post cyberwar
Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America
On March 2, a disturbing report hit the desks of U.S. counterintelligence officials in Washington. For months, American spy hunters had scrambled to uncover details…
By Massimo Calabresi

This is a quick cyberwar post.

First, some history. During WWII the many spies used wireless transmitters to report back to their base. The medium - radio - meant that the spy and the person receiving the report never saw each other. This allowed for a particular kind of espionage trick, the playback, the turnaround or, as the Germans called it, the Funkspiel (“radio game”). When a spy is captured they are either doubled (if possible), or someone attempts to emulate their transmission style and impersonate them (it can get a lot more elaborate.)

[There is a lot of historical stuff I’ll have to gloss over, because it is not really relevant to my point, but it is really fascinating!]

What I find exciting in this article is the attempt by the Russians to create a platform for modern day Funkspiel. They successfully hijacked a number of legitimate US DoD personel Twitter accounts.

the Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department. Depending on the interests of the targets, the messages offered links to stories on recent sporting events or the Oscars, which had taken place the previous weekend. When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow’s hackers to take control of the victim’s phone or computer–and Twitter account.

This would allow them to play “radio games” against the US. They would have control over authentic channels of communication, where they could attempt to inject false, misleading or other corrupted information into the target.

Modern day Funkspiel. Awesome!

The medium is the misinformation message enabler