Kiwi spooks were briefed on setting honey traps and internet “dirty tricks” to “control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp” online discourse, documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal.
Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) agents – part of the Five Eyes intelligence network – were briefed by counterparts from the ultra-secret Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. A slide-show presentation, called “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations”, was given at a top secret spy conference in 2012.
It outlined sex and dirty tricks cyber operations used by JTRIG, a unit of the British Signals intelligence agency GCHQ which focused on cyber forensics, espionage and covert operations. GCHQ described the purpose of the unit as “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”
According to the slides, JTRIG conducted “honey traps,” sent computer viruses, deleted the online presence of targets and engaged in cyber-attacks on the “hacktivist” collective Anonymous.
One carried the title “Cyber offensive session: pushing the boundaries and action against hacktivism” revealing the agency was going after online political activists.
Reputation destroying tactics
The presentation outlined tactics to destroy the reputation of targets online. It detailed how agents could get another country to “believe a secret” by placing information on a compromised computer or making it visible on networks under surveillance.
A JTRIG tool, called AMBASSADORS RECEPTION, involved sending a virus to someone’s computer to stop it functioning. It would delete emails, encrypt files, make the screen shake, deny service or stop log-ins.
Other methods were deployed to “stop someone communicating,” bombarding their phone with text messages and calls – in some cases every 10 seconds, deleting their online presence and blocking up their fax machines. According to the presentation these tactics were used in Afghanistan “significantly disrupting Taliban Operations.”
Changing a profile photo on social networking sites “can take paranoia to a whole new level.” A honey trap was described as ” a great option” and “very successful when it works.” Writing false blogs, pretending to be a “victim” of a target worked in “serious crime ops” and in Iran, the conference was told.
The documents were presented to the GCSB, NSA and agents from Australia and Canada.
Author and journalist Glen Greenwald worked with MSNBC to reveal the documents. On “The Intercept” website he wrote that the agencies were “attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate and warp online discourse, and in doing so are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.”
Published: 1:41PM Wednesday February 26, 2014 Source: Fairfax
Find this story at 26 February 2014
© 2014, Television New Zealand Limited