GDI Risk Advisory Group

Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Electronic Jihad – The New Terrorism?

In cyber security, cyber terrorism, cyber threats, Defense, Global Economy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Libya, multinational corporations, North Korea, Syria, Terrorism on May 24, 2014 at 6:55 am

cyber hoodie pic

March 2014 marked the hacking of 12 Indonesian Government websites by unknown hackers made up of both adventure enthusiasts and radicals. Apart from giving the hackers visibility, the episode crippled critical components of Indonesian government’s daily functioning where e-Governance is depended upon so much. This does not appear to be an isolated episode but enumerates scores of other recent transnational cyber attacks performed by non-state actors for a larger ideological goal.  This new era of ‘Cyber Jihad’ has far reaching implication, and if fully realized, would further underscore the magnitude of threats that it presents to practically every industry and government sector around the world.

The Edge will be presenting a three part series on what some cyber officials are calling the ‘Electronic Jihad’, and how it is shaping the landscape for this new battleground of international terrorism.

PART I – The New Cyber Warriors and their Tactics

Although the traditional purveyors of cyber attacks – states like China, Iran and their supporters continue to dominate state sponsored activities across the global cyber sphere, the existences groups of irregulars and non state actors – script kiddies, anarchists, hacktivists, hostile insiders, criminal elements and independent enthusiasts have added additional challenges, more lethal and ominous for legitimate Governments and multinational corporations to combat than could have been imagined.  The current state of cyberspace warfare will move to control every spectrum of a conventional battlefield – space, energy & power, economic and finance. This lays out an eerie scenario when a state or multinational is presented with evidence that weapons of cyber warfare are available to any warrior in the cyber world and they are available in the public domain.

In the field of intelligence and counter terrorism, capability assessments form an essential part of gaging the threat. Such assessments provide astonishing outcomes, especially when presented with inputs about a power system being attacked such as the case in the US by a cyber jihadist group.  This input was as early as January 2014, at a time when government agencies and regulators around the world have worked tirelessly to institute stringent control measures, cyber security monitoring and information security audits to defend against these very attacks.  Infiltrating these perimeters and conducting attacks on a critical infrastructure demonstrates the extent and capability being harnessed by cyber jihadists.

Counter terror operations are now challenged with the concept of identifying ‘cyber trade craft’, cyber radicalization, and recruitment.  The entire cycle of Spotting, Recruiting and Developing an agent for these activities can be comfortably performed from the confines of one’s home.  Blogs like Jhuf.net (Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum) and Al Ansar.info have been critically tracking developments in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and using these issues to motivate members to fight against intruding western government and corporations.  Membership in the cyber realm is usually a virtual walk-in or referral, in which case both can be entertained using pseudonyms.  As a result, we have a potential candidates in the terror recruitment cycle being indoctrinated to fight in the cyber space, and have his/her identity concealed which keeps the original identity intact.  Ironically, these very recruits are corporate employees, information technology experts, businessmen, educated youths in the real-world.  We thus have the creation of an educated breed fighting a radical cause in an open world notoriously shrouded by fake IP addresses.  Through the creation of fake social media profiles, recruiters are able to conduct targeting, spotting and assessing operations for indoctrination.  Through the use of such tactics as  cyber ‘Dead drops’ – where confidential messages are passed in the cyber world and the use of image and text files, they are able to communicate without the possibility of it being detected.  A bomb attack in Tel Aviv back in January 2013 had traces of planning activities left in the cyber world when jhuf.net members posted a message in .jpg format highlighting the plans to attack Tel Aviv.  This was made more scrupulous by the use of codes in the image or text files.  Agencies tracking keywords to identify a possible attack would have missed the inconspicuous text hiding superficially in an image format.  In the real world, recruitments for these causes is prone to being intercepted by security agencies.  However, cyber ‘handling’ accomplishes not just recruitment but also indoctrination, financing and tasking for a potential acts without ever having a handler and agent come in contact. 

How big is the challenge to secure global cyber infrastructure?  It’s huge and growing by the second.  As new users and new technologies take hold, the scale of the battlefield expands exponentially.  Join us next month for Part II as we examine other players, threats and the tactics being employed by this new breed of terrorists.

Lebanon: The Syria Playbook

In Defense, FYI - For Your Intelligence, Intelligence, International, International Trade, Israel, Libya, Terrorism, Uncategorized on December 29, 2013 at 4:37 am

LebSyrFlagWith Assad continuing to make his stand against Western backed forces and various jihad extremist groups in Syria, he has pulled an old play out of the go-to playbook for his regime. He has elected to use his faithful ally Hezbollah to open a new front. As Syria continues to sink into its current battlefield quagmire at home, taking out another high level politician in Beirut expands the scope of his operations, and provides relief through distraction. And with the assassination of the Hezbollah leader earlier this month, it all comes across as a justification on the part of Hezbollah. But make no mistake, this is the same MO as with previous assassinations and it will have Syria’s prints all over it.

The real issue is how US foreign policy is allowing for the war to spread, the empowerment of extremist groups to grow and for old and new terrorism breeding grounds to flourish. Libya and Syria are key examples, and indicators are that Iraq is beginning to follow suit. Here’s what the international media is reporting to support this.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/mohamad-chatah-lebanese-ex-minister-killed-in-beirut-bombing-1.2476861

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303799404579283692798835878

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175614#.Ur6ZlrRfu_g

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304451904579237323053994120

While U.S. lawmakers work the budget, Russia quietly resumes charging Iranian nuke site

In Intelligence, Iran, Israel, missile defense, nuclear, Russia, U.S. on April 10, 2011 at 1:34 am

Iran reloads fuel into Bushehr n-plant

As we watched the left hand move back and forth, the right hand took a swing.  Our friends the Russians in true fashion, used the cover of the U.S. budget debate to begin reloading nuclear fuel in Iran’s Bushehr reactor.  As you remember, last year we reported on the computer virus that shutdown the plant.  Well, the Russians are determined to make the Iranians a nuclear power in the Middle East, even though it will probably not serve them well.  And while our media and the administration were aware of this, it has been given the attention we would expect from this alliance of deceit.  This will come back to haunt us.

A Warning for Tehran…and the U.S.

In Defense, Intelligence, Iran, military, U.S. on August 31, 2010 at 4:39 pm

US to sell Israel massive military fuel stocks worth $2 bn

As Iran pushes forward with the fueling of the Bushehr nuclear facility, showcases a new drone capable of taking on a short-range missile payload, and dispatches operators to conduct sabotage in the Straits of Hormuz (see Japanese tanker M.Star), the Iranian belligerence becomes more pronounced.  Tehran appears to be on a crash course with destiny in the form of Israel.  This fuel purchase is the loudest message sent so far putting a potential Israel/U.S. response in the open.  This is loud and clear…perhaps too loud for some in the U.S.

The real question is:  Is the U.S. administration finally ready to back an Israeli attack on Iran or are they just flexing?  Israel has been preparing for this (see Helo Crash) for some time and has the motivation to carry it out.  The other countries in the region that are usually opposed to such actions by the “Zionists” have grown leery of Iran’s intentions and, at this time are willing to give such a response the tacit go-ahead.  The real issue will be whether the U.S. administration will see this through or will they blink.  Even more important is that as November elections approach in the U.S. and many members on the Hill are seeing low poll numbers and potential for massive losses, calls for such a response within the U.S. Congress and Senate will most likely become louder.  Is this administration really prepared for this?

Plan B for Netanyahu: Courting Greece

In Defense, FYI - For Your Intelligence, International Relations, Iran, military, nuclear, Nuclear Arms on August 16, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Netanyahu Looks Beyond Turkey In Rare Greek Visit

After the encounter with the Turkish “aid” ship and several past conflicting issues over the Palestinians, Netanyahu is visiting the Greek PM George Papandreou in an effort to sew up some well needed support to fill the gap with the loss of Turkish support.  While foreign direct investment, tourism and water conservation are on the menu, look for Netanyahu to solicit even more important support for airspace and long-range capabilities as these become key in upcoming exercises.  Losing Turkey’s support (if in fact it is was lost) becomes key in moving forward if action against Iran is necessary.  Greece would then be a logical plan B given their troubled past with Turkey.  The corridor through  Romania  and the Black Sea are critical at this point.

Russia and Poland: Cost of Concession

In Clinton, Defense, Intelligence, Iran, Nuclear Arms, Poland, Russia, U.S. on August 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Russia Sets Date for Key Iran Nuclear Step

The U.S. has requested that Russia not provide the fuel necessary to launch the Bueshehr Plant until Iran demonstrates that it is not continuing to develop nuclear weapons.  Interestingly enough, Iran pushes further away from the negotiating table and the international media is saying that Russia’s move was already agreed to.  Well, again, the concessions made in Poland on the missile defense system are continuing to pay dividends.  Look for more movement on the Israeli front as they continue developing their long-range strike capabilities.

Israeli Helo Crash Tips Off Iran

In Defense, Intelligence, International Relations, Nuclear Arms on August 4, 2010 at 5:57 am

Six Israeli soldiers die in Romania helicopter crash: Report

On July 26th, an Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter – called the Yasour by the Israel Air Force – crashed in Romania, killing six IDF officers and a Romanian officer.  The publicity of Romania’s cooperation with the IDF poses a double-edged sword for Jerusalem.  On one side, the crash reveals a sensitive military relationship that exposes the Romanian political command to backlash by its public.  It further tips Israel’s hand to Iran and Lebanon that it is actively training for long-distance incursions into mountainous terrains.  However, it also should leave no doubt in Ahmadinejad’s head of Israel’s determination to stop his nuclear ambitions.  That said, if the cause of the crash is determined to be human error, then the IDF will need to re-double its training. 

CONTRIBUTOR:  INFINITE REACH is our newest contributor and a former U.S. Intelligence Analyst.  We appreciate his insightful observations and look forward to hearing more from him.