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Confessions of a Cyber Warrior

Soulskill posted 1 year,22 days | from the he-hacked-the-last-donut dept.

Government 213

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Roger Grimes interviews a longtime friend and cyber warrior under contract with the U.S. government, offering a fascinating glimpse of the front lines in the ever-escalating and completely clandestine cyber war. From the interview: 'They didn't seem to care that I had hacked our own government years ago or that I smoked pot. I wasn't sure I was going to take the job, but then they showed me the work environment and introduced me to a few future co-workers. I was impressed. ... We have tens of thousands of ready-to-use bugs in single applications, single operating systems. ... It's all zero-days. Literally, if you can name the software or the controller, we have ways to exploit it. There is no software that isn't easily crackable. In the last few years, every publicly known and patched bug makes almost no impact on us. They aren't scratching the surface.'"

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saber rallying (5, Insightful)

ThorGod (456163) | 1 year,22 days | (#44229987)

Does this sound like boasting to anyone else? It's like a more modern version of having the press watch an explosion of their latest bomb.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230115)

So nice that Junis [slashdot.org] found a job where he can put the '133t h4xx0r1n9 skills he learned on the C= 64 to use for society's benefit.

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230125)

Indeed. It's the same routine we've been using for decades. Sad and a little pathetic really.

Re:saber rallying (5, Insightful)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230153)

Makes sense to me. Software/hardware vulnerabilities are worthless once patched. If this group is tasked with having a way into any system, their main focus is going to be to not-only find exploits, but also to protect those exploits for future use. I have no doubt that such a group exists, and that their collection of exploits is extensive.

Hopefully those exploits are used against our enemies and not against us, but that's probably just a silly hope.

Re:saber rallying (2)

stanlyb (1839382) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230241)

What enemy? China? Don't make me laugh.

Re:saber rallying (5, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230421)

Hopefully those exploits are used against our enemies and not against us, but that's probably just a silly hope.

What enemy? China? Don't make me laugh.

Nah; anyone who has been following security-related news stories for at least a few years understands that the primary enemy of any government is its own citizens. They're nearby, where they can vote against you, take you to court, or shoot at you. None of these threats are easily available to people in other countries.

Just dig into the histories of the related US agencies (e.g., HUAC or the FBI or even the CIA) in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. How many external "enemies" -- or domestic "subversives" -- did they ever catch and prosecute? Pretty close to none at all. How many citizens did they attack and serious injure (either their reputation, finances, or physical well-being)? Lots and lots of them.

This story is only news to someone who isn't familiar with the long, documented history of such activities. Fact is, your government considers you more of a threat than pretty much anyone outside its borders. This is especially true if you're involved in any activity that threatens the income (especially under-the-counter income) of anyone in your government.

Re:saber rallying (2)

Garridan (597129) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230615)

The majority of theft in grocery stores is committed by employees, after all.

Re:saber rallying (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230261)

I have no doubt that such a group exists, and that their collection of exploits is extensive.

Oh yeah, and they make big money too [forbes.com] .

Re:saber rallying (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230273)

If it's used against "us" then the likelihood of it being detected and disclosed is too high. They can't utilize these exploits carte blanche, but would have to save them only for specific targets, and still they face the risk of compromising an exploit every time it's used. Any evidence collected in this manner is not usable in court either, so it's really only useful for the spy game against high value foreign targets.

Re:saber rallying (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230661)

At this level yes, but what if it was given to the already semi-corrupt PD?

And what about the NSA snopping? Nobody detected that, not much you can do when you're tapped at the exchange either (Britian's case) in terms of detecting it, short of walking your wire to the exchange and ensuring its plugged in somewhere safe.

You're right about the court thing.... to date... if you know what I mean.

I'm sure they can figure out how to put a gag order on an exploit's use as well, while not making it obscure forever, it would certainly extend the exploit's life.

It probably comes down to cost, they have a limited budget and raising taxes is a sensitive issue, they simply don't have the resources and besides the NSA is already on it.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230327)

My concern would be what employees do with those exploits in their free time. If they have access to such an extensive database, they'd have a formidable tool to use against anyone they had personal grievances with. Obviously they could do malicious things on their own, but if you have to sit and search and for an exploit on your own, that is time consuming in itself, not to mention then deploying an attack using that exploit. If you've already got a wide set of unpatched exploits at hand, you could really have a field day.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230681)

RTFA, they can't bring electronic devices in or out, so they can't just copy the DB and go home. They may be able to memorize an exploit or two, but that comes with the job and security clearance.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230367)

But... we are the enemy.

Re:saber rallying (1)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230447)

Is this a poorly worded Pogo reference?

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230587)

But... we are the enemy.

By "we" I presume you mean "The People" a separate and distinct class from "The Government". If so, you are quite right that "The People" are the enemy of the State.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230565)

I disagree most real world exploits are configuration specific and further behind hardened network defenses. Our code is shit, but our router and switch are solid. I somehow doubt that the government has secret cisco buffer overflows that were over looked by millions of security researchers since the beginning of computing.

Spearfishing? Definitely
Obscure industrial systems? Yep (see DES key article on /)
Corporate / Government networks? Nah, maybe some but not most.

Systems not directly connected to the internet? Definitely not
Adobe Flash and the Java plugin? Easily (don't get why though)
Encryption? They face the same exact challenges, super computers aren't a catch all here.

Now to just get charlie to open your random link with exploit code from his outlook. (see #1)

Re:saber rallying (2)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230705)

I somehow doubt that the government has secret cisco buffer overflows

I'm sure someone at Cisco knows all about them.

Re:saber rallying (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230579)

This is about population control, not hypotetical enemies. You critizice something the government or any of their protegees do, then you are a potential threat, no matter how fair or obvious is your critic or complaint. And anything they collect could be used to silence you.

In the plus side, is a good way to make everyone agree.

Re:saber rallying (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230289)

Does this sound like boasting to anyone else? It's like a more modern version of having the press watch an explosion of their latest bomb.

It sounds like obscurity really is the only security.

Re:saber rallying (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230333)

Sounds like an invitation for a drone strike. Of course it will be a US drone, probably one operated by a police department or other less tech savvy agency. Someone on the other side of the cyber-war will take control and crash it into his house.

Re:saber rallying (2, Informative)

Anachragnome (1008495) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230405)

"Does this sound like boasting to anyone else?..."

Boasting or not, I think everyone that speaks out about pervasive surveillance techniques should be paid attention. Whether or not their information is accurate, relevant or factual should be decided by ourselves. The NSA has shown us that they cannot be trusted to do anything but lie. If we are to get any accurate information, we have to start taking all perspectives into account, even those of the NSA shills, as they provide contrast.

And, if anyone is interested, "ThorGod" is an account I suspect of being associated with "Cold Fjord". He seems to like using Northern European references in his user names--there are others following the pattern, but I suspect those accounts are being used to "bank" moderation points. Look at my previous posts if you don't know what I am referring to.

And, again, please read the document linked in my signature--this is information that every single poster here on Slashdot needs to at least be aware of.

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230409)

I call BS on that guy. He claims there are 5000 people working there. At $100k/year salaries (and it's probably more), that puts this program up to at least $1 billion dollars per year for payroll and equipment. I would assume there is some accounting for that kind of spending.

Re:saber rallying (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230453)

I call BS on that guy. He claims there are 5000 people working there. At $100k/year salaries (and it's probably more), that puts this program up to at least $1 billion dollars per year for payroll and equipment. I would assume there is some accounting for that kind of spending.

The US spends upwards of $500B on "Defense" each year... Do you really think a missing $1B would get noticed here and there?

Re:saber rallying (2)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230687)

Seems consistent with this story [forbes.com] . And that is just the tip of the iceberg [salon.com] . The only thing that you are wrong is assuming accounting for what government "invest" in cyberwar.

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230451)

We meet again, autocorrect. That's sabre RATTLING you muppet.

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230519)

From the summary, "They didn't seem to care that I had hacked our own government years ago or that I smoked pot". I call BS on any notion that the federal government intelligence agencies would hire anyone with a background rife with illegal activity. For every Kevin Mitnick, a convicted person now with a felony record, hired there are thousands of applicants rejected because of a small infraction or deviant behavior, including a preference not to socialize outside of the workplace.

Re:saber rallying (1)

znrt (2424692) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230559)

Does this sound like boasting to anyone else? It's like a more modern version of having the press watch an explosion of their latest bomb.

ditto. it immediately reminded me to that hacker the company I work for recently hired. the guy had all the references: an obscure background in some sort of underground scene, ex member of group with some defacements to brag about, profuse media coverage (even a full page article plus interview in national leading press), clear asperger profile ... well, he didn't even pass the test period (which is pretty rare in that company).

those who have bothered to read the article after having seen the headline have no clue whatsoever. that's no disgrace, you can't possibly know about everything in this life, let alone about such specialized topics. however, those ho have read the article and still believe it makes any sense, they are just part of the problem. relax, and enjoy the show!

Re:saber rallying (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230605)

Rattling you dumb F###

Re:saber rallying (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230613)

Reeks of disinfo.

Why didn't hippy-hacker leak exploits at the time?

Poor Infoworld.... (2)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44229993)

Poor Infoworld.... getting left behind in the Snowdon fiasco so has to do a bit of "Me Me Me.. We're still relevant" crap

Literally, if you can name the software or the controller, we have ways to exploit it.

Pacman?? Didnt think so.

Re:Poor Infoworld.... (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230257)

My unnetworked tv remote from 1980.

Re:Poor Infoworld.... (4, Funny)

Synerg1y (2169962) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230703)

Exploit = pipe wrench.

Coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230009)

Boring to test open source. Exciting to make another never-used item at git or sourceforge.

Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230011)

And 95% are in acrobat or flash.

Re:Adobe (2)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230061)

Oh please. At least half of them are in Java!

Re:Adobe (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230429)

Oh please. At least NaN of them are in IE!

first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230025)

first is 20% cooler

NSA? (0)

schneidafunk (795759) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230027)

I get the feeling he works for a different part of the military based on his answers about Snowden.

Re:NSA? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230103)

NSA != military

Re:NSA? (2)

damiangerous (218679) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230181)

The NSA is under the Department of Defense, which makes it close enough.

Re:NSA? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230251)

The NSA is under the Department of Defense, which makes it close enough.

These days, it seems more and more like DoD doesn't consider itself part of the military, either...

Re:NSA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230221)

Oh jeez, of course it's military:
From the NSA's and Director of NSA wikipedia pages:

The National Security Agency (NSA) is the central producer and manager of signals intelligence for the United States, operating under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense.

The Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA) is the highest-ranking official in the National Security Agency, which is a Defense Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense. The Director of the NSA also concurrently serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and as Commander of U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). As DIRNSA/CHCSS the officeholder reports through the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and as CDRUSCYBERCOM through the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, to the Secretary of Defense.

Re:NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230301)

Being under the DoD does not make them military. The NSA is civilian and there are other civilian departments under the DoD as well.

Re:NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230411)

Mercenaries are employed by the DoD and yet still civilians and also military. Welcome to 2013 where black and white are just shades of grey.

Re:NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230635)

Oh ffs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Keith_B._Alexander_official_portrait.jpg

This guy look like a civilian to you?

plus

http://odam.defense.gov/omp/Functions/Organizational_Portfolios/Organization_and_Functions_Guidebook.html

True fiction? (2)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230029)

I basically believe the information presented here, but the source could be anyone. It could be a complete work of fiction, and even if that is the case, it may still all be accurate. If someone asked me to come up with a laundry list of things that in all likelihood the feds have, I'd have easily come up with everything listed here.

niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230033)

Reverse engineers are niggers. Make something useful. Drink your fucken ovaltine.

God says...
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marking religiously contributing wronging potent heat
extollers whitherto preaching escaped succeeded righteousness
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pitiest subvertings deceitful XII boundless glories summer
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International Nebridius' Deceased bears pricks sprang
duty workmanship nourished mysterious empty million poetic
marrow Kenya well_golly mentally altered MADE ill mostly
unwilling Uganda Commandment scum torpor fumed whirling
Simplicianus gladdens rightful talents urge -nor burthen
absurd honouring bosom consulting discerneth lot loosen
dreaded resend holies healed highest curb plunging crept
flee lashest Already accusing glories Eternity finds Eastern
now stanza indued hesitation conform necessities hungering
injures personages Nicaragua you_think_you_could_do_better
intercepting Identification *WANT* reinvolved settle contradict
defiled whereby Your doubled herself Italian syllables
darkness spectators indicate surprise_surprise orbs bulk
promises Etexts consciousness killed briars scoffed knee
scorned constitute disprove rudiments thick perhaps sun's
arrange contests science syllables now officers heresies
external soberly martyrs Uruguay ninety-nine reside

I agree (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230749)

Why are these niggers always trying to steal ideas instead of making them? The cyber hacker definitely sounds niggerish

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230789)

Yes. Agreed. Computer security is eating itself.

I have to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230041)

...If they have access to such awesome vulnerability detection software, why don't they run it on all the government's servers and applications?
Sounds like shit.

Re:I have to ask... (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230141)

first the knowledge of the bugs is classified. better to know something that the enemy doesn't
and most of the government's data isn't classified so its not that big a deal

Re:I have to ask... (2)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230307)

...If they have access to such awesome vulnerability detection software, why don't they run it on all the government's servers and applications?
Sounds like shit.

because they WANT the chinese to have blueprints to their billion dollar jets. you know, that's only way to bankrupt them. also, why don't they hack iran's banking that provides funding for their nuclear program?

Rings of bullshit. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230073)

If a hacker could hack into a megabank, airline, hotel chain, etc, how could you possibly pay them enough to ensure that not one of them makes a nice life for themselves?

Re:Rings of bullshit. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230097)

Yup, plus why would the government not patch these exploits on their own machines?

This is BS.

Re:Rings of bullshit. (2)

jeffasselin (566598) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230321)

You talk as if the "government" was a monolithic entity. Its left hand very often doesn't even know its right hand even EXISTS, much less care what it does. Even worse, it may very well be that they don't want other government employees to patch those systems so they can spy on them, too!

Re:Rings of bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230197)

Come on. Even if we assume a theoretical bit-flip-hack-from-god bank hack it's still going to be noticed. As for the rest, you imagine someone'd just hack everything all the time when they need to buy groceries?

Re:Rings of bullshit. (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230277)

If a hacker could hack into a megabank, airline, hotel chain, etc, how could you possibly pay them enough to ensure that not one of them makes a nice life for themselves?

well... by keeping them in a surveillance hell I suppose. he could still do it but he couldn't use any of it.

but the article smells like bullshit. tens of thousands of exploits ready to go to any controller(I suppose that means industrial controllers and such, fucking vcr's etc) and cracking any sw ever anywhere. fuck, there's some sw's that don't have enough of an attack vector at all. practically the only way it could be remotely true would be if they counted exploits they didn't even try and they counted platform exploits as exploits for sw on the platform(so, say java applet sandboxing has a hole in it = thousand exploits even if they're all the same). he's even claiming that no patched exploit used by malware authors affected their exploits in any way.

of course, it's infoworld - the bullshit heaven. the weakest defence the magazine had was the journalist. the fucking article starts with 15 year old as head of IT, then 16-17 year old having 100k worth of equipment for "hacking the airwaves" and just leaving it in a shed, it then downgrades to "I was writing buffer overflows and doing fuzzing" and watercooled computers in trucks.

Mr Grimes, go fuck yourself. either the facts are fabricated or the guy outed himself by the few details(15y head of it at federal hospital, spent time abroad with his mom) and the rest are just.. bullshit you could have made up. so where the fuck is the story?

Re:Rings of bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230493)

I'll tell you why:

I actually know the guy he interviewed. He's one hell of a coder, believe me. But invariably, he'll put a decimal point in the wrong place
or something. Shit. He always does that. He always messes up some mundane detail.

Re:Rings of bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230627)

PC LOAD LETTER

what the FUCK does that mean?!!

Re:Rings of bullshit. (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230755)

They are at the bottom of the chain of watchers, so are watched too. But they know that if they want to take advantage of this and gets noticed, well, they should fly to Taiwan, and then get luckier than Snowden, that at least wasn't a criminal like them. Of course, the higher levels of the chain are unwatched, but they win enough in a way or another.

Interesting implied threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230093)

This corporate shill states: "There's no way what we do will be shut down. First, I don't intentionally do anything that involves spying on domestic communications. I don't think anyone in my company does that, although I don't know for sure. Second, it would be very dangerous to stop what we do. We are the new army. You may not like what the army does, but you still want an army."

The US is outsourcing its sovereignty to corporations who have no allegiance to anything other than profit. Don't get in the way of those profits - or else!

Re:Interesting implied threat (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230821)

And if they figure a more or less safe way to make even more profit with the information they are gathering, they will, no matter how much people, companies gets hurt by that.

fud (2)

Dishwasha (125561) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230119)

In the last few years, every publicly known and patched bug makes almost no impact on us. They aren't scratching the surface.'

For some reason I doubt that private government workers, let alone government contractors, have discovered (let alone classified and organized) more bugs than the armies of security researchers out there to qualify as "barely scratching the surface". More likely the government is paying private security researchers for bugs and the promise of non-disclosure. Even then with how altruistic many researchers are, it's likely that kind of exchange would be exposed.

Re:fud (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230145)

Or they would take the money and disclose the vulnerability. Enforcing an NDA in this case would give away that these exchanges are on going.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230229)

You have no idea the scale of this operation. They are buying the exploits and bugs by the 100's daily. There is soo many "security" research companies that only do this. They exploit and sell it to the government.

Re:fud (2)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230417)

You have no idea the scale of this operation. They are buying the exploits and bugs by the 100's daily. There is soo many "security" research companies that only do this. They exploit and sell it to the government.

you got it wrong. there's hundreds of people who will privately imply that they do that - but they do it(implying) only to sell security services to their clients.

stuxnet as an example, could have used a few better exploits.

Re:fud (2)

dmt0 (1295725) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230343)

The whole article is fake. Trying to clean up the mess after Snowden scandal, trying to justify the existence of the whole apparatus...

Re:fud (1)

jose loewenherz (1196699) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230571)

Agree with you. This is just Damage Control.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230351)

Or have Microsoft/Apple leave some bound checks unchecked on purpose, giving them the capability of sneaking in through common libraries or the OS itself (I'm sure there are ways to parse source code to pickup the most likely places to sneak in; and if you have access to say entire Windows source code, you can get into anything that runs under Windows).

For example, a source leak a decade ago (was it that long?) found that you can run code cleverly embedded in JPEG files---any program in Windows using those libraries to load jpeg files would be exploitable (e.g. jpegs from the web can run code on your computer!). That was just one file type. How about obscure bugs in MS Office? Folks who know where to look, and access to source code, will find a dozen such exploits every hour.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230357)

In 2004, djb (Daniel Bernstein) gave his students the homework assignment to find 10 security holes each in existing software. The class of 16 students ended up finding 91 holes. It's entirely possible that a large organization could find many more.

However, presumably some software is more secure than other software. It's entirely believable that the government could find enough security holes in Internet Explorer that any patches are barely scratching the surface, but not that they could do the same for wget.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230387)

There are so many bugs out there in production code I am not surprised at all.

Just look at the code and you will find lots of holes.

What worries me is that so many bugs aren't properly recognized as what they are. So if you don't see the bug there seems to be no bug.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230485)

Oh, I like those container formats with nested data, executables most people don't understand.

Re:fud (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230395)

In the last few years, every publicly known and patched bug makes almost no impact on us. They aren't scratching the surface.'

For some reason I doubt that private government workers, let alone government contractors, have discovered (let alone classified and organized) more bugs than the armies of security researchers out there to qualify as "barely scratching the surface". More likely the government is paying private security researchers for bugs and the promise of non-disclosure. Even then with how altruistic many researchers are, it's likely that kind of exchange would be exposed.

it's likely they're paying for some bugs - but can't even verify if they work or under what circumstances. I seriously doubt that the fabricated person and his five thousand peers have anything to do with it though.

Re:fud (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230671)

If the number of all bugs is far larger than the number of publicly discovered bugs, then it stands to reason that bug fixes barely scratch the surface of the bugs known to any large-scale hacking organization. Suppose Linux has a million serious security bugs, all of them currently unknown, that 100 of those bugs are publicly discovered and fixed every year and that these guys know about 20 zero day exploits. In this scenario, most likely no or very few of those 20 secret bugs are going to get fixed each year. So the fixing process is barely scratching the surface of the bugs known to these guys, even though the public is finding many more bugs than these guys are (20 total versus 100 every year).

Re:fud (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230699)

There's a lot of boasting yes, but as I understand it a lot of security bugs are discovered because they're being exploited. If you do all your hacking in a test lab and only use it sparingly and targeting specific computers it might take a long time before it ends up in any security researcher's lab. For example, take this recent bug [microsoft.com] from Microsoft, it affects every IE version back to IE6 - possibly older since they don't test further. Assuming it was in the original IE6 code base that's a bug the cyberwar division might have been sitting on for 12 years. Multiply that with lots and lots of top notch people and a system that don't disclose and (mostly) don't exploit, just hoard for a rainy day and I have no problem believing they have a pretty solid stash.

However that is also their biggest limitation, if you start using them they'll also become exposed so they're more like deep undercover agents. They're not going to "waste" them trying to catch the odd criminal, even if it's for serious crimes. They're military assets stockpiled for a cyberwar, like being able to crack the Enigma code during WWII. Some of it for espionage but I'm guessing most for being able to strike both physically and electronically at the same time, paralyze or even mislead their systems while you move in.

Re:fud (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230897)

Security researches can't do reverse engineering or publish too soon what they find, at least if they are working in the open (think that don't applies to black hats). Government, in the other hand, have first hand [techweekeurope.co.uk] the information of exploits far before is patched, or even could get intentional backdoors [slashdot.org] in commercial software.

Anyway, patching a bug won't remove the already put backdoor in that computer, unless you do a clean reinstall after those bugs are fixed.

Woot! Another arms race (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230169)

Just think how much safer our digital infrastructure would be, how everyone's privacy and data could be protected if, instead of hoarding exploits for use in an asinine "cyberwar", the US gov quietly released them to developers so their vulnerable software could be fixed. Fuckers.

Re:Woot! Another arms race (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230761)

Read 26.2.5 [cam.ac.uk]

Maybe we wouldn't be much safer after all.

Must Be Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230185)

or else this "cyberwarrior" had better book a seat to Venezuela next to Snowden.

Uncle Sugar does not take kindly to this type of discussion by employees or contractors. Real spooks, even geeky ones, are forbidden to even acknowledge their line of work. The least onerous sanction is instant dismissal for Demonstrated Unreliability under Personnel Reliability Program guidelines.

Given the gov's capabilities, this guy, if he exists, is already identified and being rather intensively debriefed at this moment.

Re:Must Be Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230225)

this guy, if he exists, is already identified and being rather intensively debriefed at this moment.

Why would they remove his briefs? Is he wearing a wire?

Re:Must Be Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230359)

To expose HIS back door to deep penetration and exploitation, obviously.

If true, a profound disservice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230235)

So, if what's being claimed is true (I'm doubtful), by not making these flaws public and giving vendors the chance to fix the issues, they are jeopardizing the domestic infrastructure they are ostensibly tasked to protect?

There's something profoundly inconsistent in this story, or profoundly hypocritical if it is true.

And he plays in a "hardcore rap/EDM band"? Either this person is an idiot for revealing something so specifically identifiable (even among "5000 people on my team", how many others of them are into it that much?), or they're spinning a yarn (misdirection or the whole story is nonsense).

Re:If true, a profound disservice (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230371)

I'd mod this up if I could.

Regarding his comment about too much focus on offense to the lack of defense, a more "proper" action in the function of the military would be to inform domestic software companies of a vulnerability, under condition that it's corrected only for the domestic market. Of course they're not interested in hardening the software used in foreign nations.

"Jeopardizing the domestic infrastructure" is dead-on.

Re:If true, a profound disservice (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230759)

Well, the reason they don't inform domestic market software companies is simply because the the whole world essentially uses the same software. So hardening desktop pc's in the US would be hardening desktop PC's in, say, Iran because the majority of users in both countries have MS Windows installed. Another drawback to software monoculture.

Re:If true, a profound disservice (1)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230427)

well the non-nonsense(yeahyeah..) parts of the story are just "we find holes and have thousands of them and can crack anything". it's just bullshit all the way.

Sounds like complete bullshit... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230243)

Ignoring that he suddenly goes from one of the elite of the elites in penetration testing to an average guy in a group of thousands...

Re:Sounds like complete bullshit... (5, Informative)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230631)

Yeah, a lot of it sounds far-fetched to me as well.

" Most of the software written in the world has a bug every three to five lines of code. " Sure, buddy.

"It's all zero-days. Literally, if you can name the software or the controller, we have ways to exploit it. There is no software that isn't easily crackable. In the last few years, every publicly known and patched bug makes almost no impact on us. They aren't scratching the surface." Oookaaay, that sounds legit.

"My loft was up near the rafters, so I scooted over into the next storage area, climbed down" No lock-up facility I've been in has access through the roof space to the roof space into other units. Would you keep "$100,000 worth of computers, radio equipment, and oscilloscopes" in such a facility?

This reeks strongly of male bovine excrement.

Re:Sounds like complete bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230849)

Yeah those were facepalm-worthy quoted. The "bugs every 3 to 5 lines of code" one is trivially easy to falsify.

remember people (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230305)

this is coming from a journalist!

captcha: impudent

So in other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230383)

So, instead of hardening our software and operating systems, you are knowingly leaving the world unpatched and vulnerable?

You are part of the probem. You ARE the enemy.

Scary thought (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230393)

Literally, if you can name the software or the controller, we have ways to exploit it.

Voting machines?

Re:Scary thought (5, Funny)

meta-monkey (321000) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230617)

Voting machines?

Dude could save the country and be a national hero. I can see CNN on election night 2016 now...

Wolf Blitzer: "In a shocking turn of events, not a single Republican or Democrat, or anyone on the ballot for that matter, won a single national election today. The entirety of the Senate is now made up of 20 random engineers, 15 doctors, 10 accountants, 10 school teachers, 10 construction workers, 5 disabled veterans, the 5 honest cops, and the rest are mexican day laborers. There's not a single lawyer or millionaire among them, and the new President is comedian Doug Stanhope."

Re:Scary thought (1)

nicoleb_x (1571029) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230619)

I wish you hadn't said that...

Why bother with voting machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230655)

That is like hoarding exploits for an ATM that only has two buttons:

1. Vaporize my funds.
2. Deploy robotic groin punch.

They should disclose the vulnerabilities (1)

Hentes (2461350) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230457)

Disclosing these vulnerabilities would do much more against the Chinese hackers than hacking back does. Sometimes the best defence is defence.

LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230469)

Most of the software written in the world has a bug every three to five lines of code.

Hahaha bullshit. What a shit article. This "cyber warrior" is either feeding the author shit or is made up.

Proprietary sw: MS, Apple, Adobe, Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 days | (#44230551)

Government likes sure things. They may have a library of open source bugs but these risk evaporating if they should get discovered which is entirely possible if not likely. Even if they bribe or blackmail (say) linux kernel developers to build-in and obfuscate back doors, as may have happened in the past, these may still get discovered.

Otoh proprietary software gives the NSA everything they need and represents a lasting investment, not to mention it's what most people are using. And which companies do we know for a fact cooperate fully with the NSA? Who else has bugs that will never be disclosed or fixed? Which company was informing the NSA of vulnerabilities before going public with same?

And what about closed source proprietary drivers for linux and unix? Those are in kernel space, fuck knows what they could do.

Baloney (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230693)

This sounds like baloney, so I'll write some Walking Dead fan fiction.

You ever known a real fighter? I do. His name is Larry Ellison. Back when I headed to Atlanta, only to find a graveyard, I hooked up with some survivors camped outside the city. Best fucking luck I ever had. It was a few days later I met Ellison. He'd returned from scavenging in the city. I heard that most are in and out in a day - you don't want to risk staying overnight unless you really have to. This guy had been on his own in zombie central for three days, and he looked like he'd just returned from the circus! I never saw anyone else that calm.

A week after that some walkers came through the camp. Calm as anything, he moved like a robot. I though that this was a guy with PTSD just bubbling under the surface, but then our eyes met as he jammed a screwdriver through a zombie head. You know what I saw? A caretaker. Ellison, the billionaire yacht enthusiast was somewhere else, probably with a warm fire and a harem of furries, while this man held the keys. No emotion, just relentlessly driving towards a time when we could sleep soundly.

I don't know where he is now. Maybe balls-deep in some guy in a Bugs Bunny costume, or still stalking decaying cities with that cold stare in which only a slight glimmer of the man remained? Either way, I hope at least one of those men has found peace. One night on watch he told me he used to make Java. I though he was a barista, and said as much. He half-smiled a moment, and said he gets a lot if that. With all those nights on watch, that's a out the only time I think I met the Ellison under the shell. I knows as well because I felt a burning need to push him off a cliff, and I can't explain why. Glenn, another survivor, told me that everyone feels that way about Larry.

Now I understand the war on white-hats (1)

rsborg (111459) | 1 year,22 days | (#44230711)

...and whistleblowers.

It's like the war against government watch groups - the idea that by limiting what the government does (and increasingly the crony corporations that have cropped up to help it expend it's reach) - not fighting, but just calling out and limiting it, you are an enemy of the state and you need to be removed.

Exploits are bought/discovered and kept as armaments to be used on industrial/state espionage, and also for internal clandestine operations. So clearly anyone "invalidating" one by disclosing it is restricting the power of the government.

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