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9/29/20: Cyber Signposts

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MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS

I realize that there are so many things happening around us that it is hard to keep up with every crisis that turns up almost suddenly. It is also difficult to remember what I have been reporting to you in order to prepare for the future and protect yourself when our system comes crashing down.

There is an ongoing attempt to keep under wraps the dangers that exist with technological systems that are vulnerable and while warnings go out form Homeland security they go unheeded because the mainstream media is tied up in political theater and COVID-19 death reports.

On September 10th, 2020, we reported that there were concerns from Homeland Security about a possible massive cyber attack on the United States and it was inferred that the attacks could happen in the Fall or the Winter.

The Department of Homeland Security called it the “Darkest Winter” if bad actors were to attack our infrastructure.

This leaves many systems vulnerable and we will have to deal with great losses that cannot be imagined.

Last night, we may have has a taste of what is to come with regard to cyber attacks that can cripple a country especially in times of crisis.

Microsoft services, a major medical chain, shipping services and 911 centers were shut down on Monday because of cyber-attacks which prompted NATO to make a statement of warning to anyone who attacks a NATO member country will face consequences for their actions.

Law enforcement agencies across the country reported 911 outages last night, with many being restored in about an hour.

After 7 p.m. Eastern time, several law enforcement agencies across Minnesota, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Nevada said their 911 systems were not functional. Most of the agencies released updates saying the system was restored by about 8:15 p.m. EDT.

It was not immediately clear if the outages were related to a Microsoft system issue also reported Monday.

Microsoft 365 was hit with a significant outage late Monday that affected users’ access to multiple services, including Outlook.

By late evening, services appeared to be largely restored: Microsoft tweeted at 9:21 p.m. ET that “most users should be experiencing relief.” The company added that it was “continuing to see significant improvement for affected services.”

Earlier, the company indicated affected services included Outlook.com, Office.com, Power Platform, Dynamics365, and Microsoft Teams including Teams Live Event.

According to Down Detector, a website that tracks internet outages, users reported issues with logging in, server connection and Outlook. The downtime began around 5 pm ET for Office 365, according to the site.

Microsoft initially attributed the outage to a recent change to the platform, but later indicated it was “not observing an increase in successful connections after rolling back a recent change. We’re working to evaluate additional mitigation solutions while we investigate the root cause.”

Meanwhile, computer systems for Universal Health Services, which has more than 400 locations, primarily in the U.S., began to fail over the weekend, and some hospitals have had to resort to filing patient information with pen and paper, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

Universal Health Services posted a statement to its website that its company-wide network “was offline, due to an IT security issue. One person familiar with the company’s response efforts who was not authorized to speak to the press said that the attack “looked and smelled like ransomware.”

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that spreads across computer networks, encrypting files and demanding payment for a key to decrypt them. It’s become a common tactic for hackers, though attacks of this scale against medical facilities aren’t common. A patient died after a ransomware attack against a German hospital in early September required her to be moved to a different hospital, leading to speculation that it may be the first known death from ransomware.

A French shipping container line had to shut down its systems as it was also attacked by ransomware.

French container shipping line CMA CGM SA said Monday it has shut down some of its technology systems as it copes with a cyberattack at two of its Asia-Pacific subsidiaries.

People involved in the matter said the carrier was investigating an encryption malware attack and that it had been contacted by someone claiming to be a hacker who asked for ransom in return for a decryption key.

These events prompted NATO deputy secretary Mircea Geoana to make a statement. He noted that NATO will establish a Cyberspace Operations Center as a part of its command structure, adding that a military cyber-attack on a country qualifies as a cause for all NATO nations to come to its aid.

Geoana cited article 5 of their charter where an attack against one ally is treated as an attack against all.

Richard Clarke the former counter terrorism Czar told Stanford law professor, Lawrence Lessig, that there would be in the foreseeable future what he called an “I-911” or internet 911 where a major attack would take place online. This event would force Government officials to incorporate an internet “patriot act” limiting freedom of speech and freedom of movement online.

There have been many times on my radio program where I have warned that our over-dependence on technology may be the very thing that can put us at a disadvantage. However, there are times when I speak about this subject, I get told that what I am doing is putting out pure hyperbole and that much of what I say regarding the failure of technology is nothing more than a headline grabber for ratings.

Well, the secret is out – I guess I am here to get you to listen to my show and so yes ratings do help. It is true I need to find a grabbing headline or story that gets you to think about what is going on outside of the political claptrap that somehow works to frame the network narrative.

But it is not exaggeration or overstatement to inform you that we are certainly over-dependent on technology and that the power grid will have to be updated with all of the new gadgets that we plug into the walls.

If I were to go back to the year 2015 and tell you that in 2020 there was going to be a major pandemic that was going to shut down our economy and keep people in lockdown I am sure you would tell me I have lost my mind. If I were to then tell you that there would be radicalized groups that would go into major cities setting buildings on fire and declaring war on the police and that Governors and Mayors would look the other way and not enforce the law because of political reasons – you would probably think I was crazy.

While we predicted many of these things we could in no way imagine that much of what we are seeing would go his far down an out of control spiral.

With these crises come political blame – and it seems that everything has been well planned or at lease exploited in a way that tips the balance with leadership.

Today’s companies are often faced with the complex decision of whether to use public cloud resources or build and deploy their own IT infrastructures. This decision is especially difficult in an age of mounting data requirements when so many people expect limitless access and ultra-flexibility. For these reasons, cloud computing has become an increasingly popular choice for many organizations.

With 5G on the horizon, most companies now are preparing multicloud IT infrastructures.

Cloud computing does present many drawbacks that often come back to haunt users, such as skyrocketing fees, poor performance and security concerns. The decision between using a public cloud versus owning your own infrastructure is not so different than deciding between renting and a buying a home. It is a choice between controlling your own environment versus living within someone else’s domain.

Users’ security can be automatically affected by anything that happens to their cloud provider. Additionally, anyone using a public or shared cloud can experience a data breach and information loss through no real fault of their own.

Cloud networks and Internet of Things infrastructure are rapidly expanding the global online operational space, and threat actors from China have already demonstrated how the cloud can be used as a platform for cyber exploitation.

I admit that this is not reported in the mainstream narrative frame, but this is the way an adversarial country like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea can invade the United States without even firing a shot.

When I read about the all of the cyber problems happening in the country Monday night, I was actually very suspicious of the timing and whether or not this was a beta test for at least one more problem that can either be exploited or planned before the election.

There is also the rumored Standard Operation 303 that most people are unaware of which it is supposed that the government has a kill switch that they can use in times of emergencies.

Standard Operating Procedure 303 or the Internet “kill switch,” sets out the government’s policy for initiating citywide deactivation of all wireless communications and internet networks. The Department of Homeland Security created the policy in 2006.

We’re all familiar with the role wireless networks play in our lives. They allow us to make phone calls, send text messages, and now for organizing political protests.

We know cutting off communications imposes a restraint on speech, the First Amendment imposes the strictest of limitations. In particular, after deactivation, the government would have to prove that restrained speech is unprotected and make sure a court promptly reviews the shutdown.

In limited situations, there might be legitimate reasons for shutting down wireless networks and the internet. But the potential for abuse is obvious. Repressive governments have repeatedly cut off wireless service to stop protesters from organizing.

This means that the US government has procedures set in place to shut off private cell phone access, wireless, Internet and cable across an entire metropolitan region, though it is not publicly understood by what criteria, or what precise process such a rule was anointed to Homeland Security.

In the United States, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) deactivated cellphone service in several subway stations in 2011 to prevent a protest over the fatal shooting of Charles Blair Hill by BART police.

Even well-meaning communications shutdowns can have serious, unintended consequences for public safety. In crises, the networks used to send messages the government wants to stop are the same networks used to call 911, text family members, or receive emergency alerts.

Which makes Monday’s outage of 911 services in 7 states dubious at best.

Was this a trial balloon to block any information or even to bock organized insurrection before the election?

If the government does not enforce a kill switch scenario Social Networks are saying that they may do it voluntarily.

Facebook has stated that it will take aggressive measures to “restrict the circulation of content” on its platform if November’s presidential election descends into chaos or violent civic unrest, according a report from the Financial Times. The company had drawn up plans for how to handle a range of outcomes, including widespread civic unrest or “the political dilemmas” of having in-person votes counted more rapidly than mail-in ballots and other problems that may come up during the election process.

If conditions are in crisis level – you could see social media take on a war footing where information exchanged could be a threat to national security and therefore could be blocked. Many countries who have engaged in an information war have been very open about their kill switch policies.

The governments of China and Syria have been known to shut down social media platforms in order to control propaganda in times of war and civil strife.

In the United States critics have said that the election has taken on a personality of warfare and civil unrest.

In previous eras ‘war’ came about as a push for territory, now in this interconnected world, physical territory is easier to obtain once you have taken hold of the operating systems, the political system and even the minds of the electorate.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security agree that the disruptions and cyber signposts come at a time of unprecedented fears about the cyber threat in the United States, where hackers have breached political organizations and election agencies.

However, the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a warning on Monday alerting the public about the potential for widespread disinformation campaigns designed to cast doubt about the legitimacy of the coming elections in November.

The announcement says “foreign actors and cyber criminals” are trying to spread false claims of cyberattacks on US voter registration databases or voting systems in an effort to “manipulate public opinion, discredit the electoral process, and undermine confidence in US democratic institutions.”

In addition, the FBI and CISA have no information suggesting any cyberattack on US election infrastructure has prevented an election from occurring, compromised the accuracy of voter registration information, prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, or compromised the integrity of any ballots cast.

Again, the timing of the announcement and the worry about voter misinformation is also suspect.

They are also saying that you should not trust what you read online sending the message that social media may face shutdowns if needed in order to curtail the information war about election.

The FBI states that much of the disinformation being generated is being done by BOTS that are infiltrating information blogs.

The kinds of disinformation campaigns being pushed heavily by bots take a variety of forms, including false information about voting logistics like date, place, or fake voting requirements.

Can the internet see a shut down if things get out of hand and who can authorize it?

Section 706 of this law allows the president to shut down or take control of “any facility or station for wire communication” if he proclaims “that there exists a state or threat of war involving the United States.” With respect to wireless communications, suspending service is permitted not only in a “war or a threat of war,” but merely if there is a presidential proclamation of a “state of public peril” or simply a “disaster or other national emergency.” There is no requirement in the law for the president to provide any advance notice to Congress.

The language here is undeniably broad. The power it describes is virtually unchecked. That’s not surprising, since some of the last changes made to this section of the law were introduced in 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when Congress was laser-focused on protecting our safety and security.

These are, of course, different days. After all, back in 1942, “wire communication” meant telephone calls or telegrams, and “wireless” meant radio. But if you think this language, and what it authorizes, have faded into the dustbin of history, you’re wrong. Today those terms have generally been accepted as including access to the Internet. And as recently as 2010, a Senate committee report on protecting cyberspace concluded that Section 706 “gives the President the authority to take over wire communications in the United States and, if the President so chooses, shut a network down.”

That means if a sitting president wants to shut down the Internet or selectively cut off a social media outlet or other service, all it takes is an opinion from his attorney general that Section 706 gives him the authority to do so.

There is no reason to believe that President Trump would do this but 2020 has been full of surprises and with the timing of the warnings from the FBI and Homeland Security, we need to be aware that signposts are pointing to at least an attempt to throw us into chaos.

Text – Check out Ground Zero Radio with Clyde Lewis Live Nightly @ http://www.groundzeromedia.org



Source: https://groundzeromedia.org/9-29-20-cyber-signposts/


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