Spies, Intelligence, and Publisher Motives

December 31, 2019

We are getting close to a new decade. This morning DarkCyber’s newsfeed contained two stories. These were different from the Year in Review and the What’s Ahead write ups that clog the info pipes as a year twists in the wind.

Even more interesting is the fact that the stories come from sources usually associated with recycled news releases and topics about innovations in look alike mobile phones, the antics of the Silicon Valley wizards, and gadgets rivaling the Popeil Pocket Fisherman in usefulness.

The first story is about Microsoft cracking down on a nation state which appears to have a desire to compromise US interests. “Microsoft Takes Down 50 Domains Operated by North Korean Hackers” states that:

Microsoft takes control of 50 domains operated by Thallium (APT37), a North Korean cyber-espionage group.

The write up added:

The domains were used to send phishing emails and host phishing pages. Thallium hackers would lure victims on these sites, steal their credentials, and then gain access to internal networks, from where they’d escalate their attacks even further.

DarkCyber finds this interesting. Specialist firms in the US and Israel pay attention to certain types of online activity. Now the outfit that brings the wonky Windows 10 updates and the hugely complex Azure cloud construct is taking action, with the blessing of a court. Prudent is Microsoft.

The second write up is “‘Shattered’: Inside the Secret Battle to Save America’s Undercover Spies in the Digital Age.” The write up appears to be the original work of Yahoo, a unit of Verizon. The article explains a breach and notes:

Whether the U.S. intelligence agencies will be able to make these radical changes is unclear, but without a fundamental transformation, officials warn, the nation faces an unprecedented crisis in its ability to collect human intelligence. While some believe that a return to tried and true tradecraft will be sufficient to protect undercover officers, others fear the business of human spying is in mortal peril and that the crisis will ultimately force the U.S. intelligence community to rethink its entire enterprise.

Note that the Yahoo original news story runs about 6,000 words. Buy a hot chocolate, grab a bagel, and chill as you work through the compilation of government efforts to deal with security, bad actors, bureaucratic procedures, and assorted dangers, clear, unclear, present, and missing in action. On the other hand, you can wait for the podcast because the write up seems to have some pot boiler characteristics woven through the “news.”

Read the original stories.

DarkCyber formulated several observations. Here they are:

  • Will 2020 be the year of intelligence, cyber crime, and government missteps related to security?
  • Why are ZDNet and Yahoo (both outfits with a history of wobbling from news release to news release) getting into what seems to be popularization of topics once ignored. Clicks? Ad dollars? Awards for journalism?
  • What will stories like these trigger? One idea is that bad actors may become sufficiently unhappy to respond. Will these responses be a letter to the editor? Maybe. Maybe not. Unintended consequences may await.

This new interest of ZDNet and Yahoo may be a story in itself. Perhaps there is useful information tucked into the Yahoo Groups which Verizon will be removing from public access in a couple of weeks. And what about that Microsoft activity?

Stephen E Arnold, December 31, 2019


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta