Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CIA, Longhorn and Vault 7

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Most of us not too tech savvy grunts might not have heard of Longhorn, or we associate the term with cattle; the famous breed of the American West.

But Longhorn, as the techies and cyber warriors are aware, is a hacking group. Longhorn, is the name Internet security firm Symantec has given to a “sophisticated cyberespionage operation” it has been tracking for some time.  Symantec describes Longhorn’s behavior as, “… consistent with the activity of state-sponsored groups -- and operating in an American time zone.”

More revealing is that Symantec claims the tools and techniques used by Longhorn were described in documents released by Wikileaks last month under the name Vault 7.  Symantec research has revealed the CIA tools were used to hack “40 organizations across 16 countries” according to the Financial Times.* Much of this activity was in the Middle East but also Europe and Asia.

Semantec, unlike Wikileaks, has not openly identified the CIA as Longhorn but the evidence is overwhelming. “We quickly realised that some of the tools and techniques described in the Vault 7 documents almost exactly matched the tools being used by a group we call ‘Longhorn’, There is enough evidence to form a definite link between the two.” FT.

Apparently there was another “dump of malware” last weekend that was stolen from US intelligence agencies according to the Times. A group called Shadowbrokers released the information to the public, a new set of hacking tools it claims have been developed by US spies.  US intelligence spokespersons are claiming the latest release is in response to the US strikes on Syria and likely come through Wikileaks which the US believes is being manipulated by the Kremlin. Doesn't Donald Trump "love" Wikileaks? He changes his mind so much we can't be sure.

It is clearly evident that in this age of the Internet, social media and the millions employed by the vast US state apparatus, it is almost impossible to keep information from the general public. The sentence meted out to Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) who allegedly released files to Wikileaks and in particular the Collateral Murder video , was a warning both to state department employees, military personnel and all would be whistleblowers to keep their mouths shut.

Another interesting aspect of this modern day warfare and political activity is that corporations and government agencies are encouraging hackers to hack them as a means of learning the weaknesses of their internet security systems. These are called, “Vulnerability reward programs” and “big bounty programs”. Hackers get rewards, financial payment, even free travel miles to reveal security flaws. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, the Pentagon, millions is spent getting independent hackers to help the corporations and their state apparatus protect their interests.

These developments, as we have pointed out on this blog, reveal the insanity of the traditional left groups and their sectarian approach to the movement. Their refusal to discuss and share differences openly with the working class and each other so that workers can hear and participate, to dialogue with the working class and learn from it, help build the movement of the working class. The idea that a tiny, insignificant so-called revolutionary group can keep its internal discussions and debates from the bourgeois is nonsense. The state can listen in when it wants. The only forces kept out are other competing left groups and more importantly, the workers movement the force that can actually change things

I recall making arguments over the years about the huge trade union apparatus in the US, the AFL-CIO, and the national structure, money and resources it has along with millions of members. Instead of human resources and the billions given to the Democratic Party over the years in cash and for advertisements for example, I argued, the AFL-CIO should have had its own television network, it’s own mass media as a counter to the ideology of the capitalist class and the benefits of the capitalist system that dominates the mass media and wages a daily war on the conscious of the working class.

We have explained why they won’t do that of course, there is no point as the heads of organized labor are ardent supporters of capitalism and the so-called free market, and encouraging millions to question it, to challenge its legitimacy as an economic and political system, can only lead to chaos. The working class is not seen as a force for change, as a force that can govern society and the only force that can change it and build a truly democratic socialist alternative.

Many cyber activists (terrorists according to the ruling class and its media) would place their services, their knowledge and skills, at the service of such a powerful working class movement were they able to. We have pointed out that people like Julian Assange, and there are many like him, who do not see the working class as force at all, as an independent force for change, would welcome such a force, and will welcome it when it arises and arise it will. I would urge the cyber warriors to use their unique knowledge to assist the working class movement, help unify that movement as it rises to its feet. Serve that movement for the revolutionary transformation of society

The leaders of the workers’ movement, the trade unions and political parties, are to blame for the delay of a mass movement of the working class in the US and globally and for the recent rise of right wing elements and parties.  But they can’t stop it.

*CIA hacking tools used on 40 groups research claims, FT 4-11-17
See also: Silicon Republic

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