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Old Trick Threatens the Newest Weapons

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posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:00 PM
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Anyone remember the Enigma Devices from WW2? The Germans had "unbreakable" coding machines that they used. After the war, the United States, via Operative Services (later to become the CIA), sold these devices to every civilized country in the world. They were used up until the mid-1980s. The reason why U.S. Intelligence Agencies became so powerful is because they failed to mention to anyone that British MI6 and the U.S. Operative Services broke the Enigma code during WW2. They were an old school Trojan Horse that gave nations a false sense of security that we exploited for military and strategic purposes.

The game hasn't changed since then.

Old Trick Threatens the Newest Weapons



In the future, and possibly already hidden in existing weapons, clandestine additions to electronic circuitry could open secret back doors that would let the makers in when the users were depending on the technology to function. Hidden kill switches could be included to make it possible to disable computer-controlled military equipment from a distance. Such switches could be used by an adversary or as a safeguard if the technology fell into enemy hands.

A Trojan horse kill switch may already have been used. A 2007 Israeli Air Force attack on a suspected partly constructed Syrian nuclear reactor led to speculation about why the Syrian air defense system did not respond to the Israeli aircraft. Accounts of the event initially indicated that sophisticated jamming technology was used to blind the radars. Last December, however, a report in an American technical publication, IEEE Spectrum, cited a European industry source in raising the possibility that the Israelis might have used a built-in kill switch to shut down the radars.

Separately, an American semiconductor industry executive said in an interview that he had direct knowledge of the operation and that the technology for disabling the radars was supplied by Americans to the Israeli electronic intelligence agency, Unit 8200.


Two years ago we discovered these Trojan Backdoors in many of the electronics that the U.S. DoD was purchasing from Asian manufacturers, put in at the behest of the Chinese. After their discovery, the DoD called for an audit of all systems and have removed all systems with foreign-made components. However, that hasn't stopped the U.S. from getting the same idea and using it on our own Allies as well as our enemies.

And according to this article, we've been doing this since before the Reagan Administration, having used this tactic against the Soviets by way of Canadian manufacturers, and with the Iranians and Libyans.

If something falls in the wrong hands, or an Ally sells it to a potential enemy, or if an Ally later turns out to be a foe, we can just use the backdoor to disable their defensive systems.

And it brings up a valid question...

If the DoD has been doing this since post-WW2, and even the Pan-Asian countries have been doing this...then isn't it safe to say that this affects civilians too? That iPhone, the Networking Interface Chip in your computer, even the SatNav GPS in your car, would most likely have backdoors that would allow those that built them, or are aware of how to exploit them, full access to your system, or to send a Kill-Switch command to disable them.

We really do live in a world where "Trust No 1" is the best advice.




posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:10 PM
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This is why I'm a proponent of open source everything. Back doors are virtually impossible to build into such code.

Thanks for the story, though I am surely not surprised.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:20 PM
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Originally posted by Amaterasu
This is why I'm a proponent of open source everything. Back doors are virtually impossible to build into such code.

Thanks for the story, though I am surely not surprised.


I agree that Open Source is the best option for Software. It allows for Peer Review of the Code, and decreases the likelihood of Backdoors in the Software. I even have no qualms using the NSAs flavor of Linux, SELinux for this reason. However, it doesn't entirely eliminate the possibility. GnuFTP and VNC, both of which are Open Source, were both found to have irreparable Backdoors programmed into them.

However, this article is specifically about Hardware Backdoors. Backdoors that the DoD (and even China) has convinced Hardware Manufacturers to build in to the actual Chips and Processors. It can be safely said that any Server built by either IBM or Supermicro have these Hardware Backdoors. The former at the request of the DoD, and the later at the request of the Chinese. Between IBM and Supermicro alone, the majority of the world has a Hardware based Backdoor that can be exploited by one or the other (or both).

And that is the scary part.

Even if you are paranoid and resort to System Boot Encryption, Open Source Software, and tightened Security, your own systems are still potentially capable of being compromised, accessed, exploited, and disabled at the Hardware level as we don't know just how many Manufacturers have coalesced to Military & Intelligence Agencies to build in these Backdoors and Kill-Switches.

On a Consumer level this is an unmentionable violation of one's right to privacy, but on a National level, this is a vulnerability that is unthinkable.

[edit on 28-10-2009 by fraterormus]



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:29 PM
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Ah, well. They look for ways to spy on everyone, eh?

I think it would be better if we got rid of money. Then the motivations would virtually disappear.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 12:29 PM
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It's possible that backdoors are in civilian products, but highly unlikely. Do you know how many electronic items consumers purchase in a year? I think it would be highly impractical to put backdoor circuits in all of those and then expect any country on earth to have the ability to monitor and identify any specific object.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 01:07 PM
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Maybe this is a tangent, but it makes me think of all the Chinese products they sell cheap here in America, which are laced with toxins. The technological stuff too, I agree, it's scary, but it doesn't need to be high-tech. It could be a simple crappy toy from China that kids play with and get sick & die.



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 04:09 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus
Anyone remember the Enigma Devices from WW2?
...The reason why U.S. Intelligence Agencies became so powerful is because they failed to mention to anyone that British MI6 and the U.S. Operative Services broke the Enigma code during WW2.


Just to prevent the re-writing of history, the story of the breaking of the Nazi Enigma codes was a Polish and then British effort. I am not sure the US had much involvement in Bletchley Park which was decoding Enigma before the US joined the war.

Regards



posted on Oct, 28 2009 @ 04:54 PM
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Originally posted by paraphi
Just to prevent the re-writing of history, the story of the breaking of the Nazi Enigma codes was a Polish and then British effort. I am not sure the US had much involvement in Bletchley Park which was decoding Enigma before the US joined the war.


Most true. Popular Literature (especially in America) about the Enigma machines tends to gloss over the Polish contributions of their Biuro Szyfrów that broke the original Enigma Code due to a flaw in 1934. Although the Nazis revised the Enigma Machine to address this flaw in 1940, it is doubtful that the British would have been successful in breaking it without having been taught by the Biuro Szyfrów the intimate manner in which the Enigma Machine operated. They also were able to decrypt thousands of messages while living in exile in Vichy France during the War to aid the Allies.

However, especially in the context of the OP, I'm sure the part the U.S. Operative Services played in the Enigma Code had more to do with exploiting it, and keeping it's decipherment a tightly-guarded secret, than they did with actually having contributing to breaking it. The early CIA built it's Intelligence Empire on the fact that so many countries either used Enigma Machines sold by the Allies, or used variants of the Enigma Cipher, providing both the CIA and MI6 backdoor opportunities to the encrypted communications of other nations for decades after the war.

However, thank you for reminding an American that everything isn't American-centric, and that the invaluable contribution the Poles made in initially breaking earlier Enigma Machines, as well as teaching British Intelligence how the Enigma Machines worked, turned the tide of war more than any D-Day Landing may have. The CIA may play down the Polish contribution and play up their own contribution (as Operative Services), but it is American propaganda.



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