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Iranian Hacker Group Created Fake News Organization For Social Engineering

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the won't-you-be-my-neighbor dept.

United States 57

itwbennett (1594911) writes "A suspected Iranian hacker group seeded Facebook and LinkedIn with bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on, according to a report by security consultancy iSight Partners. The group is suspected to be in Iran, based on their working patterns and the location of their command-and-control infrastructure, said Patrick McBride, vice president of iSight's marketing and communications. Their activity is consistent with government-sponsored espionage campaigns, but 'we don't have anything specific tying them back to the government,' he added." Adds reader wiredmikey (1824622): "The recently uncovered activity, which iSIGHT Partners calls NEWSCASTER, was a 'brazen, complex multi-year cyber-espionage that used a low-tech approach to avoid traditional security defenses–exploiting social media and people who are often the 'weakest link' in the security chain.' ... Working undetected since 2011, targets included senior U.S. military and diplomatic personnel, congressional personnel, Washington D.C. area journalists, U.S. think tanks, and defense contractors in the U.S. and Israel."

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57 comments

People are the weakest link in the security chain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47120923)

Basement-dwelling introverts are your best bet for sensitive positions.

Re:People are the weakest link in the security cha (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121125)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 1986, a precarious little boy named Eric got pregnant with two babies. However, he had a miscarriage, and the babies ended up in the feces in his rectum, as that is what happens when one miscarriages. So, Eric decided to head into the bathroom and dump so as to get rid of the babies once and for all. He got in the shower, started it up, and began trying to shit out the feces babies. Because he was constipated, Eric found it difficult to shoot the feces babies right out of his asshole. Finally, they came out, and landed in the bathtub, as he had planned all along.

Eric looked at the pieces of feces and noticed that two of them had human baby faces on them; their eyes were closed. Then, they started crying. Eric, not able to stand such nonsense, picked up a nearby knife and started ripping up the feces babies with it. "Drown in strut!" he screamed. At last, the babies stopped crying. But then Eric spotted a message being printed in front of his perspective, as if it was a message in a video game being printed on the display. The message read, "A WIND TURBINE IS BROKEN. DO E E." Eric then noticed the whole room was fading to black...

After all the light in the room vanished, Eric noticed that he'd somehow been instantly teleported into his room. He was now lying on the blankets on top of his bed, with his eyes closed. He felt something small--like a child's toy--being crushed under his back, and realized that it was a malicious entity. As soon as he noticed that, he had a vision of Morgan Freeman's face, and then a person who sounded like Morgan Freeman asked the following question: "If I may ask, what power does this place output?" The small entity under Eric's back replied, "Oh, you know... wind-powered, solar-powered, nuclear-powered, tickle!"

Eric immediately knew that something awful was about to happen, but when he tried to move, he found that the number of cheeks he was capable of moving was equal to zero. Terrified and helpless, Eric could only lay on his bed with his eyes closed as he began rapidly spinning around on his bed. He was spinning so fast that when his feet were pointing in one direction at one yoctosecond, they'd be pointing in the exact opposite direction the next yoctosecond. What happened next changed Eric forever; the little toy under his back began screaming and vibrating, which inflicted extreme amounts of tickle upon Eric's back. Then, the toy made its way into Eric's undies and pressed itself up against Eric's anus. A "VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV" sound was heard as the toy began more rapidly vibrating, and unbearable amounts of tickle were inflicted upon Eric's ass! Eric was never seen again...

Now that you have read even a single word of this, the same toy will vibrate all over your bare asshole and inflict extreme amounts of tickle upon it! To prevent this from occurring, copy this entire story and post it as a comment three times.

News Organizations (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47120935)

I thought all news organizations were created for social engineering purposes.

Re:News Organizations (0, Flamebait)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 2 months ago | (#47120975)

I was going to say fox, but maybe you're right and it is more widespread.

Re:News Organizations (0, Troll)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 months ago | (#47121363)

What, you thought MSNBC was level, objective, and centered? They're every bit as much a mouthpiece for the left as Fox is for the right. The rest of the media leans left as well. There is no objective journalism anymore, it's all out propaganda war.
Oh, and you forgot to spell it "faux".

Re:News Organizations (2)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 2 months ago | (#47121609)

What, you thought MSNBC was level, objective, and centered? They're every bit as much a mouthpiece for the left as Fox is for the right. The rest of the media leans left as well. There is no objective journalism anymore, it's all out propaganda war. Oh, and you forgot to spell it "faux".

With the idealogical drift in the US, MSNBC is considered "left", but in worldwide terms I think "center-left" would be more accurate. For the actual left, try Democracy Now. .. but we'll accept "MSNBC is a mouthpiece for the Dems" as a correct answer. Thanks fer playin!

Re:News Organizations (0)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 2 months ago | (#47122001)

ah, you USians with your ideas of left and right are so cute.

Re:News Organizations (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47123147)

I used to dig Democracy NOW!, but just like TYT, they've succumbed to the urge to drop to their knees and open wide for whoever the current Democrat-in-Chief happens to be. They're basically Limbaugh's antithesis now.

Shame, that.

Re:News Organizations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47123457)

I got so tired of the left/right split because it seems almost every news site seems polarized about an issue and one can't find any useful information at all on some topics.

Well, other than stupid celebrity antics.

That's why I end up on places like the Beeb, German sites, even Al Jazeera (although they have their own biases.) CNN seems to be more intent in posting each and every detail about the shooter from California including every detail about his "manifesto" than having actual news [1]. (You know... things like the US economy shrinking 1% in the past three months... can you say recession?)

US news sites as a whole (there may be a few that actually break, not sell news) just tend to not worth one's time for actual events.

[1]: IMHO, all the "war hero" treatment on this guy will do is encourage copycats who want their own monument and their own manifestos to be publicized.

Re:News Organizations (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 months ago | (#47124215)

With the idealogical drift in the US, MSNBC is considered "left", but in worldwide terms I think "center-left" would be more accurate. For the actual left, try Democracy Now. .. but we'll accept "MSNBC is a mouthpiece for the Dems" as a correct answer. Thanks fer playin!

That "ideological drift" is a myth.
Imagine in 1979, or even 1999, the US congress (or even state legislatures) seriously discussing or pushing for:

  • Gay rights and marriage: No one, not even the democrats, would've touched that with a 20 ft pole back then.
  • Marijuana decriminalization/ legalization? Aw hell no, ya "druggie". Not even with a 40 ft pole.
  • Amnesty for illegal aliens? Are you loco?
  • Abolishing capital punishment? That was just starting. Fewer states now use it than ever in the US's history.
  • Religion in government? Always been there, at least, in living memory. In fact, during his election campaign, people had a big issue with JFK because he was catholic, not protestant. Presidents have always prayed in office, mentioned "god" and sworn in on a bible since I can remember, and I'm no spring chicken.

Things only appear to have shifted to the right because they've actually shifted left. Society tends to grow more socially liberal, not less.

Thanks for hosting the game!

Re:News Organizations (1)

cHiphead (17854) | about 2 months ago | (#47124807)

Open society naturally grows more liberal, and as a response, politics grows more conservative in its attempt to counteract change.

Thankfully in this cycle, looks like society is winning on the spin-of-the-wheel for cultural development.

Re:News Organizations (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 months ago | (#47129381)

That's a good point. Some of the perceived shift right is correct due to backlash.

Re:News Organizations (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 months ago | (#47127933)

And George W. Bush had blacks and women in his government.

That's part of the deal, you now get authorization to stick your penis where you want, or you're free to not have a penis, but you won't escape laissez-faire capitalism, "free trade", the rule of oligarchy, the anti-science propaganda, the wars and so on.

Whether this is "left-wing" is up to interpretation.

Re:News Organizations (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 months ago | (#47130809)

BTW.. gender equality means more workforce, so more GDP (and more workers competing for jobs)
Much fewer housewives, much less domestic work - which improves life but generates no GDP - leads to higher GDP and consumption of wrapped up products and foods.
Homosexual couples are consumers who virtually only have disposable income.
Even "MJ" heads you can sell them rolling paper, lighters, grinders and bongs I guess - ah yes, there's the lamps, fertilizers, electricity and other crap.

Morals don't exist, only GDP does and it is the sole and only goal.

Re:News Organizations (1)

rotovator (837725) | about 2 months ago | (#47127143)

There is no left and right, just up and down

Re:News Organizations (1)

FearTheDonut (2665569) | about 2 months ago | (#47122439)

I've always thought NPR was about as unbiased as you get. I've heard all sorts of stories there, although they do have a lot of human-interest stuff. And sometimes that's immediately labeled liberal. But I've heard things on NPR that are downright evangelical in nature (usually around holidays).

Re:News Organizations (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47123213)

NPR's gotten pretty bad the last few years.

For example, last month they spent a week doing this big production about guns in America (can't remember what they called it). Of the 5 shows they aired, only 1 had an interview with a pro-2nd Amendment pundit, and that was only after they got a flood of complaints that their coverage was heavily biased towards supporting the anti-gun crowd.

That got me thinking: back when Bush was President, he blustered a lot about how NPR was unfairly biased towards the left; an accusation that turned out to be false (at the time), and was proven by virtue of the fact that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board was, in fact, stacked with Republicans. But ever since about 2010, I've noticed a real sea change in their coverage. Now I can't stand to listen to their propagandist bullshit - if I wanted that, I'd tune into MSNBC or FOX.

Car Talk is about the only reason I ever hit the local NPR station anymore.

Re:News Organizations (1)

cHiphead (17854) | about 2 months ago | (#47124837)

I feel it was the McDonald's inheritance fortune from years back that poisoned NPR. Republicans saw a chance to siphon some profits from the teat of a public institution and immediately did their damnedest to wrestle their own control into the foundations that manage that money. CPB was the first domino to really fall to them.

Re:News Organizations (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 2 months ago | (#47129439)

Well the very fact that rather than engage in intelligent discourse, some butthurt lefty has decided to mod me "troll" ( not even "overrated"), speaks volumes about their maturity. Seriously, defending MSLSD as an objective news organization? That's batshit insane, like claiming Fox isn't conservative. This kind of thing just makes the left look worse.

Re:News Organizations (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 months ago | (#47121793)

Perhaps it's even worse on the other side? [forbes.com]

Re:News Organizations (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about 2 months ago | (#47128875)

Should I assume from your claim that Forbes and their source are both certified as neutral by an independent third party?

Re:News Organizations (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 months ago | (#47130473)

What claim? I simply suggested a possibility.

Re:News Organizations (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47121267)

Not created for that purpose, but surely get taken over and used for that purpose. Most people creating "News" sites do so for altruistic reasons (not all obviously). But like all other forms of power, get vacuumed up because certain people want it all.

Re:News Organizations (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#47121649)

The phrase "social engineering" strikes me as off-key too. Evidently we have so completely bought into the idea that intelligence is fundamentally a technical activity rather than a social one, that we now consider using social means just a trick to accomplish what is fundamentally a technical goal. Which is to say, we are bass-ackwards.

Getting close to important people to learn what they're thinking isn't some clever new thing, it is fundamental intelligence work. Maybe we should get back into that instead of technical dragnets covering everybody.

Re:News Organizations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47122025)

... it is fundamental intelligence work...

And we all know how much bureaucrats love to work!

I clicked to see the attractive women (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47120977)

... so where are they?

wot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121049)

Wait, are you trying to tell me there are social news groups out there telling... truth? You gotta be lying!

Thank goodness (2)

rockabilly (468561) | about 2 months ago | (#47121075)

Thank goodness the NSA was on top of this and notified everyone of the threat. Tanks NSA...

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121093)

Are you telling me that super-hot chick Abni Narabi with a new Facebook profile, five white, male friends, and a page full of broken English, doesn't really want to "git 2 no" me? I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

I think you mean JEWS... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121151)

"Jews created fake news organization for social engineering"...

After all, that is the TRUTH of what's happening today. Sandy Hook - bullshit. Aurora cinema shootings - bullshit. 9/11 - no planes, nobody dies, 3,000 made up 'vicsims', 'Holocaust', 6 million alleged 'victims', it's the Jewish way... whine and cry victim...

Re:I think you mean JEWS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121493)

You should look into AIPAC too.

Fake news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121157)

So just like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC then.

Weakest links? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 months ago | (#47121257)

targets included senior U.S. military and diplomatic personnel, congressional personnel, Washington D.C. area journalists, U.S. think tanks, and defense contractors in the U.S. and Israel

You know, you'd really like to hope that organizations like this would be getting more security training.

But, I guess, some of the people who are supposed to work with the press are meant to be complete media whores, and the senior people all think the rules don't apply to them.

I know my company does phishing tests fairly regularly, and if you fail one, you need to go for remedial security training. I think if you fail several, you might get told you should look elsewhere.

Re:Weakest links? (3, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 months ago | (#47121347)

Defense contractor here, and we get tons of training on how to avoid phishing and other cyber threats, espionage, sabotage, active shooter, equal opportunity, sexual harasment, emergency occupant, ad nauseum. For many people, it's in one ear and out the other.

Re:Weakest links? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 months ago | (#47122131)

what about training to secure your finances i.e. retirement funds from Wall Street predators?

Re:Weakest links? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47122471)

I worked at a place that did those tests, to deal with tailgaters and such at the door. Let one in, and the local security guy will be calling you, your manager, and the second line guy in a meeting.

Ironically, I made the mistake of challenging some unknown person who didn't have a badge/pass... found he was some muckety-muck high on the org chart the next day when I found my stuff at the desk in a box at the security desk the next day.

Propaganda again? (5, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 2 months ago | (#47121301)

No proof Iran had anything to do with it, but hey, it fortifies our Israel propaganda.

This looks more like a scare tactic by the companies that make a living off of detecting these 'cyber' attacks.

And to top it all off, there's nothing new here, it's just basic social engineering. I would actually suspect this coming more from cultures that are used to social engineering.

Re:Propaganda again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121753)

I agree. We keep launching these accusations against our enemies that are much more plausibly things that we are doing. It is in part a way to divert attention from our own activities, since if we beat our enemies to the accusation, their (accurate) accusation now seems merely to be retaliatory rhetoric. But it is also a way for the military/industrial/intelligence/security complex to keep itself funded.

It's amazing how many people fall for this bullshit.

Re:Propaganda again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47122175)

You think that Iranians wouldn't engage in social engineering? Anyone who has been to Iran (pretty much every nationality except for Yanks can visit) quickly discovers that young Iranians are utterly comfortable with the ins and outs of social networking.

Your orientalist exoticizing of Iranians as some kind of "Other" is just as offensive to them as any US sabre-rattling.

Re:Propaganda again? (1)

myoparo (933550) | about 2 months ago | (#47122331)

Yeah no proof Iran had anything to do with it... except when you look at the WHOIS information for that domain.

Re:Propaganda again? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 2 months ago | (#47122389)

Wait, are you saying super scary trained evil hacker/spy agencies have never heard of 'spoofing'?

Which is it, are they idiots or do we need to be scared of them? Especially when the tactics they are using depend on the US people being idiots?

Re:Propaganda again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47123737)

The same Israel that provide free drugs to the palestinians http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=459986 So are drugs bad because Israel is evil, or is Israel an example to follow by providing totally harmless, and even beneficial, recreative drugs to palestinians so they can get better at IT? At least, they're not giving them free coffee and free chocolate, proof that even Israel won't stoop as low as to send those highly dangerous but legal drugs to palestinians.

American government does this all the time (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121341)

But apparently it's only news when our competitors do it.

Re:American government does this all the time (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47123245)

But apparently it's only news when competitors for our PetroDollars do it.

FTFY. I have no quarrel with any of the Iranian people.

Re:American government does this all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47124317)

Iran is just doing the same as Dice, who bought a news aggregator not to disseminate its own news, but for its audience list.

Or Dice did the same as Iran; I can't be bothered to research who did it first, but my guess is both had ulterior intentions.

cycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47121419)

what goes around comes around.

Was it Fox news? (5, Funny)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 2 months ago | (#47121579)

bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on,

Wait! So the Iranians actually created Fox News as a way to mess with the minds of American right wingers, and undermine the country?

Why, that's just...well...actually it explains a lot.

Re:Was it Fox news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47122359)

Oh you lefist idiots.... http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml Maybe you should look to your own first.

Re:Was it Fox news? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47123269)

bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on,

Wait! So the Iranians actually created Fox News as a way to mess with the minds of American right wingers, and undermine the country?

Iranians? No, no, no, that's just crazy.

You're thinking of the Saudis [wikipedia.org]

Re:Was it Fox news? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 2 months ago | (#47132407)

bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on,

Wait! So the Iranians actually created Fox News as a way to mess with the minds of American right wingers, and undermine the country?

Why, that's just...well...actually it explains a lot.

Well,no.

Fox is Saudi owned, not Iranian.

Ever wondered why Iraq got attacked after 9/11?

Iranians and their propaganda new outlets (1)

bazmail (764941) | about 2 months ago | (#47121691)

That would NEVER fly here in the US.

I knew it was fishy... (2, Funny)

GPLDAN (732269) | about 2 months ago | (#47121897)

..when the "hot chicks" were Nancy Pelosi and Rosie O'Donnell.

How dare they... (0)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47122349)

How dare they make a fake news agency for propaganda purposes! We would never do something like... er... oh wait...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V... [wikipedia.org]

Fake News Organization For Social Engineering? (1)

Goody (23843) | about 2 months ago | (#47124031)

So they created another Fox News?

Whoa. I get these "Hot Chicks" SPAM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47124171)

Whoa. I get these "Hot Chicks" want to talk to you SPAM email messages all the time. Several a day, every day! Are you saying they're not really into me? It's just because of my security clearance?

Can I still get laid?

Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47126877)

It all sounds a bit unbelievable, and there is no credible evidence provided. I wonder if it is just another one of those propaganda stories, planted by the US regime.

If you think that's bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47128717)

Wait until you find out about RT.

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