Cyberwarfare, Spying and All That Jazz: Please Take a Few Precautions

While the press is currently having a field day reporting that “gentlemen” actually spy on each other, it would be useful for readers of SFTT to take a few precautions to protect themselves in this era of unscrupulous hackers and BIG BROTHER.

cyber warfare

Short of going completely “off the grid” – i.e. no email, no social media accounts, no credit cards, no personal data stored online by ANY third party – it is virtually impossible to guarantee that your anonymity will withstand the efforts of a determined hacker or even a casual network intrusion.

Furthermore, even if you taken every step possible to insulate yourself from hacking, a massive cyberattack on the country’s infrastructure system (i.e. power grid, telecommunications, air traffic controller, etc.) could cause great personal and collective harm.   See more below on “Distributed Denial of Service” or DdoS.

Suggestions to Protect Yourself in the Information Age

As suggested above, there is little you can to do to fully protect yourself against determined “bad guys” or State intelligence operatives.   Nevertheless, you can take a few simple steps to help reduce your cyber-profile without compromising your lifestyle too much:

- Scrap your AOL and Yahoo email services for Google.  Regardless of who your service provider is, Google has far more FREE security surveillance features to protect your personal online accounts from hacking;

- Delete any unnecessary social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.);

- Change your password every six months or so and definitely use at least one symbol (?,$,!) and Capital Letter in your password  (1234 is not a password);

- Use Two-Step Security verification to reduce the chance of unauthorized changes to your account(s).

- Do not share your password(s) with others, including your family.  It is not a matter of trust, but your security procedures may be far better than those of your friends or family;

- If you are into chat, photo-sharing, etc. avoid using multiple platforms to simplify your life (for instance, use Google Chat rather than Facebook messaging or What’s App);

- ALWAYS update your accounts with the latest UPDATE from your provider, most updates contain very important security enhancements;

- Cancel as many credit cards and online accounts as conveniently possible;

- Regardless of its convenience, consider ending electronic banking and insist on paper statements;

- Can you live without a cell phone?

Sure, many of these suggestions can be a huge inconvenience, but are you willing to compromise your personal security to make life easier for others?

Distributed Denial of Service or “DdoS”

Last year, cyberattacks temporarily shut down Twitter, Netflix, PayPal and others may be just the beginning of disruptive communications warfare.

While these cyberattacks appear to have orchestrated by a rogue band of hackers who call themselves the “New World Hackers,” it portends an ominous future for cybersecurity.

The “attack” called distributed denial-of-service or Ddos causes tens of thousands of mobile devices to simultaneously query server databases that cannot handle the volume of requests and simply shutdown.  Read more by clicking the link below:

This cyberattack came on the heels of “leaked” emails from high-ranking members in the Democratic National Party by Wikileaks that may have been provided by Russian government intelligence sources.

Actually, recent information suggests that shared passwords could have been the original source of the DNC leaks according to Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller:

Imran Awan — the lead suspect in a criminal probe into breaches of House of Representatives information security systems — possessed the password to an iPad used by then-Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz when DNC emails were given to WikiLeaks, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence officials have long feared these attacks and have presumably instituted safeguards and countermeasures to prevent such occurrences.  

DoD Network, Systems and Data or DDNSD

In 2013, the Department of Defense established detailed guidelines to protect the country’s cyber networks.  A hyperlink to the recently updated unclassified version is shown below:

While our network security has improved dramatically since 9/11, hackers (state-sponsored and independent) continue to breach our security system with increasing regularity.  It is impossible to know how the “defection” of Edward Snowden compromised our security, but most security experts claim that the damage was considerable.  See below . . .

Also the recent “leak” of current CIA electronic surveillance methods certainly doesn’t engender much confidence that we can insulate ourselves from determined cyberattacks.  Question:  If this is the “intelligence information” that is currently publically available, then what should we think about more clandestine intelligent programs that may have already been hacked by hostile State intelligence services?

In Summary

Many years ago (2003-2004),  I attended a lecture on internet security by a security specialist who was then consulting with Homeland Security.  He showed a frightening real time analysis of hacking attempts against Windows-based peripherals, particularly printers.    If fact, I watched this internet security consultant break into the Club Membership database where the event was hosted in less than 30 seconds.

It seems that the New World Hackers were able to orchestrate their assault on vulnerable servers using cellphones and other internet-enabled peripherals.  If this is the case, virtually all systems are vulnerable.   Recent disclosures by Wikileaks on CIA surveillance tools clearly suggest that this is already happening.  

As Hillary Clinton’s “private server” and the DNC hack have shown, we don’t take security-measures seriously.  Unless we wise up, more pain and suffering will be coming shortly.

While you may not be able to control the full spectrum of an electronic invasion of our privacy, do take a few of the steps recommended above to better safeguard your well being.  Lowering your cyber-profile is a good thing!

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