Iran Leaders Vow Revenge for Death of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani

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Trump Starts World War 3?

Cristal M Clark 

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If you missed what went down yesterday here is a recap;  Yesterday President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. drone strike that killed Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who the United States regarded as a war criminal responsible for hundreds of American deaths. 

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Both Republicans and Democrats agree that Soleimani is an enemy of the US, however the move left congress deeply divided as well as the vast majority of US citizens. 

And as for Iran well, the leaders have vowed revenge leaving  cybersecurity and defense experts bracing for an Iranian cyber-offensive that could target online infrastructure across the US military and the private sector, Iran has a vast and dangerous cyber army that it’s been building for years. 

Sam Curry, the chief security officer at Cybereason: “Iran is an intelligent cyber opponent with an army of people testing our systems every minute of every day. It is the ultimate game of cat and mouse.”

Although the US has also built up it’s cybersecurity and defenses, it is not where near what other countries have done by a long shot, meaning that Iran will most likely target our infrastructure which has left industry experts and insiders extremely worried because the US has only recently learned about how the Iranian cyber groups truly operate and that has left the US Government in a bit of a panic because as of this very moment, in terms of cyberwarfare Iran has the upper hand.   

Air Force Gen. William Shelton predicted in 2013; “They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with the potential capabilities that they will develop over the years and the potential threat that will represent to the United States.”

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Republicans celebrated what they described as Trump’s decisive action, Democrats criticized the president’s order to act unilaterally while expressing grave concern that this action would move the United States closer to an in­trac­table war with Iran.

Sen. Chris Murphy D-Conn had this to say; “No matter how good it may feel that Qasem Soleimani is no longer alive, he likely will end up being more dangerous to the United States, our troops, and our allies, as a martyr than as a living, breathing military adversary.” And living on as a martyr is the magic word. 

Sen. Murphy didn’t stop at that, he also included; “There will be reprisals, and Iran will likely target American troops and even our own political and military leaders. This is why the United States does not assassinate leaders of foreign nations, in the end such action risks getting more, not less, Americans killed in the long run.” He couldn’t be more spot on. 

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez; 

“The question that has to be answered is what brought us to this moment. what’s the intelligence behind that? And what comes now?”

He went on to say;

”I fear that this administration used tactics but has no strategy in the long term … what we can’t accept is a march to an unauthorized war.”

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All of that speculation aside, no one is quite sure what, how, or when Iran intends on striking back, the one thing we all know is that they will in fact attempt to extract revenge, the bigger question however is will that truly bring us closer to another war? Was it not Trump and his followers who once accused President Obama of attempting to start a war so that he would be able to remain in office?

Cristal M Clark

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Flame Malware – I’m Back

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Stuxnet, Flame Malware Making a Comeback

Cristal M Clark

Flame malware, also known as Flamer, sKyWIper, and Skywiper, is modular computer malware that attacked computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. The program was used for targeted cyber espionage in Middle Eastern countries. It was once what researchers referred to as a sophisticated little gem of malware, created as nation-state spy tools, once outed by Kaspersky Labs, it was quickly and quietly shuttered and forgotten about, until now.

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It is believed to have been created by Israel, Flame was the first modular spy platform discovered in the wild, it came with multiple plug-ins that could be swapped out according to whatever tools were needed for each victim.

It had a lot of capability that was unique at the time it was discovered, and also used a highly sophisticated technique for spreading.

The attackers tricked Microsoft into issuing them a legitimate Microsoft certificate, which they then used to sign their malicious files. Then they subverted the trusted Windows Update mechanism, through which Microsoft distributes patches and software upgrades to customers, to deliver those malicious files to targeted victims instead, doing so in a way that made it look like they came from Microsoft’s server.

The attackers also managed a fleet of 80 command-and-control domains to communicate with infected machines then they faked Flame’s death back in May 2012, pushing out a kill module to infected machines and closing shop on the command-and-control servers.

Most researchers thought that the creators in a panic just shut things down but are not realizing that it may never have been truly shut down, just ehhh more or less running in the background unbeknownst to virtually everyone in the security world.

The original Flame attacked systems in Iran as well as other parts of the Middle East it would do things such as turn on the internal microphone of an infected machine to record conversations the user conducted near the computer or over Skype or, using the infected computer’s Bluetooth functionality, scan for other Bluetooth-enabled devices in the vicinity, such as a mobile phone, and siphon the contacts folder from it.

Great little piece of spyware honestly.

The attackers appear to have re-tooled their little spy kit and added strong encryption to make it harder to detect and reverse engineer according to researchers at Alphabet’s Chronicle Security labs who discovered that a new version of Flame appeared in 2014 (the original was back in 2012), and likely remained active until 2016 and beyond, giving them just enough time to steal and deploy whatever they would like.

Juan-Andres Guerrero-Saade, one of the Chronicle security researchers who made the discovery; “Nobody ever expected to see Flame again. We figured it was too old and expensive for the attackers to waste time retooling rather than just build a whole new platform.”

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Juan-Andres did not just stop with that either, he went on to explain that he and his team also found evidence that Stuxnet, you know the virus/worm created by the US and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program in 2007, but ended up infecting virtually every PC in the US as well as globaly, has connections to another malware family known as Flowershop.

Oh Flowershop, Flowershop was operating as early as 2002, several years before Stuxnet was developed, and it appears that some of Flowershop’s code made it into a Stuxnet component, which if true means that a fourth team or group of individuals were part of America’s first Cyberwar campaign, the development of Stuxnet. What’s more is that researchers have in fact, previously found connections between Stuxnet and Flame and between Stuxnet and two other malware families known as Duqu and the Equation Group, the latter a group of tools attributed to the NSA.

The new discovery has baffled researchers who still do not have a full understanding into the full capabilities of Stuxnet and Flame, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what the creators of Flame might be up to these days, one thing is for certain, they do not plan on stopping anytime soon.

Cristal M Clark

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Microsoft reaffirms its Commitment to the Pentagon

The International Consumer Electronics Show Highlights Latest Gadgets

$480 Million Hard to Walk Away From

Cristal M Clark

In a world where most big tech companies turn down lucrative government contracts, Microsoft is leaping at the opportunity and has seemingly doubled down on its commitment to the Pentagon. That commitment just so happens to be a $480 million contract to build augmented reality technology for the United States Army.

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That commitment has not gone over well with a group of employees at Microsoft who have urged the companies leaders to back out of the $480 million dollar contract. In an open letter to chief executive Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith, employees said the effort amounts to “weapons development” and they “refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression.”

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Right, okay that is fair, do they need the jobs that they currently hold or…and technically, according to the contract, Microsoft would not be developing any weapon software or weapon technology, technically, what the contract is being used for is to aid our soldiers, not to kill but to survive. I am not sure about anyone else, but I prefer to see our soldiers come home up right and alive as opposed to in a flag draped casket. Sometimes the wars we are forced to fight are for a bigger humanitarian effort other than our individual personal beliefs.  

Despite a growing tension between tech companies and the national security sector here in the US Microsoft is offering some help at least.

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The realities are that we are somewhat behind other foreign entities with regards to augmented reality technology, cyberweapons not to mention that some other countries are in fact, utilizing cybercriminals in addition to hired employees or militaries to create cyberwarfare technology and that includes augmented reality.

It is no secret that here in the United States, the Pentagon is several steps behind other countries and they face a really big problem in that they cannot seem to recruit anyone away from big tech companies to go to work for them, a problem that the Pentagon is not yet ready to face the realities of. So they have a limited number of options, hire criminals or beg, grovel and shell out major bank to get a tech company to help.

The risk to that is that they lose some semblance of control by outsourcing, one traitor on the inside can cause major issues long before they are caught doing so. The other risk is that technology is bought and sold for the right money, certain code or malware can be built into it, backdoors, that includes unfortunately technology that is  built exclusively for the pentagon.

The other issue is that Microsoft will seems to like to develop tech for the highest bidder, I believe the name of the game in terms of war or not is that you really want to be one step ahead of everyone else in the pack, hence does the Pentagon not want better toys than what Microsoft might also be selling to others?  Remember, outsourcing means one loses some of the control over what toys are sold and to whom.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told CNN last Monday that the company will in fact not,  “withhold technology” from democratic governments. Then, later in the day Microsoft debuted the HoloLens 2, the latest version of the company’s augmented reality headset, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Under the contract, Microsoft will provide up to 100,000 of its HoloLens headsets to the Army for use in military training and combat operations. The headsets would be outfitted with artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities which would provide troops with “increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness.” By overlaying soldiers’ field of vision with an assortment of environmental data, the tech would help them more easily spot and engage with potential enemies. The headset would also merge “live and virtual environments” to allow soldiers on the ground to “train as they fight.”

Microsoft has repeatedly vowed to create technology for the military but the question remains for which military?

All of them or just that of the United States?

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In October, Google took itself out of the running for the JEDI cloud contract, citing ethical issues and concerns in that it could not or would not meet the department’s security requirements. Then over the summer, the company also pulled out of a controversial military artificial intelligence program called Project Maven after employees raised concerns about the project’s lethal intentions.

Microsoft employees have voiced their opposition to both the JEDI program and a separate effort to provide cloud services for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the last year if not longer.

While others in the tech sector are distancing themselves from federal defense and national security efforts which is not good, Microsoft does not necessarily create the most superior tech in the field and by sticking with one player, it really does limit our militaries options.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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Governments Can Now Hack, Pretty Much Everything

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Hacking, iPhones, Breaking WIFI Security & Eavesdropping

By: Cristal M Clark

Spy technology entrepreneurs have found a goldmine of opportunity, they are offering their services up to Governments for a fee, of course.

Verint which is a billion-dollar company offers up global interception and surveillance.

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The rather infamous NSO Group whose founders by the way are from Israel, a nation I lecture a lot about, quiet, low key but tech wise, front runners.  Now they have been renamed Q Cyber Technologies, sells hacking tools to governments on every continent with little apparent oversight and targets ranging from drug cartels and terrorists to journalists and human rights activists.

While others Hack into iPhones, break WIFI security, and even do a little eavesdropping on conversations and data that is chosen by governments willing to pay a premium for access to everything connected to the internet.

You might be wondering where in the hell this could be legal right?

As it turns out, the Middle East is the perfect spot for the job at hand because the The Middle East, in case you did not know actually does have connections to well, pretty much everywhere.

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To give you an idea with regards to just how lucrative cyber spying is:

The hacking industry has literally exploded in recent years and continues to do so, growing by leaps and bounds. The last few years have been good for the “interception” if you will, industry, the latest news of cyber warfare has drastically raised awareness, which is great right? But, it by default acts an advertisement.  

That industry by the how is raking in over $3 billion a year if not every 6 months.. Now who has that sort of funding to spend?

 

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Thursday, NSO Group was sold for $1 billion from the American private equity firm Francisco Partners,  the company’s founders Shalev Hulio and Omri Lavie who originally owned it (it’s been sold before), along with European private equity firm Novalpina Capital.

The new deal is being compared to the Star Alliance, which was a partnership between 27 airline companies which allowed each company to have global reach through the alliance (sort of like a cartel), according to Tal Dilian, who just so happens to be one of the founding members of the Intellexa alliance.

Most of these guys are from Israel, Google it, I’ve been sounding the alarm on this since 2014.

Intellexa hopes to bring offerings that will provide the world’s governments increased ability to target anyone that they so choose.

Intellexa’s marketing says that is has the  ability to intercept 2G, 3G, 4G and wifi communications. The companies within the alliance provide both remote stationery and close-proximity mobile systems ranging from vehicles to backpacks or specially equipped drones and helicopters.

Yes, well will those drones as they spy on me be bringing me a beloved quad shot americano?

“Intellexa will provide law enforcement and intelligence agencies with an end-to-end intelligence solution, including a premium field intelligence collection platform as well as robust remote collection and analysis systems.”

the Intellexa partnership by the way is made up of  5 non-public partners and Nexa Technologies, WiSpear, and Cytrox.

WiSpear is and old one but a good one, its  a wifi interception firm founded by Dilian who previously worked on Circles, (hope you are keeping up here, they are all the same firms and people, they just sleep in the same beds and marry a new entity every now and again, after a divorce from the last), a telecom-interception firm that was acquired by NSO Group. WiSpear recently acquired Cytrox, a European firm specializing in developing exploits that can break into devices used by a target.

The alliance also includes Nexa Technologies, a French firm previously known as Amesys.

Intellexa will be first announced at IDEX, a “military industry” conference in Abu Dhabi an event which is well known for, well buying and selling “cutting-edge” hacking tools. Of course the Persian Gulf just so happens to be the world’s hotbed for the hacking market.

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Now, some might be upset that a government entity might be spying on them, I would be more concerned over the fact that these professional spy technology firms really do put users at risk, they lack any and all global oversight and they usually sell their malware to rulers of nations that are less than on the up and up and dictators of same.

But even more scary is that countries and other more reputable governments are starting to stop and take a hard look at these spy tech groups that operate in some pretty questionable ways and they are considering utilizing their services.

Wars are moving off of the streets, so Donald Trump can argue his wall appropriations all day to absolutely no avail. The very second you stop your focus on the real issue at hand is the very second you will lose.

And that, the US is already doing, quite well actually, by declaring a National Emergency for a wall, well and I am simply glancing in the direction of Robert Mueller, your focusing on some issues that are more in the past when you should have been focusing on issues more forward from the election.

The US is weak in terms of cyberwarfare by design, not by accident. It’s all in black and white, in the news, social media, if anyone had bothered themselves with paying attention after all, it subtly and gently slipped right past everyone.

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I only play one game, Chess. 

Like a game of Chess, this is the one war we cannot afford to lose.

Cristal M Clark

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North Korea Launched WannaCry Ransomeware?

 

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Ransomeware – Cyberwarfare

According to newly released intel by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre it was discovered that recent cyber attacks, namely WannaCry was tied to the North Korean-affiliated hacking team Lazarus Group.

This is the team by the way that launched huge cyber attacks on Sony Pictures as revenge over the movie The Interview.

What’s more is that the President of Microsoft has confirmed to the media that the government of North Korea was responsible for the WannaCry attack.

Oddly, no one seems shocked by this news but they should be because North Korea has also been blamed rather recently for attempting to launch a cyber attack on power grids here in the US.

 

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I believe that I have mentioned this before, North Korea has been pretty quiet, sitting in the corner and building its army pretty relentlessly for quite a few years here and they are about to get a new friend in Iran if Trump continues on his ill advised back out of the Iran Nuclear deal.

 

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We can’t forget Russia either, Putin does get around and he tends to play all of the sides that he can. Russia bed’s with the best possible partner that could be of a benefit to Russia.

So Pyongyang was behind the WannaCry hack, that utilized cyber weapons that were in fact stolen from the National Security Agency here in the US and our government is still going on and on about Russian sponsored fake news, ads, social media accounts.

Forgive me here but isn’t that pretty much child’s play compared to the likes of WannaCry, nuclear war and North Korea showing the world just how powerful they really are?

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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Global ransomware epidemics – Are Here to Stay

Computer security and hacking concept. Ransomware virus has encrypted data in laptop. Hacker is offering key to unlock encrypted data for money.

WannaCry, Petya, GoldenEye – With More to Follow Any Day Now

Someone mentioned to me today that a news outlet published an article today or yesterday that suggested that the global ransomware epidemic was pretty much here to stay.

I almost spit out my coffee laughing because many security experts, writers and other major news outlets, myself included, have been warning the world about this issue for well over a year now.

News Flash: This is Not Surprising, it’s hardly even new news these days.

Ransomware has been around for years however it was used to only target individual networks, such as a single business, hospital or person.

After the infamous Shadow Brokers hacker group leaked the National Security Agency exploits back in April, cyber-criminals were able to learn about a more dangerous weapon.

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The kind that can strike on a global level.

But is that really all that true? I mean, I love poking fun at the NSA for losing the intel in the first place but…

Anytime you see that someone, anyone is capable of widespread hacking, you should automatically assume they or another someone or group is capable or nearly capable of global hacking, ransomware, the ability to steal data on a global level and gain access to major networks including those that are tasked with running things like banking systems, power grids and governments just to name a few.

It is not like these guys are stupid, we make the mistake of assuming that no one else in the entire world other than the NSA or any government for that matter is capable of and working on developing cyber weapons like WannaCry, Petya or GoldenEye.

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That is so far from the truth it is not even remotely funny. Just because a cyber-criminal hasn’t used a cyber weapon such as this before does not necessarily mean they haven’t developed it or are not working on it.

These guys could have very well been waiting for some type of leak, before moving forward with unleashing the weapon that they created so that they could tweak for instance the NSA’s weapon so that it would be more difficult to trace back to the point of origin.

Usually eventually one can figure out who created what cyber weapon by pouring through the code after all, so in an attempt to disguise that, so if it were me, I would use someone else’s cyber-weapon with that someone else’s code and tweak it just slightly enough to change it without giving away from what country I am in, or what group I am part of and so on.

The point is, without a doubt, cyber-criminals were already moving in this direction believe it or not. Criminals on any level who do not want to become upstanding citizens spend a good majority of their time thinking of new and improved ways around the laws, and that includes new and improved ways of breaking the law, ways that are less detectable by law enforcement.  

Those in the business of committing cyber-crimes are no different than any other type of criminal in that respect.

So no, global epidemics of ransomware being unleashed is not going anywhere soon, new and improved weapons are already being made and developed so as to unleash.

We’ll all have to find better security measures, but a word of caution, much like the flu virus every year, the one we get flu shots for,  we will not truly know how to protect ourselves or whether or not our newest security measures will actually work, until we know what kind of virus we are facing as each new attack is released.

Last but not lease, some of these attacks may also be disguised as mere ransomware, they could actually end up being something much worse that we have yet to learn about.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

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