In the cyber world, a honeypot

consists of data (for example, in a network site) that appears to be a legitimate part of the site but is actually isolated and monitored, and that seems to contain information or a resource of value to attackers, which are then blocked.

Of course, nothing prevents nefarious persons or entities from using honeypots to draw in honest folks for nefarious purposes.  Purposes like the following.

The trove of leaked Democratic National Committee emails posted to Wikileaks on July 22 has sparked concerns about malware as users access the vast trove of documents.

On the day of the leak, Google’s Transparency Report warned users of dangerous downloads from Wikileaks.org. Google has not revealed specifically what was detected….

Malware was detected in the Global Intelligence Files dumped last year by Wikileaks, too.  Further, Wikileaks actually could be a victim in this malware ploy, too: they do little of their own hacking, getting their stuff from other sources.  One of their sources already has been implicated in the recent hacks of Democratic Party IT facilities like the DNC, DNCC, and Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign email servers, along with Clinton’s official State Department business personal email server: Russia is suspected of conducting these particular hacks.

Are these guys—Russians, Chines, ordinary thieves—setting up other botnets?  Setting up sources for stealing personal financial data or data useful for blackmail or data useful for espionage, with these sources to be tapped at a time of convenience in the future?  Setting up something else?

Expansion of Ukraine Occupation

The Russian-backed (with 9,000 of their own) rebels in Ukraine and Ukraine signed a cease fire agreement in September, including an agreement to withdraw their respective artillery units from that cease fire line.

Having done that,

a rebel rocket attack early Saturday morning (24 Jan) killed 29 people [at least 30 according to Reuters] in the port city of Mariupol[]

which Russia has been trying to seize for some months pursuant to their effort to open a land route to Russian-occupied Crimea. The day before,

[T]he rebels rejected a [renewed] peace deal and said they were going on a multi-prong offensive against the government in Kiev to vastly increase their territory.

Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said this of the Russian/separatist forces’ plans:

Today an offensive was launched on Mariupol. This will be the best possible monument to all our dead because we will avenge them all[.]

So much for the value of a Russian commitment.

Spinners Gotta Spin

Iraq’s Prime Minister offered this to Russian media a bit ago concerning ISIS’ blitz from Syria down through Tikrit to the doorstep of Baghdad:

If we had air cover we would have averted what had happened.

And it’s all the US’ fault, he says, for not “speeding up” delivery of some F-16s.

Never mind that ISIS, as badly outnumbered by the Iraqi “army” as shepherds and their dogs are by the sheep they herd, didn’t have any air cover, either.


Here’s this bit of news from Tech News Daily.

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently conducted an audit to evaluate how well the most powerful military force on Earth handled the security issues concerning personal mobile devices in conjunction with its professional duties.

The result: [failure]

DoD audited “use of iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices among Army personnel and in Army facilities, where the devices joined on-site Wi-Fi networks.”  The audit found no requirement to:

  • secure storage for data on mobiles
  • insist on keeping devices free of malware
  • monitor mobiles while hooked up to computers or even
  • employ training or user agreements to keep military secrets under wraps
  • authorize personal mobile devices: almost 15,000 unauthorized devices in use (as a practical matter; the Army nominally requires prior authorization before use)

The audit also found these examples of failure:

  • a programmer failed to report a damaged iPhone, disposing of it on his own and replacing it out-of-pocket
  • mobile devices with no password protection
  • devices using outdated operating systems (leaving them open to exploits)
  • no protective software installed

If this is typical, our Army seems wholly unprepared for its role in a cyber strike.

Cowed by Terrorism

Apparently, terrorism works in Europe.  With Bulgaria having officially determined that Hezbollah was behind the terrorist bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas on the Bulgarian Black Sea last summer, we’re getting some…interesting…responses in the rest of Europe.  These responses center on European continued hesitancy to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization, as other nations outside of Europe (and one and a half within the EU (the UK is only willing to designate, euphemistically, the “military arm” of Hezbollah a terrorist organization) have done.  We’re getting, for instance, things like the following.

The European Union’s Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (!), says,

The terrorists who planned and carried out the Burgas attack must be brought to justice…the High Representative underlines the need for a reflection over the outcome of (Bulgaria’s) investigation.

She can’t say the word “Hezbollah,” and since it was only Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian (the bus driver) who died, there’s still time, and need, to “reflect” on the meaning of the murders.

EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, expanded on this reluctance:

There is no automatic listing just because you have been behind a terrorist attack…It’s not only the legal requirement that you have to take into consideration, it’s also a political assessment of the context and the timing.

It’s true enough that terrorist butchery has political overtones in the terrorists’ purposes, but responses to such murders have no politics at all involved—there are only morality and the duty of a government to protect its citizens.

Former French intelligence official Claude Moniquet adds

Calling it terrorist would limit France’s ties with Beirut and put French targets and personnel in Lebanon at risk of retaliation.  The Bulgarian report doesn’t alter this realpolitik. There were always plenty of smoking guns.

It’s important to avoid annoying terrorists, lest the latter turn their ire on us.  And there’s the standard offer of excuses for this carpet knightery.

Even the newspapers seem more interested in ducking and covering than in meaningful response.  Sylke Tempel, editor of the German magazine Internationale Politik, told the New York Times,

There’s the overall fear if we’re too noisy about this, Hezbollah might strike again, and it might not be Israeli tourists this time.

There it is again: don’t offend the terrorists; they might hurt us next.

All of this reminds me of Spain’s withdrawal from the war on al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in direct response to a terror bombing of a Madrid railroad station.

Indeed, Europe’s reluctance to angrify Hezbollah is an old and venerable policy.  Spiegel International Online notes (the first link above),

For decades, European governments have preferred to avoid confrontation with Hezbollah as long as its terrorism was not directed at continental targets.  In spite of a 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 58 French peacekeepers and 241 American Marines, deadly attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 (which Argentine prosecutors pinned on the group), and its military support for the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar Assad (whom the EU has repeatedly called upon to step down), Brussels has resisted naming Hezbollah a terrorist outfit.

The problem is that this timidity does not affect only Europe.  Like paying the kidnapper’s ransom, it puts the rest of us at risk, also.  It rewards the terrorists for their actions rather than contributing to their destruction.