Information Warfare: Closing Thoughts

This will be my last blog dealing with information warfare even though I may eventually pick back up and make more information warfare related blogs. I wanted to close with a view about information warfare and dealing with malware attacks like stuxnet. Stuxnet was a malicious program made in secret by the United States. Its main goal was to breech Iranian uranium enrichment plants security in an effort to disrupt the normal operations of the centrifuges. Now that sounds great in preventing other countries from obtaining nuclear weapons but how I see it is that using malware to attack other countries facilities could be a very dangerous game. Stuxnet was not supposed to be made public and for good reasons. The people who made stuxnet were very angry that it was spread around and made public, and this kind of carelessness when making malware to attack adversary’s facilities should not be taken lightly.

First of all, one thing that I have always thought of and fear the most about information warfare since I heard of stuxnet a couple years back is when if a country attacked another countries nuclear power plants. That would be very catastrophic if a country were able to cause a nuclear meltdown of a nuclear power plant with malware. We all know from experience in Chernobyl that a nuclear meltdown can be a very expensive thing to fix and can cause many deaths to civilians. That is my main concern about information warfare. Although information warfare will likely cause fewer deaths due to non-physical means of use, if the right malware were spread into the right facility it could be even more catastrophic than the effects of physical warfare. I hope that the United States and all of their allies work together in an effort to eradicate the world of such malware attacks used for information warfare.

Stuxnet was a marvel in malware and could be one of the most important information warfare lessons that any nation could learn from. While it did complete its objective and disable the Iranian uranium enrichment plants, it also got out into the public. Even though stuxnet getting out into the public did not cause any harm, the lesson learned from that type of malware is tenfold important to nations everywhere. If another stuxnet that was more lethal in the sense that it could attack a very volatile facility causing the deaths of many people were made, even if the objective was completed there could be a chance that it may backfire on the country that created it and cause a great deal of damage.

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Information Warfare: Cyber Command

The cyber command was created in 2009 to work as a department in battling cyber crimes in the United States. Since cyber crimes are increasing rapidly between allies and adversaries the demand of having a cyber command organization has also increased rapidly. If you think of all of the cyber attacks on different countries you will start to wonder what exactly is being done about this. President trump wants to elevate the Cyber Command organization to Unified Combatant Command and this view that Donald trump has is consistent with Defense Secretary Mattis. They both agree that cyber crimes is becoming more and more important of a situation to be dealing with as technology advances very rapidly.

The cyber command division will probably consist of over 6000 workers divided into approximately 133 teams. With those numbers, you can see that there are many different kinds of cyber threats that the United States has to deal with these days. I think that Donald trump is definitely on the right track beefing up the cyber crimes departments because this is the future and all that may be left someday is to reign supreme in the information warfare sector. All the different countries agree that loosing lives in physical warfare is unacceptable and are working to eliminate deaths by means of physical warfare. That leaves the question of who will dominate the information warfare sector as warfare settles down to a subtle game of chess.

New decisions are being made every day to elevate the position of cyber warfare divisions because of the ever-evolving threat of information technology. The president of the United States has a huge responsibility in preserving the security of America’s information infrastructure day by day. I think personally that the cyber command should be a very well funded organization in the United States, as it is partially responsible for national security from adversarial threats. It would not surprise me if the numbers of workers for the cyber command grows exponentially because that seems what the rate of technological evolution seems to be and we need at least a team of workers for every single technological advance that is made.

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Information Warfare: New Russian Details

The defense intelligence agency makes reports on threat levels of Russia in using information warfare and it included a cyber-enabled psychological warfare operation. Russia has many known government backed trolls to spread the pro-Moscow information all around the world and no one knows if that number of trolls is increasing or declining although I would say that they are increasing with the amount of misinformation spreading around these days. The DIA director says that the Russian military threat will likely increase. They say in the future the Russians may be able to create information blockades and achieve information dominance. The Russians have been in the information warfare sector probably since the very beginning and there is no chance that they will ever back down.

The Russians aim to shape and manipulate the perception of foreign people. They have been doing it for a long time now because of the speed of the spread of information over the internet it seems Russia is on top of that game. Russia wants to sway the peoples view into thinking that Russia is superior to any other nation state in information dissemination. This kind of persuasion or spreading of propaganda is proven very effective in spreading division in other countries. If you think about it if you can divide a country to an extent that everyone hates each other for opposing views than maybe that country would be much more susceptible to an invasion with physical force. I don’t know if that will ever happen but with how politics works in the united states there is plenty of division so maybe the people of the united states already are trained for these kind of divisive tactics which means that they are pretty much useless.

There is also mention of automated bots being used by Russia in information warfare, which is a real threat. Programming bots to spread information dividing the public opinion even further can be effective because bots work at a level that is not achievable by man. Bots work so fast that one message could be spread a million times in a second if the bot is programmed to do so. The use of bots can only increase in the realm of information warfare especially with the up and coming artificial intelligence capabilities. Bots are a real threat to be looked at very carefully if we are ever going to get the edge in the information warfare sector.

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Information Warfare: Russia and GMO’s

Everyone knows the controversy surrounding (GMO’s) Genetically Modified Organisms. Whether or not they are better or worse than natural organisms is still up for debate. Russia it seems has been spreading false information about GMO’s, portraying them in a very negative sense. They are claiming that they have a much cleaner agricultural way that those countries that use GMO’s. This claim that Russians were spreading misinformation about GMO’s was brought to attention by researchers at Iowa State University who were on a research project to find the underlying cause of the controversy surrounding GMO’s. Russia would link GMO related articles to very negative topics on the internet so when a person was reading something that was actually very negative like a crime or something then the link at the bottom of the article was to GMO related article. Hence, if an article about a crime is thought of negatively than the GMO link must mean that GMO’s should be seen negatively too.

Whether Russia has a cleaner source for agriculture or that the claim is misinformation itself is completely irrelevant when it comes to their ability to sway the public opinion. Russia is known for amplifying certain sensitive issues in the media, like black lives matter, and the 2016 presidential election. Russian propaganda is so discretely placed that anyone would think that it could be from anyone and it could even be a very credible source. Russia is on top of their information warfare game and they will not stop. I personally cannot criticize the Russians for leveraging their advanced skills in the dissemination of information because they are damn good at it. It seems that there is nothing that anyone can do about the spread of misinformation to sway the public opinion. Some people out there are very gullible and will believe anything that will fit into their belief system.

Russia must have some master trolls because their dissemination of information is proven very effective. I have some friends on social media and I laugh at their attempts to troll other people that are discussing issues that are sensitive to them. Russia on the other hand has taken the troll aspect of the information highway and turned it into an extremely effective means of altering the public opinion. Thinking about ways to defend against this kind of information warfare has me drawing blanks. It is a very difficult thing to defend against because many people will hop on the bandwagon just because it fits into their belief system and they will spread and troll just the same. In the United States of America, freedom of speech allows anyone to state their opinions but you just have to remember that sometimes it is the facts that matter and not what you would like to believe.

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Information Warfare: North Korean Agents

North Korea may not have a relatively sound information infrastructure but you can bet that they are training their people to indulge in the field of information warfare for the benefit of their country. North Korea is training their elite families in a school meant to transform these families into government and military workers. They are training them to be agents to track down and possibly kill defectors of North Korea. They will either kill them or convince them to come back to North Korea supposedly. The school called Mandyongdae will train agents to go to “enemy” countries to carry out plans to find certain defectors of their country. They are being trained in hacking skills and all of the underground hacking abilities along with speaking fluent South Korean with according accent. The most important skill that these students of the Mandyongdae school will learn is loyalty to North Korea.

Hunting down defectors using social media and other media outlets will be a strong training point for the students. North Korea is becoming more and more concerned with their people defecting to South Korea and China. These agents are also trained to monitor other North Korean hackers and determine their loyalty to the country. That is because many hackers from North Korea become defectors and release some very top secret information that is not too top secret anymore. These agents are difficult to identify or detect because of their intense training. With all of the sanctions put on North Korea, they are desperate for money, which is what many of the agents are after with their hacking abilities. The Chinese government approves these North Korean agents to work out of china in exchange for special favors and guarantee that they will not hack into any of Chinas networks.

South Korea claims that annually they spend about 800 million dollars in dealing with North Korean cyber attacks. North Korea always had it in for the South Korean people and they are sparing no expense to get the defectors eliminated. Many of the North Korean people want to leave because they find that the government is a complete failure and many flee the country every year. I think that Kim Jung Un truly wants better for his people because he met with president trump to discuss the ending of their nuclear program. The leaders of the United States and North Korea meeting up is a very rare thing to occur and aside from hacking, I would hope that North Korea really changes their government and frees their people to join the rest of the free world.

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Information Warfare: Russia and Europe

Russia is known to commence information warfare tactics on different countries and they do it quite well because everyone just talks about it and no one does anything about it. A general from Russia noted that information warfare is much more powerful than physical warfare with weapons and it is much more effective. Some say that Russia has committed much information warfare on countries in Europe since information warfare became a plausible means for warfare in today’s world. Russia is addicted to controlling information in other countries and the main reason is that they crave power. They love to disseminate propaganda and sway the public opinion in their favor. However, not only has the use of propaganda benefited Russia in the new age of information warfare, but malicious attacks on other countries information infrastructures have taken place.

No one really knows if Russia is behind some of the malicious attacks on other countries. It could simply be someone framing Russia for attacks. In 2015, a broadcaster in France was attacked and taken offline and its resources were nearly destroyed. Russia was also blamed for a massive data breach in Germany’s parliament having acquired gigabytes of data. Bulgaria was attacked in 2016 and is said to be one of the biggest attacks in south Eastern Europe. I mentioned before the huge denial of service attack on Estonia that happened a while back that Russia had commenced, disabling Estonia’s web sites. The Estonian officials compare the Russian attacks on their infrastructure to the September 11 attacks on the United States, even though I think that is a little too extreme. The Russians supposedly even did an attack on a Ukrainian power plant in 2015 that lead to days of a blackout. Luckily, it was just a blackout and not a major problem like a meltdown which really concerns me with all of the information warfare going on these days I hope that it will not hurt any people.

Even though Russia denies any of these attacks, all parties involved are pointing fingers in the direction of Russia. Russia’s information warfare abilities are becoming more and more advanced in the world today especially with the quickly evolving information infrastructures of the world. That could be one of the reasons that president trump is trying to have good relations with Russia, which I think is a good idea. If the United States and Russia teamed up, they could be powerful allies in the conquest of information warfare and even possibly bring peace to the whole world. Information warfare is quickly replacing physical warfare and I think that is a great thing. Instead of a game of Russian roulette where a person are critically injured we could all just settle for a game of chess.

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Information Warfare: Americas Response

The United States has one of the most powerful information infrastructures in the world. That being said, the Russians have been known to use information warfare for a long time, probably since the internet became available to them. The Russians invented Tetris, which was a big hit around the world, which is somewhat how I think about Russians when it comes to information warfare. The Russians are known for commencing information warfare attacks in what is known as the “grey area”. The grey area is the part of information warfare that does not have any known laws that apply to international affairs concerning information warfare. There are sanctions that are placed on countries and that is pretty much as far as it goes with international affairs that concern information warfare. So what can the United States do in an effort to broaden their influence on information warfare? Legislative measures are what needs to be taken to prevent the other super powerful countries from committing acts of information warfare.

When laws are made and actually taken into consideration about cyber crimes then the United States will be able to prevent cyber attacks. Russia is known to boast about their interference in elections and espionage behavior. They carried out an attack on Estonia to cripple their networks when they tried to remove a Soviet era memorial. There was nothing that any other countries could do about it because there are not any international laws put in place about cyber crimes. Is the rest of the world waiting for America to step in and take care of the other super power countries use of information warfare? The other countries in the world are probably waiting for the international legislation to substantiate in the favor of the United States stepping in and resolving cyber criminal’s activity when using information warfare tactics. Russia is so advanced at information warfare using propaganda, disinformation, and spying on other countries that there needs to be some sort of measures that can be taken to prevent them from using information warfare.

The United States of America needs to work on a response to information warfare attacks not just on the United States but also on any country in the world that would seem less information infastructurally advanced. We will just have to work for years and years on international laws to be able to enforce actions on adversaries and any other cyber criminal countries. Everything seems to be on an international type of peaceful platform when it comes to warfare with guns and physical weapons of war, but the information warfare abilities has pretty much just begun. We are in a new era of propaganda and other ways to influence the public opinion and Russia seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to these information warfare tactics.

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Information Warfare: Chinese microchips

There has been a report of the Chinese made motherboards of certain servers have an implanted surveillance microchip implanted in them. Being that there is a trade war going on between the United States and china, what better way to infiltrate the United States information infrastructure that to implant surveillance chips into Chinese made motherboards. Supposedly, these chips were implanted in servers used by numerous companies in the United States including Apple, Amazon, and even the Department of Defense. The Chinese military could surely have pulled this off even though some companies deny that they have surveillance chips inside their servers. A company called Supermicro reportedly created the microchip but they deny that they have made any kind of chips for the use of surveillance.

Would China do something so deceptive? I would say that they would. Just because it is merely just a trade war going on with china it is still a war. China has manpower by the billions and their military is as powerful these days as they ever were. Penetrating the information infrastructure of the United States is probably one of the highest priorities of the Chinese military these days especially with the trade war going on. Apple and Amazon discovered the surveillance chips back in 2015 and worked to eliminate the chips since then, even though they both deny having ever had been exposed to the chips. The discreteness of the microchips raises a concern because those chips could have been there for years. No one knows the extent of what kind of information can be obtained from these microchips. I am sure since they found the chips that the United States government has probably dissected the chips and did a full investigation.

Supposedly, there has been a top-secret FBI investigation going on since 2015 about the microchips from china. There is billions of dollars on the line with the trade war between china and the United States which means that information warfare could be one of the top lines of offence and defense in this trade war. Even though the companies deny that their systems were affected by the microchips, I would not doubt that they actually were affected. I think that it is very devious of the Chinese to use their manufacturing of motherboard as a stepping-stone to the deployment of an information warfare tactic. Even though there is an FBI investigation going on about these microchips I am sure that there will not be any more talk about it for a long time. The FBI and the United States government usually keep secrets for a long while.

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Information Warfare: Russia’s social media war on America

Using social media is a great way to pass time. However, what you see on social media is not always, what it seems. There was a report that Russia expertly tailored messages to target about ten thousand twitter users in the defense department. Once the users clicked on the messages, they were brought to a Russian web site where malware was downloaded to their computers possibly compromising the defense department. The Russians have been spreading propaganda for years on social media. They see it as a platform for disabling the worldwide spread of democracy. The United States does not really try to spread propaganda on social media and because of that, the Russians have about ten years more advanced sophistication of spreading propaganda on social media.

Back in the 2016 election when you heard of the stories about Hillary Clinton deleting confidential emails, there might have been the possibility of Russia spreading this information around the United States. Supposedly, Putin of Russia had it out for Clinton saying that she tried to start a revolution in Russia sending signals for people to stand out and protest. Now I do not know if that was really the case and it sounds plausible, but that is a good enough reason to start a cyber war against the Hillary Clinton political party. There have also been accusations against the trump political party for colluding with Russia to leverage the vote in his favor. Personally, I like the Russians and do not see anything wrong with collaborating with Russia in any sort of endeavor. Maybe some of these accusations are more inflated with personal views than we would like to think.

Spreading propaganda through social media is a big strategy for countries that like to push their political views on other countries. Gaining the approval of the public is a big part of what makes a government sustainable in the world today. The use of bot-nets is a big strategy for governments that use information warfare because they can be relatively cheap and apply spam at an alarming rate. There are also bots on social media networks that can be used to argue with activists and collect opinionated data. In addition, these social media bots can help collect information on which people are easily persuaded to agree with the bots view agenda. When you see and ad on facebook that says, “Sponsored by”, the Russians buy those ads all the time. Information warfare is a constant turning machine affecting every aspect of our lives. You have to have a solid head on your shoulders to not become a tool in the dissemination of messages from an adversary.

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Information Warfare: Automation

Information warfare is used almost every day from attempts to disable a top military networks down to even the most unsuspected means of debating with someone on a social media post. I always wondered if artificial intelligence was being used on social media to rile things up amongst users. Apparently, many bots are designed to spread propaganda on social media sites. From climate change activists to the Russian conspiracy theorists there is a bot for everyone who aims to resort to social media to convey their views. Bots have been around for years and there is no end to them in sight. Anyone can create a bot these days with how technology has advanced.

How these propaganda bots work is that they scan social media for key words like “climate change” or “Russian”. After they have found any of those key words then they search a database for responses to the issue or view being stated by the poster. Once they have the reply they post it and sometimes they even go into an argument for days with a person who does not even suspect that they are arguing with a bot. Supposedly, these comments and debates are more effective than you might think because some people are hard-core debaters. The use of profanity and belittling of people breaks down their train of thought and is quite effective in spreading propaganda around social media outlets.

So beware of bots on social media outlets. Some may be actual people that you get into a debate with but there are also bots out there, I would say to mix things up. Using artificial intelligence and bots to spread propaganda has been around for years so keep your wits and be cautious when you head to the social media to convey your view onto other people. You may be criticized beyond recognition and you may be very angry about an argument, but hey, you should lighten up because it could just be a bot that has no feelings or views of its own and it just queries a database for replies to your argument whose only purpose is to get under your skin.

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