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FTR #827 Brave New World: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [1] The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by 10/02/2014. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #812 [2].  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748 [3].)

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Lis­ten: MP3

This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [7]

Intro­duc­tion: Sup­ple­ment­ing the many pro­grams already record­ed about Eddie the Friend­ly Spook [Snow­den], this broad­cast updates us on devel­op­ments in the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op,” as well as pre­sent­ing infor­ma­tion which will enrich lis­ten­ers’ under­stand­ing of the admit­ted­ly com­plex and com­pli­cat­ed line of analy­sis pre­sent­ed on this top­ic.

(The Snow­den gam­bit is a fair­ly obvi­ous intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at, among oth­er things: the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, the desta­bi­liza­tion of the NSA and GCHQ, an attack on U.S. high-tech and inter­net busi­ness, an attempt by Ger­many to force inclu­sion in the “Five Eyes Club” and an inter­dic­tion of U.S. diplo­mat­ic pol­i­cy. In the lat­ter regard, we will fur­ther ana­lyze the Snow­den “op” in the con­text of the nega­tion of Oba­ma’s “reboot” with Rus­sia in an upcom­ing broad­cast.)

After all the inter­na­tion­al cat­er­waul­ing about Angela Merkel’s mobile phone sup­pos­ed­ly hav­ing been hacked by the NSA, the probe into the alleged hack has been dropped “for lack of evi­dence!” [8]

The Ger­mans have been con­sum­mate­ly hyp­o­crit­i­cal about the Snow­den “op”–not only does Ger­man intel­li­gence do exact­ly what it has berat­ed the NSA for doing, it has part­nered with the NSA in its sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties.

Ger­many has allowed Black­ber­ry to pur­chase a com­pa­ny that han­dles secu­ri­ty tech­nol­o­gy for mobile phones, on the con­di­tion that it turns over its source-code to the Ger­man intel­li­gence [9]! The sus­pi­cion in these quar­ters con­cerns Ger­many’s desire to use the tech­nol­o­gy to com­pro­mise the mobile phones of tar­get­ed indi­vid­u­als.

After review­ing the BND’s mon­i­tor­ing of cell phone calls [10] made by Hillary Clin­ton and John Ker­ry and expul­sion of the CIA sta­tion chief from Berlin, the pro­gram unde­scores BND’s cir­cum­ven­tion of rules designed to pre­vent illic­it spy­ing by the agency.

In addi­tion to clas­si­fy­ing tar­get­ed cit­i­zens as “office hold­ers,” [11] in order to cir­c­u­m­ent Ger­man reg­u­la­tions on espi­onage, BND ratio­nal­izes satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion inter­cepts by clas­si­fy­ing those as out­side of  Ger­man territory–they tech­ni­cal­ly come from space [12].

Ger­many is ask­ing Google to dis­close the algo­rithm [13] used in its search engine, which would enhance Ger­many’s abil­i­ty to con­duct elec­tron­ic espi­onage.

Con­clud­ing with two sto­ries that high­light the extent to which we are liv­ing in a “brave new world.”

A Turk­ish pipeline explod­ed in 2008 after a sophis­ti­cat­ed attack [14] neu­tral­ized nor­mal secu­ri­ty devices and pro­ce­dures that would have pro­tect­ed the pipeline. The “Wik­i­fi­ca­tion” of soci­ety has brought us into an entire­ly dif­fer­ent tech­no­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal era.

Two pri­vate cit­i­zens built a tiny, mobile drone that usurps cell-phone tow­er func­tions and can mim­ic a tow­er [15] in order to inter­cept calls. This, too, high­lights the Brave New World in which we find our­selves.

This Brave New World is among the rea­sons we are sup­port­ive of NSA and GCHQ, warts and all. We exist in a new land­scape of civ­i­liza­tion and it is essen­tial, in our view, that the gov­ern­ment have a major agency involved with mon­i­tor­ing such tech­nolo­gies.

Sad­ly, we are not con­vinced that NSA is up to the task at hand–perhaps that is an unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tion.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of  specifics of BND’s spy­ing [16] on calls made by Hillary Clin­ton and John Ker­ry;  Angela Merkel’s oppo­si­tion [17] to net neu­tral­i­ty; Google’s devel­op­ment of AI tech­nol­o­gy [18] to refine its search engine algo­rithm; review of the expul­sion [19] of the CIA sta­tion chief from Berlin for receiv­ing tran­scripts of BND spy­ing on Clin­ton and Ker­ry.

1. After the inter­na­tion­al rhetor­i­cal storm over the hack­ing of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by the NSA, the Ger­mans have dropped the inves­ti­ga­tion due to a lack of evi­dence!

“Ger­many to Drop Probe into US Spy­ing on Merkel” [Focus]; TheLocal.de [8]; 11/23/2014. [8]

Ger­many is drop­ping a probe into the alleged tap­ping of Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by US spies, due to a lack of evi­dence, mag­a­zine Focus said Sat­ur­day.

Six months after the inves­ti­ga­tion began, the experts have failed to find any sol­id proof to back the case, and have there­fore rec­om­mended that it be dropped, the mag­a­zine report­ed, quot­ing sources close to the Ger­man jus­tice min­istry.

“The result (of the probe) is almost zilch. A lot of hot air, but noth­ing done,” one source was quot­ed as say­ing.

Accord­ing to sources close to the judi­ciary, the fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor will heed the experts’ rec­om­men­da­tion to drop the probe.

In June, Ger­man jus­tice had announced that a case had been opened into the alleged spy­ing by for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices on Ger­man soil.


2a. In an attempt to stave off the oust­ing of CIA sta­tion chief in Berlin [10], Ger­many was offered inclu­sion in the Five Eyes Club and turned it down. One won­ders what is going on behind the scenes and what they want in return?

“U.S. Offered Berlin ‘Five Eyes’ Pact. Merkel Was Done With It” by Patrick Don­ahue and John Wal­cott; Bloomberg News; 7/12/2014. [10]

U.S. Ambas­sador John Emer­son made his way to the For­eign Min­istry in Berlin armed with a plan to head off the worst diplo­matic clash of Angela Merkel’s chan­cel­lor­ship.

Emer­son came to the July 9 meet­ing with an offer autho­rized in Wash­ing­ton: pro­vide Ger­many a U.S. intel­li­gence-shar­ing agree­ment resem­bling one avail­able only to four oth­er nations. The goal was to assuage Merkel and pre­vent the expul­sion of the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency’s chief of sta­tion in Berlin.

It wasn’t enough.

The same morn­ing, across the bound­ary once marked by the Berlin Wall, Merkel con­vened her top min­is­ters fol­low­ing the 9:30 a.m. Cab­i­net meet­ing on the sixth floor of the Chan­cellery and resolved to ask the U.S. intel­li­gence chief to leave Ger­man soil.

Merkel, who ulti­mately deter­mined the government’s course, had to act. Pub­lic and polit­i­cal pres­sure after more than a year of accu­sa­tions of Amer­i­can espi­onage over­reach, stoked by indig­na­tion at the lack of a suf­fi­cient response from Wash­ing­ton, had left the Ger­man gov­ern­ment with no alter­na­tive.

“We don’t live in the Cold War any­more, where every­body prob­a­bly mis­trusted every­body else,” Merkel, who has pre­vi­ously reserved her Cold War-men­tal­i­ty accu­sa­tions for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, said in an inter­view with Ger­man broad­caster ZDF today.

No Trust

The spy­ing scan­dal has blown open a rift between the U.S. and Ger­many, a nation once under Amer­i­can tute­lage in the decades after World War II. The lat­est alle­ga­tions, involv­ing U.S. dou­ble agents, rekin­dled anger over the dis­clo­sure last year that Merkel’s mobile phone had been hacked by the U.S.

“The notion that you always have to ask your­self in close coop­er­a­tion whether the one sit­ting across from you could be work­ing for the oth­ers -– that’s not a basis for trust,” Merkel told ZDF. “So we obvi­ously have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions and we have to dis­cuss that inten­sive­ly.”

Merkel also sig­naled dis­plea­sure with U.S. spy­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Berlin on July 10. With­in an hour, her office issued a state­ment say­ing that the two new inves­ti­ga­tions into U.S. cloak-and-dag­ger meth­ods, on top of “ques­tions over the past months” fol­low­ing leaks on Nation­al Secu­rity Agency activ­ity, forced the gov­ern­ment to take action.

Invit­ed to Leave

At that point, the U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cer was invit­ed to leave the coun­try rather than suf­fer the diplo­matic ignominy of being declared “per­sona non gra­ta” and expelled under the Vien­na Con­ven­tion. Merkel’s spokesman, Stef­fen Seib­ert, said yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment expect­ed the uniden­ti­fied offi­cial to leave the coun­try “soon.”

The evic­tion was “a nec­es­sary step and a mea­sured response to the breach of trust that took place,” Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier told reporters yes­ter­day. He’ll meet U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry in Vien­na tomor­row to dis­cuss the mat­ter on the side­lines of talks on Iran’s nuclear pro­gram.

The onus is on the U.S. to sug­gest solu­tions, and Ger­man offi­cials are wait­ing to hear what Ker­ry will pro­pose, accord­ing to a Ger­man diplo­mat who asked not to be iden­ti­fied dis­cussing the con­flict.

The rev­e­la­tions at once dis­rupt the U.S. secu­rity rela­tion­ship with a core Euro­pean ally and expose Ger­man anx­i­ety over the bal­ance to strike between pri­vacy issues and com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism. Ham­burg was home to three of the Sept. 11, 2001, sui­cide pilots.


Intel­li­gence Shar­ing

The arrange­ment, ini­ti­ated in 1946 between the U.S. and U.K., calls for the U.S. and the oth­er Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries to share most of the elec­tronic inter­cepts and some of the oth­er intel­li­gence they col­lect, with the under­stand­ing that they will lim­it their spy­ing on one anoth­er.

“We are not cur­rently look­ing to alter the Five Eyes struc­ture,” said Caitlin Hay­den, a spokes­woman for the White House’s Nation­al Secu­rity Coun­cil, in an e‑mailed state­ment. “But we remain open to dis­cus­sions with our close allies and part­ners, includ­ing Ger­many, about how we can bet­ter coor­di­nate our intel­li­gence efforts.”

Post­war Ger­many has had a more mod­est intel­li­gence estab­lish­ment than the U.S. or U.K., focused large­ly on the for­mer East Ger­many and Sovi­et Union and on ter­ror­ist groups. Ger­man offi­cials balked at expand­ing their col­lec­tion and shar­ing under such an unwrit­ten arrange­ment, accord­ing to the U.S. offi­cial.

The alle­ga­tions of snoop­ing have par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance for Merkel, who lived for 35 years in com­mu­nist East Ger­many and who, as the daugh­ter of a Protes­tant pas­tor, endured spe­cial scruti­ny from the state-secu­ri­ty ser­vice, the Stasi.

Big ’If’

While German‑U.S. rela­tions dipped dur­ing the 2003 Iraq war when Merkel’s pre­de­ces­sor, Ger­hard Schroed­er, refused to join Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s coali­tion against Sad­dam Hus­sein, ties improved under Merkel. She was award­ed the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom by Oba­ma in 2011.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to com­ment on the details of the alle­ga­tions, telling reporters at the begin­ning of the week that accu­sa­tions over spy­ing were sub­ject to a “a big ‘if’.”

“We high­ly val­ue the close work­ing rela­tion­ship we have with the Ger­mans on a wide range of issues,” Earnest said, “but par­tic­u­larly on secu­rity and intel­li­gence mat­ters.”

U.S. law­mak­ers, includ­ing some fre­quently crit­i­cal of Oba­ma, have been sim­i­larly ret­i­cent.

Law­mak­ers’ Con­cerns

“I don’t know how much the admin­is­tra­tion could have done to defuse this,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Royce, the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can who heads the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee, said yes­ter­day at a break­fast with reporters host­ed by the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor. “Giv­en the cir­cum­stances, the admin­is­tra­tion is attempt­ing at this time to deal with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, and I’m hope­ful that they’re suc­cess­ful.”

Sen­a­tor Mark Udall, a Col­orado Demo­c­rat and Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee mem­ber, has told reporters that he was eager to learn more about the sit­u­a­tion at a clas­si­fied brief­ing for the pan­el mem­bers next week.

“I am con­cerned that we’re send­ing the wrong mes­sage to a key ally,” Udall said.

Before the cur­rent ten­sions, the U.S. and Ger­many had a his­tory of exten­sive intel­li­gence coop­er­a­tion. For many years, much of U.S. elec­tronic spy­ing on Iran was con­ducted out of a CIA sta­tion in Frank­furt known as Tefran, accord­ing to a for­mer U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cial who described the coop­er­a­tion on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

Review Agree­ments

A num­ber of peo­ple in the U.S. gov­ern­ment say that, more than two decades after the Cold War end­ed, it’s time to con­sider agree­ments with more coun­tries to help track ter­ror­ists, weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion and espi­onage, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials who asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

They said the con­flict with Ger­many also has under­scored con­cern that intel­li­gence agen­cies lack any good risk-assess­ment mod­el to judge the ben­e­fits of oper­a­tions against friend­ly pow­ers against the poten­tial risks.

“This is so stu­pid,” Ger­man Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, Germany’s longest-serv­ing law­maker, said July 9, reflect­ing frus­tra­tion and amaze­ment about the turn of events in U.S.-German rela­tions.

Schaeu­ble, who helped nego­ti­ate Ger­man reuni­fi­ca­tion 25 years ago this year, said, “It makes you want to cry.”

2b. In yet anoth­er exam­ple of the con­sum­mate hypocrisy man­i­fest­ed by Ger­many and the EU, it now emerges that Ger­many mon­i­tored phone call [16]s by both John Ker­ry and Hillary Clin­ton.
 “Report: Ger­man Intel Spied on Ker­ry, Clin­ton” by Frank Jor­dans; Asso­ci­at­ed Press ; 8/16/2014. [16]

Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency eaves­dropped on calls made by U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry and his pre­de­ces­sor Hillary Clin­ton, Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel report­ed Sat­ur­day.

The respect­ed news week­ly report­ed that the agency, known by its Ger­man acronym BND, tapped a satel­lite phone con­ver­sa­tion Ker­ry made in 2013 as part of its sur­veil­lance of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in the Mid­dle East. The agency also record­ed a con­ver­sa­tion between Clin­ton and for­mer U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Kofi Annan a year ear­lier, Der Spiegel claimed.

The mag­a­zine didn’t give a source for its infor­ma­tion, but said the calls were col­lected acci­den­tally, that the three offi­cials weren’t direct­ly tar­geted, and the record­ings were ordered destroyed imme­di­ately. In Clinton’s case, the call report­edly took place on the same “fre­quency” as a ter­ror sus­pect, accord­ing to Der Spiegel.

The tap­ping of Clinton’s call was report­ed Fri­day by Ger­man pub­lic broad­caster ARD and Munich dai­ly Sued­deutsche Zeitung.

If true, the rev­e­la­tions would be embar­rass­ing for the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, which has spent months com­plain­ing to Wash­ing­ton about alleged Amer­i­can spy activ­ity in Ger­many. Last year Ger­man media reports based on doc­u­ments leaked by for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den prompt­ed a sharp rebuke from Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, who was alleged­ly among the U.S. intel­li­gence agency’s tar­gets.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin and the State Depart­ment in Wash­ing­ton declined to com­ment on the lat­est reports.

In its report Sat­ur­day, Der Spiegel also cit­ed a con­fi­den­tial 2009 BND doc­u­ment list­ing fel­low NATO mem­ber Turkey as a tar­get for Ger­man intel­li­gence gath­er­ing.

The Ger­many intel­li­gence agency didn’t imme­di­ately respond to a request for com­ment Sat­ur­day.

2c. Here’s an inter­est­ing twist to the recent uproar over the BND spy that was caught sell­ing secrets to the CIA (lead­ing to the expul­sion of the CIA chief in Ger­many): One of the doc­u­ments the BND agent–Markus R–sold to the CIA was the tran­script of the record­ed phone calls that the BND picked up between Hillary Clin­ton and Kofi Annan when Annan was giv­ing Hillary a brief­ing fol­low­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Syr­ia [19].

After the chem­i­cal weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of dis­cus­sion of Syr­ian offi­cial con­ver­sa­tions picked up by Ger­man intel­li­gence, and both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were appar­ently get­ting picked up while they were fly­ing over con­flict areas. So the CIA knew these satel­lite phone calls were get­ting picked up by the BND. Note that 2012 phone call between Clin­ton and Kofi Annan report­edly involved a brief­ing of Annan’s nego­ti­a­tions with Syr­ia [20]. Also note that Annan announced his res­ig­na­tion as the envoy to Syr­ia in ear­ly August, 2012 [21] and that Markus R. approached the CIA via email with his offer to sell the doc­u­ments in 2012 [22].

If true, that would sug­gest that the CIA knew these phone calls were get­ting picked up by 2012, and yet the “acci­den­tal” cap­ture of Clinton’s and Kerry’s phone con­ver­sa­tions kept tak­ing place while they fly­ing over con­flict areas.

Those iner­cept­ed calls involved quite a bit of dis­cus­sion over how to address the Syr­ian chem­i­cal weapons sit­u­a­tion.

“Ger­many Acci­den­tally Spied on Hillary Clin­ton, John Ker­ry” by Matthew Schofield [McClatchy News Ser­vice]; thestar.com ; 8/16/2014. [19]

 The Ger­man For­eign Intel­li­gence Agency has admit­ted tap­ping “at least one” phone call each by cur­rent U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry and then-Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton while they were aboard Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment jets, accord­ing to Ger­man media reports.

The reports claim Kerry’s inter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tion was a satel­lite phone call from the Mid­dle East in 2013. Clinton’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion was also a satel­lite call, in 2012, and was report­edly to then-Unit­ed Nations Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Kofi Annan. Both calls were report­ed to have been inter­cepted acci­den­tally while Ger­man intel­li­gence was tar­get­ing ter­ror sus­pects in the Mid­dle East and north­ern Africa.

The intel­li­gence agency (the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst or BND) told Ger­man media that ter­ror groups often use the same fre­quen­cies that the sec­re­taries’ phone calls were made over, so the calls were picked up. The calls were among what the Ger­man news­pa­per Sud­deutsche Zeitung said intel­li­gence sources described as sev­eral cas­es of U.S. offi­cial phone calls being picked up acci­den­tally dur­ing anti-ter­ror com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tor­ing.

The BND is the Ger­man equiv­a­lent of the Amer­i­can Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency. Ger­man-Amer­i­can rela­tions have chilled in the past year — since for­mer Nation­al Secu­rity Agency work­er Edward Snow­den began leak­ing doc­u­ments detail­ing the extent of America’s glob­al elec­tronic spy­ing and eaves­drop­ping pro­grams. Media reports about Snowden’s leaked doc­u­ments led to the rev­e­la­tion that Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s pri­vate cell­phone had been tapped [23]since the years when she was a low­er rank­ing Ger­man min­is­ter, and con­tin­u­ing at least until the sum­mer of 2013.

The spy scan­dal includes the elec­tronic spy­ing on mil­lions of pri­vate emails and elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the tap­ping of offi­cial phones and even the hir­ing of Ger­man offi­cials to act as Amer­i­can agents [24] and pass on secret Ger­man gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion.

The news reports out­raged Ger­mans, lead­ing to favourable atti­tudes about the Unit­ed States falling to their low­est lev­els in years and cre­at­ing a pub­lic and pri­vate sense of mis­trust. Merkel has repeat­edly called the U.S. spy pro­gram a breach of trust and not­ed that “friends don’t spy on friends.”

In a twist that con­nects this tale to the broad­er spy­ing scan­dal, the new reports note that after Clinton’s phone call was picked up, an order from the BND lead­er­ship was sent out to delete the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. But the Ger­man charged with delet­ing the con­ver­sa­tion was Markus R, who has been charged with sell­ing 218 secret offi­cial doc­u­ments to U.S. intel­li­gence and, rather than delet­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, sold the tran­script to his Amer­i­can con­tacts. Markus R, who under Ger­man law can­not be ful­ly iden­ti­fied unless he is con­victed, alleged­ly made a total of €25,000, or about $32,500, by sell­ing the doc­u­ments to the CIA.

He has been charged with spy­ing for a for­eign intel­li­gence agency.

The BND denied that there was any sys­tem­atic phone tap­ping of U.S. offi­cials while admit­ting oth­er phone calls had been swept up. Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cials have told Ger­man media that the fre­quen­cies the Amer­i­can offi­cials use are also favourites of ter­ror groups in north­ern Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were picked up while they were fly­ing over con­flict areas. The Ger­man phone-tap­ping pro­gram in the Mid­dle East is well known to U.S. offi­cials. Dur­ing the Syr­ian con­flict, and par­tic­u­larly after the chem­i­cal weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of dis­cus­sion of Syr­ian offi­cial con­ver­sa­tions picked up by Ger­man intel­li­gence.


3. In relat­ed news, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment just signed a new “no spy” agree­ment. But it wasn’t with anoth­er nation. It was a no spy agree­ment with Black­berry in exchange for allow­ing Black­berry buy Ger­man secu­rity firm Secus­mart (which pro­vides secu­rity for Merkel’s phone), where Black­berry agrees to not share pri­vate infor­ma­tion with any for­eign gov­ern­ments and Germany’s intel­li­gences ser­vices get to audit Blackberry’s source code [9]:

“Ger­man Gov­ern­ment Says “Ja” to BlackBerry’s Acqui­si­tion of Secus­mart” by Cyrus Fari­varArs Tech­nica [9]; 11/28/2014. [9]

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment has signed off [25] BlackBerry’s acqui­si­tion of the Ger­man com­pany Secus­mart, accord­ing to local media [26]. (Google Trans­late).

Secus­mart [27] is the com­pany that devel­ops soft­ware and hard­ware to pro­tect gov­ern­ment phones, includ­ing the “Merkel Phone” used by Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. She moved [28] to a more secure device after it came out that the Nation­al Secu­rity Agency had been [alleged­ly] mon­i­tor­ing her com­mu­ni­ca­tions [29].


Back in July 2014, the Cana­dian hand­set mak­er announced [30] that it would acquire the Düs­sel­dorf-based com­pa­ny.

In order to get Berlin’s approval, Black­Berry appar­ently had to agree to a num­ber of gov­ern­ment demands. It was required to give full access of its source code to the the Ger­man infor­ma­tion secu­rity agency, known by its Ger­man acronym, BSI.

Fur­ther, Berlin stip­u­lated that Secusmart’s devel­op­ment would con­tinue to take place in Ger­many, and a “bind­ing” agree­ment dic­tates that Black­Berry would not share pri­vate infor­ma­tion with for­eign gov­ern­ments or intel­li­gence agen­cies.

Nei­ther Black­Berry nor the Ger­man gov­ern­ment gave any fur­ther com­ment to Ger­man press.

4.  And in oth­er spy­ing-relat­ed news... [11]

“BND Spied on Ger­mans Liv­ing Abroad”; TheLocal.de [11]; 11/28/2014. [11]

The Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND), Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice, spied on some cit­i­zens liv­ing abroad, a for­mer lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thurs­day.

Dr Ste­fan Bur­baum, who worked at the BND from 2000 to 2005, said that some Ger­mans were tar­geted as “office hold­ers”, a legal loop­hole the spies used to cir­cum­vent the law that pro­tects Ger­mans cit­i­zens from being spied on by its own intel­li­gence agency.

Nor­mally, the intel­li­gence agen­cies must over­come high legal hur­dles [31] laid out in the so-called “G10 law” to spy on Ger­man cit­i­zens, includ­ing when they live abroad.

Oth­er­wise, infor­ma­tion regard­ing Ger­man cit­i­zens has to be fil­tered out from any for­eign com­mu­ni­ca­tions inter­cepted by the BND.

But the Ger­man spies argue that a cit­i­zen work­ing for a for­eign com­pany abroad is only pro­tected in his pri­vate life, not in his pro­fes­sional com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Bur­baum told the Bun­destag inquiry com­mit­tee into Nation­al Secu­rity Agency (NSA) mass spy­ing.

“The office hold­er is the legal per­son,” Bur­baum said [32]. “It’s a small excep­tion. But a Ger­man cit­i­zen can func­tion as an office hold­er in a for­eign orga­ni­za­tion.

“The deci­sive thing is whether he’s com­mu­ni­cat­ing as a cit­i­zen or as an office hold­er.”

“This con­struct of an office hold­er is just as absurd in prac­tice as it appears in the law,” Kon­stan­tin von Notz of the Green par­ty said.

Fur­ther, for­eign­ers’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­ducted abroad are not pro­tected, even if they are in con­tact with Ger­man peo­ple or work for a Ger­man com­pa­ny.

MPs from the Social Demo­c­ra­tic (SPD), Green and Left (Linke) par­ties all crit­i­cized the BND’s abil­ity to oper­ate in a “law­less zone” when it came to spy­ing on for­eign­ers.

Under the “G10 Law” the BND is also allowed access to data from Ger­man tele­coms firms to search for specif­i­cally iden­ti­fied sus­pi­cious traf­fic.

But Bur­baum told the MPs that the BND reg­u­larly retains traf­fic which it had not received spe­cific per­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate which it col­lects dur­ing such trawls.

In this way, access acquired under the “G10 law” becomes a “foot in the door” to oth­er­wise closed-off sources of data, Bur­baum said.


5.   More about how BND and  oth­er Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vices skirt Ger­man law.

“BND Data Pro­tec­tion Offi­cer Tells How Work with NSA Trumps Ger­man Law” by Lisa Cas­pari [Die Zeit]; World­Meet­sUs; 10/13/2014. [12]

The For­eign Intel­li­gence Ser­vice’s data pro­tec­tion offi­cer told the Bun­destag’s NSA Com­mit­tee of Inquiry about an argu­ment she had with her boss Ger­hard Schindler. Her con­cerns fell on deaf ears.

For a ful­ly-qual­i­fied lawyer, Dr. F. cer­tain­ly has an unusu­al job. For the past nine years she has worked for the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst [33] [Fed­er­al Intel­li­gence Ser­vice or BND] and for the past two-and-half-years as the BND’s data pro­tec­tion offi­cer. She reports direct­ly to BND Pres­i­dent Pres­i­dent Ger­hard Schindler, and her duty sta­tion is Berlin.

As stip­u­lat­ed by her employ­er, com­mit­tee mem­bers weren’t pro­vid­ed with more detailed per­son­al infor­ma­tion, such as Dr. F.‘s full name, for exam­ple. Nev­er­the­less, the state­ment of the secret ser­vice employ­ee before the Bud­estag’s NSA Com­mit­tee of Inquiry [34] on Oct. 9 was quite inter­est­ing, as it revealed the seri­ous­ness, or rather lack there­of, with which the BND has for many years treat­ed — and con­tin­ues to treat — the issue of data pro­tec­tion. . . .

. . . . The dis­pute cen­tered on Bad Aib­ling Sta­tion [35], where Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cers cap­ture and ana­lyze satel­lite data from abroad — tele­phone calls in Afghanistan and Pak­istan, for exam­ple. Mem­bers of Amer­i­can intel­li­gence attached to the NSA are also sta­tioned on the grounds.

Accord­ing the tes­ti­mo­ny of Dr. F., BND Pres­i­dent Schindler con­sid­ers the satel­lite data as exist­ing large­ly in a legal vac­u­um as it is gath­ered from space where Ger­man law does not apply. . . .

6. The EU’s net neu­tral­ity laws just got the kiss of death [17]:

“Angela Merkel Argues Against Net Neu­tral­ity, Calls for Spe­cial Access Fast Lane” by Dante D’Orazio; The Verge; 12/6/2014. [17]

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has laid out her vision for the future of the inter­net, and net neu­tral­ity pro­po­nents won’t be pleased. In com­ments on Thurs­day in Berlin, Merkel argued for a two-lane inter­net. One lane for “spe­cial,” high pri­or­ity ser­vice, and anoth­er that’s meant to resem­ble the inter­net as it exists today.

While sup­port­ers of net neu­tral­ity argue that it is key to the con­tin­ued growth of the inter­net, Merkel believes just the oppo­site. She argues that fast lanes are nec­es­sary for the devel­op­ment of new, advanced uses of the inter­net, like telemed­i­cine or dri­ver­less cars. Accord­ing to Merkel, with­out guar­an­teed, fast-access inter­net con­nec­tions, such inno­va­tions won’t come to mar­ket.

It’s not clear how such a two-lane sys­tem would be imple­mented or reg­u­lated. For instance, it’s unknown if there would be lim­its on what sort of com­pa­nies could pay for access to fast-lane inter­net. A report from Frank­furter All­ge­meine [36] cites sources inside the Ger­man gov­ern­ment who say that on-demand inter­net video stream­ing ser­vices would be among the com­pa­nies that would be able to pay for access for high-speed ser­vice.

The Euro­pean Union cur­rently man­dates true net neu­tral­ity, though dis­cus­sions have been under­way for the future of inter­net reg­u­la­tion. Merkel believes that her posi­tion is a mid­dle ground, but the idea that the gen­eral traf­fic lane will oper­ate under net neu­tral­ity depends entire­ly on how much band­width it receives from inter­net providers.If the main traf­fic lane isn’t fast, and any com­pany can opt for fast-lane access, com­pa­nies will like­ly find it nec­es­sary to pay up for direct access just to com­pete — the exact oppo­site of net neu­tral­i­ty.

7. Next, we present an arti­cle that acts as a reminder that the new EU anti-monop­oly reg­u­la­tory par­a­digm of forc­ing Google to sub­mit its search results algo­rithms to reg­u­la­tor review is going to get might messy in a sin­gu­lar way that could com­pli­cate patents and copy­right laws in all sorts of strange ways. Keep in mind that Google’s search engine still forms the core its busi­ness, with Google search ads bring­ing in a major­ity of Google’s $60 bil­lion rev­enues, mak­ing it unlike­ly that they will sur­ren­der the keys to the king­dom.

“Ger­many Just Asked Google To Do The Impos­si­ble: Reveal Its Secret Search Algo­rithm”  [13]by James Cook; Busi­ness Insid­er [13]; 9/16/2014. [13]

Ger­man jus­tice min­is­ter Heiko Maas is call­ing on Google to become more trans­par­ent by dis­clos­ing exact­ly how it ranks search results.

This, of course, will sim­ply nev­er hap­pen. The algo­rithm is the heart of Google, the source of all its wealth and pow­er as the planet’s best index of knowl­edge. Google is just nev­er going to give that up. CEO Lar­ry Page will fight to the death.

Nonethe­less, in an inter­view with the Finan­cial Times [37], Maas explains that Ger­many is unhap­py with the search giant’s actions in Europe and wants it to reveal the details of its search algo­rithm in the inter­ests of con­sumer pro­tec­tion.

Google Search remains the most impor­tant part of Google’s busi­ness, with adver­tis­ing on the plat­form form­ing the major­ity of its $60 bil­lion in annu­al rev­enue. But now, Germany’s gov­ern­ment has esca­lated its antitrust case against the com­pany by request­ing that Google pub­lishes how web­sites are ranked on Google Search.

Google has appar­ently pushed back against the request, claim­ing that pub­lish­ing the search engine algo­rithm would mean reveal­ing its busi­ness secrets and open­ing up the ser­vice to exploita­tion by spam­mers.


8. Lets hope Google isn’t cor­rect in pre­dict­ing that reveal­ing its secrets would result in spam­mers using Google’s search secrets because that would be scary.

But also keep in mind that even casu­al search algo­rithm dis­clo­sure regimes by the EU or any­one else might get real­ly com­pli­cated in the future. So com­pli­cated that only a super AI will be able to keep up with the reg­u­la­tory over­sight work­load. Why? Because one of the first project Google is assign­ing its “Deep­Mind” self-learn­ing super AI project to is devel­op­ing bet­ter and bet­ter search algo­rithms, and as Deep­Mind learns more about self-learn­ing, it’s only going to get bet­ter at it.

“Arti­fi­cially Intel­li­gent Robot Sci­en­tists Could Be Next Project for Google’s AI Firm” by Sage Laz­zaro; BetaBeat [18]; 12/03/2014. [18]

In the future, humans may not be the only ones con­duct­ing lab exper­i­ments.

In late Octo­ber, we wrote [38] about the Neur­al Tur­ing Machine, a Google com­puter so smart it can pro­gram itself. In the time since, it’s become clear that this is only the begin­ning and we should expect a lot more from Deep­Mind Tech­nolo­gies [39], the lit­tle-known start­up acquired by Google who devel­oped the human-like com­puter and sports the mis­sion “Solve intel­li­gence.”

In dis­cussing Deep­Mind Technologies’s delve into the future of com­put­ers with MIT, founder Demis Has­s­abis detailed the company’s research and men­tioned that he wants to cre­ate “AI sci­en­tists.”

He explained that although they’re cur­rently work­ing on some small­er AI activ­i­ties [40] like search­ing for ways to apply Deep­Mind tech­niques to exist­ing Google prod­ucts such as Search and YouTube rec­om­men­da­tions, his plans for the future are big­ger than a bet­ter search engine. He dreams of cre­at­ing arti­fi­cially intel­li­gent “sci­en­tists” that could devel­op and test their own hypothe­ses in the lab. He men­tioned that there’s also a future for DeepMind’s soft­ware in robot­ics.

“One rea­son we don’t have more robots doing more help­ful things is that they’re usu­ally pre­pro­grammed,” he told MIT. “They’re very bad at deal­ing with the unex­pected or learn­ing new things.”


9. A pipeline explo­sion high­lights the dig­i­tal brave new world into which we have entered.

“Mys­te­ri­ous ’08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyber­war Era”  [14]by Jor­dan Robert­son and Michael Riley; Bloomberg [14]; 12/10/2014. [14]

The pipeline was out­fit­ted with sen­sors and cam­eras to mon­i­tor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspi­an Sea to the Mediter­ranean. The blast that blew it out of com­mis­sion didn’t trig­ger a sin­gle dis­tress sig­nal.

That was bewil­der­ing, as was the cam­eras’ fail­ure to cap­ture the com­bus­tion in east­ern Turkey. But inves­ti­ga­tors shared their find­ings with­in a tight cir­cle. The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment pub­licly blamed a mal­func­tion, Kur­dish sep­a­ratists claimed cred­it and BP Plc (BP/) had the line run­ning again in three weeks. The explo­sion that lit up the night sky over Refahiye, a town known for its hon­ey farms, seemed to be for­got­ten.

It wasn’t. For west­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies, the blowout was a water­shed event. Hack­ers had shut down alarms, cut off com­­mu­ni­­ca- ­tions and super-pres­sur­ized the crude oil in the line, accord­ing to four peo­ple famil­iar with the inci­dent who asked not to be iden­ti­fied because details of the inves­ti­ga­tion are con­fi­den­tial. The main weapon at valve sta­tion 30 on Aug. 5, 2008, was a key­board.

The rev­e­la­tion “rewrites the his­tory of cyber­war,” said Derek Reveron, a pro­fes­sor of nation­al secu­rity affairs at the U.S. Naval War Col­lege in New­port, Rhode Island.

Coun­tries have been lay­ing the ground­work for cyber­war oper­a­tions for years, and com­pa­nies have been hit recent­ly with dig­i­tal broad­sides bear­ing hall­marks of gov­ern­ment spon­sor­ship. Sony Corp.’s net­work was raid­ed by hack­ers believed to be aligned with North Korea, and sources have said JPMor­gan Chase & Co. blamed an August assault on Russ­ian cyber­spies. Secu­rity researchers just uncov­ered what they said was a cam­paign by Iran­ian hack­ers that tar­geted com­mer­cial air­lines, look­ing for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could be used in phys­i­cal attacks.

Ener­gy Pol­i­tics

The Refahiye explo­sion occurred two years before Stuxnet, the com­puter worm that in 2010 crip­pled Iran’s nuclear-enrich­ment pro­gram, wide­ly believed to have been deployed by Israel and the U.S. It turns out the Baku-Tbil­isi-Cey­han pipeline hack­ers were ahead of them. The chief sus­pect, accord­ing to U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials, is Rus­sia.

The sab­o­tage of the BTC line — which fol­lows a route through the for­mer Sovi­et Union that the U.S. mapped out over Russ­ian objec­tions — marked anoth­er chap­ter in the bel­liger­ent ener­gy pol­i­tics of Eura­sia. Days after the explo­sion, Russ­ian fight­er jets dropped bombs near the line in neigh­bor­ing Geor­gia. Alexan­der Dug­in, an influ­en­tial advo­cate of Russ­ian expan­sion­ism and at the time an advis­er to the Russ­ian par­lia­ment, was quot­ed in a Turk­ish news­pa­per declar­ing the BTC was “dead.”

Kinet­ic Effects

The obit­u­ary was pre­ma­ture, but the attack proved to U.S. offi­cials that they were right to be con­cerned about the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of pipelines that snake for hun­dreds of thou­sands of miles across Europe and North Amer­ica. Nation­al Secu­rity Agency experts had been warn­ing the lines could be blown up from a dis­tance, with­out the both­er of con­ven­tional weapons. The attack was evi­dence oth­er nations had the tech­nol­ogy to wage a new kind of war, three cur­rent and for­mer U.S. offi­cials said.

“The tim­ing real­ly is the sig­nif­i­cance,” said Chris Blask, chair­man of the Indus­trial Con­trol Sys­tem Infor­ma­tion Shar­ing and Analy­sis Cen­ter, which works with util­i­ties and pipeline com­pa­nies. “Stuxnet was dis­cov­ered in 2010 and this was obvi­ously deployed before that. This is anoth­er point on the time­line” in the young his­tory of cyber­war.

U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies believe the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind the Refahiye explo­sion, accord­ing to two of the peo­ple briefed on the inves­ti­ga­tion. The evi­dence is cir­cum­stan­tial, they said, based on the pos­si­ble motive and the lev­el of sophis­ti­ca­tion. The attack­ers also left behind a tan­ta­liz­ing clue.

Infrared Cam­era

Although as many as 60 hours of sur­veil­lance video were erased by the hack­ers, a sin­gle infrared cam­era not con­nected to the same net­work cap­tured images of two men with lap­top com­put­ers walk­ing near the pipeline days before the explo­sion, accord­ing to one of the peo­ple, who has reviewed the video. The men wore black mil­i­tary-style uni­forms with­out insignias, sim­i­lar to the garb worn by spe­cial forces troops.

“Giv­en Russia’s strate­gic inter­est, there will always be the ques­tion of whether the coun­try had a hand in it,” said Emi­ly Stromquist, an ener­gy ana­lyst for Eura­sia Group, a polit­i­cal risk firm based in Wash­ing­ton.

Niko­lay Lyaschenko, a spokesman for the Russ­ian Embassy in Wash­ing­ton, didn’t respond to two e‑mails and a phone call.

Eleven com­pa­nies — includ­ing major­i­ty-own­er BP, a sub­sidiary of the State Oil Com­pany of Azer­bai­jan, Chevron Corp. and Norway’s Sta­toil ASA (STL) — built the line, which has car­ried more than two bil­lion bar­rels of crude since open­ing in 2006.

Cir­cum­vent­ing Rus­sia

It starts in Azer­bai­jan, tra­verses Geor­gia and then enters Turkey, end­ing at the port city of Cey­han. It was rout­ed south to cir­cum­vent Rus­sia, a blow to that country’s aims to reassert con­trol over Cen­tral Asia, a major pipeline delib­er­ately built out­side Russ­ian ter­ri­tory to car­ry crude from the Caspi­an.

Tra­vers­ing strate­gic, polit­i­cally unset­tled ter­rain, the line was built to be one of the most secure in the world. The 3‑foot 6‑inch diam­e­ter pipe is buried under­ground and punc­tu­ated by fenced valve sta­tions designed to iso­late sec­tions in case of emer­gency and to con­tain leaks.

Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tors, every mile was mon­i­tored by sen­sors. Pres­sure, oil flow and oth­er crit­i­cal indi­ca­tors were fed to a cen­tral con­trol room via a wire­less mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem. In an extra mea­sure, they were also sent by satel­lite.

The explo­sion, at around 11 p.m. on a warm sum­mer night, was spec­tac­u­lar. Res­i­dents described feel­ing the heat a half mile away, and patients at a near­by hos­pi­tal report­ed hear­ing a thun­der­ous boom.

First Mys­tery

Almost imme­di­ately, the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Par­ty, or PKK, an armed sep­a­ratist group in Turkey, claimed cred­it. It made sense because of the PKK’s his­tory of bomb­ing pipelines. The Turk­ish government’s claim of mechan­i­cal fail­ure, on the oth­er hand, was wide­ly dis­puted in media reports. Hil­mi Guler, then Turkey’s ener­gy min­is­ter, said at the time there was no evi­dence of sab­o­tage. Nei­ther he nor offi­cials at the Ener­gy Min­istry respond­ed to requests for com­ment.

Huseyin Sagir, a spokesman for Botas Inter­na­tional Ltd., the state-run com­pany that oper­ates the pipeline in Turkey, said the line’s com­puter sys­tems hadn’t been tam­pered with. “We have nev­er expe­ri­enced any kind of sig­nal jam­ming attack or tam­per­ing on the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines, or com­puter sys­tems,” Sagir said in an e‑mail. He didn’t respond to ques­tions about what caused the explo­sion. BP spokesman Toby Odone referred ques­tions to Botas.

The BTC was shut down because of what BP referred to in its 2008 annu­al report sim­ply as a fire.

Mali­cious Pro­gram

The inves­ti­ga­tors — from Turkey, the U.K., Azer­bai­jan and oth­er coun­tries — went qui­etly about their busi­ness. The first mys­tery they set out to solve was why the elab­o­rate sys­tem in place to detect leaks of oil or a fire didn’t work as planned.

Instead of receiv­ing dig­i­tal alerts from sen­sors placed along the line, the con­trol room didn’t learn about the blast until 40 min­utes after it hap­pened, from a secu­rity work­er who saw the flames, accord­ing to a per­son who worked on the probe.

As inves­ti­ga­tors fol­lowed the trail of the failed alarm sys­tem, they found the hack­ers’ point of entry was an unex­pected one: the sur­veil­lance cam­eras them­selves.

The cam­eras’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion soft­ware had vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties the hack­ers used to gain entry and move deep into the inter­nal net­work, accord­ing to the peo­ple briefed on the mat­ter.

Once inside, the attack­ers found a com­puter run­ning on a Win­dows oper­at­ing sys­tem that was in charge of the alarm-man­age­ment net­work, and placed a mali­cious pro­gram on it. That gave them the abil­ity to sneak back in when­ever they want­ed.

Exten­sive Recon­nais­sance

The cen­tral ele­ment of the attack was gain­ing access to the oper­a­tional con­trols to increase the pres­sure with­out set­ting off alarms. Because of the line’s design, the hack­ers could manip­u­late the pres­sure by crack­ing into small indus­trial com­put­ers at a few valve sta­tions with­out hav­ing to hack the main con­trol room.

The pres­ence of the attack­ers at the site could mean the sab­o­tage was a blend­ed attack, using a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal tech­niques. The super-high pres­sure may have been enough on its own to cre­ate the explo­sion, accord­ing to two of the peo­ple famil­iar with the inci­dent. No evi­dence of a phys­i­cal bomb was found.

Hav­ing per­formed exten­sive recon­nais­sance on the com­puter net­work, the infil­tra­tors tam­pered with the units used to send alerts about mal­func­tions and leaks back to the con­trol room. The back-up satel­lite sig­nals failed, which sug­gested to the inves­ti­ga­tors that the attack­ers used sophis­ti­cated jam­ming equip­ment, accord­ing to the peo­ple famil­iar with the probe.

Inves­ti­ga­tors com­pared the time-stamp on the infrared image of the two peo­ple with lap­tops to data logs that showed the com­puter sys­tem had been probed by an out­sider. It was an exact match, accord­ing to the peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

‘Ter­ror­ism Act’

Years lat­er, BP claimed in doc­u­ments filed in a legal dis­pute that it wasn’t able to meet ship­ping con­tracts after the blast due to “an act of ter­ror­ism.”

The explo­sion caused more than 30,000 bar­rels of oil to spill in an area above a water aquifer and cost BP and its part­ners $5 mil­lion a day in tran­sit tar­iffs dur­ing the clo­sure, accord­ing to com­mu­ni­ca­tions between BP and its bankers cit­ed in “The Oil Road,” a book about the pipeline.

Some of the worst dam­age was felt by the State Oil Fund of the Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan, which lost $1 bil­lion in export rev­enue while the line was shut down, accord­ing to Jamala Aliye­va, a spokes­woman for the fund.

A pipeline bomb­ing may fit the pro­file of the PKK, which spe­cial­izes in extor­tion, drug smug­gling and assaults on for­eign com­pa­nies, said Didem Akyel Collinsworth, an Istan­bul-based ana­lyst for the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group. But she said the PKK doesn’t have advanced hack­ing capa­bil­i­ties. “That’s not their modus operan­di,” she said. “It’s always been very phys­i­cal, very basic insur­gency stuff.”

Poten­tial Rivals

U.S. spy agen­cies probed the BTC blast inde­pen­dently, gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion from for­eign com­mu­ni­ca­tions inter­cepts and oth­er sources, accord­ing to one of the peo­ple famil­iar with the inquiry. Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cials believe the PKK — which accord­ing to leaked State Depart­ment cables has received arms and intel­li­gence from Rus­sia — may have arranged in advance with the attack­ers to take cred­it, the per­son said.

The U.S. was inter­ested in more than just motive. The Pen­ta­gon at the time was assess­ing the cyber capa­bil­i­ties of poten­tial rivals, as well as weak­nesses in its own defens­es. Since that attack, both Iran and Chi­na have hacked into U.S. pipeline com­pa­nies and gas util­i­ties, appar­ently to iden­tify vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could be exploit­ed lat­er.


10. We con­clude with dis­cus­sion of a brand new spy drone that mim­ics cell­phone tow­ers. As some­thing that could be built in a garage for less than $6,000, it, too,  is indica­tive of the brave, new tech world in which we live. Note that it’s tiny, as well.
“Spy Drone Hacks WiFi Net­works, Lis­tens to Calls” by Erin Van der Bellen; WUSA; 12/12/2014. [15]

It’s small. It’s bright yel­low, and it’s capa­ble of crack­ing Wi-Fi pass­words, eaves­drop­ping on your cell phone calls and read­ing your text mes­sages. It’s an unmanned spy drone and it just land­ed in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Long-time friends and for­mer Air Force bud­dies, Mike Tassey and Rich Perkins, describe their state-of-the-art cyber drone as hard to take down, hard to see and vir­tu­ally hard to detect.

They built it in a garage, using off the shelf elec­tron­ics to prove a drone can be used to launch cyber-attacks.

It needs a human for take-off and land­ing but once air­borne, it can fly any pre-pro­grammed route pos­ing as a cell phone tow­er and trick­ing wire­less cell phones.

While it’s fly­ing those points, the spy drone has a num­ber of anten­nas for pick­ing up your cell phone con­ver­sa­tion, for pick­ing up blue tooth, and for pick­ing up and mon­i­tor­ing Wi Fi sig­nals.


“We passed tele­phone calls, hacked into net­works, cracked the encryp­tion on Wi-Fi access points all of that sort of evil­ness is pos­si­ble,” said Tassey.

And now their spy drone has land­ed in Wash­ing­ton so every­one can see it.

“I think it’s fan­tas­tic to have an arti­fact like this in the Spy Muse­um,” said Vin­cent Houghton, Inter­na­tional Spy Muse­um Cura­tor [41].

“It’s the first of its kind, it’s a piece of mod­ern espi­onage equip­ment,” said Houghton. “This is some­thing gov­ern­ments should be doing and per­haps only gov­ern­ment should be doing.

“If two guys from the Mid­west can build this for six-thou­sand dol­lars in a garage, what can Iran do? What can nation states do?” said Rich Perkins.

The drone has a 50 mile range and while its cre­ators chose a cyber-attack test, they say this tech­nol­ogy can be used things like anti-IED mis­sions and search and res­cue oper­a­tions.