Plan X will let soldiers fight cyberwars without a keyboard in 2017

DARPA is using the Oculus Rift to send troops into cyberspace

Plan X is an ambitious scheme, designed by DARPA, to allow all branches of the US military to fight back against electronic attacks. Now DARPA has announced the plan, which aims to allow soldiers to enter a visualized version of cyberspace to repel enemy attacks, will start being rolled out to the Department of Defense and US military’s Cyber Command in October 2017.

Military to deploy bots for ‘hacking minds’ - The Guardian

Cyberwarfare of the future may be less about hacking electrical power grids and more about hacking minds by shaping the environment in which political debate takes place.

Chatbots could take on military roles in intelligence and propaganda operations to influence targets.

The research into the programmes, which are designed to emulate human conversation and are familiar as “virtual assistants” on retailers’ websites, envisages a future in which “an influence bot could be deployed in both covert and overt ways – on the web, in IM/chatrooms/forums or in virtual worlds”.

"It could be a declared bot and fairly overt influence play, or pretend to be a human and conduct its influencing in less obvious ways," says the 2011 report by Daden, a technology group that develops chatbots for commercial and educational clients.

Daden also suggested chatbots could be used as “cyberbuddies” shadowing soldiers through their careers or as data-gatherers in digital environments such as chatrooms and forums, where they could “scout for targets, potentially analyse behaviour, and record and relay conversation”.

The current MoD research drive in the area is being run by the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre (DHCSTC), which is administered by BAE.

The scary, wonderful future of the Pentagon's science fair

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency showed off more than 100 projects from cyberwarfare to car-hacking

ULTRA-VIS is an augmented reality system that overlays graphics on the landscape through a low-power, holographic see-through display.

The scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency aren’t secretive, they’ll tell you — they’re just busy. But on Wednesday afternoon, DARPA put its work on pause and opened up to the press for a precious two hours. The agency that brought you the internet and GPS erected white tents inside the Pentagon courtyard and staged 112 simultaneous demonstrations as harried journalists rushed around trying to suck up as much information as possible before our handlers nudged us out.

In one tent, a smiling gentleman in a jaunty hat shook my hand with his prosthetic arm, its soft plastic fingers closing around my palm. That was the DEKA arm system, the ultra-dexterous mind-controlled prosthetic that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month. Its wearer, Fred Downs, the former director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, has tried almost every prosthetic on the market and says this one is the best. DARPA hopes to have it mass produced for soldiers who come back as amputees.


DARPA’s strategy is to invest its $2.8 billion budget in ideas that are high-risk, high-reward, and wide-ranging. Considering this is the agency that brought us Siri and the self-driving car, it should be no surprise to see projects all over the spectrum. The projects on display tackled language translation for face-to-face conversation, anonymous internet browsing, car-hacking, biometric passwords, big data, and more. There was an “unhackable” quadrocopter. There were educational games that teach kids fractions while teaching DARPA how to refine training techniques for soldiers. There was an augmented-reality helmet with a see-through screen over one eye, showing the wearer which route to follow by superimposing it on the landscape.


Fred Downs, former national director of the prosthetics division at Department of Veterans Affairs, demonstrates the DARPA-funded DEKA arm system.

*Now, even more obvious than ever before!  Texas, all the way!

The NSA Uses Powerful Toolbox in Effort to Spy on Global Networks

Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit


Google Earth

The NSA’s TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency’s top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting.

In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn’t budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.

n the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States’ foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio. Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA’s radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.

It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA’s work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2,000 employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio. In 2005, the agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

On-Call Digital Plumbers

One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years — the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA’s top operative unit — something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.

According to internal NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL, these on-call digital plumbers are involved in many sensitive operations conducted by American intelligence agencies. TAO’s area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO’s disposal have become — and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.

The unit is “akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community,” says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. “Getting the ungettable” is the NSA’s own description of its duties. “It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important,” one former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document. The paper seen by SPIEGEL quotes the former unit head stating that TAO has contributed “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.” The unit, it goes on, has “access to our very hardest targets.”

A Unit Born of the Internet

Defining the future of her unit at the time, she wrote that TAO “needs to continue to grow and must lay the foundation for integrated Computer Network Operations,” and that it must “support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations.” To succeed in this, she wrote, TAO would have to acquire “pervasive, persistent access on the global network.” An internal description of TAO’s responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit’s tasks. In other words, the NSA’s hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries — nearly everywhere in the world. In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.

Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a “sustained TAO operation,” one document states.

This TAO unit is born of the Internet — created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world’s population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning — to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.

Recruiting the Geeks

To do this, the NSA needed a new kind of employee. The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one. Many resemble geeks — and act the part too.

Indeed, it is from these very circles that the NSA recruits new hires for its Tailored Access Operations unit. In recent years, NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.

The recruitment strategy seems to have borne fruit. Certainly, few if any other divisions within the agency are growing as quickly as TAO. There are now TAO units in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Gordon, Georgia; at the NSA’s outpost at Buckley Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado; at its headquarters in Fort Meade; and, of course, in San Antonio.

One trail also leads to Germany. According to a document dating from 2010 that lists the “Lead TAO Liaisons” domestically and abroad as well as names, email addresses and the number for their “Secure Phone,” a liaison office is located near Frankfurt — the European Security Operations Center (ESOC) at the so-called “Dagger Complex” at a US military compound in the Griesheim suburb of Darmstadt.

But it is the growth of the unit’s Texas branch that has been uniquely impressive, the top secret documents reviewed by SPIEGEL show. These documents reveal that in 2008, the Texas Cryptologic Center employed fewer than 60 TAO specialists. By 2015, the number is projected to grow to 270 employees. In addition, there are another 85 specialists in the “Requirements & Targeting” division (up from 13 specialists in 2008). The number of software developers is expected to increase from the 2008 level of three to 38 in 2015. The San Antonio office handles attacks against targets in the Middle East, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia, not to mention Mexico, just 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, where the government has fallen into the NSA’s crosshairs.

Battle for the internet - what's coming up

Over seven days The Guardian is taking stock of the new battlegrounds for the internet. From states stifling dissent to the new cyberwar front line, we look at the challenges facing the dream of an open internet

Day two: the militarisation of cyberspace
Internet attacks on sovereign targets are no longer a fear for the future, but a daily threat. We ask: will the next big war be fought online?

Day three: the new walled gardens
For many, the internet is now essentially Facebook. Others find much of their online experience is mediated by Apple or Amazon. Why are the walls going up around the web garden, and does it matter?

Day four: IP wars
Intellectual property, from copyrights to patents, have been an internet battlefield from the start. We look at what Sopa, Pipa and Acta really mean, and explain how this battle is not over. Plus, Clay Shirky will be discussing the issues in a live Q&A

Day five: ‘civilising’ the web
In the UK, the ancient law of defamation is increasingly looking obsolete in the Twitter era. Meanwhile, in France, President Sarkozy believes the state can tame the web

Day six: the open resistance
Meet the activists and entrepreneurs who are working to keep the internet open

Day seven: the end of privacy
Hundreds of websites know vast amounts about their users’ behaviour, personal lives and connections with each other. Find out who knows what about you, and what they use the information for

Cyberwarfare greater threat to US than terrorism, say security experts

Cyberwarfare is the greatest threat facing the United States – outstripping even terrorism – according to defense, military, and national security leaders in a Defense News poll, a sign that hawkish warnings about an imminent “cyber Pearl Harbor” have been absorbed in defense circles.

That warning, issued by then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Oct. 2012, struck many as a fear-mongering plug for defense and intelligence funding at a moment when many in the United States, including 32 percent of those polled by the same Defense News Leadership Poll, believe the government spends too much on defense.

But 45 percent of the 352 industry leaders polled said cyberwarfare is the gravest danger to the U.S., underlining the government’s shift in priority – and resources – towards the burgeoning digital arena of warfare. In 2010, the Pentagon created the U.S. Cyber Command, under the helm of NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander, to better prepare the U.S. for a potential attack on digital infrastructure.

Read more

Photo: NSA via Getty Images


Stuxnet Virus

Security experts have uncovered an ongoing cyber espionage campaign targeting Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that they say stands out because it is the first such operation using communications tools written in Farsi.

The cyberwarfare tool is the fourth discovered targeting Iran in as many years, following Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame, which security analysts agree were almost certainly built and unleashed by national governments.

Israel and the United States were largely suspected of being behind the Flame supervirus that targeted Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli security company Seculert and Russia’s Kaspersky Lab said on Tuesday that they identified more than 800 victims of the operation.

The targets include critical infrastructure companies, engineering students, financial services firms and government embassies located in five Middle Eastern countries, with the majority of the infections in Iran.

Seculert and Kaspersky declined to identify specific targets of the campaign, which they believe began at least eight months ago. They said they did not know who was behind the attacks or if was a nation state.

“It’s for sure somebody who is fluent in Persian, but we don’t know the origin of those guys,” said Seculert Chief Technology Officer Aviv Raff.

The Mahdi Trojan lets remote attackers steal files from infected PCs and monitor emails and instant messages, Seculert and Kaspersky said. It can also record audio, log keystrokes and take screen shots of activity on those computers.

Just the Right Amount of Cyber Fear

If our leaders don’t even use email, can we trust them to make decisions about our brave new e-world? In a book released a few days ago—Cybersecurity and Cyberwarfare: What Everyone Needs to Know—we are immediately struck by how unprepared we really are as a society:

As late as 2001, the Director of the FBI did not have a computer in his office, while the U.S. Secretary of Defense would have his assistant print out e-mails to him, write his response in pen, and then have the assistant type them back in. This sounds outlandish, except that a full decade later the Secretary of Homeland Security, in charge of protecting the nation from cyber threats, told us at a 2012 conference, “Don’t laugh, but I just don’t use e-mail at all” … And in 2013, Justice Elena Kagan revealed the same was true of eight out of nine of the United States Supreme Court justices, the very people who would ultimately decide what was legal or not in this space.

Scary. Or is this a strategic choice to opt out of technology, given online threats every day in the news?

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

F***ing Cyberwar, How Do They Work?

In my nerdy excitement to talk about cyber-issues, I completely forgot to actually explain what exactly cyber-warfare Cyber Warfare cyberwarfare is. For that I apologize, but its really not my fault…honest. The big problem in this field is that there really is no one discrete and simple definition of cyberwar (or even consensus on how to spell it). This problem exists just because the field is so unfounded new and geeky esoteric. So I’ll try to define some terms and explain what I’m talking about. 


Let’s start with the easy definitions. 


Cyberspace: the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.


Cyber-conflict: a fight or struggle that takes place in the medium of cyberspace.


Cyber-espionage: The act of using computer networks to covertly obtain secret information from a country’s computer systems. 


Still with me? 


The actual definition of cyberwarfare is a bit tricker. Let’s start with the granddaddy of America’s cyberwar policy, Richard A. Clarke:

“Actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption.”

Its a good explanation, it has the basics, but lacks clarity between Title 10 and Title 50. Essentially, his definition of cyberwarfare has no distinction between acts during peacetime or wartime. It seems minute but is important if you care about international law (i.e. the difference between Article 2(4), Article 39 and Article 51 of the UN Charter) or the power of EOP to wage military power without the consent of Congress.  


Let’s look at an academic’s definition. Martin Libicki defines cyberwarfare as,

“One state using information to attack another state’s information by attacking the other’s information system.”

Very…uh…academic, but not useful for this forum and the general public. The definition lacks any mention of war actions (kind of important given the name cyberWARfare) and Libicki’s definition tends to suggest information warfare as part of cyberwarfare. Personally, I think information warfare can be very similar but discrete from cyberwarfare. 


Jason Healey, can you clarify?

“Cyberwarfare is the extension of warfare in cyberspace.”

I like it! Simple, clear, and easy to understand. War is well establish in law. Its not as specific as the previous definitions, but covers both Clarke’s and Libicki’s inclusions on nation-states and computer networks, but specifies war not just attacks. It treats cyberwarfare as a domain for actions rather than an action in an of its self (like the difference between aerial warfare and dogfighting). Is it a perfect definition, no. But for the average laymen it is useful and for me, contains the spirit of what cyberwarfare actually is. 


To help gasp these definitions, the table below shows how four cyber events (Stuxnet, the Estonian cyberattacks, the Georgian Cyberwar, and Operation Buckshot Yankee) would be classified as cyberwarfare by the various definitions. 





The South Ossetia War, definitely a cyberwar, the others…depends on your definition of cyberwarfare. The way I like to look at it is that cyber is another medium for warfare. In this case its like saying aerial, land, or naval warfare. Cyber is a battlespace. Because it is a virtual and manmade construction it has different rules, limitations, tactics, and strategies.  


So why is this important? Because how you define cyberwarfare dictates what laws apply to states; how attacks are conducted; who are targets are; the tactics and strategies; the government’s responsibilities; and what agency is responsible for defense, offense, and espionage. 


Who are the players? What are the strategies? Stay tuned, there’s more to come.


Luckily, I have some stuff:



Flame: Opening a New Weapons Cache





And a better reading of Panetta’s recent speech on cyberwarfare:

Pentagon Chief Reveals ‘Classified’ Cyber Threats … That You Read in August

One Of Snowden's Most Ardent Defenders Is Also His Most Important Critic
Via Google,Yahoo & Bing News Search Cyberwarfare
October 19, 2014 at 08:22PM

The film is an utterly fascinating account of the week Poitras and Glenn Greenwald spent interviewing Snowden in his Mira hotel room in Hong Kong in early June 2013. It also covers some of the preparations and fallout.

Read more:
Please read this, I really need help!

Okay, so my first ever MUN is coming up. My topic is, “Cyber warfare and its impact on international security.”

And the country assigned to me is LUXEMBOURG.


Now if you could please please please take 5 minutes out, and search some places, about Luxembourg’s connection with cyberwarfare. ANYTHING. Just cyberwarfare and Luxembourg should be there.

Please, if you find out any links, POST IT IN MY SUBMIT box.

Please guys, I NEED HELP. ASAP :)

Love you all xx

[…] It is the US - not Iran, Russia or “terror” groups - which already is the first nation (in partnership with Israel) to aggressively deploy a highly sophisticated and extremely dangerous cyber-attack. Last June, the New York Times’ David Sanger reported what most of the world had already suspected: “From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons.” In fact, Obama “decided to accelerate the attacks … even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet.” According to the Sanger’s report, Obama himself understood the significance of the US decision to be the first to use serious and aggressive cyber-warfare:

“Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons - even under the most careful and limited circumstances - could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.”

The US isn’t the vulnerable victim of cyber-attacks. It’s the leading perpetrator of those attacks. As Columbia Professor and cyber expert Misha Glenny wrote in the NYT last June: Obama’s cyber-attack on Iran “marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet.”

Indeed, exactly as Obama knew would happen, revelations that it was the US which became the first country to use cyber-warfare against a sovereign country - just as it was the first to use the atomic bomb and then drones - would make it impossible for it to claim with any credibility (except among its own media and foreign policy community) that it was in a defensive posture when it came to cyber-warfare. As Professor Glenny wrote: “by introducing such pernicious viruses as Stuxnet and Flame, America has severely undermined its moral and political credibility.” That’s why, as the Post reported yesterday, the DOJ is engaged in such a frantic and invasive effort to root out Sanger’s source: because it reveals the obvious truth that the US is the leading aggressor in the world when it comes to cyber-weapons.

This significant expansion under the Orwellian rubric of “cyber-security” is thus a perfect microcosm of US military spending generally. It’s all justified under by the claim that the US must defend itself from threats from Bad, Aggressive Actors, when the reality is the exact opposite: the new program is devoted to ensuring that the US remains the primary offensive threat to the rest of the world. It’s the same way the US develops offensive biological weapons under the guise of developing defenses against such weapons (such as the 2001 anthrax that the US government itself says came from a US Army lab). It’s how the US government generally convinces its citizens that it is a peaceful victim of aggression by others when the reality is that the US builds more weapons, sells more arms and bombs more countries than virtually the rest of the world combined. [++]