Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Last Call

From the Department of Asymmetrical Warfare, it seems that if US cyber cowboys can go around ruining Iranian centrifuges with tailored viruses, Iranian hackers can do it the old fashioned way and launch denial of service attacks on US bank websites.

The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced United States government officials and security researchers that they are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic sanctions and online attacks by the United States. 

“There is no doubt within the U.S. government that Iran is behind these attacks,” said James A. Lewis, a former official in the State and Commerce Departments and a computer security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. 

Mr. Lewis said the amount of traffic flooding American banking sites was “multiple times” the amount that Russia directed at Estonia in a monthlong online assault in 2007 that nearly crippled the Baltic nation. 

American officials have not offered any technical evidence to back up their claims, but computer security experts say the recent attacks showed a level of sophistication far beyond that of amateur hackers. Also, the hackers chose to pursue disruption, not money: another earmark of state-sponsored attacks, the experts said. 

“The scale, the scope and the effectiveness of these attacks have been unprecedented,” said Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware, a security firm that has been investigating the attacks on behalf of banks and cloud service providers. “There have never been this many financial institutions under this much duress.” 

Since September, intruders have caused major disruptions to the online banking sites of Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, PNC, Capital One, Fifth Third Bank, BB&T and HSBC. 

Well, you know it's not like we haven't orchestrated crippling sanctions against Iran's economy or anything, so.  They're going after our online banking sites.  Sure, that's about par for the course for this nifty little war, right?

Oh but this seems like propaganda, you say?  Most likely.  Dumping every bank DDoS attack on Iran for the last 4 months seems awfully sloppy on our part.  You'd think we'd be able to stop it if it was them.  Curiously, we can't.

Funny how that works.

Do The Huckleberry Block

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham is moving on from complaining about Chuck Hagel as Pentagon head and is the first to jump into the pool of GOP senators threatening to block John Brennan as the President's choice to lead the CIA because of Benghazi.

Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened Tuesday to block Senate consideration of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA in retaliation for the Obama administration’s failure to provide more details about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The South Carolina Republican’s threat to place a hold on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director raises doubts about a second senior national security leadership pick by Obama, with several senators already questioning former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s qualifications to be defense secretary.

Needless to say, here we go again.  Graham doesn't want to block his friend John Kerry, so he's going after John Brennan instead with his endless Benghazi stupidity.

“I have not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle and still have many questions about what transpired before, during and after the attack on our consulate,” Graham said in a prepared statement.

In that regard, I do not believe we should confirm anyone as director of the CIA until our questions are answered – like who changed Ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points and who deleted the references to al Qaida?” Graham said. “My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary action to get information from this administration.”

Big surprise, Huckleberry here will block anyone and everyone because he's President, you know.  He's the most important man in Washington.

It's entirely possible the President will have to make a recess appointment to a cabinet position.

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Maybe This Time Really Is Different

On Sunday, newly minted North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was not only dismissing the President's position on gun control out of hand, sight unseen, but then she called gun control something that "shouldn't even be talked about."

That lasted approximately 48 hours before the rookie got her welcome to DC. This time around, it's different.

Chalk one up for the gun control crowd? A spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said Tuesday that his group had scared freshman Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) off of her tough criticism of the White House gun violence task force.

The group ran newspaper ads on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and North Dakota, two days after Heitkamp went on television to express serious concerns about gun control ideas the White House was reportedly considering in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. school massacre. A spokesman for the group said the ads worked.

“She got the message,” Ladd Everitt, spokesperson for the CSGV, told TPM. He said the 48 hours since Heitkamp went on TV showcase a new, more aggressive tactic by gun control advocates to push politicians to back its agenda.

In fact, it didn't take long at all for Heitkamp to go the Full Manchin:

“Senator Heitkamp believes that Americans have a right to bear arms. But with that right, come responsibilities. And we have a responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, while protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners. Senator Heitkamp also believes that the problem of violence in America must be dealt with in a multifaceted way. While every option must be considered there is no one single answer. The discussion and ultimate solution to these mass violence tragedies must go beyond a singular focus on gun laws, and that the discussion must examine mental health, school security, and community development to help parents identify and address children potentially suffering from mental illness. Senator Heitkamp has clearly stated that all options must be on the table when it comes to addressing gun violence in America.” 

It's a start, at least.  We'll see where her votes lie.


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