven Murdoch, a security researcher at the University of Cambridge, said:

It’s quite possible that the server was used for other purposes which would have been entirely unrelated to Anonymous.

It’s also likely that most of the chat that was going on about Anonymous was not to do with hacking because the people who join Anonymous are fairly wide-ranging in what they think it is legitimate to do.

Some have gone into criminality but many others just go out and organise protests, letter-writing campaigns and other things that are not criminal.

But what of the legal implications?

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International commented:

There is no legislation that clearly authorises GCHQ to conduct cyber-attacks, so, in the absence of any democratic mechanisms, it appears GCHQ has granted itself the power to carry out the very same offensive attacks politicians have criticised other states for conducting.

The UK government’s Cyber Security Strategy document, (here) says officials should take “proactive measures to disrupt threats to our information security”, but also notes that any such action should be consistent with freedom of expression and privacy rights.

It seems evident to me that GCHQ are in clear violation of laws concerning freedom of expression and privacy, let alone the Computer Misuse Act 1990 which states:

Unauthorised acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing, operation of computer, etc.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he does any unauthorised act in relation to a computer;

(b)at the time when he does the act he knows that it is unauthorised; and

(c)either subsection (2) or subsection (3) below applies.

(2)This subsection applies if the person intends by doing the act—

(a)to impair the operation of any computer;

(b)to prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in any computer;

(c)to impair the operation of any such program or the reliability of any such data; or

(d)to enable any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c) above to be done.

(3)This subsection applies if the person is reckless as to whether the act will do any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (2) above.

(4)The intention referred to in subsection (2) above, or the recklessness referred to in subsection (3) above, need not relate to—

(a)any particular computer;

(b)any particular program or data; or

(c)a program or data of any particular kind.

(5)In this section—

(a)a reference to doing an act includes a reference to causing an act to be done;

(b)“act” includes a series of acts;

(c)a reference to impairing, preventing or hindering something includes a reference to doing so temporarily.

(6)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a)on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(b)on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

(c)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to a fine or to both.F1]

I wonder if GCHQ are going to receive the same treatment that LulzSec did for carrying out DDOS attacks.  Somehow I doubt it.

UPDATE: Quakenet have released a statement here

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Drones, drones, drones

Drones 101 – The remote controlled killing machines reign fire from the sky…

Incase you are new to the world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) here’s an excellent three and a half minute introduction from Truthloader

Basically, the US and UK have had remote piloted aircraft and have been using them in the middle east and Pakistan to kill hundreds of innocent children. There are also unarmed variants used solely for surveillance.

Domestic Use

I must admit, I got this one wrong.  When news of drone attacks first started to surface, you had the usual “crackpot” cries that within a year or two domestic skies will be full of drones surveying us and eventually firing on us.  I didn’t think there was anything in it, it’d never happen.  Drones were purely a military aid, to be used in warfare and warfare alone. I was dead wrong.

There ARE, at this very moment, surveillance drones flying over US soil. Nobody knows how many, but we do know that they’re being flown without warrants (here) and that Obama signed an order to get 30,000 of the fuckers in the air by 2020 (here).

Last week, we had the first conviction aided by surveillance captured by a drone.  You might be thinking that it was some sort of armed siege or prevented terrorist attack….  No.  It was a man prosecuted because cattle from a neighbouring farm had wandered on to his land and he wouldn’t give them back.

Rodney Brossart ‘Drone Cattle Hustler’

Brossart was convicted in November of terrorizing two law enforcement officers who arrested him June 23, 2011, over a neighbor’s three cows and their calves that strayed on to his farm. It’s a felony with a top sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Also Tuesday, Brossart’s three sons — Thomas, Alex and Jacob, all in their 20s — pleaded guilty each to a misdemeanor charge of menacing law enforcement officers, reduced from the felony terrorizing charge, in an agreement with prosecutors.

After Brossart was arrested, an armed standoff ensued between his three sons and a SWAT team. His sons were located by a border-surveillance Predator borrowed from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which enabled local police to safely apprehend them

Amazon

Slave-labour powerhouse Amazon are also working on delivery drones, to automatically fly your parcels to you (here).

We’re excited to share Prime Air — something the team has been working on in our next generation R&D lab.

The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles.

Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.

Check out this footage from a recent test flight.

Jesse Ventura

All of this has been enough to spook ex-wrestler turned politician and truther Jesse Ventura (here).

Former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialovsky)

Surveillance drones haven’t started hovering outside and above the homes of Americans en masse just yet, but former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura claims he’s left the United States just in case.

Ventura, a 62-year-old professional wrestler-turned-politician, says his new Ora TV program ‘Off the Grid’ is being filmed in secret somewhere in Mexico where the all-seeing eye of American unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, don’t have a chance of finding him.

Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday from an “undisclosed location” south of the border, Ventura said there was a reason he doesn’t reveal his each and every movement.

“I’m off the grid. I move about with my TV show so that the drones can’t find me and you won’t know exactly where I am,” Ventura said.

According to Ventura, his Ora TV program will continue to broadcast “as long as we have solar power and we can reach the satellite.”

“I view the United States, today, much like East Berlin. And I’m off the grid. I’ve tried for 20 years to warn the country about the Democrats and Republicans, and nobody’s listening,” he said

“I now view the United States from the outside, and I don’t like what I see,” added Ventura, who won Minnesota’s gubernatorial election back in 1998. “You know what the favorite T-shirt was off the grid down here a couple years ago? A picture of [former President] George Bush, and it said weapon of mass destruction. Is that the way we want the United States portrayed throughout the world? I don’t think so.”

Some pretty interesting developments.  Which brings me to the core purpose of this article.  It was bound to happen, and now its looking increasingly more likely.  Drones over the UK.

Taranis: UK armed drone prototype

Information has now been released that this once top secret prototype took its maiden voyage in August 2013, and lasted 15 minutes.  It is the next-gen armed drone and up to now, development cost a hefty £185m. RAF Air Vice-Marshal Sue Gray said:

Taranis is the most technically advanced RPAS (Remotely Piloted Air System) we’ve ever developed with our partners.

It marks an extremely important part in the road map to the future.

A bilateral deal was announced between the UK and French governments last week that will see the two nations work together on a two-year project to develop a new drone, and the Taranis prototype will be the cornerstone on which the project is based.

Now I know what you’re thinking, its just a military drone program. But, a couple of spanners and a little time can disarm this drone, such as happened with the military Predator Drone in the US.  This, will be the drone patrolling the skies of Europe and surveilling every day Euro citizens within the next 5 years.

Obama ‘reforms’ NSA & Private smartphone to preview

President Obama is currently preparing a reform package in relation to the spying activities of his National Security Agency.  His aim is to legitimatise the NSA’s currently illegal spying programs, and protect them from future whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden.

Barack Obama

President Obama is set to unveil his erosion of freedom reform plans at the US Justice Department later in the week, so watch this space.

Some people may see it as a good job then, that smartphone producer Geeksphone have teamed up with the encryption boffins at Silent Circle to offer the Blackphone.  A new smartphone that boasts secure and encrypted communications and web browsing and has been described as:

The world’s first smartphone placing privacy and control directly in the hands of its usersblackphone

Blackphone is unlocked and works with any GSM carrier. Performance benchmarks put it among the top performers from any manufacturer.

It has the features necessary to do all the things you need, as well as all the things you want, while maintaining your privacy and security and giving you the freedom to choose your carrier, your apps, and your location.

The tools installed on Blackphone give you everything you need to take ownership of your mobile presence and digital footprints, and ensure nobody else can watch you without your knowledge.

You can make and receive secure phone calls; exchange secure texts; exchange and store secure files; have secure video chat; browse privately; and anonymize your activity through a VPN.

The phone is due to be previewed next month in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow. Phil Zimmerman the company’s co-founder and inventor of PGP said:

I have spent my whole career working towards the launch of secure telephony products. Blackphone provides users with everything they need to ensure privacy and control of their communications, along with all the other high-end smartphone features they have come to expect.

I’m on the fence with this one to be honest, whilst in principal the concept is good, there are a couple of caveats, Firstly is the nature of the encryption, in order for it to work, you must be connected to the user of another Blackphone, so if you don’t know anybody else that’s going to get one, its pretty much useless to you.  I’m also not so sure that people may want to purchase a product that begs the question “Do you have something to hide?”.

Its a tricky situation, Obama cannot go on to continue eroding personal freedoms unchecked, yet it seems that encrypted communications may not be the answer.  How secure can these encryptions be, when the NSA is already talking of quantum computers capable of smashing today’s greatest privacy techniques within minutes?