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Assymetric Warriors

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

In the shadow of the 10th anniversary of the 9–11 terrorist attacks, the United States finds itself facing a different threat from terrorists. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano recently stated that, “The U.S. has become ‘categorically safer’ since 9/11, but cyber-terrorism now tops the list of security concerns.”

One of the most accepted definitions of cyber terrorism comes from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). According to the FBI, cyber terrorism is the “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.” That definition is intentionally broad to leave room for the seemingly continuous change in the cyber attack strategies and tactics used in general that are often adopted by terrorists.

Cyber terrorist seem to have an endless number of targets to attacks. Given that the United States is the most computerized country in the world, you would have thought that we would have or should have learned valuable lessons from the cyber attacks on Estonia and Georgia as well as the Stuxnet incident in Iran, but it appears we haven’t! Could a Stuxnet type attack be launched against the critical infrastructure systems of the United States and be successful? The answer is yes and many believe that is highly likely!

Government is moving quickly as compared to the sluggish pace we have come to expect. However, this pace is nowhere near the speed this threat is evolving. Many security professionals find it difficult to sit and watch as their continuous warnings go all but unheard. Equally concerning is that federal legislators seem to be more concerned about how they can get a piece of the monies being allocated to this threat and jobs for the area they represent rather that the national security threat of a cyber terrorist attack on our critical systems!

In remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9–11 as well as those who continue to suffer from the affects of the events that day.

Enjoy these videos (below the jump) showing the interior of the Airbus A340 jet that served as Gadhafi’s personal plane. I wonder how much space in the cargo hold was taken up by the colonel’s infamous tent?

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By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent.

Activism manifesting itself on the Internet has been referred to as hacktivism for years. Recently, the intensity and success of cyber protests has caused businesses, the government, the military and intelligence community to increase their level of concern. At the center of concern is the group known as Anonymous. The successes that Anonymous has had with their attacks are reason for concern. In July authorities arrested 16 alleged members of the group within the United States with additional arrests in the U.K. and the Netherlands. The continued targeting and arrests of alleged members of Anonymous and LulzSec hacking groups seem to have inflamed the groups prompting concerns about retaliatory cyber attacks.

These concerns have risen to a level that just recently, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alerted the cyber security community of the threat of potential attacks from Anonymous over the next few months. On September 2nd DHS issued a security bulletin from their National Cyber-Security and Communications Integration Center warning about cyber attacks from entities under the Anonymous umbrella. DHS disclosed three separate international attack plans referred to as — Occupy Wall Street, Operation Facebook, and Project Mayhem.

You may remember that just recently Anonymous leveraged Twitter to try and influence dissatisfied employees of banks and other companies in the financial sector to provide the group with information and systems access. The bulletin went on to warn of the use of “unwilling coercion through embarrassment or blackmail may be a risk to personnel.” DHS went on to alert the cyber security community to what they termed “new tools” that have been developed by Anonymous that will be used in future attacks.

With a $1.7 million bounty on his head, former (I think we can say that now) Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is now being hunted by not only the rebels but also the host of NATO ISR assets involved in the fight and possibly British SAS commandos.

UK Defence Secretary, Liam Fox announced yesterday that “NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaisance assets” to hunt members of Gadhafi’s regime. I’m willing to bet that many of these ISR assets are U.S. military aircraft.

While Pentagon spokeswoman Wendy Snyder couldn’t provide a breakdown of the specific ISR birds being used in the Libyan fight, she confirmed that there are more than 70 manned and unmanned U.S. military aircraft flying everything from ISR missions to refueling and strike sorties over Libya.

We do know is that the U.S. Air Force’s big E-3 AWACS jets and E-8 Joint STARS ground scanning radar planes have been on scene as well as it’s RQ-4 Global Hawk high altitude spy drone. The Global Hawk is equipped with IR cameras and, like the E-8, a synthetic aperture radar that allows it to take high resolution snapshots of the ground or track moving targets like enemy trucks that the dictator may be riding in. (The E-8’s radar has even been used in Afghanistan to identify disturbances in the Earth where IEDs have been planted.) The AWACS, meanwhile, could look for any attempts to fly Gadhafi out of the country.

We also know that RC-135 Rivet Joints have played a key role in intercepting the communications of Gadhafi’s forces. This info has been used in conjunction with the Global Hawk’s radars to pinpoint Gadhafi’s fighters and cue strike missions against them. Snippets of these intercepted conversations between Gadhafi’s troops complaining about a dire lack of supplies were also provided to rebels by NATO in order to boost their morale.

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Just watch this great video of a Libyan rebel wearing what he says is Gadhafi’s hat.