It is 02:00, I slowly move into the building that is owned through puppet corporations. The true owner is no one less then Vladimir Kumarin, the most powerful man in St. Petersburg. Entering the building is relatively simple. I avoid the guards, one almost saw me. It is tempting to use sentry killing, but the body will be found. There can be no trace. I install the small remote webcam. Hacking into his wireless router is relatively simple. It is military grade, but my link to the Cray Titan in Langley soon has that fixed. The router got hit by 400,000 requests a second. It cries for its mamma in less than 7 seconds, a new record. I am in and ghost accounts are set up less than 15 seconds later. The scripts run without a hitch. a low tech wireless microphone is set up 3 minutes later. That is the one they will have issues finding, but it will be found, so the rest remains invisible. I leave silent as the night, no trace left and less than 2 hours later I look like a drunk American exchange student studying in Sweden, on a train to Helsinki.
Yes, it reads like such a nice story, but none of it is true! Thinking of Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher, I am not even that good a spy writer, so I will leave that skill to Mr Clancy. The closest I get to action is the Xbox360 edition. Suits me just fine!
If we look at today, then all we need is a little box that fits into the palm of our hand. We sit in a coffee shop where the ‘privileged young executives’ tend to show off their expensive mobile, laptop, slightly overcharged suits and they look for that young lady dressed to… ‘Impress’. He then logs in does some basic wizardry stuff and considers himself in the running for a possible afternoon of great sex. That was his plan, will she bite? Nearby is a guy who no one notices. He wears a polo-shirt, likely cargo pants too, has a crossover bag and is typing on his laptop. He looks like many Uni students that get casually ignored. He was waiting for the guy (or anyone like him) to show off. He did just that, and less than 3 seconds after the information is typed in, he has link and login details. He now knows what network he can invade. Perhaps the young executive is lucky and he is of no value. If not, his account is broken down and thousands of dollars on internal communications, price agreements, customer’s details and many more details are now duplicated. It would be worth quite a few coins for the right competitor. As such the quiet student will have all his Uni debts paid off long before he gets his degree. So, what is this about?
You see, the Guardian today is having another go at the intelligence industry. I am referring to http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa. Here they discuss several acts that GCHQ has allegedly involved in. My issue is with this part of the sentence “process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people“. Is that any different from what Social media and market research is doing? Let us not forget it is all about the latter part of that same sentence “as well as targeted suspects“.
If there was a way to just focus on that 0.0003% of that population, then it would be easy. But life is not that easy as we learn ourselves on a very daily basis. The only issue I truly have with that article is “Snowden told the Guardian. ‘They [GCHQ] are worse than the US’”. Really Mr Snowden? Let us go over those facts again. First he betrays his country. He is not some guy who got into the thick of it. He first does not make it past basic training. He then gets a chance to serve in the CIA (whomever gave him that brake is truly regretting that act I reckon). He then walks away and joins the NSA. Is there anyone not having any questions at present? So, he knows what is required and then he walks away and not just to anybody. He runs off to Hong Kong. In my mind, he must have thought that the Chinese cyber division would want to offer him a cushy job. But these boys would see through him in no time. Those savants know every in and out of every bit a Cisco system routes, how it does that, why it does that, and where the threats are. Snowden does not instil that level of ingenuity to me. So again, he did not go to some non-extradition country out of conviction (like Ecuador), no he went straight for the ‘enemy’ and is now allegedly enjoying Borsjt and Blackbread in Russian company.
Let us get back to the issues that really matter. This is not about those who claim to be ‘entirely innocent’. This is not even about your average criminals that much. GCHQ is one part to keep England safe. As described earlier, security is no longer done through a backpack full of tricks. The bulk of today’s danger comes to individuals we know not where, and it arrives to them in the simple form of a message. It could be an e-mail, an SMS or even a chat message left on a gaming site. To find them GCHQ needs to get to them all. Do you think they read these messages? That is not humanly possible, every second internet information is created that would take one person a lifetime just to get through. So it becomes about flagging. We can look at two flags. 1 flag is green and is zero threat. That is well over 95% of all communications. This also includes all the dicey and spicy spam messages we get. In effect, they know where it came from, where it is going to. The people they seek are of a different variety. They are all about not being able to detect, or to detect the origin. That is already less than 0.3% of all these messages. Then we go on and on. 1% out of that 0.3% is now a possible threat. Is it? They do not know yet, but the amount is now so small, they can actually start taking a look at the facts. Even then it could be harmless, yet many millions were crunched into less than 1000. That group might be part of the second flag. Even that number is still too high. As time progresses more is crunched and then those people at GCHQ will really go to town and pass on what might be a threat. So, was there an issue? You might think that it is, but if you are entirely innocent then the chance that they saw your data is actually so small that winning the lottery has a much better chance. Do I worry? Hell no. My usage is even less than that. Many download movies, some download pirated games. None of that interests the Intelligence community. They want to learn one thing. Where is the threat to us coming from?
The bulk of us will not even register on their radar. If we rely on the numbers in the article “By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data.” that is 550 people to sift through amounts of data that is so much that 1 minute of generated internet traffic will require them all to work their entire careers to sift through that much. Reading our emails? We are just not that important and we likely never will be.
If you are worried, then worry about real threats. The real non-terrorist threat out there today, are the many normal people, not using Common Cyber Sense as they use free internet to do what they need to do from the comfort of their non-desk. Those are the people endangering YOUR data, because they are out to get some personal gain.