by Margaret Kimberley
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.
by Margaret Kimberley
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.
Where’s the China connection?
Updated An error-checking algorithm found in software used to attack Google and other large companies circulated for years on English-speakinglanguage books and websites, casting doubt on claims it provided strong evidence that the malware was written by someone inside the People’s Republic of China.
The smoking gun said to tie Chinese-speaking programmers to the Hydraq trojan that penetrated Google’s defenses was a cyclic redundancy check routine that used a table of only 16 constants. Security researcher Joe Stewart said the algorithm “seems to be virtually unknown outside of China,” a finding he used to conclude that the code behind the attacks dubbed Aurora “originated with someone who is comfortable reading simplified Chinese.”
“In my opinion, the use of this unique CRC implementation in Hydraq is evidence that someone from within the PRC authored the Aurora codebase,” Stewart wrote here.
In fact, the implementation is common among English-speaking programmers of microcontrollers and other devices where memory is limited. In 2007, hardware designer Michael Karas discussed an almost identical algorithm here. Undated source code published here also bears more than a striking resemblance.
The method was also discussed in W. David Schwaderer’s 1988 book C Programmer’s Guide to NetBIOS. On page 200, it refers to a CRC approach that “only requires 16 unsigned integers that occupy a mere 32 bytes in a typical machine.” On page 205, the author goes on to provide source code that’s very similar to the Aurora algorithm.
“Digging this a little deeper though, the algorithm is a variation of calculating CRC using a nibble (4 bits) instead of a byte,” programmer and Reg reader Steve L. wrote in an email. “This is widely used in single-chip computers in the embedded world, as it seems. I’d hardly call this a new algorithm, or [an] obscure one, either.”
Two weeks ago, Google said it was the victim of highly sophisticated attacks originating from China that targeted intellectual property and the Gmail accounts of human rights advocates. The company said similar attacks hit 20 other companies in the internet, finance, technology, media and chemical industries. Independent security researchers quickly raised the number of compromised companies to 34.
But Google provided no evidence that China was even indirectly involved in the attacks targeting its source code. During a conference call last week with Wall Street analysts, CEO Eric Schmidt said only that that world’s most populous nation was “probably” behind the attacks.
One of the only other reported links between China and the attacks is that they were launched from at least six internet addresses located in Taiwan, which James Mulvenenon, the director of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis at Defense Group, toldThe Wall Street Journal is a common strategy used by Chinese hackers to mask their origin. But it just as easily could be the strategy of those trying to make the attacks appear to have originated in China.
The claim that the CRC was lifted from a paper published exclusively in simplified Chinese seemed like the hard evidence that was missing from the open-and-shut case. In an email toThe Register, Stewart acknowledged the CRC algorithm on 8052.com was the same one he found in Hydraq, but downplayed the significance.
“The guy on that site says he has used the algorithm, didn’t say he wrote it,” Stewart explained. “I’ve seen dates on some of the Chinese postings of the code dating back to 2002.”
Maybe. But if the 16-constant CRC routine is this widely known, it seems plausible that attackers from any number of countries could have appropriated it. And that means Google and others claiming a China connection have yet to make their case.
The lack of evidence is important. Google’s accusations have already had a dramatic effecton US-China relations. If proof beyond a reasonable doubt is good enough in courts of law, shouldn’t it be good enough for relations between two of the world’s most powerful countries? ®
This article was updated to include details from Schwaderer’s book. Thanks to Philippe Oechslin, of OS Objectif Sécurité SA for alerting us to its contents.
[Suddenly “Conspiracy theorists” are important enough to warrant both the White House and the Pentagon launching special programs to deal with us. This shows that some of us are getting really close to the mark, possibly even revealing secret plans with our work. SEE: Got Fascism? : Obama Advisor Promotes ‘Cognitive Infiltration’]
The Defense Department needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.”
Tricking battlefield opponents has been a part of war since guys started beating each other with bones and sticks. But these days, such moves are harder to pull off, the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by InsideDefense.com. “In an era of ubiquitous information access, anonymous leaks and public demands for transparency, deception operations are extraordinarily difficult. Nevertheless, successful strategic deception has in the past provided the United States with significant advantages that translated into operational and tactical success. Successful deception also minimizes U.S. vulnerabilities, while simultaneously setting conditions to surprise adversaries.”
The U.S. can’t wait until it’s at war with a particular country or group before engaging in this strategic trickery, however. “Deception cannot succeed in wartime without developing theory and doctrine in peacetime,” according to the DSB. “In order to mitigate or impart surprise, the United States should [begin] deception planning and action prior to the need for military operations.”
Doing that will not only requires an “understanding the enemy culture, standing beliefs, and intelligence-gathering process and decision cycle, as well as the soundness of its operational and tactical doctrine,” the DSB adds. Deception is also “reliant … on the close control of information, running agents (and double-agents) and creating stories that adversaries will readily believe.”
Such wholesale obfuscation can’t be done on an ad-hoc basis, or by a loose coalition of existing agencies. The DSB writes that ”to be effective, a permanent standing office with strong professional intelligence and operational expertise needs to be established.” I wonder: what would you call that organization? The Military Deception Agency? Or something a bit more … deceptive?
BY ANDREW ENGLAND
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 26 2010 16:56 | LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 26 2010 16:56
EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO, FOOD WAS THE HOT TOPIC IN THE ARAB GULF AND THE CAUSE OF MUCH ANGST. SOARING PRICES OF STAPLES SUCH AS RICE AND WHEAT WERE HELPING DRIVE INFLATION TO RECORD HIGHS, A PHENOMENON THAT THREATENED TO TARNISH THE BENEFIT OF THE REGION’S OIL BOOM. THEN, AS THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS TOOK HOLD, EXPORTING COUNTRIES SUCH AS INDIA RESTRICTED EXPORTS.
THESE TRENDS SPARKED A WAVE OF CONCERN IN THE IMPORT-DEPENDENT STATES OF THE GULF – JUST HOW COULD THE DESERT NATIONS SECURE FOOD RESOURCES FOR THEIR GROWING POPULATIONS? THEIR REACTION WAS TO LOOK ABROAD WITH A RUSH OF ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT PLANNED FARMING PROJECTS OVERSEAS.
DETAILS OF SUCH SCHEMES STARTED EMERGING FROM SAUDI ARABIA, THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, KUWAIT AND QATAR, WITH THE GULF STATES PLANNING TO DEPLOY THEIR PETRODOLLAR WEALTH TO ACQUIRE OR LEASE LAND OVERSEAS, HARVEST RICE, WHEAT, SOYA BEANS AND CORN, AND THEN EXPORT THE PRODUCE BACK TO THEIR HOME MARKETS.
THE MOST ACTIVE WAS SAUDI ARABIA, BY FAR THE GULF’S MOST POPULOUS STATE AND THE REGION’S MAIN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCER. BUT SHORTLY BEFORE THE FOOD CRISIS STRUCK, RIYADH HAD DECIDED TO PHASE OUT DOMESTIC WHEAT PRODUCTION BY 2016 AFTER REALISING THAT ITS WHEAT-GROWING PROGRAMME – SET UP IN THE LATE 1970S – WAS NO LONGER SUSTAINABLE GIVEN THE COUNTRY’S FINITE WATER RESOURCES.
SAUDI ARABIA HAD BEEN PRODUCING 2.5M TONS OF WHEAT A YEAR BEFORE IT BEGAN PHASING OUT THE CROP, AND IS NOW SET TO BECOME A BIG WHEAT IMPORTER.
IN A BID TO SEEK OUT SUITABLE LANDS FOR THE KINGDOM’S OVERSEAS PROJECTS, SAUDI OFFICIALS HAVE VISITED A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES, IN AFRICA, ASIA AND EASTERN EUROPE, WITH A GOAL THAT THE MINIMUM SIZE OF A PLANTATION WOULD BE ABOUT 50,000 HECTARES.
RIYADH HOPES THE PRIVATE SECTOR WILL LEAD THE OVERSEAS PROJECTS, WITH THE GOVERNMENT PLAYING A SUPPORTIVE, FACILITATING ROLE. LAST YEAR IT ANNOUNCED IT WAS SETTING UP AN $800M COMPANY TO BACK THE PROJECTS.
THE UAE HAS ALSO TALKED ABOUT POSSIBLE PROJECTS IN KAZAKHSTAN AND SUDAN, WHILE QATAR ESTABLISHED HASSAD FOOD, WHICH IS AN ARM OF ITS SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND, TO LOOK AT ACQUIRING STAKES IN AGRICULTURAL COMPANIES.
IN NOVEMBER, DOHA ALSO ANNOUNCED IT WAS SETTING UP A NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY PROGRAMME TO RESEARCH TECHNOLOGIES THAT COULD BOLSTER THE PROSPECTS OF DOMESTIC AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION.
YET THERE IS A GENERAL SENSE THAT THE URGENCY AMONG GULF STATES TO PURSUE THEIR PROGRAMMES HAS DIMINISHED AS FOOD PRICES HAVE DROPPED, WITH FEW PROJECTS ACTUALLY BEGINNING ON THE GROUND. ANOTHER REASON FOR THE DECREASED ATTENTION IS LIKELY TO BE A RESULT OF THE CONTROVERSY THE PLANS SPARKED, WITH CONCERNS ABOUT THE IMAGE OF OIL-WEALTHY ARAB NATIONS SHIPPING CROPS AWAY FROM IMPOVERISHED COUNTRIES SUCH AS ETHIOPIA AND SUDAN THAT SUFFER FROM PERENNIAL FOOD SHORTAGES.
THERE ARE ALSO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ABILITY OF THE GULF STATES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THEIR PROJECTS.
“IF THEY ARE SERIOUS, THERE IS STILL A LACK OF CAPACITY AND EXPERIENCE THAT NEEDS TO BE OVERCOME,” SAYS ECKART WOERTZ AT THE GULF RESEARCH CENTRE. HE SAYS GULF STATES WOULD BE BETTER OFF ADDING INVESTMENTS IN EXISTING AGRICULTURAL BUSINESSES IN ESTABLISHED MARKETS THAN FOCUSING ON SETTING UP NEW PROJECTS IN COUNTRIES THAT HAVE POOR INFRASTRUCTURE.
STILL, SAUDI ARABIA IS PUSHING AHEAD WITH ITS PLANS, OFFICIALS SAY, ALBEIT AT A SLOW PACE. “THERE IS SOME PROGRESS. THERE’S NO DOUBT IT [THE INITIATIVE] WILL GO AHEAD,” SAYS ABDULLAH AL-OBAID, THE DEPUTY AGRICULTURE MINISTER. “NOW WE ARE FINALISING THE HOLDING COMPANY AND DOING A STUDY OF OUR STRATEGIC RESERVES FOR STABLE GOODS.”
HE SAYS THE GOVERNMENT IS ALSO WORKING ON BILATERAL AGREEMENTS WITH POTENTIAL HOST COUNTRIES, AND AN IMPORTANT ISSUE IS TO AVOID THE STIGMA OF BEING SEEN AS A LAND-GRABBER.
“WE ARE LOOKING FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WHOLE WORLD AND WOULD LIKE TO INCREASE INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTION,” MR OBAID SAYS. “WE ARE WILLING TO LEAVE SOME OF THE PRODUCE FOR THE LOCAL MARKET – WE WANT TO ENSURE BENEFITS FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS.”
COUNTRIES THE KINGDOM IS CONSIDERING INCLUDE ETHIOPIA, SUDAN, UKRAINE, CAMBODIA, VIETNAM, THE PHILIPPINES, TURKEY AND EGYPT. A NUMBER OF SAUDI AGRICULTURAL COMPANIES HAVE ALSO EXPRESSED INTEREST IN THE OVERSEAS PROJECTS, WITH SOME BEGINNING PILOT SCHEMES IN EGYPT, SUDAN AND ETHIOPIA. HOWEVER, ANALYSTS SAY THE EXTENT OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR PARTICIPATION IS LIKELY TO BE DEPENDENT ON THE LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT THEY RECEIVE.
EXPERTS SAY IF PROPERLY MANAGED AND CARRIED OUT IN FULL CO-ORDINATION WITH HOST COUNTRIES, THE SCHEMES COULD BRING BENEFITS, SUCH AS JOBS AND MUCH-NEEDED INVESTMENT, IN POORER COUNTRIES. BUT LIKE OTHER GULF STATES, THE KINGDOM WILL FACE BIG DIFFICULTIES IF ITS PLANS ARE TO BE IMPLEMENTED.
“THEY ARE NOT GOING AS FAST AS MAYBE THERE WERE PORTRAYING, OR AT LEAST AS THEY WERE EXPECTING, AND THE REACTION FROM SOME OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAS BEEN SCEPTICAL … BUT THEY DO NOT HAVE A LOT OF OPTIONS,” SAYS JOHN SFAKIANAKIS, CHIEF ECONOMIST AT BANQUE SAUDI FRANSI. “ONE THING IS IDENTIFYING THE LOCATION, ANOTHER THING IS ACTUALLY EXPORTING … THEY ARE AT THE EMBRYONIC STAGE AND IT WILL TAKE SOME YEARS TO GET RESULTS FROM THIS.”
COPYRIGHT THE FINANCIAL TIMES LIMITED 2010.
The world remains hopelessly stuck in the bullying stage, or so it seems. With the passing of the old America-dominated world order, into the unshaped, uncertain, certainly violent New World Order, there is much that can be changed, and vitally needs to be changed in the new order, if it is to survive its own birth. There is no issue more important than the issue of nuclear power. Leaving aside all discussion of nuclear-caused environmental issues for now, the era of nuclear weapons must be brought to an end. Arms control treaties that attempt to lock-in advantages and disadvantages are not the road to peace, but the road to nuclear war. Consider the following article from Hindu press which berates Pakistan for being an impediment to such an unfair, unbalanced “treaty,” the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty is such a formula for certain nuclear war.
The two-faced American approach to nukes on the subcontinent is a formula for nuclear war. If you are looking for a way to thin-0ut or “cull” the human herd in this region of the world, then this would be a surefire way to do it. This is another de-population scheme from the benevolent Western world. In the Indian-Pakistani nuclear arms race, India has always had a distinct advantage. Citing India’s larger capital base and its much larger deposits of natural uranium, New Delhi has easily led the nuclear race. With the US/India nuclear merger, India is gaining access to American enriched uranium, while Pakistan is being denied American reciprocity, coupled with this proposed ban on the production of fissile material. This would permanently lock potential nuclear imbalances in place, even while the United States is arming India to the teeth with the latest conventional weaponry and support equipment. India’s huge pool of potential soldiers armed with oceans of the latest gear represents an existential threat to an atomically de-fanged Pakistan
Add to all of this American/Indian military agreements that seek to make India America’s watchdog in the region, especially on the high seas. Pakistan is set to get a royal screwing and her nuclear weapons are all that keeps Indian supremacist aggression at bay. To think that Pakistan’s American ally wants her to give-in to Indian designs, to submit willfully to her would-be master is dangerously absurd.
India, America, Israel and Britain have evil plans for the earth and it all begins or ends in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Where they plan to go from there should be easy for anyone to foresee.
|Wants regime on missiles included in the agenda for disarmament meet|
Informal consultations held in the past week to convince Pakistan to back off
The Conference on Disarmament usually adopts a standard agenda at the start of each session, reflecting the underlying consensus built up over the past few years.
That consensus includes a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, prevention of arms race in outer space, security assurances, transparency in armaments, comprehensive disarmament, and preventing new nuclear weapons and nuclear war.
But at the opening 2010 plenary on January 19, Pakistan’s Ambassador Zamir Akram said the approval of the agenda should not be seen as “a mere formality.” Citing a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling on the Conference on Disarmament to discuss regional arms control — passed last October with only India casting a negative vote and Russia and Bhutan abstaining —Mr. Akram said this and missiles were “pressing problems” for the international community.
The Pakistani proposal is seen by many delegations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva as a new tactic in Islamabad’s efforts to delay the start of international negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material.
At the conference, the Indian delegation joined others in objecting to an expanded agenda. Reminding the conference that India objected to the U.N. resolution because “the security concerns of states often extend beyond narrowly defined regions. The delegation said it did not consider “missiles in all its aspects” to be a subject the conference could easily deal with. India said there was no global legal regime governing missiles. “But this is an issue that could be considered if there is an agreement on how it could be dealt with in the CD. However, at present, there is no agreement. The relevant resolutions have been fractured. We leave it in the hands of the president to see how they move forward. India would be happy to make a contribution.”
Indian officials said informal consultations were under way in the past week to convince Pakistan to back off and a fresh effort will be made on January 26 to adopt the agenda.
Adoption of the standing agenda, however, will not mean the start of actual negotiations on an FMCT, as Pakistan is not expected to drop its objections to the conference’s programme of work.
After many years of stalemate, the conference came close to a consensus last year on the launching of negotiations for the treaty. But Pakistan, which believes it is at a disadvantage vis-À-vis India as far as bomb grade uranium and plutonium stocks are concerned, says any fissile treaty should not just ban new production but should also address “regional imbalances” in stockpiles, and insists talks cannot begin unless there is agreement on this issue.
Well, not to his spokesman. “It has been an old practice of Mr Zardari to offer Sadqa (animal sacrifice). He has been doing this for a long time,” spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Dawn on Tuesday.
But his detractors, who want to see him out of the Presidency, would see in his new-found religiosity a sign of nervousness in the wake of the scrapping of the NRO.
One thing is certain: Hundreds of black goats have been sacrificed since Mr Zardari moved into the President’s House in September 2008.
By Malik Mumtaz & Mushtaq Yusufzai
MIRAMSHAH/PESHAWAR: The Taliban in North Waziristan on Tuesday claimed to have shot down another US drone in Boya village of Dattakhel Tehsil near the border with Afghanistan but failed to provide any proof in this regard.
If the claim is true, it would be the second US spy aircraft allegedly shot down by the militants in North Waziristan and the fourth one destroyed in the lawless tribal areas along the Pak-Afghan border.
Senior government officials based in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan, confirmed that a US drone had crashed in the border village of Boya, but did not know about the cause of its crash.
ìThe drone has crashed in Boya village. I really donít know how it crashed,î said a senior government official in Miramshah, but wished not to be named. According to officials, Boya village, 25 kilometres west of Miramshah, is located in Dattakhel Tehsil, which is considered to be a stronghold of the tribal militants, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
They said the wreckage of the destroyed aircraft had not been found as it had crashed in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “It is possible the militants have taken its wreckage into their possession,” said the official.
A militant commander called The News from somewhere in North Waziristan and claimed that their fighters, while firing from anti-aircraft guns, had shot the drone down. “It is the second spy plane our men shot down in the current week,” the militant commander claimed without poviding any proof.
Pleading anonymity, he claimed they had trained people for the job and now more spy planes would be shot down in the coming days. ìThere were five drones flying at a low altitude over the town when our men started firing at one of them. The remaining four disappeared while the one flying at low altitude was accurately hit,î claimed the militant commander. He said the militants were jubilant over ‘continuous’ successes of their colleagues against the ‘enemy’.