“Hack the Pentagon” Begins This Month

Hack the Pentagon, the US intelligence agency’s new bug bounty program, is set to begin this month, its organiser HackerOne has revealed. The challenge, which is open to anyone who thinks they have the technical nous to find and exploit weaknesses in the Pentagon’s cybersecurity systems, will commence on 18th April, running until 12th May.

“This is an effort for the Government to explore new approaches to its cybersecurity challenges,” the official website reads, “and evolve to adopt the best practices used by the most successful and secure software companies in the world, the DoD can ensure U.S. systems and warfighters are as secure as possible.”

One notable figure who may participate in the bug hunt is budding supervillain and future emperor of the Earth John McAfee, who has already posited his Ocean’s Eleven-esque method for compromising the Pentagon’s security.

If you would like to attempt to “Hack the Pentagon”, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have successfully registered as a participant through this security page.
  • You must have a U.S. taxpayer identification number and a social security number or an employee identification number and the ability to complete required verification forms.
  • You must be eligible to work within the U.S.; meaning you are a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national of the U.S., a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work within the U.S.
  • You must not reside in a country currently under U.S. trade sanctions.
  • You must not be on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list.

While the “Hack the Pentagon” website makes reference to potential “rewards” for successfully breaching its security, it doesn’t provide any figures.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

John McAfee Lied About Hacking San Bernardino iPhone

Serial fantasist John McAfee – who claimed last week that he could stage an Ocean’s Eleven-esque infiltration of the Pentagon – has admitted to lying about his ability to hack the encryption of an iPhone.

McAfee, speaking to Russia Today, CNN, and Business Insider last month, publicly offered his services to the FBI to hack the iPhone of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook so that Apple –  which had refused an FBI court order to unlock the device – would not have its encryption compromised.

However, in a phone interview with The Daily Dot, McAfee has now admitted that he lied about his method of decrypting an iPhone – conceding that it would not work – in order to get, in his words, “get a s***load of public attention.” He does claim, however, that he has another, secret way of hacking an iPhone, but he’s not telling you, and he’ll take his ball home if you try to make him.

“By doing so, I knew that I would get a s***load of public attention, which I did,” McAfee revealed to The Daily Dot. “That video, on my YouTube account, it has 700,000 views. My point is to bring to the American public the problem that the FBI is trying to [fool] the American public. How am I going to do that, by just going off and saying it? No one is going to listen to that crap.”

“So I come up with something sensational,” he added. “Now, what I did not lie about was my ability to crack the iPhone. I can do it. It’s a piece of friggin’ cake. You could probably do it.”

When asked why he was even discussing the existence of his mysterious decryption wizardry, McAfee responded, “Because I’m assuming, because you kept on asking, that you aren’t going to publish it.” The Daily Dot explained that no such agreement had been made. McAfee subsequently hung up.

“The lie was an exaggeration of simplicity,” McAfee said in a text message after the interview. “As the Inverse article explained, it would have been impossible in the time allowed to explain the fullness of the truth. If you fault me for that, then you, and possibly your readers, will have been the only one on the planet to have done so.”

McAfee also said, “I apologize for my anger.” He added that it “seemed absurd to me to focus on a simplification of a technique, given the stakes at risk—a potentially Orwellian state initiated by the populace ignoring the truth of what the FBI is trying to do to us.”

The entirety of The Daily Dot’s interview with John McAfee can be heard below:

John McAfee Interview — The Daily Dot by William Turton

John McAfee Explains How He’d Hack the Pentagon

John McAfee, paranoid billionaire hacker and future President of the USA, is at it again. Not content with boasting about how easy it would be for him to hack an iPhone, McAfee has decided to crank it up a notch, telling Tech Insider not only that he could hack the Pentagon, but explaining exactly how he would do it.

“You want to find the weakest link,” McAfee said in a phone interview with Tech Insider. “You’re in and out, and you have everything.”

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it would be inviting hackers to test its systems for security. McAfee claims that, given the opportunity, that he could compromise the intelligence organisation’s systems within a month.

“I would exclusively use social engineering,” he said. “I would most likely use an ‘audit authorization letter’ on [Department of Defense] letterhead.”

“This technique seldom fails,” he added.

McAfee’s plan to hack the Pentagon relies less on coding and more on hustling, pulling a Danny Ocean-esque confidence trick. He envisions himself bluffing and sweet-talking his way into the building, supported by fake IDs and hacked phone lines, following weeks of surveillance to identify the ideal marks and copy official ID badges.

The caper itself begins with McAfee himself, suited up, entering a Pentagon data centre with an official-looking letter.

“The last thing on your mind is going to be ‘Can I see your credentials?’” McAfee explains, “Because what credentials [am I] going to have? [We] are going to have this letter and say ‘Call the general.’

“The people you hand this letter to are terrorized,” he adds. “Why? Because they know they fucked up. They know that they have problems. They know that they have flaws in the system.”

“If they do call the number, it’s even worse. The operator,” who is a plant, according to McAfee’s plan, “says, ‘Yes, this is extraordinarily important. Tell them they’re late and they better get [the audit report] in now. You have no idea how pissed off the general is.'”

Sadly, John has blown his load by revealing his plan in public. But maybe it’s a double-bluff, or he’s so confident that he thinks he can pull the heist off anyway. Either way, I can’t wait until the “Hack the Pentagon” initiative begins this April.

The Pentagon to Upgrade its 4 Million PCs to Windows 10

Microsoft has scored its biggest customer yet, which will see its Windows 10 operating system installed on millions of computer over 2016. The company has announced that the US secretary of Defense has ordered the Pentagon to upgrade its 4 million PC to Windows 10 over the next twelve months, CNN Money reports. The aggressive upgrade strategy – which signals a huge vote of confidence in the security of Windows 10 and its integrated Windows Hello user ID system – will mean 16,000 installs a day.

“Microsoft can now go to its customers and say that if the Pentagon can upgrade all of its PCs to Windows 10 within a year, what’s stopping your company from upgrading?” Bob O’Donnell, Microsoft analyst at TECHnalysis Research, said.

“I see this as a best proof point for Microsoft showing that Windows 10 is certainly more secure than its predecessor and stable enough to be rolled out to millions of people,” said Pat Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

The systems to be upgraded by the Pentagon include computers on submarines, aeroplanes, and battlefield deployments.

According to Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer for the Pentagon, the DoD needs to “deploy innovation faster to ensure systems are more secure, more efficient and cost-effective, and standardized on one platform.”

The Pentagon Wants $15bn Funding for Weaponised AI in 2017

The Pentagon has filed its fiscal budget for 2017, for which it is asking for between $12 billion and $15 billion to fund the development of artificial intelligence weapon technology, Business Insider reports.

“This is designed to make the human more effective in combat,” said US Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work at a Center for a New American Security conference on Monday. “We believe that the advantage we have is […] our people; that tech-savvy people who’ve grown up in the iWorld will kick the crap out of people who grew up in the iWorld under an authoritarian reign.”

While it will work closely with Congress to make its weaponised AI program cost-effective, the Pentagon’s work on artificial intelligence will be classified, the Deputy Defense Secretary added, saying, “I want our competitors to wonder what’s behind the black curtain.”

The project is set to include wearable devices, exoskeletons, co-operative systems to allow drones and manned planes to work together, huge drone mother ships to launch executive military missions, and “smart” missiles, that can autonomously identify and analyse new enemy targets to allow commanders to make real-time adjustments to the weapon’s trajectory.

While Work admits that there is “a lot of scepticism” within the Department of Defense regarding AI, he remains convinced that such weapons are “not only possible, but […] a requirement.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Hack Targets Email System Of The Pentagon

NBC news is reporting information which has been supplied by US officials who have stated that Russia has launched a “sophisticated cyber attack” with the aim being the Pentagon’s Joint Staff unclassified email system.

The email system has since been shut down by being taken offline for almost two weeks. The attack happened “sometime” around July the 25th 2015, this has affected around 4,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the joint chief of staff. I love how specific highly trained government officials are behaving concerning this possible intrusion.

Sources have briefed NBC News that the hack relied on “some kind of automated system that rapidly gathered massive amounts of data and within a minute distributed all the information to thousands of accounts on the Internet”. There is suspicion that Russian hackers planned and implemented the cyber attack via encrypted accounts on social media.

The phrase, “oh here we go again” comes to mind with these types of cyber attacks, which conjure a feeling of Déjà vu or Groundhog Day depending on your movie of choice. If governments, companies and infrastructures intend to keep information stored within networks and connected devices, then it needs to be secure. It’s absurd that it keeps happening over and over again; it’s almost deciding which foot to shoot and ending up shooting both.

Officials have stressed at this time no classified information has been compromised, hopefully this will not change. There is also the unknown factor of whether this has been orchestrated by hackers on behalf of the Russian government. I expect more information to be placed in the public domain within the coming days, or it will be forgotten by a new hack from a far-flung country. Who knows, at this stage nothing is surprising.

Thank you NBC News for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of masteringfilm

Islamic State Said to Have about 46K Twitter Accounts

The Islamic State terror organisation is known for its use of social media accounts. Though Twitter stated that the it found around 70,00 pro-ISIS accounts, 46,000 are deemed as the “most conservative” estimate.

The report comes after the FBI issued a warning about American teens being susceptible to ISIS recruitment tactics, having ISIS Twitter Census finding that one if five accounts are in English and the rest, representing 75%, are in Arabic.

The report states that “a minimum” of 1,000 accounts were closed between September and December 2014, while Twitter closed about 2,000 accounts this week alone. Following the social media giant’s action, ISIS issued a threat against Jack Dorsey, a Twitter co-founder.

“The process of suspension does create certain new risks. Most importantly, while suspensions appear to have created obstacles to supporters joining ISIS’s social network, they also isolate ISIS supporters online. This could increase the speed and intensity of radicalization for those who do manage to enter the network, and hinder organic social pressures that could lead to deradicalization.”

The group’s social media presence has even gained the attention of new Pentagon Chief, Ashton Carter, stating that ISIS “is a social-media-fueled terrorism group in a way we haven’t seen yet.”

“People who are very distant from any battlefield, from any experience of radicalism, are suddenly becoming enticed through social media,” said Carter.

The report found that Android is the most common platform for mobile tweeting, while iOS comes in second and Blackberry in third place.

“Among users of the three most popular phone types, 69 percent had downloaded a Twitter client from the Google Play store or Google.com,” the report said. “Another 30 percent used a client downloaded from the Apple iTunes store, and about 1 percent had downloaded a client from Blackberry.com.”

It is said that the ISIS Twitter numbers are only a fraction of the 288 million Twitter claims are active on the website. The report states that 4% of the accounts had between 5,000 and 50,000 followers. However, since the pro-ISIS accounts started to appear last year, they are likely to reach millions of people worldwide due to the fact that between 500 and 2,000 ISIS account holders tweet in high volume and their messages are likely to go viral.

“This activity, more than any other, drives the success of ISIS’s efforts to promulgate its message on social media,” the report said. “Short, prolonged bursts of activity cause hashtags to trend, resulting in third-party aggregation and insertion of tweeted content into search results.”

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

US Hypersonic Weapon Destroyed Just Seconds After Testing Began

The US recently tested their new Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, a new missile deployment systems that could allow them to strike a target anywhere in the world within one hour, but the initial test flight of the new technology resulted in a self destruct just four seconds after the test began.

Shortly after the US Military developed weapon was fired from a test range in Alaska on Monday morning, the controllers said they detected a problem with the aircraft.

“The craft was destroyed to ensure public safety, and no one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT) on Monday at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska” said Maureen Schumann, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department.

“We had to terminate. That’s correct,” Schumann said. “The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the range complex,” she said, adding that the test craft was destroyed in the first four seconds of its launch. “I don’t know the exact altitude, but it was not very far,” she added.

The technology was developed as a means of hitting strategic targets at significant range without using nuclear weapons, but the missile lost control and exploded shortly after launch, meaning significant set backs for the defense project.

Should it work, the hypersonic glide body design should allow the craft to reach speeds of Mach 5 (3600 mph) as it travels on the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and is just one of several projects being tested as part of the Prompt Global Strike program.

Thank you Telegraph for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Telegraph.