Canada's CSE Arsenal of Cyberwarfare Tools . . . .

Canada's CSE Arsenal of Cyberwarfare Tools . . . .

Postby Oscar » Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:35 am

The Intercept's story on CSE's arsenal

[ https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015 ... et-arsenal ]

By Ryan Gallagher @rj_gallagher March 23, 2015

Canada’s electronic surveillance agency has secretly developed an arsenal of cyber weapons capable of stealing data and destroying adversaries’ infrastructure, according to newly revealed classified documents.

Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, has also covertly hacked into computers across the world to gather intelligence, breaking into networks in Europe, Mexico, the Middle East, and North Africa, the documents show.

The revelations, reported Monday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, shine a light for the first time on how Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage, and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

The latest disclosures come as the Canadian government debates whether to hand over more powers to its spies to disrupt threats as part of the controversial anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51.

Christopher Parsons, a surveillance expert at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, told CBC News that the new revelations showed that Canada’s computer networks had already been “turned into a battlefield without any Canadian being asked: Should it be done? How should it be done?”

According to documents obtained by The Intercept from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, CSE has a wide range of powerful tools to perform “computer network exploitation” and “computer network attack” operations. These involve hacking into networks to either gather intelligence or to damage adversaries’ infrastructure, potentially including electricity, transportation or banking systems. The most well-known example of a state-sponsored “attack” operation involved the use of Stuxnet, a computer worm that was reportedly developed by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iranian nuclear facilities.

One document from CSE, dated from 2011, outlines the range of methods the Canadian agency has at its disposal as part of a “cyber activity spectrum” to both defend against hacking attacks and to perpetrate them. CSE says in the document that it can “disable adversary infrastructure,” “control adversary infrastructure,” or “destroy adversary infrastructure” using the attack techniques. It can also insert malware “implants” on computers to steal data.

The document suggests CSE has access to a series of sophisticated malware tools developed by the NSA as part of a program known as QUANTUM. As The Intercept has previously reported, the QUANTUM malware can be used for a range of purposes – such as to infect a computer and copy data stored on its hard drive, to block targets from accessing certain websites, or to disrupt their file downloads. Some of the QUANTUM techniques rely on redirecting a targeted person’s internet browser to a malicious version of a popular website, such as Facebook, that then covertly infects their computer with the malware.

According to one top-secret NSA briefing paper, dated from 2013, Canada is considered an important player in global hacking operations. Under the heading “NSA and CSEC cooperate closely in the following areas,” the paper notes that the agencies work together on “active computer network access and exploitation on a variety of foreign intelligence targets, including CT [counter terrorism], Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Mexico.” (The NSA had not responded to a request for comment at time of publication. The agency has previously told The Intercept that it “works with foreign partners to address a wide array of serious threats, including terrorist plots, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and foreign aggression.”)

Notably, CSE has gone beyond just adopting a range of tools to hack computers.

MORE:

[ https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015 ... et-arsenal ]


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Communication Security Establishment's cyberwarfare toolbox revealed


[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/communica ... -1.3002978 ]

Mexico, North Africa, Middle East among targets of cyber-spy hacking

By Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira and Dave Seglins, CBC News Posted: Mar 23, 2015 5:00 AM ET|

Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada's electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Revelations about the agency's prowess should serve as a "major wakeup call for all Canadians," particularly in the context of the current parliamentary debate over whether to give intelligence officials the power to disrupt national security threats, says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, the respected internet research group at University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.

"These are awesome powers that should only be granted to the government with enormous trepidation and only with a correspondingly massive investment in equally powerful systems of oversight, review and public accountability," says Deibert.

Details of the CSE’s capabilities are revealed in several top-secret documents analyzed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept, a U.S. news website co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who obtained the documents from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

MORE:

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/communica ... -1.3002978 ]

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RELATED: (Plus numerous other LINKS at the URL above)

■Read other CBC stories on Canada's Snowden files

[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/topic/Tag/Canada ... en%20files ]

■CSE tracks millions of file downloads daily
[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/cse-track ... -1.2930120 ]

■CSE monitors Canadian emails to government
[ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/communica ... -1.3002978 ]
Oscar
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