In 1975 Senator Frank Church convened a joint senatorial/congressional inquiry into the egregious human rights and civil liberties violations of the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”), National Security Agency (“NSA”), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) against people both foreign and domestic. Such blatant transgressions included the “neutralization” and “elimination” of political dissidents, “enemies of the state,” real or imagined threats to National Security, and anyone else on the proverbial shit list of the Military Industrial Complex (“MIC”).
The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the aforementioned agencies after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.
Some famous examples which have since emerged include: (1) the FBI sending letters to Martin Luther King Jr encouraging him to kill himself or else they would tell the world about his sexual proclivities; (2) the planned or successful assassinations of foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and countless other South American, Middle Eastern or Asian leaders; (3) the wholesale undermining of entire foreign economies if they democratically elected someone at odds with the elite power structure deep state of the United States such as what occurred against Salvatore Allende of Guatemala; (4) the possible assassination of John F Kennedy; (5) revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army’s spying on the civilian population; (6) the December 22, 1974 New York Times article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the “family jewels,” involving covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time; (7) efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens; and (8) countless other examples, both overseas and domestically.
The end result of the Church Committee Hearings was the outright banning on CIA assassinations as well as the FBI/DOJ COINTELPRO gang-stalking programs. In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on various U.S. intelligence agencies’ formation, operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, with recommendations for reform, some of which were later put in place.
Among the other matters investigated were attempts to assassinate other foreign leaders such as Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. René Schneider of Chile, and Director of CIA Allen Dulles’s plan (approved by President Dwight Eisenhower) to use the Sicilian Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.
Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan’s Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.
Together, the Church Committee’s reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but over 50,000 pages were declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
The Church Committee learned that beginning in the 1950s, the CIA and FBI intercepted, opened, and photographed more than 215,000 pieces of mail by the time the program was shut down. The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the US Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.
On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee called CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford’s top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby’s testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.
The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was “concerned” about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. It seemed that Rumsfeld et al was comfortable giving the power to arbitrarily destroy anyone as “enemies of the state” by anyone working in the IC and MIC.
COINTELPRO (COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert and illegal projects conducted by the FBI aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic “political dissidents.”
FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed subversive, including anti Vietnam War organizers, activists of the Civil Rights Movement or Black Power movement (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party), feminist organizations, anti colonial movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups like the Young Lords), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader New Left.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives on COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” the activities of these movements and especially their leaders. Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.
Tactics included anonymous phone calls, IRS audits, and the creation of documents that would divide their targets internally.
After the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Hoover singled out King as a major target for COINTELPRO. Under pressure from Hoover to focus on King, Sullivan wrote: “In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech, we must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”
The Final Report of the Select Frank Church Committee blasted the behavior of the intelligence community in its domestic operations (including COINTELPRO) in no uncertain terms:
“The Committee finds that the domestic activities of the intelligence community at times violated specific statutory prohibitions and infringed the constitutional rights of American citizens. The legal questions involved in intelligence programs were often not considered. On other occasions, they were intentionally disregarded in the belief that because the programs served the “national security” the law did not apply. While intelligence officers on occasion failed to disclose to their superiors programs which were illegal or of questionable legality, the Committee finds that the most serious breaches of duty were those of senior officials, who were responsible for controlling intelligence activities and generally failed to assure compliance with the law. Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that – the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”
According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:
(1) Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents;
(2) Psychological warfare: The FBI and police used myriad “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists. They used bad jacketing to create suspicion about targeted activists, sometimes with lethal consequences;
(3) Harassment via the legal system: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters;
(4) Illegal force: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten or eliminate dissidents and disrupt their movements.
The FBI specifically developed tactics intended to heighten tension and hostility between various factions in their targeted groups and individuals, and this resulted in numerous deaths, among which were San Diego Black Panther Party members John Huggins, Bunchy Carter and Sylvester Bell.
While COINTELPRO was officially terminated in April 1971, critics allege that continuing FBI actions indicate that post COINTELPRO reforms did not succeed in ending COINTELPRO tactics.
ENTER THE “COPS” FEDERAL AND STATE SANCTIONED GANG-STALKING PROGRAM
“Community Oriented Policing,” (“COPS”) is a strategy of policing that focuses on police “building ties and working closely with members of the communities,” and originated in 1994 when then Senator Joseph Biden wrote and then President Bill Clinton enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (“VCCLEA”) establishing the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) within the US Department of Justice.
Community policing is supposedly a policy that requires police to engage in a “proactive approach” to address public safety concerns, and is a cornerstone of the Clinton Administration, gaining its funding from the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
Common implementations of community policing include: (1) relying on community based crime prevention by utilizing “civilian education,” neighborhood watch, and a variety of other techniques, as opposed to relying solely on police patrols; (2) restructuring the patrol from an emergency response based system to emphasizing proactive techniques such as foot patrol; (3) increased officer accountability to civilians they are “supposed to serve;” and (4) decentralizing police authority, allowing more discretion amongst lower ranking officers, and more initiative expected from them.
In other words, federal and state sanctioned and approved GANG-STALKING.
Gang Stalking has been described as fascism, using East Germany style “Stasi Tactics,” a systemic form of control, which seeks to control every aspect of a “Targeted Individual’s” life. Gang Stalking has many similarities to workplace mobbing, but takes place outside in the community, where the target is followed around and placed under surveillance by groups of organized civilian spies/snitches 24/7, 365 days a year. Targeted Individuals are harassed in this way for months or years before they realize that they are being targeted by an organized program of gang-stalking harassment. This is very similar to what happened to many innocent individuals in the former East Germany or activists and dissidents in the former Soviet Union. Many innocent people in the former East Germany would be targeted for these harassment programs, and then their friends, family, and the community at large would be used to monitor, prosecute, and harass them. In the former USSR it was used by the state to target activists, political dissidents, or anyone that the Secret Police thought was an “enemy of the state,” or as “mentally unfit,” and many were institutionalized or murdered using this form of systematic control.
In Bill Clinton’s COPS Gang-Stalking Program, civilian spies are recruited from every segment of society, and everyone in the “targets” life is made a part of this ongoing, continuous, and systematic form of control and harassment, with such actions that are specifically designed to control the target and to “keep them in line,” like a Pavlovian Dog. These actions are also designed to mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, socially, and psychologically destroy the target over years, to make them appear to be crazy, and leave them with no form of support, whatsoever.
For the targets of this harassment, COPS Gang Stalking is experienced as a covert psychological, emotional and physical attack that is capable of immobilizing and destroying a target over time. For the state, it is a way to keep their targets in line, control them, or ultimately destroy them.
This modern day systematic form of control is funded at the highest levels of government, just like it has in other societies where these similar types of harassment programs have been implemented.
Targets can be chosen for many reasons: (1) political views; (2) whistle blowing; (3) political dissidence; (4) asserting rights at work; (5) making the wrong enemy; (6) too outspoken; (7) investigating something that the state does not want investigated; (8) signing a petition; (9) writing a letter; (10) being “suspicious” by a civilian spy/snitch; or (11) being a religious/ethnic/racial minority.
The goal of the COPS state sanctioned organized gang-stalking program is to isolate the target from all forms of support, so that the target can be set up in the future for arrest, institutionalized, or forced suicide. Other goals of this harassment are to destroy the targets reputation and credibility, and to make the target look “crazy” or unstable.
The process often involves sensitizing the target to every day stimuli’s as a form of control, which is used to control targets when they “get out of line.” Targets of this harassment become vulnerable and destitute, and often become homeless, jobless, have a breakdown, are driven to suicide, similar to targets of the banned COINTELPRO. The government eliminates perceived “enemies of the state” in this manner.
When a target moves or changes jobs, the harassment continues.
Every time the target moves, the same defamation, lies, libel, and slander will be spread, and the systematic harassment will continue. Online defamation, libel, and slander on the internet has made this continuation of COPS gang-stalking a great deal easier.
People from all segments of society can be recruited to be the “eyes and ears” of the state, such as laborers, drug dealers, drug users, street people, prostitutes, punks, church groups, youth groups, your best friend, your lawyer, local policeman, doctor, emergency services, a neighbor, family, social workers, politicians, judges, dentists, vet, supermarket cashier, postman, religious leader, care worker, landlord, anyone.
Most of these recruited civilian spies/snitches do not understand or even care that the end consequence of this harassment protocol is to eventually destroy the targeted person, and function as “useful idiots” of the state sanctioned COPS gang-stalking program.
It has been reported that people participate in this COPS gang stalking because it: (1) gives them a sense of power; (2) is a way to make friends; (3) is something social and fun; (4) breaks down race/gender/age/social barriers; (5) is forced or blackmailed upon them by the State or police to take part; (6) is told to them that they are part of “homeland or national security” to help keep an eye on “dangerous” or “emotionally disturbed” individuals where they are “heroic spies for the state;” (7) is used on local thugs or informants who are already being used for other activities where their energies are diverted into these COPS gangstalking community spy programs; (8) is either a choice of spying for the State or police, or else go to jail; (9) involves outright lies and slander about the target to get them to go along with ruining the targets life; (10) includes average citizens recruited by the state the same way citizens were recruited in the former East Germany and other countries.
Some techniques used against targets in this organized COPS Gang-stalking program include: (1) classic conditioning where a target is sensitized to everyday stimuli over a period of months and years to harass them in public to let them know they are constantly being harassed and monitored; (2) 24/7 Surveillance following the target everywhere they go, learning about the target and where they shop, work, play, who their friends and family are, getting close to the target, moving into the community or apartment where they live, across the street, monitoring the targets phone, house, and computer activity; (3) isolating the target via defamation, libel, and slander campaigns, (eg, people in the target’s community are told that the target is a thief, into drugs, a prostitute, pedophile, crazy, in trouble for something, needs to be watched, false files will even be produced on the target, shown to neighbors, family, store keepers); (4) constant or intermittent noise and mimicking campaigns disrupting the targets life and sleep with loud power tools, construction, stereos, doors slamming, etc; (5) talking in public about private things in the target’s life; (6) mimicking actions of the target and basically letting the target know that they are in the target’s life; (7) daily interferences, not too overt to the untrained eye, but psychologically degrading and damaging to the target over time; (8) everyday life breaks and street theater such as flat tires, sleep deprivation, drugging food, putting dirt on targets property; (9) mass strangers doing things in public to annoy targets such as getting called/text messages to be at a specific time and place to perform a specific action; (10) blocking targets path, getting ahead of them in line, cutting or boxing them in on the road, saying or doing things to elicit a response from the target; (11) “baiting” tactics where a surveillance operation can selectively capture evidence of a targeted person responding to harassment, and then that evidence could then be used to justify the initiation of more formal scrutiny by a government agency.
The COPS Gang-Stalking Program, as all other state sanctioned/approved gang-stalking programs, have always been funded by the Government. They are the only ones with enough money, coordination, and power to keep such a system in place. These coordinated efforts then join hands with others for this systemic form of control and harassment.
Such operations have nothing to do with the target’s criminality – they are led and perpetrated by federal agents and intelligence/security contractors, often with the support of state and local law enforcement personnel. Unofficial operations of this type are often private investigators and vigilantes – including many former agents and police officers, sometimes on behalf of corporate clients and others with connections to the public and private elements of America’s security industry.
The goal of such operations is “disruption” of the life of an individual deemed to be an enemy (or potential enemy) of clients or members of the security state. Arguably, the most accurate term for this form of harassment would be “counterintelligence stalking.”
Agents of communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) referred to this process as Zersetzung (German for “decomposition” or “corrosion” – a reference to the severe psychological, social, and financial effects upon the victim). Victims have described the process as “no touch torture” – a phrase which also captures the nature of the crime: cowardly, unethical (and often illegal), but difficult to prove legally, because it generates minimal forensic evidence.
Tactics include online and personal slander, libel, defamation, blacklisting, “mobbing” (intense, organized harassment in public), “black bag jobs” (residential break ins), abusive phone calls, computer hacking, framing, threats, blackmail, vandalism, “street theater” (staged physical and verbal interactions with the minions of the people who orchestrate the stalking), harassment by noises, and other forms of bullying.
Such stalking is sanctioned (and in some cases, orchestrated) by federal agencies; however such stalking is also sometimes used unofficially for personal and corporate vendettas by current and former corrupt employees of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, private investigators, and their clients.
Since counterintelligence stalking goes far beyond surveillance – into the realm of psychological terrorism, as it is essentially a form of extrajudicial punishment. As such, the harassment is illegal – even when done by the government. It clearly violates the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unwarranted searches, and the Sixth Amendment which guarantees the right to a trial. Such operations also violate similar fundamental rights defined by state constitutions. Stalking is also specifically prohibited by the criminal codes of every state in America.
As was stated above, organized stalking methods were used extensively by communist East Germany’s Stasi (state police) as a means of maintaining political control over its citizens. Although this is supposedly illegal in the US, the same covert tactics are quietly used by America’s local and federal law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, to suppress political and domestic dissent, silence whistle blowers, and get revenge against persons who have angered someone with connections to the public and private agencies involved.
Although Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (“NSA”) in 2013 and 2014 generated a great deal of public discussion about mass surveillance, US domestic counterintelligence activities such as the COPS Program receive relatively little attention.
The FBI’s COINTELPRO operation is still happening, involving even more advanced surveillance technology – and this program is none other than Joseph Biden and Bill Clinton’s COPS Program.
US Department of Justice crime statistics from a 2006 survey indicated that an estimated 445,220 COPS gangstalking victims reported three or more perpetrators (the only ones reported), and this number is growing exponentially on a daily basis.
In addition to being morally reprehensible, the COPS gang stalking program, just like the original version of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations, is very, very illegal. It violates criminal laws in all fifty states against stalking, as well as grossly violates the US Constitution’s prohibitions against warrantless searches and extra judicial punishment.
While the vast majority of Americans are never personally targeted by the Joseph Biden/Bill Clinton COPS gangstalking program, they should still be concerned about the existence of such operations.
Even if such activities were constitutionally legitimate (which they are not), they still have an enormous potential for abuse as a personal or political weapon by enemies currently employed or friendly with these governmental institutions.
Ending this cowardly and illegal practice by law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, and their parasitic corporate and individual recruits will first require exposing what is happening, to the public.
The global strategy of computer hacking
Whoever operates on the Web and has even interesting or relevant data sooner or later will always be hacked by someone or by some organizations.
Usually “economic” hackers take the data of interest from the victim’s network and resell it in the dark web, i.e. the system of websites that cannot be reached by normal search engines.
Currently, however, after the Bayonet operation of July 2017 in which many dark web areas were penetrated, we are witnessing a specialization of the dark web and an evolution of web espionage methods against companies and States.
These operations which, in the past, were carried out by web amateurs, such as youngsters at home, are currently carried out by structured and connected networks of professional hackers that develop long-term projects and often sell themselves to certain States or, sometimes, to some international crime organizations.
As often happens in these cases, the dark web was born from research in the military field. In fact, in the 1990s, the Department of Defense had developed a covert and encrypted network that could permanently protect the communications of the U.S. espionage “operatives” who worked abroad.
Later the secret network became a non-profit network that could be used for the usual “human rights” and for protecting privacy, the last religion of our decadence.
That old network of the State Department then intersected with the new TOR Network, which is the acronym of The Onion Router, the IT “onion” covering communication with different and often separable encryption systems.
TOR lives on the Internet edge and it acts as the basic technology for its dark web.
Like the “Commendatore” vis-à-vis Don Giovanni in Mozart’s opera.
TOR, however, is a free browser that can be easily extracted from the Web.
Obviously, the more the anonymity of those who use TOR and go on the dark web is covered by effective encryption systems, the more unintentional signals are left when browsing the dark web.
Moreover, the farther you have to go, the more pebbles you need to go back, as in the Thumbelina fairy tale.
TOR and the Dark Web were born to allow the communications of U.S. secret agents, but were later downgraded to “free” communication system to defend Web surfers from “authoritarian governments”. Currently the dark web hosts a wide underground market where drugs, stolen identities, child pornography, jihadist terrorism and all forms of illegal business are traded.
Moreover, if these dark web services are paid with uncontrollable cryptocurrencies, it is very difficult to track any kind of dark web operations.
Nowadays, about 65,000 URLs operate in the dark web, which means Internet websites and Universal Resource Locators that operate mainly via TOR.
A recent study of a company dealing with cybersecurity has demonstrated that about 15% of all dark web URLs facilitate peer-to-peer communication between users and websites usually by means of chat rooms or websites collecting images, pictures and photos, which are often steganographic means and transmit hidden and concealed texts, but also for the exchange of real goods via specialized websites for peer-to-peer trading that are also encrypted, as can easily be imagined.
Moreover, a further study conducted by a U.S. communication company specialized in web operations has shown that at least 50% of the dark websites is, in fact, legal.
This means they officially deals with things, people, data and pictures that, apparently, also apply to “regular” websites.
In other words, the dark websites have been created by means of a regular request to the national reference office of ICANN, which grants the domains and registers the permitted websites, thus communicating them to the Californian cooperative that owns the web “source codes”, although not in a monopolistic way.
Currently all the large web organizations have a dark “Commendatore” in the TOR area, such as Facebook, and the same holds true for almost all major U.S. newspapers, for some European magazines but also for some security agencies such as CIA.
Nevertheless, about 75% of the TOR websites listed by the above stated IT consultancy companies are specialized URLs for trading.
Many of these websites operate only with Bitcoins or with other types of cryptocurrencies.
Mainly illegal pharmaceuticals or drugs, items and even weapons are sold in the dark web. Said weapons are often advanced and not available in the visible and overt networks.
Some URLs also sell counterfeit documents and access keys for credit cards, or even bank credentials, which are real but for subjects other than those for whom they were issued.
In 2018 Bitcoin operations were carried out in the dark web to the tune of over 872 million US dollars. This amount will certainly exceed one billion US dollars in late 2019.
It should be recalled that the total amount of money “laundered” in the world accounts for almost 5% of the world GDP, equal to 4 trillion US dollars approximately.
Who invented the Bitcoin?
In 2011, the cryptocurrency was used for the first time as a term of trade only for drug traffickers operating in the dark web, mainly through a website called Silk Road.
The alias used for those exchanges was called Satoshi Nakamoto, that was also filmed and interviewed, but was obviously another.
We should also recall web frauds or blackmails: for example, InFraud, a U.S. organization specialized in the collection, distribution and sale of stolen credit cards and other personal data.
Before being discovered, InFraud had illegally made a net gain of 530 million US dollars.
Another group of illegal operators, Fin7, also known as Carbanak, again based in the United States, has collected over a billion US dollars on the web and has put in crisis, by blackmailing them, some commercial organizations such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Chipotle, a widespread chain of burritos and other typical dishes of Mexican cuisine.
Obviously the introduction of new control and data processing technologies, ranging from 5G to biometric sensors, or of personal monitoring technologies, increases the criminal potential of the dark web.
Hence the dark web criminals will have an even larger mass of data from which to derive what they need.
The methods used will be the usual ones, such as phishing, i.d. the fraudulent attempt to obtain or to deceive people into sharing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication possibly with a fake website, or the so-called “social engineering”, which is an online scam in which a third party pretends to be a company or an important individual in order to obtain the sensitive data and personal details of the potential victim, in an apparently legal way, or blackmail by e-mail and finally the manipulation of credentials.
With a mass of additional data on their “customers”, the web criminals will be able to perfect their operations, thus making them quicker and more effective. Or the new web technologies will be able to accelerate the time needed for blackmail or compromise, thus allowing a greater number of frauds for more victims.
Biometrics certainly expands the time for the use of data in the hands of cybercriminals. Facial detection or genetic and health data are stable, not to mention the poor security of data held by hospitals. Or we have to do with the widespread dissemination of genetic research, which will provide even more sensitive data to web swindlers.
According to some recent analyses carried out by the specialized laboratories for the Web, 56% of the data most used by web criminals comes from the victims’ personal data, while 44% of the data used by swindlers comes from financial news.
Moreover, specific types of credit cards, sold by geographical area, commercial type and issuing bank, can be bought in the dark web.
85% of them are credit cards accredited for a bank ceiling, while 15% of “customers” asks for debit cards.
The web scammers, however, always prefer e-mail addresses even to passwords.
Furthermore, less than 25% of the 40,000 dark web files have a single title.
In the “dark” web there are over 44,000 manuals for e-frauds, available for sale and often sold at very low prices.
The large and sometimes famous companies are the mainly affected ones. In 2018 the following companies were the target of cyberattacks in the United States: Dixus, a mobile phone company which was stolen 10 million files; the Cathay Pacific airline, with 9.4 million files removed, but also the Marriott’s hotel chain (500 million data/files removed) and finally Quora, a website of scientific documents and generic data. Over 45 million files were removed from Quora.
How can we know whether we are the target of an attack from the Dark Web? There is certainly the presence of ransomware, such as the recent Phobos, which uses the Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) that allow to control computers remotely.
Then there is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which is a temporary block of the Web, apparently accidental, and finally there is the traditional malware, the “malicious” software that is used to disrupt the victims’ computer operations and collects the data present on their computers.
However, the Dark Web ambiguity between common crime and the defence of “human rights” and safe communications in “authoritarian regimes” always remains.
The United States, Iran, China and other countries have already created a “fourth army”, composed only of hackers, that operates with cyberattacks against the enemies’ defence and civilian networks.
The US Cyber Command, for example, is estimated to be composed of as many as 100,000 men and women, who operate 24 hours a day to hit enemy servers (and also allies’ ones, when they contain useful information).
Just think also of the private group Telecomix, which supported the 2011 Arab rebellions and, often, also the subsequent ones.
Also in these months both Telecomix and Anonymous are working to permit the free use of the Syrian computer network.
There is often an operative interface between these groups and the Intelligence Agencies, which often autonomously acquire data from private networks, which, however, soon become aware of the State operations.
There is also cyber-rebellion, which tries – often successfully – to strike at the victims’ data stored, by deleting them.
DDoS, the most frequent type of attack, often uses a program called Low Orbit Ion Cannot (LOIC) which allows a large number of connections to be established simultaneously, thus leading to fast saturation of the enemy server.
The attacking computers can be used remotely and some groups of hackers use thousands of computers simultaneously, called “zombie machines”, to hit the database in which they are interested to delete it or to remove its files.
This type of “fourth army” can inflict greater damage on a target country than a conventional armed attack. The faster the attack, the easier is to identify the origin of the operation.
It is currently estimated that the “zombie” computers in the world are over 250 million – a greater network than any other today present in the military, scientific and financial world.
Hence a very dangerous military threat to critical infrastructure or to the economic resources of any country, no matter how “advanced” it is technologically or in terms of military Defence.
There have been reports of hackers linked to global drug organizations, especially Mexican cartels, and to jihadist or fundamentalist terrorist groups.
Financial hacking, which often supports all these initiatives, remains fundamental.
The South Korean intelligence services’ operative Lim was found “suicidal” after having purchased a program from the Milanese Hacking Team.
A necessary tool for these operations is often a briefcase containing circuits which mimic the towers of cellular repeaters and store in the briefcase itself all the data which is transferred via cetel or via the Internet Network.
The Central Bank of Cyprus, the German CDU Party and many LinkedIn accounts – a particularly favourite target of hackers – some NATO websites and, in Italy, some business and financial consultancy companies were attacked in this way.
It is a completely new war logic, which must be analysed both at technical and operational levels and at theoretical and strategic levels.
The Failures of 737 Max: Political consequences in the making
Last month, as Boeing scaled new contracts for the 737 Max, horrific remains in Bishoftu, from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, witnessed the Dubai Air show in despair; the plane manufacturer had sealed another 70 contracts for the future. Still, the dreaded MCAS software is looking for a resolution at last. Two of the fatal Max 8 crashes have been reportedly caused by censor failures, accounted to software malfunctions. Hundred and fifty-seven people died inside flight 302, only months after Lion Air 610 crashed into the Java Sea with 180 passengers on board.
Both accidents are predisposed towards the highly sophisticated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an algorithm that prevents 737 aircrafts from steep take offs; or de-escalates the vehicle at its own will. However, there is more to Boeing accidents than just a co-incidental MCAS failure. Largely, it is only a consequence of political and economic interests.
While Boeing’s European competitor, Airbus, relaunched its A320’s in 2010, there were fewer changes in the operating manual. Airbus 320 Neo, as it was re-named, had larger engines on the wings, primarily designed for fuel efficiency. The Neo models claimed a whopping 7% increment in the overall performance; inviting thousands of orders worldwide. Consequently, Boeing’s market share of more than 35% was immediately under threat after Lufthansa introduced it for the first time in 2016. Despite of major competition from the A320, 737’s lack of ground clearance space, hindered for a major engine configuration. Nevertheless, Boeing responded to the mechanical challenge and introduced the MCAS for flight safety. As bigger engines in 737 was increasing the take-off weight, the MCAS would automatically re-orient the aeroplane’s steepness to avoid stall. Boeing’s lust to stay afloat in the competitive market, led by a robotic intrusion in flight controls did not fare too long. Flight investigations claimed that although Lion Air 610 was gaining altitude in normal circumstances, the MCAS read it wrongly; hence, pulling the aircraftlower, beyond the control of physical pilots. It was a design flaw, motivated by the need to overcome dwindling sales profits.
Neither is Airbus enjoying smooth performances over the years; it however has not performed as miserly as the 737. Indigo, a major Indian airline is the largest importer of A320 Neo; despite new technologies, it has been warned of repeating problems like momentary engine vibration. Months back, an Indigo flight stalled on its way from Kolkata to Pune, before being forced to return to its departure. Unlike the Boeing 737, Airbus malfunctioning does not lead to a major disaster. There is an element of mechanical interference available to pilots flying the European prototypes. Still, it is not everything that separates the two giants.
The Ethiopian disaster, scrutinized Boeing’s leadership at home; a congressional hearing concluded that after repeated attempts to warn the airline manufacturer to present information as transparently as possible, deaf ears have persisted. As the statement read, Boeing was hiding significant information away from airline companies and pilots. While it plans to resume sales in 2020, progress has been waning, in terms of improving the knowledge behind operating the 737 Max. The investigative hearing concluded that Boeing was manufacturing flying coffins.
Unsurprisingly, there is little amusement towards the development of airline sales around the world. Visibly, there is a band of companies, preferring the American manufacturer to the other. The politics is simple; it is merely about technological superiority, but more related with subsidies and after sales services. Regardless of whether Boeing will scrap the 737 Max or improve the software configuration, doubts have presided over choosing to fly altogether with choosing to fly a specific model. Air travel could not be safer in 2020. That claim is in serious trouble.
Digital Privacy vs. Cybersecurity: The Confusing Complexity of Information Security in 2020
There is a small and potentially tumultuous revolution building on the horizon of 2020. Ironically, it’s a revolution very few people on the street are even aware of but literally every single corporation around the globe currently sits in finger-biting, hand-wringing anticipation: is it ready to meet the new challenge of the California Consumer Privacy Act, which comes into full effect on January 1, 2020. Interestingly, the CCPA is really nothing more than California trying to both piggy-back AND surpass the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) of the European Union, which was passed all the way back in 2016. In each case, these competing/coincident pieces of regulation aim to do something quite noble at first glance for all consumers: to enhance the privacy rights and data protection of all people from all digital threats, shenanigans, and malfeasance. While the EU legislation first of all focuses on the countries that make up the European Union and the California piece formally claims to be about the protection of California residents alone, the de facto reality is far more reaching. No one, literally no one, thinks these pieces can remain geographically contained or limited. Instead, they will either become governing pieces across a far greater transregional area (the EU case) or will become a driving spur for other states to develop their own set of client privacy regulations (the California case). Despite the fact that most people welcome the idea of formal legal repercussions for corporations that do not adequately protect consumer data/information privacy, there are multiple confusions and complexity hidden within this overly simple statement. As we head into 2020, what should be chief for corporations is not trying to just blindly satisfy both GDPR and CCPA. Rather, it should be about how to remedy these confusions first. However, that elimination is not nearly as easy to achieve as some might think.
First off, a not-so-simple question: what is privacy? It is a bit awe-inspiring to consider that there are many ways to define privacy. When considering GDPR and CCPA, it is essential to have precise and explicit definitions so that corporations can at least have a realistic chance to set goals that are manageable and achievable, let alone provide them with security against reckless litigation. Failure to define privacy explicitly carries radically ambiguous legal consequences in the coming CCPA atmosphere, something all corporations should rightly avoid like the plague. Perhaps worse, no matter how much time you spend defining consumer privacy beforehand, trying to create this improved consumer protection digitally becomes almost hopelessly complicated. The high-technology, instant-communication, constant-access, massively-diversified world we live in today makes some argue that ‘digital privacy’ in any real sense is dead and buried without the possibility for resurrection. If this is true, then how quixotic will it be for corporations to try to meet the regulation demands of legislative projects like GDPR and CCPA if they do not first try to establish both clarity and transparency of terms and goals?
This is not a nihilistic argument just trying to have every corporation around the world throw up its hands in despair and give up on improved consumer privacy and data protection. But note the word ‘improved.’ In order for corporations to realistically provide consumer data protection, the irony of ironies may be that the first successful step will be finally embracing transparency in admitting that ‘perfect digital privacy’ will not and cannot exist. Realistic cyber expectations mean admitting that external threats always have an upper hand over internal defenders. Not because they are more talented or more committed or more diligent. But because what it takes to successfully perpetrate a threat is far simpler, quicker, cheaper, and easier than what is necessary to successfully enact a comprehensive defense program that can answer those threats and remain agile, flexible, and adaptive far into the future.
The broken glass analogy helps illustrate this conundrum. I am in charge of protecting 100 windows from being broken. But I must protect them from 1000 people coming toward me with rocks. Ultimately, it is far easier for the 1000 to individually achieve a single success (breaking a window) than it is for me to achieve success in totality (keeping all 100 windows intact). The resolution, therefore, is transparency: there is greater chance of ‘success’ for the chief actors (namely, me as defender and the client as owner of the windows) if I can be liberated from the impossible futility of ‘perfect protection’ and set a more realistic definition of protection as ‘true success.’ As long as there are recovery/restitution processes in place (replacing/repairing a broken window), then ‘success’ should be legitimately defined as a percentage less than 100. This is the same for corporations dealing with clients/consumers in the new world of 2020 CCPA: if the idea is that these pieces of legislations finally make corporations commit to perfect digital privacy and such perfection is the only definition of success against which they can measure themselves, then 2020 will be nothing but a year of frustration and failure.
The funny thing in all of this is that the EU legislation somewhat admits the above. Consider the seven principles of data protection as laid out by GDPR:
- Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency.
- Purpose limitation.
- Data minimization.
- Storage limitation.
- Integrity and confidentiality.
Nothing in these seven principles would bring about the establishment of perfect digital privacy or sets the expectation that failures in consumer protection must never occur. But they do hint at a darker secret underlying the European concept of client privacy that sits in contradiction to the very essence of American economics.
When people call CCPA the ‘almost GDPR,’ it is hinting at how the spirit of the two legislations are somewhat diametrically opposed to one another. The EU crafted GDPR under strong social democratic norms that encompass many of the core member governments. As such, it is most decidedly not legislation engineered to first protect the sacred right to free market business enterprise and a fundamental belief in the market to solve its own problems. Rather, GDPR has within it, implicitly, a questioning skepticism about the core priorities of major corporations and the belief that governance is the only way to make free-market economics work fairly. As such, GDPR is not just about protecting consumer data and information privacy from hackers, outside agents, and foreign actors: it is alsoabout protecting consumers from “untrustworthy corporations” themselves. This is something that should not infuse the CCPA (whether it does or not is yet to be determined and 2020 will therefore prove to be a very interesting judgment year). Because while California is staunchly to the left on the American political spectrum, it still operates as a constituent member of the US, the most fiercely protective country of its capitalist roots and belief in the sanctity of the free-market system. As such, government regulation in the EU that works for consumer privacy protection will not be looking at corporations as a willing or even necessarily helpful partner in a joint initiative. American government regulation should and must. As time progresses, if CCPA proves itself to be too close to GDPR, to European as opposed to American market norms, expect to see other states in the US create competing legislation. And even if those competing pieces aim to create a more ‘American’ conceptualization of consumer digital privacy as opposed to ‘European,’ what it means in real terms for corporations is yet more competing standards to try to synergize and make sense of. Thus, executive leaders in charge of information security in 2020 are going to need to have critical reasoning and analytical research skills far more than they ever have in the past.
In the end, protecting consumer privacy and providing client data protection is an essential, proper, and critical element for doing business in 2020. Legislation like GDPR and CCPA are meant to help provide an acknowledged framework for all actors to understand the expectations and consequences of the success/failure of that mission. Having such protocols is a good thing. But when protocols do not recognize reality, skip over crucial elements of clarity and transparency, hide some of the futility that likely cannot be overcome, and ignore their own competing contradictions, then those protocols might end up providing more problems than protection. What corporations must do, as they head into 2020, is not blindly follow CCPA. Nor should they facetiously do superficial work to achieve ‘CCPA compliance’ while not really providing ‘privacy.’ What is most crucial is innovative executive thinking, where new analytical minds are brought in to positions like CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) that are intellectually innovative, entrepreneurial, adaptive, and agile in how they approach the mission of privacy and security. Traditionally, these positions have often been hired from very rigid and orthodox backgrounds. The enactment of CCPA in 2020 means it might be time to throw that hiring rulebook out. In real terms, the injection of new thinking, new intellectualism, new concept agility, and new practical backgrounds will be crucial for all information security leadership positions. Failure to do so will not just be the death of privacy, but the crippling of corporate success in the client relationship experience.
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