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Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot 194

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bad-movie-plot dept.
WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.
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Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

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  • Considering the absurd amounts of incompetence and waste we see with visible government entities, should we really be overly concerned about the NSA? Not saying I like them, or anything, but I'm not sure they're quite the beast we've made them out to be. Maybe.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      should we really be overly concerned about the NSA?

      Yes. Any government entity that works beyond the limits of the laws and directly attacks citizens with the intent to remove inalienable rights is a threat, no matter how incompetent they may be.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      well the incompetence is a big part of the concern. The warbot they are building could be tricked and used in reverse to hurt us or harm our relationship with our allies. Even just its existence is enough to damage our relationships in technology commerce, in the ways in which it must be propagated and supported means us based technologies are a constantly liability.

    • by mspohr (589790) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @01:17PM (#47664207)

      Incompetence is never good.
      Incompetence in collecting and acting on information just means that the wrong people will be targeted and the "bad guys" will be missed.
      A powerful, secretive, incompetent organization is the worst of all possible worlds.

    • by thieh (3654731)
      Certainly we shouldn't be worried. We are hopeless against skynet. I am surprised you still got hope in you.
    • Think of it as an chilling free speech tracking sock puppet without the need to hire staff and have then craft online personas just to find one person a gov/mil finds difficult.
      Post the wrong set of words about funding a new war, new backing of freedom fighters, the use of drones in a new entanglement, the sending of boots on the ground.
      Your IP, network and OS could then face a series of limited probes until your online life was constructed, ready for a file to be passed to a real human.
      Your use of a fir
  • by Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @12:49PM (#47663949)
    Do the morons in NSA seriously believe that the USA is the only country with the technology to build a Digital Doomsday Machine? Has anyone of them watched Dr. Strangelove? Having said that, the level of hubris they are displaying seems about right.
    • No, this isn't the 'doomsday machine'. It's much more like William Gibson's ICE programs in 'Neuromancer'.

      So very much like it that one wonders.....

    • What can't be beat in naivete is the attempt to do so automatically. Especially a group whose bread and butter is misinformation and creating false flag scenarios should know that it's probably NOT a good idea to open yourself to that kind of reflection attack.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Gentlemen, We must NOT allow the Digital Doomsday machine gap!

    • by jon3k (691256)
      What makes you think the NSA thinks they are the only ones working on this? In fact, wouldn't knowing other countries are working on something similar be even MORE of a reason to build it?
      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        What makes you think the NSA thinks they are the only ones working on this?

        What makes you think the NSA is working on this? The words of someone who is trying to revive his fifteen minutes of fame? Here, from the summary:

        Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire

        "Could be". And I "could" decide to go out to my car "one day" and start running grandmothers down in the city park, but that doesn't mean I have done so or am even thinking about doing it.

        Other than a car analogy, which I didn't realize I had made until I thought that this would be a good pl

      • by scubamage (727538)
        I still think I'd be far more worried about the Russian doomsday machine that was actually built [wikipedia.org]. Though, I suppose given this day and age its usage is growing more and more unlikely.
    • Where did you read the NSA guys believe the USA is the only country with technology to build a Digital Doomsday Machine? You should separate the facts from your hatred for the NSA and Snowden's fantasms.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The US should be trying to negotiate international treaties to limit the development of autonomous weapons, much like the ones limiting the development of nuclear weapons and space based weapons. Otherwise it is very likely that at some point in the future American lives will become as worthless as Afghan lives, mere bugs to be murdered by machines from the air with no rules of engagement and no justice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @12:51PM (#47663955)

    Every US citizen is yelling for their constitutional rights broken by the NSA. But no Europeans complain about what the NSA is doing to THEM. Which is even worse. EU, fucking wake up.

    • Every US citizen is yelling for their constitutional rights broken by the NSA. But no Europeans complain about what the NSA is doing to THEM.

      Well, that would be counterproductive. See, we get upset when the NSA spies on us But we love when the NSA spies on not us. The best strategy for EU residents is to shut up an hope we go too far in shutting down the spying.

      I mean, I pay the NSA to spy on not us. That's their fucking job.

    • The military commands in the EU nations are having fun driving, sailing, flying and coding advanced US provided platforms and systems at low cost.
      All parts of the EU had to offer was a few shared sites with optical and telco interconnects.
      Kind of hard to give up on all that free or low cost US export grade equipment over some data on some citizens when the deals where done over decades.
  • 'WIRED published a long piece on .. "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article:'

    Will this "MonsterMind" work on non Microsoft Windows network traffic?
    • by spacepimp (664856)

      "Will this "MonsterMind" work on non Microsoft Windows network traffic?"

      Of course it will. The NSA requested the protocol code so they could engineer it to run natively on all windows based network traffic. In fact it likely runs by default, with no way to turn it off in Win 8.

  • welcome our new ...
  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @02:09PM (#47664613)

    This project sounds to me like the NSA is attempting to build their own version of China's "great firewall", and that it'll be used domestically far more than it will be against foreign threats. I can easily see them sharing this with law enforcement agencies, even down to the local level, allowing them to essentially "turn off" internet access at will by blocking packets.

    For example, yesterday, the FAA issued a no-fly order for parts of Missouri - this was presumably because there were racially-charged demonstrations over police killings planned for that day - to allow police helicopters free rein over that area. Now, with a system like this in place, I could easily see the police getting some intel that some people might be planning demonstrations and using this system to intercept a specific sub-set of packets: say, anything coming to and from social media from within the borders of the no-fly zone, to stop people organizing as easily.

  • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @03:25PM (#47665199) Homepage

    It is pain in the ass these kind of articles are babbling about pizza, elevator and all this irrelevant stuff about the personality of the interviewer and the interviewee. Go straigth to the facts of interest and cut down this article from 7 pages to only 1.

    It's like the author is trying to write the first chapter of a novel he hopes Hollywood will buy for the next blockbuster. Give us the facts, we can wait for the movie.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @08:23PM (#47667605) Homepage Journal
    Why to go to the trouble of mounting a distributed denial of service attack, that need thousands of infected computers to be effective, when you can just tickle a dumb bot to do the dirty work for you in the name of the government?
  • Snowden's stuff is out of date. The project was renamed SkyNet,

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