Snowden and the OPM Government Hack, Does 1+1 = Traitor?

snowden and putin

I have talked to several current and former government employees and this has been on my mind a lot today, so I thought I would throw it out there. Could Snowden’s intelligence files cracked by China and Russia be directly related to the OPM government hack?

Though many see Snowden as a privacy rights hero, in my mind he is firmly in the traitor column. Granted he exposed the depth of NSA spying on American citizens, but is that enough to ignore everything else he has done? Has there been any other time in the history of the US that a member of an intelligence agency fled to (China and then) Russia for asylum, taking with them almost 2 million secret documents, leaked other classified information that put US & allied tactics at risk and not been considered a traitor?

The encrypted files that Snowden took with him that he arrogantly considered “uncrackable” have, according to the Sunday Times, been cracked by both the Russians and Chinese. And the information in these files have forced the British MI6 to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries”.

But the issues isn’t that they just needed to remove agents from countries. According to BBC political correspondent Chris Mason, “the problem for UK authorities was not only the direct consequence that agents had been moved, but also the opportunity cost of those agents no longer being in locations where they were doing useful work“.

Basically these agents were “outed”. Their lives could have been at risk and it may even be hard to get replacement agents back into certain positions to restore the human intelligence links that were destroyed by Snowden’s “indiscretion”.

What has the effect of this been on the US? I wonder how the Chinese know to hack Anthem earlier this year that provided health insurance for many Federal Employees? And how is it that reportedly the exact same Chinese group hacked the OPM and recovered millions of government employees records including the very sensitive SF-86 security clearance forms?

Granted the OPM systems should have been better secured, as they monitored the Anthem hack earlier this year. An agency spokesman told Nextgov,OPM is closely monitoring the situation. Anthem informed OPM that it shut down the network in question and is working to ensure the security of its systems as it investigates the extent of the breach.”

Is Snowden to blame? As all the documents are classified we may never know. But if the Anthem and OPM hack can be traced back to the files stolen by Snowden, hopefully then the general public will see him as his actions seem to portray him.

 

Snowden Part II: Another Cyber Traitor in the US?

There are 680,000 people on the US’s Terror watch database with more than 40% having no known ties to terror groups. How do we know this? Looks like there is another Snowden like traitor leaking secret intelligence documents to the press.

An article on “The Intercept” breaks down the numbers apparently obtained from documents leaked by a “source in the intelligence community“. According to the website:

“The classified documents were prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, the lead agency for tracking individuals with suspected links to international terrorism. Stamped “SECRET” and “NOFORN” (indicating they are not to be shared with foreign governments), they offer the most complete numerical picture of the watchlisting system to date.”

According to CNN, government officials are looking for the identity of the new leaker.

With Snowden apparently getting away with leaking top secret and confidential intelligence information to the press, it seems that it has inspired others to follow in his footsteps. The problem, as shown with Snowden, is that even though they may reveal some information of government wrong doing, they may also cross the line of patriotism and end up aiding and abetting a foreign power.

The level of NSA spying on US citizens was wrong, but when someone in the intelligence field takes classified information and flees to another country (especially one on unfriendly terms with the US), that has and always will “earn” the person the title of “Traitor”.

I just hope this new traitor is caught before they too reveal allied operational software and techniques employed against foreign governments and Islamic militant groups.

Snowden Continues to Expose Allied Cyber Tactics

Russian Espionage

NSA whistleblower and Putin poster boy Edward Snowden apparently released yet another document, this one exposing UK cyber spying techniques allegedly used by the GCHQ.

The document, according to The Intercept lists multiple tools that the UK intelligence agency used to spy on social media accounts, interrupt or modify communication and even modify online polls.

Tools like:

  • UNDERPASS – Change outcome of online polls
  • SILVERLORD – Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content
  • ANGRY PIRATE – Permanently disables a target’s account on a computer
  • PREDATORS FACE – Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers
  • And several others.

The release again leaves me scratching my head.

From ancient times countries spied on each other, even their allies. Only the most naive would assume this practice has magically stopped in the online age. I do love how shocked governments appeared in the media when they found out that the NSA was snooping on them, what a joke.

And in this case, several of these tools listed sound like they are more geared towards fighting or countering online use of enemy communications possibly by Islamic militants.

One would have to ask, does this release from Snowden make the people of the UK or the US safer from government snooping, or more likely would it tell enemy nations exactly what tools have been and will be used against them?

Again with Snowden one would have to ask, is he a champion of internet privacy or simply just a traitor to the US and her allies, exposing tools and techniques used against foreign nations and in the war on terror?

With Snowden pushing for an extension of his stay in Russia, it would seem the later would be correct.

Chinese Hackers try to Steal list of US Top Secret Clearance Holders

Chinese hackers apparently breached a federal database at the US Office of Personnel Management. The database contains personal information of federal employees. The hackers seemed to be targeting thousands of employees who have top secret clearances.

According to an article in the New York Times, The hackers did get access to the database in March before the attacker was detected and blocked, but a senior official from the Department of Homeland Security announced that no data was successfully extracted. According to another official the source of the attack seemed to be China.

Attacks like this provide hackers with a list of specific contacts to target in future attacks. Being a federal list of clearance holders, the list might have contained both federal and military personnel. If the hackers were able to obtain the contact information of specific Top Secret clearance holders, they would then most likely target these individuals with social engineering attacks to gain more information from the users or even try to gain access to their companies, departments or units.