The Happy Hackers

Can Hackers Be Traced?

Computers are a tricky thing. Hacking is the genius behind the nominal IT geek. Recently, I was convinced my computer had been hacked. I took my PC to a local micro tech center, waited an hour and a half to be seen, told the techy exactly what I had said on my written form 1 hour and 1/2 ago, only to have him diddle around for a minute or two and advise me that finding a hack or hacker is virtually impossible. He recommended dumping all my files onto a flashdrive, cleaning my computer, and starting anew.

Wonderful…

But this made me wonder about all the accusations being levied at various countries for hacking into the Pentagon, Sony, Credit Card companies, Healthcare companies etc… Do they really have a clue who is doing the hacking?

The simple answer is – not really. They use ‘educated guesses’ more often than not.

Could the educated guesses be disguised as propaganda? Yes.

Example in point. North Korea was accused of hacking into Sony. Of course, they adamantly denied the claim. And we can’t trust anything that comes out of their mouth. But, what if – they didn’t? Then who did?

There are a number of prominent hacking groups in the world:

  1. Anonymous
  2. Chaos Computer Club
  3. Lizard Squad
  4. Lulzsec

And then there are government backed hackers:

  1. Tarh Andishan – Iranian
  2. Syrian Electronic Army – Syria
  3. Reconnaissance General Bureau – North Korean
  4. Unit 61398 – China
  5. Apt28 – Russia
  6. Hidden Lynx – China

Each group has a target genre. For example, Lizard Squad dedicates itself to random attacks on games and playstations with no real purpose involved other than to create disruption and irritation. Lulzsec attacks social media and media sites, also just for funzies. The Syrian Electronic Army attacks primarily government sites in the Middle East, Europe and US defense contractors, and media sites for propaganda. Hidden Lynx is a hit on demand hacking group that will target whomever for the right price.

Hackers are feverishly working on the ever more aspiring target, Electrical Grids. But the most lucrative hack is to grab identities and sell them to the highest bidder. Companies include Anthem, Home Depot, JP Morgan chase and Ebay to name a few. And the number of hacks per company can be as high as 1000 or more annually.  Hacking into airline reservations has really no verifiable benefit to the hacker except maybe some sort of ego prestige as it is only designed to disrupt. Hackers like to play with oil companies, causing outages, spills and disrupting activities. Too often, it is a game of sorts with little that can be done to prevent it and even less to find the source.

It used to be that IP addresses could be traced, but they are forever changing and can be diffused with multiple locations across a variety of countries thereby covering the tracks. While the media might comment that “Chinese Hackers…” or “Russian Hackers…” were the culprit, more often than not they haven’t much to go on except a ‘general location’ that could very well be the US operating in Siberia.

What we do know is that we don’t know much. And cyber security has become so prominent across the globe that threats and hacks are common. A mere yawn. The cost is not though with numbers ranging from $100 billion annually to $1 trillion. And while the Chinese might be doing the hacking, or the Russians, or Syrians, or whoever, that is of no consequence, the consequence is who signed the contract, who ordered the hit…

The more we rely on the internet, the more vulnerable we become.  Electronic cars – a hackers delight, electronic kitchen gadgets, easy.  But like all theft, the value of the end game is the big pat on the back in their world.  Can we prevent a hack?  Not really, we are pions in the world, they have no interest in individual computers per se, waste of energy.  Hacks into your identity will more often than not be a result of information spinning in the cloud with every company we do business with – schools, healthcare facilities, IRS, credit cards, wherever the most data is stored.

The Happy Hackers world is a shadow, it follows us everywhere, sometimes long, sometimes short, but never truly disappears until the sun goes down.

HACK ATTACK – Coincidences – no such thing

China’s market is realizing a ginormous correction – is it the end of the world?

Nah.

Put in perspective, their market had risen 150% over the last year. To NOT expect a correction would have been rather naive. However, to see the correction happen so quickly… that’s looking a bit manipulative.

Over 45% of Chinese stocks are currently ‘frozen’, no trading allowed. What precipitated the bear? It could be similar to what happened in the US ie, – margin calls. As stocks began their correction, computer algorithms kicked in and forced margin calls to go out which tanked the market more which created more margin calls… a domino effect when computers are at the helm.

Of course the investor holdings who have profited from the 150% ramp in China’s market would see this as an opportunity to sell, recognize their profit and wait for the full correction to bottom out before going back in. Plausible.  Typically, the losers in these corrections are the smaller investors who follow band-wagon buying.

Is it a manipulation? Yes and No. Yes in that markets are manipulated and no in that algorithms and opportunity helped it along.

Today the NY Stock Exchange experienced ‘a technical glitch’ and shut down for four hours. Glitch?  Really?  That’s the technical terminology?  I don’t buy it.  Hacking is soon going to overtake porn and human trafficking as a business model.  Just wanted to see if you were awake...  The media is terming the hack as a glitch, but then the media states what it is told to state – that’s called censorship.  Maybe the hack was a test.  Maybe the next ‘glitch’ will be our electrical grid.  Who really knows in a world where the truth is whispered and the falsehoods are glaringly mediatized.

Coincidentally, hackers and glitches also made waves for the Wall Street Journal and United Airlines today. Do we really believe that three major economic conglomerates all happened to have major glitches within hours of each other that were completely unrelated and had no commonality? If the media says so – we believe. Some of us…

Given China stated that they were not ruling out manipulation in their markets, vengeance is a potential scenario in hacking US conglomerates. Tit-for-tat. But while the recent hacking of the 4 million + US military records was blamed on China – there was never any definitive proof or follow-up to the accusation, it simply became the media go-to despite China’s government denying the claim. In addition, the hack actually took place December 2014 but our transparent government didn’t decide to tell us until June 2015 – 6 months later…why? Their proof that it was China was not proof at all by any legal definition, but a ‘deduction’ based on ‘gee, who else would have’? Not exactly the sort of proof lawyers and courts win cases with.

North Korea was found to have not been the source of the Hollywood hack and yet no other country or group was ever identified in the press.

A Syrian organization claimed responsibility in another US Army hack that occurred earlier in June. Where are they, these hacker Syrians? Hiding in caves?  Buried in rubble?  That seems a bit of a stretch to me given that Syria is completely, hideously ravaged – there is no infrastrusture left! Doesn’t it seem a bit odd that a bunch of rebel Syrians in a wore torn country with little to no electricity, no satellites, few computers and even fewer intelligencia could hack thru the US Army? What does that say for us?  Not very logical.

So what did Obama say about this? He said the US has outdated computer systems and is vulnerable to attacks. Well then, take some of that holiday in Hawaii money and UPGRADE! Good Grief Charley Brown. How absurd is this? How much does Wall Street make that they can’t have hack-proof computers and software? Or maybe we should train those 40,000 military personnel that are going to get laid off in the next two years to be computer hackers, IT systems analysts and engineers. Hello?

The US is the victim of more hacking than any other country in the world!  Hackers for hire on the shadow network can be had for as little as $8 per hour. So what is our grand government doing about it? For one thing they are pounding the world pavement claiming that global warming is the Chicken Little that will destroy us all while hacking has the potential to grind everything to a screeching halt – tomorrow, including; electricity, the IRS, Hospitals, airplanes, trains, hydro dams, nuclear facilities, Wall Street, defense weapons, pipelines, shopping…(well it is important to some folks)!

What should we do?

What we shouldn’t do is shuffle our feet complaining at how antique our computer systems are! If Syria can bring us down – then we are just pathetic.