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Thread: Virtual War

  1. #1
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Video game industry

    Somebody had mentioned online gaming. I need some thoughts on the value of having a bad guy placed as video game merchant. I'm rather poor when it comes to access to an analysis cell - most of the guys I do have access have no LE background and just are not thinking in these directions. You can hit me with a PM or send it to my AKO. Here is a line of thought I'm developing:

    -If he’s like the tech geeks we usually see in this industry in other places, then he’s probably both tech savvy and well connected on the internet (generally geeks know other geeks).

    -Pirate copies of video games are sold on both MAREZ and DIAMONDBACK at the local national stores – could be trading video games at a discount for information about locals working on FOBs then selling that info to AIF who will kill them or their families unless they quit

    -As much as I like cheap videos, some of the proceeds support an illegal trade and thus support crime and terrorism.

    -Since you can pay for a Satellite ISP, its likely a guy could based off the money he makes. Its also possible the shop and stock could be opened up with AIF seed money

    -Anybody who has done online gaming knows you can communicate with other online gamers – terrorist networks know this and are using online gaming as both a way to communicate covertly (you have to be invited to play in certain communities), and as a good way to train.

    - The influencing other young men, probably recruiting by paying younger Iraqis off with the video game hardware or software – could even be starting them on easy jobs, much like gang bangers in the US do with kids as lookouts.

    Thanks, Rob

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Gents,

    Following Rob's point about online gaming, this recently aired show came to mind. Although you may have difficulty accessing this contect-rich page, a strange example of pervasive networking is highlighted here:

    http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/154...15/index.jhtml

    Ge Jin had heard that people in China play "World of Warcraft" for profit.

    He heard that they killed monsters for virtual gold that they could then sell to wealthier gamers around the world. He heard that they worked in dreary conditions — sweatshops even, people said. And he heard that many gamers hated these guys.

    But he wanted to see it himself.

    Over the last year Jin — a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego — has traveled to China to find the infamous "gold farmer," the not-so-unique type of "World of Warcraft" player who last year inspired a fan of that game to post a note on the "WoW" message board that read, "Get the goddamn Chinese out of this game." That gamer received dozens of messages in support.

    Jin didn't just find the farmers. He found plenty of them. "Right now China is really the world factory of virtual goods," Jin told MTV News in an interview last month. He had spoken to people who did just what the reports claimed: They mined for virtual gold and sold it through a chain of individuals that eventually reached gamers in America and Europe who, disregarding the wishes of the "WoW" makers, would purchase the virtual currency with their credit cards and use it to purchase items that speed their advance through the game. Such is the marvel of relative economic value, where the 15 bucks an American player can spend on 100 pieces of virtual gold can help a Chinese gamer make a living.
    I watched the show because I have the Asian MTV channel on my expanded satellite package (a whole other drama story). The point is that there is this addictive game out there that has spawned an information/economic network where players of the game will actually pay money to make their virtual character better within the game's construct. They pay their money to brokers of characters and life points, who have in turn developed these virtual goods through Chinese players who do nothing but play the game in shifts (virtual workers).

    Seeing the show made me start thinking of other terrorist financial networks. Could perhaps Ebay be the unwitting host of such a network, where bootlegged DVDs, CDs, and other goods are sold as a "brand new, in the box" products and the profits are funnelled into more nefarious activities? There has to be some semblance of truth along the line here, and as virtual markets increase their grasp on our lives, we are probably unwitting pawns in grander schemes.

    Although most of us might not frequent a seedy flea market and pick up an illegal copy of the latest Rocky, do we have the same inhibitions over the Internet?

  3. #3
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Jcustis wait until you find out about Second Life (http://secondlife.com/)

    One thing I would say about the eBay, the video game dealer, etc... is that you have to stop thinking about brick and mortar stores. Physical location is totally unimportant. The broadband connection means the bad guy can be anywhere and still active and have "point" impact on your location. A warez server located in Chile can be used as an economic engine supporting illicit activities in Afghanistan and populated by users world wide. Recruitment for real world activities and preparation can occur in a virtual 3d terrain that can be modeled and built to EXACTLY duplicate an operation environment. Using tools like "Google Earth", and "Sketch Up" (impressive tools used to create the environment but not necessary) a 3d world can be built as a custom level in a game and used for on line training. Nobody here is going to mistake that kind of training for real world training but an adversary can also use that type of modeling to pass intel, show troop movements, create plans of attack, coordinate attacks, track patterns, and so much more.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Virtual Dead Drop

    One of our FSNCOs who has been re-rolled as one of our analysts expressed shock that I did not know you could buy virtual anything. He tells me he has a friend who sold his Everquest character (a fantasy RPG) online for 5K $US. He told me he'd actually bought credits for his Star Wars Galaxies character through E-Bay. The Routine? They arrange a meeting place online within the game so one character can X-fer the credits to another - somewhere public that was easy to find. The characters on screen look like they are just standing there - the discussion takes place through IM. There is no "Star Wars Galaxy" organization which might prevent or interfere with such a transaction - very slick. Our other FSNCO/Analyst said that the last time he was here, his boss actually got an everquest account so he could leave messages for them - they'd do a virtual dead drop. Snce you could have anything be your message button (you could have it be a virtual light switch in a virtual room that is i a virtual building, on a virtual block, etc. you can hide the message avatar look like anything, then include a password that acutally allows you to access its hidden funtion.

    So - 40 year old Rob is behind the power curve 0- but my 20 something FSNCOs and the 19-25 year old terrorists and criminals are not - this is common knowledge for them, and a world they are very comfortable in.

    Whith sums as extravagent as those paid for the Everquest character, what looks ordinary and what doesn't? What else gets bought and sold under the guise of skills, virtual monies and players?

    What type of orders pass from bad guy to bad guy? We better get smart on this real quick. We better start training our Intel guys to think along these lines instead of beating them down with conventional Soviet doctrine. Maybe what we need are some SOF like virtual warriors that go in and conduct operations with virtual characters to get the virtual information and conduct virtual DA on virtual targets - my kid who beats my ass in HALO would love that. They'll need to hack in to servers (call it an insertion) and look for stuff that don't look right. I'm not even joking - I think the bad guys are way out infront of us.

    China is pushing a good deal of their budget into cyber warfare. We need to consider why - much like our FOB mentality, our response to combatting cyber terror (and supporting activities) is by and large defensive - better Anti-Virus, better firewalls. I think a good part of the enemy wants to keep us that way. This allows them to go out and conduct the rest of their buisness while we stay walled up - we have placed ourselves in our own box - contained and isolated would be the tactical terms - who knows that could have been the intent all along - Sun Tzu writ in 1s and 0s! It reminds me of what the insurgents do here to keep us out of the neighborhoods - hit the MSRs and we will sink more combat power into defending them so the AIF can have freedom of movement in the neighborhoods!
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-06-2007 at 02:45 PM.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Rob, your post sounds like it deserves its own thread. I had no idea it was that pervasive when I saw the show on virtual farming. I just thought it happened in one stinking game.

    Can these cyber maneuvers and such be small wars in and of themselves? Or are they merely small wars maneuvers conducted on an unfamiliar piece of terrain. I'm not looking for an 4GW, 5GW theoretical answer. My hunch is that this goes way beyond (and more dangerously) than Van Riper and mission type orders issued along with the morning prayers.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default The SIMS

    I read somewhere awhile back that DOD had a research project based on the SIMS that was to be adapted to situations just like you described. Don't know what became of it but as you can see it is a powerfull tool. You fight an entire war and know who is going to win before it ever happens in the physical world. Scary!

  7. #7
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Cyber warfare

    Hi Rob,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    What type of orders pass from bad guy to bad guy? We better get smart on this real quick. We better start training our Intel guys to think along these lines instead of beating them down with conventional Soviet doctrine. Maybe what we need are some SOF like virtual warriors that go in and conduct operations with virtual characters to get the virtual information and conduct virtual DA on virtual targets - my kid who beats my ass in HALO would love that. They'll need to hack in to servers (call it an insertion) and look for stuff that don't look right. I'm not even joking - I think the bad guys are way out infront of us.

    China is pushing a good deal of their budget into cyber warfare. We need to consider why - much like our FOB mentality, our response to combatting cyber terror (and supporting activities) is by and large defensive - better Anti-Virus, better firewalls. I think a good part of the enemy wants to keep us that way. This allows them to go out and conduct the rest of their buisness while we stay walled up - we have placed ourselves in our own box - contained and isolated would be the tactical terms - who knows that could have been the intent all along - Sun Tzu writ in 1s and 0s! It reminds me of what the insurgents do here to keep us out of the neighborhoods - hit the MSRs and we will sink more combat power into defending them so the AIF can have freedom of movement in the neighborhoods!
    It's all part of the current environment <wry grin>. Seriously, if we get back to the basics on conflict, most of it reduces to a control over "vital resources" however they are currently defined by the techo-cultural system. Right now, that means information, information processing and meaning construction. It's definitely time for a Cyber SF.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Rob, your post sounds like it deserves its own thread. I had no idea it was that pervasive when I saw the show on virtual farming. I just thought it happened in one stinking game.
    Good point, JC.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Can these cyber maneuvers and such be small wars in and of themselves? Or are they merely small wars maneuvers conducted on an unfamiliar piece of terrain. I'm not looking for an 4GW, 5GW theoretical answer. My hunch is that this goes way beyond (and more dangerously) than Van Riper and mission type orders issued along with the morning prayers.
    I think that the answer would have to be "both". No fancy theory needed, really; just the observation that the virtual worlds that are being created are part of the perceptual environment of large parts of the global population. These worlds contain "resources" of "value" to people and, as such, are just like any other terrain feature to be used, exploited and fought over <shrug>.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    It's very interesting that you all got this quickly. I've been preaching that the previous scenarios are the real cyber warfare, and dangers that the on the ground war fighter needs to be aware of...

    Attacking and protecting scada, telco, data systems (more and more wireless and virtualized), command and control, all are areas we do real well at with the NSA and CIA having excellent operational assets in information assurance and security. We know how to protect and harden our systems from direct attack, but not so much about seeing how the systems are used in the social realm as an indirect attack. The adversary is using our own technology against us. Isn’t that one of the principles of guerilla warfare?

    What we don't do very well or at least organizations don't do very well is consider Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 phenomenon’s as critical to their operational environments. This applies to the corporate world as well as the military. Information and communications are powerful weapons within the small wars world. Think about how information has taken down enormous companies like Enron and now HP. Cyber warfare doesn’t have to be bullets and bombs, but it can be very powerful for knowing where to send those bullets and bombs.

    In all out warfare the advantages of the cyber world seem to decrease as the weaponization and scope of an altercation expand. There is little the cyber world can do about carpet bombing. You can use the cyber world to get the enemy to expose themselves in the real world. The only groups that seem to have gotten this are the groups chatting up pedophiles in chat rooms and misdirecting them to police sting operations.

    In small wars the conflict is limited and the nature of "humanitarian" rebuilding efforts after an incursion make distributed technology environments especially useful. The desire to provide basic services defined as water, electricity, and telephone will increase the viability of cyber warfare. The humanitarian mission is being evaluated on it's ability to provide the services (and hence the tools) that will be used against it. The primary use of the web 2.0 and web 3.0 channels would seem to be in support and communication channels between real world adversaries coordinating support missions (espionage, planning, reconnaissance, etc..).

    I’ve been trying for the last few years to define where this would be in the academic world. It’s important if you want to publish on the topic. I’m a technologist (computer forensic scientist), I’ve been thinking this area of inquiry is technology anthropology, or technology sociology, but I haven’t found a military discipline that would fit. This is likely due to my own lack of knowledge about military matters. I was a Marine corporal not a general.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default EBO in the Cyber-Sphere

    selil, part of what you are talking about would fall under EBO (Effects Based Operations) The Air Force deals a lot in what you are talking about, they often refer to it as the Cyber-Sphere. If I can remember where I saw some these articles I will post them.
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-06-2007 at 05:33 PM. Reason: corrections

  10. #10
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Sts

    Hi Selil

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    I’ve been trying for the last few years to define where this would be in the academic world. It’s important if you want to publish on the topic. I’m a technologist (computer forensic scientist), I’ve been thinking this area of inquiry is technology anthropology, or technology sociology, but I haven’t found a military discipline that would fit. This is likely due to my own lack of knowledge about military matters. I was a Marine corporal not a general.
    Try Science, Technology and Society (STS). We've done some of this in Anthropology, for example there was a really excellent MA thesis by Ian Ferguson called "Sacred Realms and icons of the damned; the ethnography of a internet-based child pornography ring" (MA Thesis, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, 1998). There's also a fairly good historical overview at http://web3.cas.usf.edu/main/depts/A...CMAhistory.htm

    Marc
    Last edited by marct; 01-06-2007 at 05:51 PM.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  11. #11
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Parody of cyber-culture - scary don't cover it

    I never thought I'd ref. an episode of South Park for an example, but here it is. My savvy team of FSNCOs turned analysts basically recommended I go to you tube and watch the South Park episode entitled :
    "Make Love not Warcraft" .

    While I have to admit it was damn humorous, right down to the portrayal of the online bad guy as a balding, overweight guy with a carpal tunnel brace and potato chip crumbs in his beard, it was also a 21 minute tutorial into the world of online gaming, the industry that supports it, the psychology of many who play it, its vulnerabilities and its strengths (the last two require a bit of analysis).

    While I laughed, I also felt the hair raise up on the back of my neck. While our system prolongs the acquisition process of useful tech (and useless tech), the bad guys are adapting the incredible pace of a commercial tech evolution that is driven by global consumerism - nothing produces technology breakthroughs like profit potential - which allows $$$ to pay the best and the brightest. The result is kind of akin to a poor man's (or 3rd World if you prefer) version of industrial espionage, except for there not stealing the actual tech to make a profit, they are using a hitch hiking/parasitic type of behavior that is highly innovative. There is little to no overhead to develop a network that is already there. Their investment is in producing people capable of using / adapting it.

    Consider other industries that are going to be altered by the Internet and WWW. Why would it be far more profitable for recording industries to discard hard copy format for purely digital? It is profit driven. The only reason we've not seen it yet is because the cost benefit did not weigh out in favor yet - but it soon will. I bring this up because its indicative of where some of our attention needs to focused - we need to understand what drives the changes that alter the environment in favor of an enemy that does not have much money but is clever and innovative and will find ways to use his enemy's pride and joy against him. The Internet and WWW we so proudly hail and enjoy has become his (and criminals like him) parallel universe. It is vast and there are few rules (there are even rules in which can be manipulated to improve his terrain advantages).

    The internet & by extension the WWW is fixing to get much faster - and is constantly getting bigger (the ability to crawl and inventory cannot keep pace with the growth - so nobody knows how big it really is, and since not all nodes are connected (some by design), there is no real map - again I go to the book cited by Hammes called "Linked" by Albert-Lazlo Barabasi. There are efforts to map it though, and the best chances actually come from search companies like Google - incidentally - RTK made mention about Google Earth in a thread not too long ago - here is an observation though - go to Google Earth and turn on its "show 3D buildings" - I suspect few at Google actually build terrain - they take advantage of people who accept a challenge of building it since you can download the terrain builder - then Google just has other customers QA/QC - more submissions means more refinements - the victim provides the rehearsal tools. Here is another thing to look at - take a gander at how many webcams you can access through Google Earth! You guys get the picture (intentional pun ).

    What we have to do is figure out how to use it better then they do - part of that means acknowledging that their use of commercial low cost / no cost tech is in some ways better then our high price / slow to acquire and field tech that because of security requirements often isolates us from the WWW population (another FOB analogy here). The bad guy hopes you invest all of your time in ASAS (All Source Analysis System) and chastise your guys from being on the Internet. He loves that our DOIMs at post restrict every useful site where our Intel folks could troll message boards - guess what he probably has no problem shucking his puritanical views to use the porn sites to communicate. He uses our own culture and fears against us. He is dirty, and he knows we are not. He has no problem chopping off heads for a blog and knows full well that he will almost certainly be treated to 3 squares a day if interned into CF custody - he knows when he's not the media will intervene on his behalf - this is why when he goes before an Iraqi judge he says " I only kill Amerikis" and when he goes into CF hands he says with every X-fer "I've been abused". - They have been trained and conditioned to do so.
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 01-06-2007 at 06:25 PM.

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Ive got one short thing to say...

    ...and it is important. NMCI is evil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton
    ...What we have to do is figure out how to use it better then they do - part of that means acknowledging that their use of commercial low cost / no cost tech is in some ways better then our high price / slow to acquire and field tech that because of security requirements often isolates us from the WWW population (another FOB analogy here). The bad guy hopes you invest all of your time in ASAS (All Source Analysis System) and chastise your guys from being on the Internet. He loves that our DOIMs at post restrict every useful site where our Intel folks could troll message boards...
    One positive thing about the current company I work for, although their ISD (civilian version of DOIM) is just as - in certain cases even more - restrictive, our section has DSL lines that are separate from the company system. So, I have two computers to work with - one linked into the company, and the other, completely free to roam wherever value may be found. The ISD folks hated the concept, and it took some work - and high-level support - to get it done. But it was damn sure worth it.

    By the way, regarding "trolling message boards" etc. - I recommend a cheap ($50) download for monitoring blogs, message boards, and any other website you may keep going back to for checks on new postings/updates: Copernic Tracker. For what its worth, this was another tool recommended to me by my contact at Jane's. It is extremely user friendly, and (for me at least) it saves a helluva lot of time in returning to various sites to check for updates/changes. They offer a 30-day free trial to check it out.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default TX Hammes

    I forget where he said it but one of the key capabilities of 4GW was they would simply send a "person" across an open border with nothing but money and some knowledge. He would use the existing resources in the target country to create what ever mayhem he wanted. It's like the old TV show MacGyver. Every week he was in situations where he used what was ever around him to make a weapon and win. I do think he carried a swiss army knife! Gee a future Marines weapons, Boot camp with a swiss Army knife a cell phone and old reruns of South park. Bart Simpson as a drill instructor

    selil,here is sight you might like, look under catagories, has all inds of stuff you were looking for.

    http://www.iwar.org.uk/comsec/
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-06-2007 at 11:27 PM. Reason: Add link

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    ...just in case anyone might find it useful, recently published by NIJ:

    Investigations Involving the Internet and Computer Networks, DoJ Jan 07
    Contents

    ...Technical Working Group for the Investigation of High Technology Crimes

    Chapter 1. Introduction and Investigative Issues

    Chapter 2. Tracing an Internet Address to a Source

    Chapter 3. Investigations Involving E-Mail

    Chapter 4. Investigations Involving Web Sites

    Chapter 5. Investigations Involving Instant Message Services,

    Chapter 6. Investigations Involving File Sharing Networks

    Chapter 7. Investigations of Network Intrusion/Denial of Service

    Chapter 8. Investigations Involving Bulletin Boards, Message Boards, Chat Rooms, and IRC Listservs, and Newsgroups

    Chapter 9. Legal Issues

    Appendix A. Glossary

    Appendix B. Domain Name Extensions

    Appendix F. Examples of Potential Sources of Evidence in Network

    Appendix G. Sample Language for Preservation Request Letters

    Appendix C. Accessing Detailed Headers in E-Mail Messages

    Appendix D. File Sharing Investigative Suggested Checklist...

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Why I like the Wikipedia

    Wikipedia definition of Information Warfare

    Information warfare is the use and management of information in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Information warfare may involve collection of tactical information, assurance that one's own information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation among the enemy, undermining the quality of opposing force information and denial of information collection opportunities to opposing forces.

    Black propaganda
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Black propaganda is propaganda that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy. It contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda, in which the real source is declared. The term is also sometimes used as a synonym for particularly malicious wartime propaganda or falsification of information that is captured by an enemy.

    Black propaganda may be generated by altering genuine enemy propaganda in such a way as to distort its message. This is a particularly powerful tool if the target audience has a poor understanding of the language of the enemy.

    Marc had touched on this in some emails we exchanged

    Here is a site from the wiki on Information Warfare

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    ...Black propaganda is propaganda that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy. It contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda, in which the real source is declared. The term is also sometimes used as a synonym for particularly malicious wartime propaganda or falsification of information that is captured by an enemy.

    Black propaganda may be generated by altering genuine enemy propaganda in such a way as to distort its message. This is a particularly powerful tool if the target audience has a poor understanding of the language of the enemy...
    That is a slightly narrow description of one aspect of old fashioned propaganda ops, which our PSYOP members can probably shed a great deal more light on.

    In my experience, there are three types of propaganda, each of which has its use and can be very effective when properly implemented:

    Black Propaganda: Information deliberately disseminated in ways that conceal the true sponsor and identify a false source. Note that this is not as narrow as the definition above: the false source does not have to be "the enemy" or "the opposing side". Context is critical.

    Grey Propaganda: Iinformation disseminated in ways that do not specifically identify any source. This is very common in today's information environment - the 'net is brimming with unsourced information. In this context, it is placement that is key.

    White Propaganda: Information disseminated in ways that identify the true sponsor/source. In my personal, biased opinion, this one requires a great deal more careful thought to be implemented effectively. Careful structuring of statements/articles and proper placement and timing do not come easy in the strategic context. And, when putting it out using a true source, if it ain't done right it can end up having the opposite of the intended effect.

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    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
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    Concerning the addictiveness of games for some players: S Korean dies after games session. It is an extreme example, but it happened.

    The point is that there is this addictive game out there that has spawned an information/economic network where players of the game will actually pay money to make their virtual character better within the game's construct. They pay their money to brokers of characters and life points, who have in turn developed these virtual goods through Chinese players who do nothing but play the game in shifts (virtual workers).
    This is not new. I played a text based MUD while I was in high school (6-8 years ago). At first I played for fun, but then it got boring. But, about the sametime I was learning computer programming. Since the game was completely text driven I was able to write a series of scripts that played the game for me. I would run it in the background while I was doing my homework during the school week. I watched it make my character was not getting attacked by other characters and also in case I was stopped by a Admin (Game rules had no problem with scripting as long as the player was at the keys.)

    My character advanced and I banked in game currency. Second half of my senior year I started selling currency and then eventually my character, in total I think I made about 2 grand or so. Currency transactions were arranged through a Yahoo group and the sale of my character was to another player who was putting together a stable of automated characters (She was caught running scripted characters while not at the keyboard and her characters were locked out, she lost all of the money she invested in her "stable" when she got locked out, prolly close to $3,000 or $4,000). All transactions were paid using money orders.

    I never paid real money for anything in the game, I just made money.

    Again, that was all six to eight years ago. The game I played had maybe 2,000 regular players. Now, World of Warcraft has 8 million players! And that is just one game. There are others out there of equal or just lesser standing like Guild Wars and Lineage to name a couple. It comes as no surprise to me that a sweatshop industry has developed to provide wealthly gamers (Mainly from North America, Western Europe, parts of Asia like ROK and Japan and the wealthier parts of China) with a product they desire. It is supply and demand with the traditional constraints of product delivery and payment handled through the internet. Additionally, the suppliers help to perpetuate themselves because as the amount of currency increases in an environment while the supply of goods increases at a slower rate, you get inflation which in turns requires to buy larger amounts of game currency, and so on.

    Small Wars relation... I do not see terrorist groups such as AQ profiting because of the resources involved such as the need for multiple and steady broadband internet connections and up to date computer hardware. Most of the "gold farmers" are based in China and are most likely getting "taxed" by local Party officials, similar, to a protection racket.

    Although most of us might not frequent a seedy flea market and pick up an illegal copy of the latest Rocky, do we have the same inhibitions over the Internet?
    The online "seedy flea market" is giving the stuff away, not selling it. There is little to no traditional profit in online file trading. Pirate groups do it to compete against each other and to leverage their "0-day releases" into other groups "dumps," and to make a name for their group.

    Could perhaps Ebay be the unwitting host of such a network, where bootlegged DVDs, CDs, and other goods are sold as a "brand new, in the box" products and the profits are funnelled into more nefarious activities?
    In selling copyright materials, money is made from "brick and mortar" stores in countries where copyright enforcement is lax, at best. The overhead involved in marketing and selling through the internet and transporting copyrighted movies and music is not worth it.

    Maybe what we need are some SOF like virtual warriors that go in and conduct operations with virtual characters to get the virtual information and conduct virtual DA on virtual targets - my kid who beats my ass in HALO would love that. They'll need to hack in to servers (call it an insertion) and look for stuff that don't look right. I'm not even joking - I think the bad guys are way out infront of us.
    No, we do not need avatar based direct action teams. Most of the online games are run by American firms or by allies. If we have probable cause that insurgents/terrorists are using a MMORPG for communication you get a search warrant for game logs and a wiretap to watch the suspects in the future. The DoD does not need a World of Warcraft special mission unit of druids and rogues.

    Honestly though, there are easier ways to securely communicate. There are a number of available cryptographic programs available like PGP. Then there is Steganography.

    Rather, as we identify threat websites we need to just sit and watch. Preferably from a connection that cannot be linked back to the government. For AQ type sites, I would use connections from Deerborn, MI or other areas with a large population of Arabs and Muslims, a savvy admin will watch his logs and research where new visitors are coming from based on IP addresses. When you look at the site, you look at where the site links to and build map of the links. If the website has a discussion board like this, you watch it and see who the most credible posters are and attempt to identify them. This is where a government team of crackers would be valuable. When you identify good individual targets, you infilitrate their computer and install a trojan horse and a keylogger. The objective should be study and learn without being noticed, digital tactical/strategic reconnaissance.

    One of the major threats out there are Distributed Denial of Service Attacks by "bot nets." Attack of the Bots

    I do not think AQ is making internet attacks a major part of their strategy. They use the internet for recruiting and public relations. On the other hand, China appears to be one of the bigger threats out there, India and Russia are probably not far behind either. Additionally, not all attacks are launched by governments. Example of the possible involvement of Russian organized crime. I also remember the back and forth of webpage defacements a couple years back after China forced our plane to land on their island. I also remember a hacker/cracker group declaring "war" on China or maybe Iraq or another nation and then having to back down because they had not realized what they started when they declared their "war." Mainly, that the country they were targeting could/would reach and out and touch them, and not just with a strongly worded email. Additionally, as the link on the Bot Nets above shows, there appears to be a "made to order" DDoS attack market developing out there.

    Additionally, I do not think we are completely flat footed: CSI: TCP/IP

    One former blackhat says that meeting Christy and his fellow government operatives at DefCon over the years convinced him to switch sides. "When you realize that all the hackers in other countries, especially China, are ganging up on America, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to decide what side you want to be on," he says. After a couple of years working undercover "with, not for" various agencies with three-letter initialisms, he enlisted in the Army.
    Last edited by jonSlack; 01-15-2007 at 09:54 PM.

  19. #19
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    jon,
    Thanks for the good research. It frames the discussion pretty well.

    Rather, as we identify threat websites we need to just sit and watch. Preferably from a connection that cannot be linked back to the government. For AQ type sites, I would use connections from Deerborn, MI or other areas with a large population of Arabs and Muslims, a savvy admin will watch his logs and research where new visitors are coming from based on IP addresses. When you look at the site, you look at where the site links to and build map of the links. If the website has a discussion board like this, you watch it and see who the most credible posters are and attempt to identify them. This is where a government team of crackers would be valuable. When you identify good individual targets, you infilitrate their computer and install a trojan horse and a keylogger. The objective should be study and learn without being noticed, digital tactical/strategic reconnaissance.
    That observation there is a good place to start.

    Small Wars relation... I do not see terrorist groups such as AQ profiting because of the resources involved such as the need for multiple and steady broadband internet connections and up to date computer hardware. Most of the "gold farmers" are based in China and are most likely getting "taxed" by local Party officials, similar, to a protection racket.
    Any thoughts on where the money goes, or how revenue could be spent? It seems a good way to finance allot of stuff.

    I do not think AQ is making internet attacks a major part of their strategy. They use the internet for recruiting and public relations. On the other hand, China appears to be one of the bigger threats out there, India and Russia are probably not far behind either. Additionally, not all attacks are launched by governments. Example of the possible involvement of Russian organized crime. I also remember the back and forth of webpage defacements a couple years back after China forced our plane to land on their island. I also remember a hacker/cracker group declaring "war" on China or maybe Iraq or another nation and then having to back down because they had not realized what they started when they declared their "war." Mainly, that the country they were targeting could/would reach and out and touch them, and not just with a strongly worded email. Additionally, as the link on the Bot Nets above shows, there appears to be a "made to order" DDoS attack market developing out there.
    You know as far as Coalition contributions could go - if a country like India, or or somewhere that had the labor and networks - they could make a serious contribution hunting down and attacking listed sites - especially if they were paid - there might be allot of unhappy WoW fans though. Politically there'd be flak about using people chained to their desktops in support of GWOT.

  20. #20
    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
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    Any thoughts on where the money goes, or how revenue could be spent? It seems a good way to finance allot of stuff.
    "Gold farming" is a legitimate business in my opinion. I'd imagine the money goes toward typical business expenses like labor costs, maintaining and upgrading equipment and other normal mundane legimate expenses along with some to local party officials who are bound to have their hand out. Some workers in China make tangible consumer goods, others "farm gold."

    You know as far as Coalition contributions could go - if a country like India, or or somewhere that had the labor and networks - they could make a serious contribution hunting down and attacking listed sites - especially if they were paid - there might be allot of unhappy WoW fans though. Politically there'd be flak about using people chained to their desktops in support of GWOT.
    I do not see the purpose in in "attacking" threat websites. RIAA and other copyright agencies attacked and shut down Napster and Kazaa and other similar sites and look happened, they basically forced the creation of the bitTorrent network which is now almost impossible to track and observe, let alone shut down.

    The real value in the websites is intelligence like I mentioned in the previous post. If you target them and shut them down you just force them to change their tactics and find better ways to hide from you.

    From left field, but if the threat sites happen to be running advertisements like a lot of the blogs do, try buying the ability to display links and banners on the threat website. The links and banners would lead to sites that communicate our side of the story (IO or PSYOP as the case requires.)

    A good example of what we should be trying to do is like what Starbucks did in response to Oxfam's Day of Action video on youTube. Starbucks did not threathen to sue and shutdown (attack) youTube or even Oxfam. What they did is used youTube to present their side of the story to the public.

    First watch Oxfam's Starbucks Day of Action. Notice, the second clip in the "Related" column is Starbucks' response.

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