August 28th, 2014
Bloomberg / By Michael Riley and Jordan Robertson
Russian hackers attacked the U.S. financial system in mid-August, infiltrating and stealing data from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and at least one other bank, an incident the FBI is investigating as a possible retaliation for government-sponsored sanctions, according to two people familiar with the probe.
The attack resulted in the loss of gigabytes of sensitive data, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the probe is still preliminary. Authorities are investigating whether recent infiltrations of major European banks using a similar vulnerability are also linked to the attack, one of the people said.
In one case, the hackers used a software flaw known as a zero-day vulnerability in one of the banks’ websites. They then plowed through layers of elaborate security to steal the data, a feat security experts said appeared far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers. The incidents occurred at a low point in relations between Russia and the West. Russian troops continue to mass on the Ukrainian border and the West tightens sanctions aimed at crippling Russian companies, including some of the country’s most important banks.
The sophistication of the attack and technical indicators extracted from the banks’ computers provide some evidence of a government link. Still, the trail is muddy enough that investigators are considering the possibility that it’s cyber criminals from Russia or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Other federal agencies, including the National Security Agency, are now aiding the investigation, a third person familiar with the probe said.
“The way the Russians do it, to the extent we can see into the process, is they encourage certain targets,” said James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The Russians typically keep open the options to do something more, and the question now is what would trigger that and what would our response be.”
J. Peter Donald, an FBI spokesman in New York, declined to comment.
“Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyber attacks nearly every day,” Patricia Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We have multiple, layers of defense to counteract any threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.”
JPMorgan fell 15 cents to $59.59 in New York trading today. The stock has risen 2 percent this year.
Attacks on the U.S. financial sector from Russia and Eastern Europe have jumped over that last several months, according to several cyber security experts. Companies and U.S. officials are examining the possibility that the uptick is related to the conflict over Russia’s behavior in Ukraine.
In at least one of the attacks, the hackers grabbed sensitive data from the files of bank employees, including executives, according to a fourth person briefed on the probe, who, like the other individuals with knowledge of the matter, declined to divulge the name of victims other than JPMorgan. Some data related to customers may also have been accessed, the person said.
U.S. and European sanctions have altered the way that Western banks interact with Russian entities over the past few months, triggering the ire of Russian officials. In April, JPMorgan was singled out for criticism when it blocked a payment from a Russian embassy to the affiliate of a U.S.-sanctioned bank. Russia’s foreign ministry called the move by New York-based JPMorgan “illegal and absurd.” The U.S. bank was widely criticized by Russian commentators.
ISight Partners, a Dallas-based company that provides intelligence on cyber threats to some of the largest banks, recently warned clients of the potential for retaliatory attacks in cyberspace as Western sanctions tightened.
Russia has used such attacks before. In conflicts with Estonia and Georgia, hackers crashed those countries’ communications systems and government websites.
“Russia has a policy of reactionary attacks in relation to political contexts,” said John Hultquist, an iSight expert who would not confirm direct knowledge of the attack. “When it comes to countries outside their sphere of influence, those attacks would be more surreptitious.”
Any U.S. reaction may be muted, even if the government makes a direct link from the attacks to Russia, Lewis said. The threshold for a military response is either massive economic harm or potential loss of life, he said.
When the U.S. government tied hacks on bank websites in 2012 and 2013 to Iran, the White House determined the incidents didn’t reach that level. Instead, President Barack Obama’s administration tried to shut down the attack points in Europe and elsewhere, which was a lengthy process.
“You’ll see a continued effort to strengthen the defenses of the financial sector, but there is a general reluctance to do a tit-for-tat in cyberspace,” Lewis said.
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August 28th, 2014
By Barry Secrest
With developments taking place both in the Mideast and Ukraine, the President was slated to speak at 4:00pm.
The various media outlets received word of this address about 15 minutes prior to the event.
Amazingly, the President somehow managed to hit his mark within about ten minutes of the scheduled time, perhaps the closest ever in the handful of times he's come close to hitting the mark in his entire presidential career.
During his address, the President made it very clear that there are no clear plans for dealing with either ISIS, Iraq, Russia, or Syria. However, the President did make clear the fact that his most favored Sunni tribesmen who also comprise ISIS, should be given a place at the table in the predominantly Shia Iraqi government.
Obama also boasted about US resilience in creating millions of jobs, however with pay averaging 23% less since 2008 on the President's watch, and with employment numbers still lagging behind the number of employed in 2008, despite hefty population increases.
The President, in his speech, seemed to continually stress the fact that actions in the Mideast must come with the backing of an international coalition of allies, which unfortunately no longer exist, since no nation now trusts America to keep its word.
The address was scheduled just before the President is to convene a National Security Meeting which, once again for the first time, may actually seek to deal with foreign security threats rather than political Tea Party opposition, martial law, US bullet procurement, and the possible incarceration of individuals exhibiting a cough, as per his executive order # 13295 addendum.
Obama, during his address, startled the nation when he indicated that international ambivalence towards the Islamic terrorist group ISIS is what has allowed the group to both grow and takeover large swaths of Iraq and Syria, even after Obama actually referred to the terrorist group as a Jayvee team in late January.
As a result of the President's almost perfunctory appearance, and its lack of substance, startled US and European stock markets tumbled as the DOW closed down -42.44 with most European markets plunging by approximately 1%.
August 27th, 2014
Join host Barry Secrest and exo-government specialist Lee Daniel as they discuss an ever-expanding caseload of governmental oddities, politics, the Supernatural & The New World Order--all from an entertaining, cutting edge, Conservative perspective.
Topics for tonight include:
Listen live and CALL IN to speak to the host and co-host--(347) 996-3923. Join the conversation!
August 27th, 2014
Monitoring hate speech--To be administered by college academians....Hey! What could go wrong?
This impetus is all about eradicating any ideas which do not conform to those currently in power.....as tried many times in the past, one particular example is just below.
Washington Free Beacon
The federal government is spending nearly $1 million to create an online database that will track “misinformation” and hate speech on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is financing the creation of a web service that will monitor “suspicious memes” and what it considers “false and misleading ideas,” with a major focus on political activity online.
The “Truthy” database, created by researchers at Indiana University, is designed to “detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution.”
The university has received $919,917 so far for the project.
“The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly,” the grant states. “Our data will be made available via [application programming interfaces] APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features.”
“The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online,” it continues. “Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes.”
“This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate,” the grant said.
“Truthy,” which gets its name from Stephen Colbert, will catalog how information is spread on Twitter, including political campaigns.
“While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns,” according to the website....
August 26th, 2014
The official government narrative regarding the fate of murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens has some serious unreported discrepancies and leaves out key elements of the chronology of events, a forthcoming book on the Benghazi attacks demonstrates.
The book presents strong evidence to support the case that Stevens or his body was held hostage for a period of time by rebels linked to the Ansar Al Sharia terrorist organization, which has since been implicated in the Benghazi attacks.
These and other revelations are contained in “The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know,” by New York Times bestselling author Aaron Klein.
The book is slated for release Sept. 9, two days before the second anniversary of the Benghazi attack.
A full chapter is dedicated to investigating Stevens’ death.
Raising some eyebrows, Thomas Pickering, the State Department’s lead Benghazi investigator and author of the State-sponsored Accountability Review Board report, or ARB, refused to deny there was a plan to kidnap Stevens.
At a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Benghazi in mid-September 2013, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wy., asked Pickering directly the alleged kidnap plot.
She asked, “Is it true that they were planning to kidnap the ambassador and it went wrong?”
“I can’t comment on that,” Pickering replied, followed by a long pause.
Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., stepped in and changed the subject.
However, later in the hearing, Pickering further commented on the kidnap issue.
“So I would say, while I said I didn’t want to touch that, I would say in retrospect it doesn’t seem highly likely. It could be. But I don’t think so,” he said.
The kidnapping questions were further fueled by an al-Qaida member’s claim last year that Stevens was killed in a botched capture attempt.
Official Stevens account highly unlikely
Klein starts by reviewing the State Department’s ARB version of events surrounding Stevens untimely death, writing one would need to “make several monumental leaps of faith” for the accounting to be accepted as full.
At the beginning, militants were said to enter the complex with cans of diesel fuel, setting the building ablaze and forcing those inside, including Stevens, to seek refuge in the bathroom until he was overcome by smoke.
Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent Scott Strickland jumped out the bathroom window, but Stevens and Information Management Officer Sean Smith did not follow him, the ARB states. Later, Strickland and three other agents returned to the main building to search for survivors, finding Smith’s body, but not Stevens.
The ARB details Stevens’ guard identified in the State-sanctioned report not as Strickland but as “ARSO 1,” located Stevens and Smith, “asked them to don body armor, and led them into the safe area in Villa C, which ARSO 1 secured.”
ARSO is the State Department abbreviation for assistant regional security officer.
Klein says that what the ARB claims happened next doesn’t make sense in light of other reports. The State document claims, “ARSO 1, who was protecting Ambassador Stevens and IMO Smith in the safe area, heard intruders breaking through the Villa C front door.
“Men armed with AK rifles started to destroy the living room contents and then approached the safe area gate and started banging on it. ARSO 1 did not want to compromise their location in the safe area by engaging the intruders, and he warned the Ambassador and IMO Smith to prepare for the intruders to try to blast the safe area gate locks open. Instead the intruders departed, and the lights in Villa C appeared to dim.”
Klein asks why would the intruders simply depart before attempting to blast their way into the safe area? Earlier, the ARB itself noted the intruders appeared to have inside knowledge of the compound.
Yet the ARB contends that just as these knowledgeable, well-coordinated intruders had Stevens cornered, they decided to leave Villa C where the ambassador was holed up without even attempting to gain entry to the safe room.
The story becomes even stranger, writes Klein. The ARB states the intruders smoked up Villa C, likely to make breathing so difficult that anyone inside the safe room would need to come out. And that’s just what happened, the ARB states, claiming Stevens and his guards had no choice but to exit the safe room to get fresh air.
Except somehow Stevens and his guards made it from the safe room, where they were being smoked out, into a bathroom in the Villa without any of the intruders noticing? That’s what the ARB expects readers to believe, writes Klein.
Stevens’ guard was said to have led the ambassador into a bathroom with an exterior window. All three crawled into the bathroom.
“ARSO 1 escaped through a window,” according to the ARB, believing Stevens and Smith were following him. He later re-entered the building to search for Stevens and Smith. ARSO-1 made it to the roof of the compound, where he radioed for assistance. The ARB states: “ARSO 1 was rescued by a small team that made it back to the nearby CIA safe house.”
Continue Reading: Good Samaritans?