Waiting for the Cyberbarians

If cyberwar is such a threat, why is the Pentagon doing so little to prepare for it? ROBERT HADDICK Cyberwarfare unleashes confusion on Washington Last month, while reviewing his career a few days before retirement, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen discussed what he sees are the two "existential" threats facing the United States. … Continue reading

Son of Stuxnet Found in the Wild

Kim Zetter Diagram of the Duqu malware, courtesy of Symantec. A little more than one year after the infrastructure-destroying Stuxnet worm was discovered on computer systems in Iran, a new piece of malware using some of the same techniques has been found infecting systems in Europe, according to researchers at security firm Symantec. The new … Continue reading

Computer virus hits US Predator and Reaper drone fleet

Noah Shachtman A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other war zones. The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada … Continue reading

Denial of Service

Lawyers are crippling America’s ability to defend against cyberwar with arcane rules and regulations. But war waits for no man. STEWART BAKER Lawyers don’t win wars. But can they lose one? We’re likely to find out, and soon. Lawyers across the U.S. government have raised so many show-stopping legal questions about cyberwar that they’ve left … Continue reading

The Calm Before the Storm

Cyberwar is already happening — and it’s about to get much, much worse. A veteran intelligence official explains how America can prepare itself. JOEL BRENNER Revelations of wholesale electronic fraud and massive data heists have become weekly, even daily affairs. A multinational electronics corporation loses personal information on more than 100 million customers. Cyberthieves break … Continue reading

The Chinese Way of Hacking

Neal Ungerleider Adam Segal, one of the Council on Foreign Relations’ top experts on China and technology, talks to Fast Company about what’s special about Chinese cybercriminals, Chinese fears of NSA backdoors, and bored East Asian teenagers. Cyberwarfare in 2011 is an odd beast. Many Western governments reportedly actively monitor rivals and engage in online … Continue reading

Cyber Attacks and the Use of Force

Author: Matthew C. Waxman, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Law and Foreign Policy Volume 36, Issue 2 Yale Journal of International Law Summary Suppose that the United States, in opposing Iran’s suspected development of nuclear weapons, decides that the best way to halt or slow Iran’s program is to undermine the Iranian banking system, calculating that … Continue reading

This Week at War: COIN.com

Pentagon planners are dusting off the Cold War deterrence playbook to plan for cyberattacks, but Iraq and Afghanistan would be better models. BY ROBERT HADDICK The Pentagon’s cyberwarfare doctrine begins to emerge This week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Pentagon strategists are completing a document that outlines the government’s cyberwarfare strategy. The Pentagon is … Continue reading

Cyber Combat: Act of War

Pentagon Sets Stage for U.S. to Respond to Computer Sabotage With Military Force SIOBHAN GORMAN And JULIAN E. BARNES WASHINGTON—The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force. … Continue reading

Don’t Believe Scare Stories about Cyber War

John Horgan   For years, a friend I’ll call Chip, knowing my obsession with war, has been telling me: "Cyber War! That’s what you should be writing about! Real war is passé!" Chip keeps sending me stories about all the damage digital attacks do—or rather, might do, because as far as I can tell cyber … Continue reading

Second Defense Contractor L-3 ‘Actively Targeted’ With RSA SecurID Hacks

Kevin Poulsen An executive at defense giant L-3 Communications warned employees last month that hackers were targeting the company using inside information on the SecurID keyfob system freshly stolen from an acknowledged breach at RSA Security. The L-3 attack makes the company the second hacker target linked to the RSA breach — both defense contractors. … Continue reading

Senior Defense Official Caught Hedging on U.S. Involvement in Stuxnet

Kim Zetter If you want to see a top Pentagon official squirm, tune into CNBC’s cyberwar documentary Thursday night, and watch Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn face an uncomfortably direct question about the Stuxnet worm. In “CodeWars: America’s Cyber Threat,” correspondent Melissa Lee asks Lynn outright: “Was the U.S. involved in any way in the … Continue reading

Stuxnet analysis finds more holes in critical software

by Paul Marks Stuxnet may have done us all a favour. Although the computer worm seems to have targeted nothing beyond Iran’s nuclear programme, the obscure breed of industrial control software it so easily attacked runs factories and major utilities worldwide – and its apparent ease of success has prompted security researchers to seek out … Continue reading

Cyber War

Fukushima meeting Stuxnet threat By David Rothkopf The Japanese nuclear crisis, though still unfolding, may, in a way, already be yesterday’s news. For a peek at tomorrow’s, review the testimony of General Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command. Testifying before Congress this week and seeking support to pump up his agency budget, the general … Continue reading

Anonymous attacks toilet paper, Sweden, etc.

By Nate Anderson "Why in gods green earth are we attack [sic] a toilet paper company?" asked one Anonymous member this week on an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel devoted to planning the group’s operations. The target in question was the website of Angel Soft toilet paper, owned by Georgia-Pacific, which is in turn owned … Continue reading

Colbert Report features Ars Anonymous/HBGary coverage

By Eric Bangeman Last night, comedian Stephen Colbert featured the HBGary Federal/Anonymous hacking debacle in a long segment on his show, The Colbert Report—and Ars was proud to be featured twice in the segment. Does this make us an official "friend of the show"? Colbert twice showed clips from our investigative piece Spy games: Inside … Continue reading

Anonymous vs. HBGary: the aftermath

By Nate Anderson The RSA security conference took place February 14-18 in San Francisco, and malware response company HBGary planned on a big announcement. The firm was about to unveil a new appliance called "Razor," a specialized computer plugged into corporate networks that could scan company computers for viruses, rootkits, and custom malware—even malicious code … Continue reading

Weapons to Malfunction!

By Elena Chernenko, Alexander Gabuev Whose hackers pose a threat to the world? Translated By Natalia Dresner Edited by Gheanna Emelia Russia – Kommersant – Original Article (Russian) Whose hackers pose a threat to the world? The leading world powers are convinced that a large-scale clash in cyberspace is inevitable. The U.S. has been getting … Continue reading

Iranian Cyber Army attacks Voice of America website

By Nate Anderson While Anonymous gets the press, they aren’t the only group of not-for-profit cyber-vigilantes on the Internet. The Iranian Cyber Army has just gone on the offensive, targeting the US government’s Voice of America service and 95 affiliated websites, all of which are now displaying an Iranian flag and a gun. Iran’s FARS … Continue reading

The chaotic way Anonymous makes decisions

By Nate Anderson On February 16, the freewheeling hacker collective decided to take on the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, best known for its "God Hates Fags" protests. The Anonymous hivemind, the "Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People," has had enough of this sort of free speech and has decided to fight … Continue reading

HBGary wrote backdoors for the government

By Nate Anderson On November 16, 2009, Greg Hoglund, a cofounder of computer security firm HBGary, sent an e-mail to two colleagues. The message came with an attachment, a Microsoft Word file called AL_QAEDA.doc, which had been further compressed and password protected for safety. Its contents were dangerous. "I got this word doc linked off … Continue reading

How the Stuxnet Worm Formed Its Attacks—and Who Might Have It Now

Stuxnet seems to become scarier every time you hear about it. The sophisticated piece of malware came to the world’s attention in September; shortly thereafter we heard that it was perfectly designed to attack nuclear centrifuges, and in fact had disrupted some nuclear research in Iran. Now comes more news about how it works, and … Continue reading

Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack

By Peter Bright It has been an embarrassing week for security firm HBGary and its HBGary Federal offshoot. HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr thought he had unmasked the hacker hordes of Anonymous and was preparing to name and shame those responsible for co-ordinating the group’s actions, including the denial-of-service attacks that hit MasterCard, Visa, and … Continue reading

The cyberweapon that could take down the internet

by Jacob Aron  A new cyberweapon could take down the entire internet – and there’s not much that current defences can do to stop it. So say Max Schuchard at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and his colleagues, the masterminds who have created the digital ordnance. But thankfully they have no intention of destroying … Continue reading

Stuxnet Hit 5 Gateway Targets on Its Way to Iranian Plant

By Kim Zetter Graphic showing clusters of Stuxnet infections during targeted attacks launched in 2009 and 2010. Courtesy of Symantec. Attackers behind the Stuxnet computer worm focused on targeting five organizations in Iran that they believed would get them to their final target in that country, according to a new report from security researchers. The … Continue reading

How Aaron Barr revealed himself to Anonymous

By Nate Anderson Stian Elkeland Aaron Barr, CEO of security company HBGary Federal, spent the month of January trying to uncover the real identifies of the hacker collective Anonymous—only to end with his company website knocked offline, his e-mails stolen, 1TB of backups deleted, and his personal iPad wiped when Anonymous found out. Our lengthy … Continue reading

How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price

By Nate Anderson Aaron Barr believed he had penetrated Anonymous. The loose hacker collective had been responsible for everything from anti-Scientology protests to pro-Wikileaks attacks on MasterCard and Visa, and the FBI was now after them. But matching their online identities to real-world names and locations had proved daunting. Barr had a way to crack … Continue reading

Anonymous Hacks Security Firm Investigating It; Releases E-mail

By Kim Zetter A U.S. security firm that claimed to have uncovered the real identity of Anonymous members responsible for a recent spate of web site attacks became a victim of Anonymous itself, when members of the online vigilante group breached the company’s network and stole more than 60,000 internal e-mails. The group posted the … Continue reading

Egypt’s Last-Standing ISP Goes Dark

By David Kravets A small Egyptian ISP that continued sputtering along after the government ordered Egypt off the internet Friday is now offline. Security researcher Renesys said Monday the Noor Group, believed to be the last Egyptian ISP in operation, had provided access to the aviation, banking and financial sectors — including the Egyptian stock … Continue reading

Internet ‘Kill Switch’ Legislation Back in Play

By David Kravets Legislation granting the president internet-killing powers is to be re-introduced soon to a Senate committee, the proposal’s chief sponsor told Wired.com on Friday. The resurgence of the so-called “kill switch” legislation came the same day Egyptians faced an internet blackout designed to counter massive demonstrations in that country. The bill, which has … Continue reading

Lessons from Cyberwar I

How Russia pioneered the use of cyberattacks as a military tactic. BY ROBERT HADDICK What does cyberwar look like? In 2008, Georgia found out. In a new piece for Small Wars Journal, David Hollis, a senior policy analyst with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and a reserve Army officer at U.S. … Continue reading

From Bullets to Megabytes

By RICHARD A. FALKENRATH  STUXNET, the computer worm that last year disrupted many of the gas centrifuges central to Iran’s nuclear program, is a powerful weapon in the new age of global information warfare. A sophisticated half-megabyte of computer code apparently accomplished what a half-decade of United Nations Security Council resolutions could not. Mark Pernice … Continue reading

After Stuxnet, Iran unleashes its cybercops

Paul Marks, senior technology correspondent (Image: Getty) The internet is an astonishing place – as the massive ongoing protests in Cairo attest, it can connect a nation of repressed, angry people and send them streaming into the streets. But it poses major risks dissidents and data leakers as well. How? The internet’s data "packets", by … Continue reading

Did a US government lab help Israel develop Stuxnet?

By Kim Zetter, wired.com A security worker stands next to an anti-aircraft gun as he scans Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, 300km south of Tehran, in April 2007 Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP Questions have been raised about the involvement of US government researchers in the creation of a digital weapon that experts believe may have sabotaged … Continue reading

Pure cyberwar? Not gonna happen

By Nate Anderson A pure "cyberwar" is never going to happen. That’s one conclusion of a major report on cybersecurity (PDF) from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Authored by two UK professors, the report argues that Internet attacks and espionage will be key components of all future conflicts, but that the world … Continue reading

Israel Tests on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay

By WILLIAM J. BROAD, JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID E. SANGER The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal. Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its … Continue reading

Alarming Tales of International Hacking from a Cyber-Terrorism Czar

Spies and hackers know only too well about the security loopholes that riddle the Internet—and maybe even the guts of our computers. Former presidential advisor Richard Clarke has ideas for how we can prepare for the new world of virtual combat. by Robert Keating; photograph by Nathaniel Welch On a September night in 2007, a … Continue reading

A Four-Day Dive Into Stuxnet’s Heart

By John Borland Software engineer Bruce Dang led Microsoft’s analysis of the Stuxnet worm. BERLIN — It is a mark of the extreme oddity of the Stuxnet computer worm that Microsoft’s Windows vulnerability team learned of it first from an obscure Belarusian security company that even the Redmond security honchos had never heard of. The … Continue reading

Report strengthens suspicions that Stuxnet harmed Iran’s nuke plant

By Kim Zetter A new report appears to add fuel to suspicions that the Stuxnet superworm was responsible for sabotaging centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant in Iran. The report, released Thursday by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), indicates that commands in the Stuxnet code intended to increase the frequency of devices … Continue reading

2010: The Year the Internet Went to War

By David Kravets Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gives a statement on the WikiLeaks document release on November 29, 2010, at the State Department in Washington, D.C. Photo: AP It was a year without parallel. Threat Level’s bread-and-butter themes of censorship, hacking, security, privacy, copyright and cyberwar were all represented in tug-of-war struggles with … Continue reading

Stuxnet apparently as effective as a military strike

By Peter Bright Damage from the Stuxnet virus has apparently set back the Iranian nuclear program by as much as two years, according to a German security expert talking to the Jerusalem Post. This makes the virus as effective as a military strike—but without loss of life or risk of full-blown war. This comes amid … Continue reading

Joining Pro-WikiLeaks Attacks Is as Easy as Clicking a Button

By Ryan Singel A screenshot of an online application to participate in Anonymous’s denial of service attack against companies that cut off services to Wikileaks. This page comes complete with it targeted at PayPal’s payment infrastructure. (Click the photo for a larger version).Screenshot: Wired.com In a Web 2.0 twist in the ongoing attempts to punish … Continue reading

Parsing the impact of Anonymous

The impact of the recent wave of cyber-attacks launched by Anonymous on a handful of companies that dropped WikiLeaks as their client — Amazon, EveryDNS, MasterCard, Visa and others — is hard to gauge. I’m certain these attacks won’t make any of these firms to reconsider, strike peace with WikiLeaks, and offer them some vouchers … Continue reading

Vigilantes Take Offensive in WikiLeaks Censorship Battle

By Ryan Singel Internet vigilantes stepped up attacks in support of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, downing Visa’s web site in a widening protest against a handful of companies that banned the secret-spilling site after it began publishing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables. The outages, organized by the group Anonymous under the banner “Operation Payback,” have … Continue reading

Visa under attack from Anonymous, payment processors, as WikiLeaks war escalates

By Peter Bright Visa was getting it from both barrels today, with threats of both legal action and electronic warfare made against the company. WikiLeaks’ Icelandic payment processor, DataCell, announced that it was going to sue the credit card network after it cut off donations made to WikiLeaks, and the hacking group Anonymous said that … Continue reading

Stuxnet: It’s the real thing, baby

By Thomas E. Ricks Tom R.: For a long time I thought "infowar" or "cyberwar" was nonsense, mainly a gambit to make money in the defense consulting complex. But expert comments like this one on Stuxnet have me reconsidering.  By Jay Holcomb Best Defense infowar columnist  I believe this event should be looked at from … Continue reading

4chan rushes to WikiLeaks’ defense, forces Swiss banking site offline

By Peter Bright The forces of Anonymous have taken aim at several companies who are refusing to do business with WikiLeaks. 4chan’s hordes have launched distributed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal, Swiss bank PostFinance, and other sites that have hindered the whistleblowing site’s operations. A self-styled spokesman for the group calling himself "Coldblood" has said that … Continue reading

Computer Malware Sabotaged Iran Uranium Centrifuges

Kim Zetter In what appears to be the first confirmation that the Stuxnet malware hit Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that malicious computer code launched by “enemies” of the state had sabotaged centrifuges used in Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program. The surprise announcement at a press conference coincided with news that two … Continue reading

Cyberattack Against WikiLeaks Was Weak

Kevin Poulsen In the first test of WikiLeaks’ resiliency since a staff rebellion earlier this year, the organization recovered within hours from a distributed denial-of-service attack during its rollout of leaked State Department cables Sunday. But experts who monitored the disruptive traffic say the attack was relatively modest in size. WikiLeaks’ main web address and … Continue reading

Japan has national botnet warriors; why don’t we?

By Matthew Lasar October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month here in the United States, which is a good thing, because we come down with more PC botnet infections than any other country in the world. Microsoft reports 2.2 million US PCs hijacked for cybercrime or distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks on websites in the first … Continue reading