Friday, March 14, 2014

Spooks Run Wild: They Seek Automatic infection of Millions of Computers with Malware.

Anyone who has ever had to deal with "malware" knows what a pain in the ass it can be. I can still recall, as recently as 2003, having to go into the registry of my old Windows 98 computer to neutralize malware threats including exotically named Trojans, other nameless viruses and 'worms'.  I recall one particular incident when my engineer brother-in -law was visiting and he grew fascinated by my entering the registry and knocking out one threat after the other.  He asked if I wasn't concerned about wrecking my computer, but I assured him I knew what I was doing, then wrote down the prescription for him to fix his, in Trinidad.

But this sort of fixing isn't fun, despite the fact that these days we have potent anti-malware and anti-virus software available such as provided by System Mechanic and others.

Now, we learn - incredibly - that the out of control spooks - not content to terrorize the Senate Intel Committee and Ms Dianne Feinstein, wish to unleash malware on millions of the world's computers. What are they, fuckin' nuts?  Have these maniacs totally loosened the last bonds of reality and been catapulted into their own realm?

We learn  Via the Intercept:

"In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.

The implants being deployed were once reserved for a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps. But the documents analyzed by The Intercept shows how the NSA has aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives in the past decade by computerizing some processes previously handled by humans."

The newly released documents not only reflect the NSA’s shift in the post-9/11 era toward mass surveillance in place of specific targeting, but a decrease in oversight in favor of powerful automated processing. As such, the story is one of increasingly totalized surveillance (or at least the potential for it) and increasing machine above human labor in advanced technocapitalism.
The new leaks also provide further examples of how, in the interest of maximizing surveillance potential, the NSA has made vulnerable the very structure and security of the Internet. As malware expert Mikko Hypponen told the Intercept, “When they deploy malware on systems, they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties.”
But really, we can't be that surprised as these were the same assholes (along with their Israeli counterparts) who created the Stuxnet and Flame viruses, and unleashed them on an unsuspecting world, e.g.
Then later wondered how our own systems, computers were being attacked from China or Russia. DUH! Because you idiots let the code get out, so it could be recovered!  As Sean McGurk - former head of cyber defense at The Department of Homeland Security, noted on a March 4, 2012 installment of  '60 Minutes':
"You can download the actual source code of Stuxnet now and you can repurpose it and repackage it and then, you know, point it back towards wherever it came from."

CBS' Steve Kroft then remarked: "Sounds a little bit like Pandora's box." To which McGurk responded, "Yes!
So because of the hubristic, belligerent and arrogant actions of an enclave of pointy-headed computer geeks at the Puzzle Palace, we're likely all in jeopardy (as we were with the Wall St. quants inventing insane credit derivatives using the Gaussian Copula formula before the financial meltdown). These sort of reckless actions do not bode well, and although their creators and the guilty agency might argue they were done with the "best intentions" , i.e. to slow down Iranian processing of nuclear fuel, we know the road to Hell is paved with them.
But in the end, all this news is yet more reason to get these spook agencies under control, before THEY start controlling us!

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