WikiLeaks posts 500K pager messages from 11-Sep-01

December 2, 2009

Source: WikiLeaks Special 9/11 site

WikiLeaks Logo

 

Biggest Leak Ever.

From 3AM on Wednesday November 25, 2009, until 3AM the following day (US east coast time), WikiLeaks released half a million US national text pager intercepts. The intercepts cover a 24 hour period surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

The messages were broadcasted “live” to the global community — sychronized to the time of day they were sent. The first message was from 3AM September 11, 2001, five hours before the first attack, and the last, 24 hours later.

Text pagers are usualy carried by persons operating in an official capacity. Messages in the archive range from Pentagon, FBI, FEMA and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults at investment banks inside the World Trade Center

The archive is a completely objective record of the defining moment of our time. We hope that its entrance into the historical record will lead to a nuanced understanding of how this event led to death, opportunism and war.

This message, on the WikiLeaks 9/11 site (click the logo above to access), is WikiLeaks’ explanation for broadcasting some half-million intercepted pager messages. Also on the site is an index of the messages, and a zip file to download.

While WikiLeaks intentions may seem honest, there are questions concerning the pages. The most important question being:

WHO INTERCEPTED THESE PAGES?

 

Inquiring minds want to know. The question surrounding the pager intercepts has not gone unnoticed in DC. From Newsday.com:

Concerned about the release of 500,000 intercepted pager messages from Sept. 11, 2001, Rep. Peter King said he plans to have his Washington staff begin a preliminary investigation.

“It does raise security issues, and we will look into it in Washington,” King (R-Seaford), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Friday.

Note: The link may not work properly unless you disable javascript for newsday.com. If left enabled, you will only get the first paragraph along with requests to subscribe to see the rest.

The fact that someone had intercepted such traffic, albeit unencrypted, is giving some security people like King concerns about why such the intercepting was going on… and by whom.

Most pager users either don’t need to intercept the traffic or do not have the expertise to do so, (Phil) Lieberman (president of Lieberman Software Corp. of Los Angeles) said.

But clearly, those with the right technology can accomplish it. Literature of one pager company acknowledges that an experienced person with sophisticated equipment can break into the data transmitted for pagers.

Since, at the time, the World Trade Center was home to many financial companies, someone who has the means to intercept the pager traffic would have unprecedented access to information that could have altered markets.

 

History rewind… In what has to be an unfortunate timing of news stories, a story from the subscription site Wayne Madsen Report re-posted on Online Journal and Op-Ed News reminds us that someone had indeed been engaged in snooping on America’s electronic messages long before the towers came down. From writer Wayne Madsen:

National Security Agency (NSA) sources have reported to WMR that the signals intelligence agency’s warrantless wiretapping program was more widespread than originally reported and that it began shortly after the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, some six months prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio reported that NSA requested that his firm take part in the warrantless wiretapping program in a February 27, 2001, meeting but that he told NSA that Qwest would refuse to participate. AT&T, BellSouth, SBC, Sprint, and Verizon all agreed to participate in the wiretapping program, which resulted in such a large database of intercepted calls, faxes, and e-mails, that NSA recently announced it was building a huge 1 million square feet data warehouse at a cost of $1.5 billion at Camp Williams in Utah, as well as another massive data warehouse in San Antonio. The cover story is that the warehouses are part of NSA’s new Cyber Command responsibilities. NSA sources have told WMR that the warehouses are to store the massive amount of intercepts collected by the ongoing Terrorist Surveillance Program, an above top secret program once code named STELLAR WIND by the NSA.

Nacchio was later convicted on 19 counts of insider trading of Qwest stock and sentenced to six years in federal prison. Nacchio maintained that his prosecution and conviction was in retaliation for his refusal to participate in the illegal NSA surveillance program. NSA also canceled a major contract with Qwest over its refusal to wiretap calls without warrants.

NSA

This would certainly answer who and possibly why. Following money trails to “terrorists” might seem logical, and the WTC would be the most likely spot to intercept the messages. But if it really was the NSA intercepting the pages, why post them to WikiLeaks? Did someone have a guilty conscience and wanted to come clean? Or was it the NSA’s way of saying “This is what we can find out about you, and you brain-dead sacks of sheep-shit can’t do a fucking thing about it!”

If it was the NSA, they’re not saying… and neither are their corporate allies, as one curious Indiana University grad student found out when he asked about what customers are being charged for wiretaps. From Wired:

Want to know how much phone companies and internet service providers charge to funnel your private communications or records to U.S. law enforcement and spy agencies?

That’s the question muckraker and Indiana University graduate student Christopher Soghoian asked all agencies within the Department of Justice, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed a few months ago. But before the agencies could provide the data, Verizon and Yahoo intervened and filed an objection on grounds that, among other things, they would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public.

Yahoo! claimed that releasing such information can embarrass them, while Verizon objected on the grounds that customers may get confused and scared. Like having jumbo-jets crash into buildings won’t confuse and scare people enough.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

O’Riley Radar: The War For The Web

November 18, 2009

Source: O’Riley Radar

Tim O'Riley

Like most bloggers, Tim O’Riley (O’Riley Radar) uses Twitter which can post to his Facebook page. Last Friday (13-Nov-09), he noticed a problem with his Facebook links… and with what is happening on the net as a whole. (Click the pic to see his blog.)

A chain of broken links. Tim O’Riley tried to post a link from URL shortening service bit.ly that lead to a NASA article. Normally, Facebook would turn the plain-text link into a clickable URL, but on this occasion, it wasn’t happening (screencap). It turns out Tim wasn’t the only one with the problem. From Mashable:

if you’re posting web links (Bit.ly, TinyURL) to your Twitter feed and using the Twitter Facebook app to share those updates on Facebook too, none of those links are hyperlinked. Your friends will need to copy and paste the links into a browser to make them work.

If this is a design decision on Facebook’s part, it’s an extremely odd one: we’d like to think it’s an inconvenient bug, and we have a mail in to Facebook to check. Suffice to say, the issue is site-wide: it’s not just you.

 

That’s not a bug, that’s… OK, it’s a bug. Facebook quickly corrected the problem early Saturday. Apparently the snafu was Facebook’s latest effort to “protect” users from the wild west of the Internet. Facebook had the right idea, though…

I can tell you, from personal experience, that while the URL shortening makes tweeting links easier to fit into its limited text length, it is dangerous to end users since it effectively hides malicious sites that would normally be filtered or blocked. Here’s an article from Wired about the abuse of shortening services to deliver malware through Twitter. I clicked on a shortened link in Reddit expecting to read an article on robotic fish-eye-lens cameras… only to be greeted with a screen full off meatspin. That which once seen…

The Facebook link problem has been solved for now, but for Tim, it has given him some cause for alarm.

 

Beyond Facebook. Tim O’Riley is involved with the making of Web 2.0, and has expressed a desire to make it more open(-source). Already he sees problems arising from the likes of Apple’s iPhone:

The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits – there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

And there’s Rupert Murdoch’s threats to block Google from indexing NewsCorp sites because he want people to pay for access to the news instead of getting it free from Google and Twitter.

Tim is concerned about the net becoming monopolized and homogenized through attrition; Survival of the fittest corporation gets control of the Internet… and all the data on it. He gives the recent introduction of Google’s Android phones and their competition with Apple iPhones as an example of what’s to come, because it’s also a sign just how competitive the web is getting, and just how powerful Google is getting, because they understand that “data is the Intel Inside” of the next generation of computer applications.

Locutus of Borg

A call to arms. Tim wants to stop the corporate wars for the Internet in its tracks before they can even start with a plea to developers:

It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.

And it’s time for developers to take a stand. If you don’t want a repeat of the PC era, place your bets now on open systems. Don’t wait till it’s too late.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Sabotaging The System: CBS News, Brazilian Blackouts, and The War for The Internet

November 12, 2009

Source: CBS News (60 Minutes)


Watch CBS News Videos Online

This past Sunday’s (8-Nov-2009) 60 Minutes broadcast included this piece about Brazil’s blackout and how hackers were involved. But were hackers really involved? Anyone up for a history lesson?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before… There has been a massive blackout in Brazil affecting Rio de Janeiro , Sao Paulo, and parts of Paraguay (BBC, Guardian.co.uk). The blackout is reportedly caused by problems at the Itaipu dam, some say by a storm in the area, others say corporate incompetence is to blame.

Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. They have already decided that “hackers” were the cause. The same “hackers” who caused Brazil to go dark in 2007:

“We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness,” the president said.

President Obama didn’t say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.

Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.

That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world’s largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.

And to back up their claim, CBS News interviews some government-military-intelligence types who say “The US is not ready for a cyber-attack,” or some sound-alike crap, I really wasn’t paying too much attention.

 

Chicken Little. We’ve heard the stories about multi-million dollar thefts due to hacks, and we do tend to believe them. CBS tries to make the big leap to infrastructure attacks by adding how hackers have penetrated military and government systems by leaving USB thumbdrives lying around for sheeple to find and plug into their systems, infecting them and leaving backdoors open for further intrusions and attacks. It sounds like if such an attack is possible, it was made so by clueless soldiers and wage-slaves.

But are such attacks possible, even by “foreign” government agents? I wouldn’t put it pass them… but then again, I did read The Hacker Crackdown (I have to get a review up here!), and knowing that there’s a war for control of the Internet on, I would have to call shenanigans.

Someone beat me to the phone…

 

Wired Calls Shenanigans. (Wired) No sooner than CBS News puts the video and transcription up for public review, Wired’s Marcelo Soares knocks the foundation out from under:

Brazilian government officials disputed the report over the weekend, and Raphael Mandarino Jr., director of the Homeland Security Information and Communication Directorate, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he’s investigated the claims and found no evidence of hacker attacks, adding that Brazil’s electric control systems are not directly connected to the internet.

Uh oh. It looks like Brazil did something right (not connecting directly to the Internet), so CBS’s hacker claim is just some gov-mil-corp scare tactic. But if hackers didn’t cause those blackouts, what did?

The earliest explanation for the blackout came from Furnas (Centrais Elétricas) two days after the Sept. 26, 2007, incident began. The company announced that the outage was caused by deposits of dust and soot from burning fields in the Campos region of Espirito Santo. “The concentration of these residues would have been exacerbated by the lack of rain in the region for eight months,” the company said.

Brazil’s independent systems operator group later confirmed that the failure of a 345-kilovolt line “was provoked by pollution in the chain of insulators due to deposits of soot” (.pdf). And the National Agency for Electric Energy, Brazil’s energy regulatory agency, concluded its own investigation in January 2009 and fined Furnas $3.27 million (.pdf) for failing to maintain the high-voltage insulators on its transmission towers.

(Note: See the original article from Wired for links to the pdf files mentioned above)

Yep, corporate incompetence caused the blackouts. Don’t mention that to CBS News, though. It’ll ruin their image as a corporate propaganda machine.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, HackZ AttackZ!, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

War for the Internet

August 25, 2009

Source: New Scientist (Jim Giles), and everywhere else.

UplinkMap

There’s a (maybe not-so) secret war going on, not just on the Internet, but for control of it. And those seeking control have good reason to be afraid of it.

It’s ON. While the activities after the Iranian elections earlier this year have mostly quieted down, the Internet’s impact can still be felt from the Twitter messages that flowed from the Muslim theocracy crackdown on dissidents. The Internet showed how powerful it can be when the truth needed to get out…

… and that is why several countries (dictatorships mostly) do not like the Internet. They are currently engaged in a war against the net, seeking to control access to it, and possibly control of it.

 

The only thing they have to fear is… The Internet has become known as a form of “disruptive technology” because, as WikiPedia’s Disruptive Technology article points out: Disruptive technologies are particularly threatening to the leaders of an existing market, because they are competition coming from an unexpected direction. When you prefer to lead with an iron fist, competition is the last thing you want, and the global nature of the Internet magnifies that competition billions of times over as a global community of the common people (as opposed to controllable politicos) outside your stronghold are now turned against you.

BBC News:

The power of technology – such as blogs – meant that the world could no longer be run by “elites”, Mr (Gordon) Brown said.

For those type of tyrants, the only viable solution is to cut the cables of the Internet; Put up firewalls and filters to weed out such disruptions and the like:

Most of these actions are aimed at stifling political debate. “Political filtering is the common denominator,” says Helmi Noman of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society in Boston, who compiled the report. “It’s the main target.”

Governments also keep tabs on who is using the internet and what they are viewing. In March, newspapers in Saudi Arabia reported that police had started visiting internet cafes to ensure that owners had installed cameras to monitor users, as the country’s law requires. In Jordan, cafe owners have to record their customers’ names and monitor the sites they visit.

Noman says that filtering and monitoring have become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased. “More activists are going online and more activists are being created online,” he says.
Monitoring has become more widespread as the internet’s role in political activity has increased

What’s happening in the region is echoed to some extent in most other parts of the world. Online users almost everywhere are subject to some kind of censorship, the ONI says.

Such activities range from the use of firewall blacklists to more personal Internet attacks. How personal? Just ask this Georgian blogger. You can find other such anti-Internet, or at least anti-blogging, threats like jail time and possible military strikes against bloggers if you search the net enough.

While more democratic nations don’t experience that type of political censorship (unless they watch Fox “News”), there have been more “subtle” ways to silence websites by calling “child pornography” like Australia’s recent (epically failed) attempt at Internet censorship. But politics and porn aside, there’s an even bigger threat to the Internet, in case you haven’t heard…

 

Don’t fuck with our profit margins!
BREAKING NEWS: The Pirate Bay has been (temporarily) taken offline by their ISP who was “threatened” with “legal action.” (TorrentFreak). They already have a new home (for now), though their tracking system is still down.

Ever since the Net exploded in the mid 90’s, everybody has been trying to make a profit off it. Not just the advert-perverts, but the ISPs who see themselves as “gatekeepers” of the Internet. They have been trying to throttle people’s use of the Internet by claiming that the bandwidth is running out, only they just want more of that bandwidth to force more adverts (and government propaganda) down our throats. And if they can’t do that, they’ll just let the NSAs tap whatever wires they want so they can call high-bandwidth users “terrorists.” That might free up some bandwidth and cut down on all the torrenting going on.

Speaking of torrents, do you really believe that media groups are losing billions because of torrent “piracy” and not because the shit they put out is… well, shit? Just as long as nothing threatens their profits… like Google Voice was about to do, and how bloggers were getting away with posting content from news sites without paying. Rupert Murdoch will see that bloggers pay dearly for that (content).

NSAT&T

Freedom Fighters There have been some calls for a Digital Bill of Rights, but whether that would be any more effective in keeping people safe from the Gov-Telco-Media complex than a stash of high-powered firearms is questionable. Until we can get the GTM thugs offline permanently, best just keep all your drives and transmissions encrypted, and invest in firearms. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can find more info about HP’s Darknet project.

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

Pirate Bay Judgement Day: The Verdict is IN

April 18, 2009

Source: Wired, and elsewhere.

Pirate Pay Founders

Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde, Pirate Bay admins, were found guilty of contributing to copyright violations. Their funder, Carl Lundström, was also convicted. Click the pic for the story from Wired

The judgment hammer comes down. For the admins of The Pirate Bay, the hammer came down hard. Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström have been found guilty of “contributory copyright infringement” and sentenced to a year in jail each and fined 30 million kronor, or $3.6 million US. The content syndicates were applauding the decision with their one free hand:

“Today’s ruling sends an important signal that online criminals who show such blatant disregard for the rights of others will be fully prosecuted under the law,” said Mark Esper, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We welcome the court’s decision today because The Pirate Bay is a source of immense damage to the creative industries in Sweden and internationally,” said Dan Glickman, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America. “This is an important decision for rights-holders, underlining their right to have their creative works protected against illegal exploitation and to be fairly rewarded for their endeavors. This decision will help to support the continued investment in talent and in new online services, and the creation of new films and television shows for enjoyment by audiences around the world.”

 

Knocked down, but not kicked offline. While Hollywood may have hoped that the verdict will mean the plug would be pulled on TPB’s servers, the Bay crew have expressed their continued defiance in their blog:

So, the dice courts judgement is here. It was lol to read and hear, crazy verdict.

But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That’s the only thing hollywood ever taught us.

Even on their press conference video, their defiance of the verdict is made clear:

(From BBC News) “It’s serious to actually be found guilty and get jail time. It’s really serious. And that’s a bit weird,” Sunde said.

“It’s so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it’s even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organised. I can’t get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you’re going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime.

“We can’t pay and we wouldn’t pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn’t even give them the ashes.”

 

A Pyrrhic victory. If the content syndicates believe this verdict will end file sharing they need to drink more coffee. Their win is already having the opposite effect, as TorrentFreak is reporting an increase in membership of Sweden’s Pirate Party, who view the trial as a political battle:

(BBC News) – Rickard Falkvinge, leader of The Pirate Party – which is trying to reform laws around copyright and patents in the digital age – told the BBC that the verdict was “a gross injustice”.

“This wasn’t a criminal trial, it was a political trial. It is just gross beyond description that you can jail four people for providing infrastructure.

“There is a lot of anger in Sweden right now. File-sharing is an institution here and while I can’t encourage people to break copyright law, I’m not following it and I don’t agree with it.

“Today’s events make file-sharing a hot political issue and we’re going to take this to the European Parliament.”

But the verdict is just be a moot point, according to Anders Rydell, who wrote a book about TPB and was interviewed by Wired about the outcome:

I actually think this a win-win situation for The Pirate Bay. If they’re convicted, they’ll be martyrs and the “piracy” movement will continue working for what they believe in, even more strongly. If they win, the signal to the public is that file sharing isn’t illegal and The Pirate Bay will basically have achieved its goal.

Then again, this “trial” may not even be about laws or media, but control of Internet itself.

photo-riaa-cops.jpg

The recording companies and networks’ arguments for copyright do not ring true. Their fight is NOT about protecting the quality and integrity of the original works nor is it to ensure the ORIGINAL CREATOR is properly compensated because neither is the case.

It IS about control of virtually every single bit of information and entertainment. Their current argument could easily be made for news and information shows, educational shows and documentaries.

 

BREAKING UPDATE (23-Apr-09): We know that the verdict wasn’t the final word in the Pirate Bay case, but now there’s word all over the net that the trial itself may be invalid all along. The problem? The judge who rendered the verdict and sentences:

Wired – One of the four men convicted in The Pirate Bay trial is seeking to have his guilty verdict thrown out after learning that the judge in the trial is a member of two pro-copyright groups, including one whose membership includes entertainment industry representatives who argued in the case.

Stockholm district court judge, Tomas Norström told a Swedish newspaper that his previously-undisclosed entanglements with the copyright groups did not constitute a conflict of interest.

O RLY?

TorrentFreak – Today, an event on Swedish national radio SR threw everything into doubt – and it’s barely believable, like something straight out of Hollywood.

The copyright industry likes to have the outcome of processes clear before engaging them so it’s perhaps unsurprising that SR today revealed that the judge Tomas Norström is in league with it on many fronts. The judge has several engagements – together with the prosecution lawyers for the movie and music industries.

Swedish Association of Copyright (SFU) – The judge Tomas Norström is a member of this discussion forum that holds seminars, debates and releases the Nordic Intellectual Property Law Review. Other members of this outfit? Henrik Pontén (Swedish Anti-Piracy Bureau), Monique Wadsted (movie industry lawyer) and Peter Danowsky (IFPI) – the latter is also a member of the board of the association.

Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (SFIR)
– The judge Tomas Norström sits on the board of this association that works for stronger copyright laws. Last year they held the Nordic Championships in Intellectual Property Rights Process Strategies.

.SE (The Internet Infrastructure Foundation)
– Tomas Norström works for the foundation that oversees the .se name domain and advises on domain name disputes. His colleague at the foundation? Monique Wadsted. Wadsted says she’s never met Norström although they have worked together.

Meanwhile, President Obama plants RIAA sock puppets in the Department of Justice. If The Pirate Bay is ever “prosecuted” in America, Obama’s DoJ pics have already doomed any hope of making it stick.

 

As always, we’ll keep you informed as the war for the Internets heat up…

This post has been filed under War for the Nets, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.