Some of you may remember this
On Tuesday at around 2:45 p.m. EST, Web monitors noticed something strange: Internet traffic in and out of Syria had dropped down to zero. It was as if the entire country had simultaneously unplugged its modems and switched off its smart phones, all at the same moment. And it's still down. How does an entire country go dark?
We can't know what happened for sure, but it's almost certain that this was not an accident and that the Syrian government pulled the plug.
That story, as well as many others on the event go on to insinuate that Al-Assad cut the internet to disrupt activists and the like.
"We're deeply concerned that this blackout is a deliberate attempt to silence Syria's online communications and further draw a curtain over grave events currently unfolding on the ground in Syria," it said in a statement.It turns out, that like usual, there is more to the story. WIRED MAGAZINE has a great exclusive interview with Edward Snowden which touches on many topics, this being the one I chose to diary for the day:
"While heavily censored, monitored and compromised, the internet has served as an important window connecting the world at large to Syria, and one way that international observers could connect with individuals on the ground in that country.
A division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn’t know that the US government was responsible. (This is the first time the claim has been revealed.)That last line is pretty funny, because as Marcy Wheeler notes, the US is quick to blame Israel for the escape of the Stuxnet virus:
Inside the TAO operations center, the panicked government hackers had what Snowden calls an “oh shit” moment. They raced to remotely repair the router, desperate to cover their tracks and prevent the Syrians from discovering the sophisticated infiltration software used to access the network. But because the router was bricked, they were powerless to fix the problem.
Fortunately for the NSA, the Syrians were apparently more focused on restoring the nation’s Internet than on tracking down the cause of the outage. Back at TAO’s operations center, the tension was broken with a joke that contained more than a little truth: “If we get caught, we can always point the finger at Israel.”
An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.Whats not so funny is
“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.”
The Wired article, as well as this TIME piece also talk about our Bush-Doctrine, strike first without asking first cyberwar programs:
WIRED‘s Snowden story has another cybersecurity scoop: The former NSA contractor claims for the first time that the U.S. government was (or still is) working on a cybersecurity response program that automatically detects and blocks incoming cyberattacks. However, the program — dubbed “MonsterMind” — isn’t just defensive: Once it blocks an attack, it then automatically carries out a counter-attack against what it thinks was the source, Snowden says.
That could be an issue, says Snowden, as good hackers can — and typically do — make their online attacks look like they’re coming from somewhere else. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital,” he explains.