Greenwald/Snowden: The Brits Control and Manipulate the Internet

Glenn Greenwald has released another batch of the Snowden files, focused on GCHQ’s role using hacker tricks to control and run dirty operations on the Internet and in the “social media.”

Greenwald writes:

“The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIGs use of fake victim blog posts, false flag operations, honey traps and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

“But as the U.K. Parliament [this week] debates a fast-tracked bill to provide the government with greater surveillance powers, one which Prime Minister David Cameron has justified as an emergency to help keep us safe, a newly released top-secret GCHQ document called JTRIG Tools and Techniques provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this units operations are. The document — available in full here — is designed to notify other GCHQ units of JTRIG’s weaponised capability when it comes to the dark internet arts, and serves as a sort of hackers’ buffet for wreaking online havoc.”

Greenwald lists some of the capacities, with their codenames in parentheses, including the following:

  • Change outcome of online polls (UNDERPASS)
  • Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign (BADGER) and mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign (WARPARTH)
  • Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal. (SILVERLORD)
  • Active Skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists. (MINIATURE HERO)
  • A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer (ANGRY PIRATE)
  • Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website (GATEWAY) and ability to inflate page views on websites (SLIPSTREAM)
  • Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube) (GESTATOR)
  • Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers (PREDATORS FACE) and Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG (ROLLING THUNDER)
  • Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity (CHANGELING)

Feinstein Bill Would Codify Electronic Sweep Of Personal Data

A now more toxic Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (instead of the defeated Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), passed the Senate Intelligence Committee by a 12-3 vote last week. More than 20 civil liberties organizations oppose the bill introduced by Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), saying that it further endangers privacy and threatens net neutrality.

Feinstein and the bill’s cosponsor, Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), brushed aside privacy concerns following the markup, which was closed to reporters and the public, as most important legislative sessions seem to be these days.

Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Motherboard.com, “Users’ communications information will continue to flow to the NSA under a cybersecurity umbrella even when it is irrelevant to a cyber threat. This is unacceptable.” So what, says Feinstein, “I don’t know what information you would be concerned about that NSA would have in an information-sharing bill,” she says.

Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two of the lawmakers who voted against the bill, issued a statement saying, “We agree there is a need for information-sharing between the federal government and private companies about cybersecurity threats and how to defend against them. However, we have seen how the federal government has exploited loopholes to collect Americans’ private information in the name of security. We are concerned that the bill the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported today lacks adequate protections for the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans, and that it will not materially improve cybersecurity.”

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