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Security United States

U.S. Military's Hackers 419

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lots-of-salary dept.
definate writes "Wired is running a story on the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, or JFCCNW. A multimillion dollar military task force used to attack the electronic infrastructure of their opponents."
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U.S. Military's Hackers

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:30AM (#12269817)

    From the article:


    Military leaders from U.S. Strategic Command, or Stratcom, disclosed the existence of a unit called the Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, or JFCCNW.


    "JFCCNW"??? That's a terrible acronym! That's the worst thing I've heard since PCMCIA!

    How about something a bit more catchy, like the League of Enduring Electronic Technicians? Or perhaps the Paramilitary Worldwide Network of Electronic Defenders?

    Let's help out our country...please post your suggestions for acronyms below.
  • by poison_reverse (647609) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:32AM (#12269841)
    an army of one's and zero's
  • Restrictions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:33AM (#12269844)
    I wonder if there will be restrictions on security patches during war-time?
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:33AM (#12269852) Homepage Journal
    "I've got to tell you we spend more time on the computer network attack business than we do on computer network defense because so many people at very high levels are interested," said former CNA commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. John Bradley ...

    IOW, folks in the Echelons Beyond Reality love the idea of Matrix-style hacking of an enemy network because it's sexy and cool (even though they probably have no idea what real hacking entails) and aren't interested in the boring old-fashioned business of securing our own networks from attack. Okay, guys, here's a quick quiz: of the following possible combatants, which one has the most to lose in the event of an enemy hacker penetrating its computer security?

    a) al-Qaeda
    b) China
    c) the United States
    d) North Korea

    Think fast!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:38AM (#12269895)
      Okay, guys, here's a quick quiz: of the following possible combatants, which one has the most to lose in the event of an enemy hacker penetrating its computer security?
      a) al-Qaeda


      Are you kidding? The Bush administration's attention to details like computer security is EXACTLY why we caught Bin Laden!

      Oh, wait.

    • Okay, guys, here's a quick quiz: of the following possible combatants, which one has the most to lose in the event of an enemy hacker penetrating its computer security?

      a) al-Qaeda
      b) China
      c) the United States
      d) North Korea


      Um, I'm going to guess it's not A) al-Qaeda - because they have a truly distributed net and could care less.
    • My exact thoughts on reading the article. This quotation spells out the beliefs of the project leadership:

      Verton said the unit's capabilities are highly classified, but he believes they can destroy networks and penetrate enemy computers to steal or manipulate data. He said they may also be able to set loose a worm to take down command-and-control systems so the enemy is unable to communicate and direct ground forces, or fire surface-to-air missiles, for example.

      Pure poppycock, IMHO. Most armies infrastr
    • The best defense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wiredog (43288) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:42AM (#12269963) Journal
      is a good offense. Also, if you know how to attack, you also know how to defend.
      • by gnuman99 (746007) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#12270112)
        Yes, it seems this works so well for things like ICBs, cruise missles, bioweapons, etc... I mean, if you know how to attach, you know how to defend?
        • Ummm, yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by wiredog (43288) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:04AM (#12270250) Journal
          If you don't know the characteristics of those things, and how they are use in an attack, then you don't know how to defend against them. And how do gain that knowledge? By building and testing icbm's, cruise missiles, bioweapons, etc.

          BTW, the best defense against a cruise missile is a net, placed in the flight path. Of course, first you've got to know the flight path.

      • Re:The best defense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheWizardOfCheese (256968) on Monday April 18, 2005 @02:32PM (#12272812)
        "The best defense is a good offense" is just a trite saying - it's not handed down from God or anything, you know. Of course there are many cases where aggression is the winning policy, but history also contains many contrary examples. Defense can be the best offense at the tactical, operational, or strategic level - wars have been won without winning a single battle.

        On the other hand, professional military people are inherently biased toward offense, not merely because of their training, but because they tend to be aggressive people by nature (self-selection.) Sometimes this has caused them to serve there countries poorly. Two examples will suffice:

        1) Convoy
        Britain learned by bitter experience during the 16th through 18th centuries that the surest way to reduce shipping loses due to enemy action was convoy. Convoy was effective even when there were no escorts! Yet by the advent of the first world war, this knowledge was somehow forgotten or neglected. Individual captains with fast ships did not want to participate in slow convoys which they believed would make them more vulnerable. The navy approved of this view because they preferred to spend their resources actively, in a futile scouring of the endless seas, rather than passively, in protecting what was really important. Merchantmen were allowed their freedom, and the result was nearly disasterous: the U-boat campaign of the first world war came much closer to starving Britain than did that of the second. The situation was only retrieved by implementing convoy.

        2) Battlecruisers
        A famous example of "offense is the best defense" gone wrong. The idea of a battlecruiser was a ship with the armament of a battleship but the speed of a cruiser, maximizing the tactical qualities of movement and firepower. As this was achieved by reducing armour, the resulting ship was cheaper as well! It was a very popular idea with the naval theorists. But the battleship was a system, in which guns and armour functioned together. As Jutland demonstrated incontrovertibly, a battlecruiser could not survive in an environment with battleships, but it was not as useful for screening fleets as the several smaller cruisers it replaced.
    • Uhm, all of them do, but al Qaeda to a lesser extent.

      I take it you haven't audited any chinese or north korean infrastructure lately, instead opting for the "America is everything" approach.

      If you want to play games -- China, arguably, has the most to lose, in terms of both military and industrial attacks.
    • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:49AM (#12270051)
      Well considering the levels of encryption that al-Qaeda and North Korea use and the number of laptops that are found in many terrorist hiding areas or even in the place where the terrorists responsible for 9/11 resided, I wouldn't scoff at the value of having access to their networks. It is a known fact that terrorists use PGP encryption and it's creator has written a few times about his feelings on this and distributing it for free. In the end he has always, thankfully, decided that freedom for our privacy outweighs any evil intentions that others may have. (That is an extremely rough paraphrase)
      Regards,
      Steve
    • by mestreBimba (449437) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#12270107) Homepage
      You miss the real threat. The real threat is not in taking down an enemy military's command structure, but in disabling the whole country's infastructure and subsequently crashing the whole economy.

      What is the economic impact of hacking a nations power grid and bringing it down? Crashing the process control on oil and other chemical refineries. With the correct techniques you can bring down the power grid, the phone system, cause toxic chemical releases.... the list goes on and on.

      In economies where most process control is now digital and the in place protection for such SCADA networks rely on security through obscurity, the ability to bring a nations economy to ruins is not far fetched.....

      Think bigger!
      • Yep and these networks probably are not on the Internet. I mean think about it. You can take out a power grid now by bombing sub stations. You can take out a phone system by bombing COs. If you can get into the control networks and just shut them down you can accomplish the same goal with less lose of life. Before anyone goes off on the "only caring about your sides loses rant" remember that the US, Russia, France, the UK, Israel, and probably China can already bomb these targets with out risking any of the
        • No these network do have access from the internet... you just have to go through a couple of layers to get to them.

          You have to bounce from outside a corporate LAN to into the corporate LAN and from there onto the SCADA LAN.

          It is possible........ I speak from personal experience.

      • Anyone working at a large company, especially industrial or manufacturing companies, during the blackout in Aug 2003 knows what effect a complete power outage could have on an entire region or country. A long-term (even a week or two) outage would result in total economic shutdown.

        Pretty scary...

    • I've got to tell you we spend more time on the computer network attack business

      How do you attack an adversary that relies on donkeys and handwritten notes for communication?

    • al-Qaeda, and I'll explain why in two parts below:

      The entirety of Terrorist networks is based on communication. They HAVE no structure otherwise. If you take away their ability to communicate, they lose the entire system in one fell swoop.

      So, if you hack the system that stores the GPS coordinates and communication methods for contacting the Osama bin Laden's of the group, you destroy the entire organization. If you're measuring "most to lose" by which group is entirely routed out, the answer is always goi
  • by Flywheels of Fire (836557) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:35AM (#12269864) Homepage

    From TFA:"There are some tremendous questions being raised about this," said Dietz. "On whether they (JFCCNW) have the legal mandate or the authority to shut these sites down with a defacement or a denial-of-service attack."

    According to TFA, the main task of JFCCNW is to bring down websites [mithuro.com] that don't portray America in good light.

    It is going to be more of a PR-damage limitation excercise than anything else. And a good way to spend millions of taxpayer money.

    • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:43AM (#12269969)
      Script Kiddies in Uniform

      I don't think you'd want these people using all of their resources to attack your network. Script kiddies, they're not.

      And a good way to spend millions of taxpayer money.

      Yup, because the bad guys are doing exactly the same thing. And you'll never have a better bunch of people to work on countering that sort of stuff than the people who have done a stint entirely focused on causing damage elsewhere. Who would you want taking a new job working on infrastructure protection: the kid right out of IT school, or the guy who's been working without any distraction or budget tightwaddedness who's just spent the last two years thinking up every way he can to crack and damage networks, content, databases, and more?
      • I have been saying since the early nineties that there is some sort of black-ops hacker team that the government funds. I would be seriously upset if my tax dollars wern't being spent on making sure that we had this sort of capability.

        I'm guessing that they are mostly civilians working for the NSA and CIA with close ties to the military. I'm saying mostly civilian, as the military doesn't usually attract people with multiple degrees in advanced technical subjects. They will work closely with the teams, t
    • by Quixote (154172) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:52AM (#12270092) Homepage Journal
      the main task of JFCCNW is to bring down websites....

      ... just like Slashdot ;-)

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:11AM (#12270346)
      I got this whole Alice's Restaurant Flashback moment reading this. Sorry.

      But back home in the 21st Century, am I the only one who sees this as a better-than-average recruiting effort on the part of the U.S. Army (at a time when their falling shy of their recruitment goals)? I'm guessing they are hoping scenes like this play out at recruitment stations across the fruited plain:

      Wired Reader: "Um, I read how, like, the army is hiring and training all these 733t Uber-hax00rs to, like, simply own terrorist websites and shit...?"

      Recruiting Officer: "Yup. Sign here."

      WR: "So, like, do we get to wear baggy camo pants and high boots and put our hats on backward and shit...?"

      RO: "Sure. Sign here."

      WR: "Umm, so, does our brigade or garrison or whatever have, like, our own kewl insignia, like a fist holding lightning bolts or some rad shit like that...?"

      RO: "Uh huh. Sign here."

      WR: "What are we called, like, the '81st Cybernetic,' or the 'Electric Underground' or some cool shit like that...?"

      RO: "Something like that. Sign here."

      WR: "And I get to carry a gun?"

      RO: "Oh, Yes. And we give you free bullets and coffee. Sign here."

      WR: "Free Coffee?! D00d, I'm, like, so-o-o-o-o there! Where do I sign?"

      RO (smiling): "Here, son. Sign right here."
    • Must be doing a great job, because I haven't seen an anti-Bush website in YEARS!
    • According to TFA, the main task of JFCCNW is to bring down websites that don't portray America in good light.

      Actually, that's your paranoid, Orwellian interpretation of the article. Here is some actual text from TFA:

      (Regarding the public execution of Nick Berg)

      "The debate focused on whether the United States should shut down a website as soon as it posts such brutality.

      "There are some tremendous questions being raised about this," said Dietz. "On whether they (JFCCNW) have the legal mandate or
  • science fiction slowly becomes reality.
  • by Triumph The Insult C (586706) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:36AM (#12269877) Homepage Journal
    the article refers to the JFCCNW as being the "... most formibidable hacker posse. Ever."

    looks like www.jfccnw.mil is offline ... so maybe the editors need to take anothNO CARRIER
  • by SpongeBobLinuxPants (840979) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:37AM (#12269883) Homepage
    Dear Habib,
    My name is Akmar and I have just inherited $3 million, but it is stuck in a US bank account....
  • by rob_levine (460241) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:37AM (#12269887)
    Don't tell me - they are going to remotely deploy WinXP Service Pack 2 on the enemy's network?

    Masterful...
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:37AM (#12269890)
    b3 4ll j00 c4N B3!

    J01n t3h 4RmY! T1s 133t!
  • by zappepcs (820751)
    ...a super-secret, multimillion-dollar weapons program that may be ready to launch bloodless cyberwar against enemy networks -- from electric grids to telephone nets.

    Not anymore
  • SAMs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lachlan76 (770870) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:38AM (#12269902)
    He said they may also be able to set loose a worm to take down command-and-control systems so the enemy is unable to communicate and direct ground forces, or fire surface-to-air missiles, for example.

    These things are connected to the internet?
    • These things are connected to the internet?

      Indeed. The article was a bit too Dan Brown really.
    • Re:SAMs? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kipsaysso (828105)
      Yeah. But they are protected by the Windows Firewall so you can forget getting to them. Those extra security features will stop the terrorists every time.
    • Re:SAMs? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Der Krazy Kraut (650544) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:47AM (#12270036)
      All that stuff don't neccesarily have to be connected to the internet. They could always bring some specialists behind the front lines who hack it on site or set up a relay of some kind so it can be accessed from behind the front lines.
      • er, if you have specialist on site at an enemy SAM launch facility wouldn't it be somewhat more sensible easier to say, maybe, destroy the missiles or launch control or tracking system?
        • Dunno, depends on the situation I guess? Obviously, you would only bring them in where it's actually worthwhile to have control over the enemy's systems or have them malfunctioning at will, not to destroy a launch site which could easily be destroyed with exlosives.

          But IANAG (I Am Not A General).
    • Re:SAMs? (Score:3, Funny)

      by peragrin (659227)

      These things are connected to the internet?


      isn't everything? I know I connect our bluegene supercomputer to the regular net. of course beta testing Windows for High performace computing, I got a virus which turned it into a massive spam relay.

      Do yo know how much spam you can send with a pair a t-3's the world's fastest supercomputer?
    • There are other ways to conduct "information warfare" against the enemy, as we have probably done before. From the article:

      One story widely reported, but never confirmed, described how a team of military ops was dropped into Serbia, and after cutting a wire leading to a major radar hub, planted a device that emitted phantom targets on Serb radar.

      So it's a good bet these guys aren't just sitting at a desk playing nethack. Some of them are probably special-ops types with additional computer training. I can

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    From the article
    take down command-and-control systems so the enemy is unable to communicate and direct ground forces, or fire surface-to-air missiles, for example.

    I find it incredible that systems like this would be on the internet. Surely something like a surface-to-air missile system is isolated from the web?
    • Well TFA also said that there's an unconfirmed report that members of this group infiltrated Serbia and hacked into a radar system there to generate phony signals during the NATO attacks back in the 1990's. So it sounds like these are script kiddies on steroids - US Army Rangers with notebooks loaded with all the latest hax0r t00lz.
    • Re:Really? (Score:3, Informative)

      by oni (41625)
      Surely something like a surface-to-air missile system is isolated from the web?

      isolated from the web? from the *web*? You don't have a clue what you're talking about. Do you?
      • Ok, I will admit I am fairly clueless, someone prove to us that we have access to surface-to-air missile systems from the web.
    • that network == internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:41AM (#12269946)
    Couldn't we just /. them into submission?
  • by disposable60 (735022) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:42AM (#12269950) Journal
    From TFA: Rita Katz, an expert on Islamic terror sites and director of the Washington, D.C.-based Search for International Terrorist Entities [siteinstitute.org], believes a website that posts an execution should be taken out immediately. No matter what the implications are for free speech or other nation's laws, she said. (emphasis mine)

    Coming soon - non-Evangelical-Republican == Terrorist.
  • Ooh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Esine (809139) <admin@tohveli.net> on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:42AM (#12269955) Homepage
    Command Line Soldiers!
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:42AM (#12269958)
    This looks like a scary, but inevitable, development. The internet is becoming too important to this country's economy. Perhaps the private sector can keep the Internet safe, but they need more vigilance and more tools to handle fast-evolving threats. The minute the government feels that the net has become a national security vulnerability, they will take steps to become the defender of that infrastructure.

    Perhaps the day will come when the government deploys .mil computers to DDoS offending servers of phisher, spammers, etc.
  • by northcat (827059) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:43AM (#12269972) Journal
    And everyone keeps complaining about chinese or russian militaries using hackers.
  • Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by lbmouse (473316) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:44AM (#12269988) Homepage
    Geeks in uniforms. Isn't best Buy [bestbuy.com] already trying this?
  • by ajnsue (773317) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:49AM (#12270059)
    Ah - any government effort that starts with "Joint" is destined to produce nothing but paperwork and studies. Just as Private industy folks recognize the term "Cross-Functional" as a death sentence. I have no doubts that the leadership of any J**** project has a general idea of what they need to say to continue to justify funding. But the likelihood of them actually producing something worthy of said funding is slim to nothing.
  • aybabtu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fox_1 (128616) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:50AM (#12270073)
    Joint Functional Component Command for Network Warfare, JFCCNW
    Man what a painful acronym, however it's being disregarded for most of the article and replaced with :
    Computer Network Attack, or as some military personnel refer to it, CNA. "I've got to tell you we spend more time on the computer network attack business than we do on computer network defence because so many people at very high levels are interested," said former CNA commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. John Bradley
    Which is funny since the DoD was targeted:
    last year nearly 75,000 times with intrusion attempts.
    So what do they really have as a mission for this group?
    Verton said the unit's capabilities are highly classified, but he believes they can destroy networks and penetrate enemy computers to steal or manipulate data.
    Nice, a govt funded agency with little regard for the institutions it's supposed to protect (free speech and due process) or other nations sovereignty and the apparent mission plan of 13 year old script kiddies everywhere. Where's the story?
  • The Hearing (Score:2, Informative)

    by markmcb (855750)
    For anyone interested, here's a link to a hearing [apc.org] (not sure if it's the one referenced), that gives some insight into the broader goals of the the strategic command that this hacking force falls under.
  • by riversky (732353) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#12270100)
    A US military directive recently recomended all computer based intelligence personel run UNIX via the MAC OS for security reasons. I have a friend who is a low level Army guy and they all use Apple Mac PowerBooks in the tanks.

  • "In simple terms and sans any military jargon, the unit could best be described as the world's most formidable hacker posse. Ever.

    I've got a picture of R. Lee Ermey giving somebody shit for going into army 'hacking'...

    "Hacker core?! You gotta be shitting me private! You're not a geek, you're a killer!! "

    As for "most formidable", I wonder how often it comes down to "join us, or be labeled a terrorist

  • Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gnuman99 (746007)
    For once, at least I'm happy I'm using an open source OS like Linux. At least no single company can put keyloggers and backdoors in and everyone can detect the malware.

    Anyway, if people wanted peace, why do we have (need?) a military?

  • by bcmm (768152)
    My theory: they are script kiddies, and they get given IP addresses by the CIA and from Echelon which they DDOS with a botnet, blocking terrorist's communications....
  • The real threat.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mestreBimba (449437) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:04AM (#12270255) Homepage
    The real threat from hackers of this nature lies not in their ability to hack the command and control grid of the enemy, but in their ability to crash the opossitions economy. Every major war of the last century has been won by economic might, more than by brillant stategies.

    What is the impact of crashing an enemy's powersytem? A catastrophic crash of a power grid with actual physical damage to the grid is not beyond the realm of possibility. How many billions of $$$$ a day could be lost by such an attack on the US? If an enemy brings down even a small part of the grid it can cascade and bring down the whole shooting match.

    Other scary possibilities..... hack the SCADA control system of a nasty chemical plant. Release a toxic gas cloud and kill thousands to hundreds of thousands of people. Hack a number of oil refineries and knock them out of production. Watch what that does to the price of doing business.

    Most of the admins on such systems will tell you that the systems have no external links.... but when you ask them if there is a DB from the SCADA LAN that communicates with the coprporate LAN, well every admin and security guru that I have asked that question of, has admitted that such a DB exists. And where such a communication path exists then it can be exploited.

    The next globalr war, if it ever happens, will start with a wave of pre-emptive infastructure hacks.
  • The Hardest Part (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EQ (28372) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:05AM (#12270265) Homepage Journal
    ... is getting enough of the "great" hackers the proper security clearances and compartmented accesses. You must be a US citizen, pass an SSBI Single Scope Background Investigation, FBI/DIA ivestigators contact scads of people you havent talked to in years as well as your current associates and their associates and the associates of those people as well - they go 3 nodes or more out from you. Add to that a Counter Intelligence polygraph - those are sometimes the biggest hurdles. If you try for NSA credentials, you get the joy of a Lifestyle Polygraph (the worst 6+ hours of your life, trust me on that). On top of that, getting people to move to Nebraska for some duty at Stratcom in Omaha is not all that easy a sell.

    Fortunately not al the duty stations are in Nebraska, and not every hacker (used in the best sense of the word) fits the stereotypes. Its not like the movies.

    There is one other source they forgot:

    Contractors. Look at the big DoD contract companies, and look at the IT openings they have. Northrop Grumman (includes the old TRW people), Raytheon (includes the old Hughes people), Lockheed-Martin, Ball Aerospace (Satellite/comms guys), Titan, and a pile of smaller lesser known companies. Look at what they are hiring for. These are the only relatively secure IT jobs left in the US that are not under threat of being outsourced overseas.

    Plenty of work if you can qualify for the security aspects and dont mind being reinvestigated and strapped to a polygraph every few years, on top of other voluntary restrictions you put on your freedoms in exchange for the security clearance (i.e. give up the recreational/illegal drugs, give up drinking to excess, give up gambling, and give up many of the vices the fringe of hackerdom has).

    • Re:The Hardest Part (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mz6 (741941) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:17AM (#12270417) Journal
      You hit the nail right on the head.

      As a contractor living and working at Offutt AFB in Nebraska, this is by far the hardest part. If you can obtain a security clearance for some of the top level accesses, you are almost guaranteed a job especially for things such as this. Defense companies will pay top dollar for those people that have/can obtain clearances and will pay huge referral bonuses if you can refer friends to jump on board as well (up to $10,000 depending on that person's clearance).

      I was lucky enough that I was able to intern with a Defense contractor in Nebraska who paid for all my clearances, my schooling and once I graduated I was offered and accepted a full time position.

      The only downside is that your work is based on contracts. Many Defense contractor companies have high turnovers rates because their employees will jump on with the company that is either prime or a sub-contractor on a specific contract.

  • Top Secret? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:06AM (#12270285)
    There was a hint of this group's existence during the first Gulf war. One of the reasons behind the Iraq's army total defeat was that the US crippled the communication network between Baghdad and the frontline. The story was that after the embargo was established, the US let a printer be smuggled into Iraq. Unfortunately for Iraq HQ, the printer was designated for Iraq Command and had been modified to contain and transmit a virus. The virus spread quietly throughout the network but lay undetected and dormant until the land war began. Then it started to take down the networks.
    • Re:Top Secret? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:35AM (#12270643)
      Call me a skeptic but that sounds a little far-fetched. Figuring out exactly where a printer was going to be sent within the Iraqi government would be very difficut. Making sure that the printer got plugged into a system that also had access to the military command & control systems would also be a stretch. Then there's also timing - you wouldn't want the virus/worm/trojan to trigger too early or it could be detected & removed. But it would also need enough time to do its job effectively, which would be very difficult to calculate ahead of time unless you knew EXACTLY what systems to target, how to get into them, etc. Either you would have to determine the date/time to start the war far enough ahead of time to put together the bogus printer, ship it to Iraq, and let them install it, or the printer would have to be regularly checking with the outside world for a message to trigger the payload. The first approach would again be unreasonable. The second would depend on this system having access to the outside world and this behavior could be detected. Besides, what happens if the printer or the computer it's connected to happened to be powered off at the appropriate time?

      Personally I'm more inclined ot believe the story told by a former member of the British SAS in the book Bravo Two Zero [amazon.com]. It describes how SAS teams were sent into Iraq in the days before the war started. Their mission was to identify and destroy communications lines. The Iraqi's realized that radio could be intercepted so they relied on land-lines quite a bit. So destroy the land-lines and your command & control infrastructure is screwed.
  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:06AM (#12270286)
    that brought down al-jazeera.net when the US invaded Iraq? Remember the 2 week long denial of service attack and subsequent attacks after beheadings and what not?

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/030327/152/dwem2.html/ [yahoo.com]
  • From the article I read: The military has an offensive computer network capability. Now we'd like to spend 2 pages guessing on what it is and does. But we're SURE that its 37337!

    Hell, CNA also stands for Computer Network Assurance so I wouldn't be supprised if they're getting their wires crossed a bit (no pun intended).

    As for the comments about more offense than defense, I wonder if this is because defense is probably done within programs moreso than offense.

    Just my 2c.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:10AM (#12270329) Journal
    "The Internet." The phone system is also a network, as is the power grid (parts of which are phone accessible, but not internet accessible). Railroads use networked communications to control switches. So does the ATC system. All can be hacked into if you can get access to the communicatons lines and know how.

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:15AM (#12270385)
    The best part is they hired Hugo Weaving to head it up...
  • I think the Dark Warriors at Lackland AFB's Information Warfare Battlelab in San Antonio might have something to say about this article's BS/speculation rating, if they aren't already part of the joint task force. And unlike the joint task force listed, they seem to spend a good portion of their time actually building tools and technologies to defend networks.
  • Culture clash? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by identity0 (77976) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:24AM (#12270511) Journal
    What I've seen of hackers (both white and black hat) doesn't lead me to think they would do well in a military envornment. Does anyone know if there has been much problems with keeping the unit discipline?

    I'm not just talking about the physical fitness stuff, I mean that most hackers seem to want to "screw with the system" a little. Maybe it comes from the same urge to reverse-engineer stuff, but the hackers I've seen tend to dislike bueracracy and "keeping your head down" to not stick out, which are things the military seems to have a lot of.

    There are a couple of ex-mil. guys in my LUG, but they're the 'resposible sysadmin/programmer', with maybe a touch of BOFH syndrome.

    I wonder if the military is recruiting hackers directly, or training their own people to be hackers?
  • Fatal flaw (Score:5, Funny)

    by RichardX (457979) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:25AM (#12270520) Homepage
    The only thing the enemy would need to employ to completely overwhelm and undermine this army of nerds would be..... a female.
  • by RedLaggedTeut (216304) on Monday April 18, 2005 @12:37PM (#12271340) Homepage Journal
    I'm kind of surprised that noone has pointed out yet the existance of one division of JFCCWOTEVR led by Cmdr. Taco that harnesses the power of distributed monkeys for denial of service attacks.

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