GDI Risk Advisory Group

Posts Tagged ‘U.S.’

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?

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.

Russia and Poland: A Not-so Unintended Consequence

In Defense, International Relations, military, Nuclear Arms, Terrorism on August 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Russia Moves Missiles Into Breakaway Region

“We believe the threats that we all face are common ones and therefore we hope that Russia will orient itself more toward working with all of us and meet those common threats,” –  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 

The recent implementation of the U.S. European-based Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for ballistic missile defense and the stationing of a U.S. land-based SM-3 missile defense interceptor system in the Republic of Poland puts the final touches on the protection our European allies need from the nuclear threat of Iran. 

Recent reports indicate that last month’s signing of the agreements will provide Poland and other countries in the region the umbrella of security guaranteed to them in 2008 by the Bush administration.  Even with the downgrading of the 2008 guaranteed defense system from long-range missile interceptors to medium and short-range missile interceptors to placate our Russian ally, it appears the U.S. administration is still comfortable that it is providing Poland the level of defense they need.

With all the movement to implement this accord and step up defense operations, an unintended consequence has emerged.  Secretary Clinton recently said that the shield “will help protect the Polish people and all in Europe our allies and others from the… threats posed by Iran.”  However, she also hopes the Russians will work with us on this.  As we see in Georgia, Medvedev and the Russian military are right on track feeling more comfortable than ever in moving against the U.S. and its European neighbors – even with our missile defense concession.  Perhaps an unintended consequence of downgrading the 2008 missile defense accord is more recalcitrant behavior and aggression by Russia.  Historcally in situations like this where states are at odds, consessions of this nature provide opportunity to be exploited.  Russia is doing what is expected of them.  One could see this coming a mile away.  Now as the U.S. pushes for further concessions in the nuclear disarmament arena, look for more of this type of behavior by Russia.   

Secretary Clinton commented during her run for the presidency back in 2008 that “hope” was not a plan.  That certainly appears to be true in this case.

While U.S. Continues “Jobless” Recovery, Germany Prospers

In Global Economy, International, International Trade on August 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm

In Germany, a Broad Recovery Is Under Way

It is almost like stepping through the looking-glass.  Germany steadily working to cut deficits, control government spending and keeping taxes down.  The U.S. doing the exact opposite.  And the results:  Well, early returns are promising across the pond and bleak on this side.  What is more interesting is how George Soros notes the association between Germany tightening it’s belt and the imbalance in trade with the other European countries.   As he and his organization push for more stimulus spending, higher taxes and more debt in the U.S., he points out the deficit cutting and wage controls in Germany are to blame for Germany’s recovery at the cost of trade with the more in debt countries like France and Spain.  (Interesting.) However, Germany should not bite at this one.  Perhaps a better option would be for the other European countries to follow suit and cut their deficits and spending. 

Now this is all well and good but there is something even more important to this recovery as demonstrated by BMW’s “help wanted” signs.  The one thing that Germany is realizing is more jobs.  That is the basis of any recovery.   And as that situation grows and more jobs are chasing fewer workers, the German people will have the control.   They will be able to push for higher wages and better benefits.  They will be in the driver’s seat.  And at BMW, that’s good. 

So how does the U.S. get there?  By having fiscal policies that keep current jobs in country and invite U.S. businesses and jobs back.  Businesses will go where they can provide a product or service at a competitive price and be profitable.  Like many U.S. businesses in China and Mexico, where ever they go they will take jobs.  So why not in the U.S.?   Bring down corporate taxes to the levels in China and other developing nations, repatriate billions in hard currency, and bring jobs back to the U.S.  In that case, we will have more jobs chasing workers.  Then the people will be back in control and we too shall experience true recovery.