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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Report: Israel spied on Iran nuclear talks

You didn't really expect us to trust the Obama administration to keep us informed, did you? The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Kaspersky Lab - one of the leading cybersecurity firms in the world - has discovered that Israel was spying on the P 5+1 nuclear talks.
When a leading cybersecurity firm discovered it had been hacked last year by a virus widely believed to be used by Israeli spies, it wanted to know who else was on the hit list. It checked millions of computers world-wide and three luxury European hotels popped up. The other hotels the firm tested—thousands in all—were clean.
Researchers at the firm, Kaspersky Lab ZAO, weren’t sure what to make of the results. Then they realized what the three hotels had in common. Each was targeted before hosting high-stakes negotiations between Iran and world powers over curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program.
The spyware, the firm has now concluded, was an improved version of Duqu, a virus first identified by cybersecurity experts in 2011, according to a Kaspersky report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and outside security experts. Current and former U.S. officials and many cybersecurity experts believe Duqu was designed to carry out Israel’s most sensitive intelligence-collection operations.
Senior U.S. officials learned Israel was spying on the nuclear talks in 2014, a finding first reported by The Wall Street Journal in March. Officials at the time offered few details about Israel’s tactics.
Kaspersky, in keeping with its policy, doesn’t identify Israel by name as the country responsible for the hacks. But researchers at the company indicate that they suspect an Israeli connection in subtle ways. For example, the company’s report is titled “The Duqu Bet.” Bet is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
Researchers at the company acknowledge that many questions remain unanswered about how the virus was used and what information may have been stolen. Among the possibilities, the researchers say, the intruders might have been able to eavesdrop on conversations and steal electronic files by commandeering the hotel systems that connect to computers, phones, elevators and alarms, allowing them to turn them on and off at will to collect information.
Israeli officials have denied spying on the U.S. or Israel’s other allies, although they acknowledge conducting close surveillance on Iranians generally. Israeli officials declined to comment specifically on the allegations relating to the Duqu virus and the hotel intrusions.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the Kaspersky analysis and hasn’t independently confirmed the firm’s conclusions, according to people familiar with the discussions. U.S. officials, though, said they weren’t surprised to learn about the reported intrusions at the hotels used for the nuclear talks.
A senior congressional aide briefed on the matter said Kaspersky’s findings were credible. “We take this seriously,” the aide said.
U.S. intelligence agencies view Duqu infections as Israeli spy operations, former U.S. officials said. While the new virus bore no overt links to Israel, it was so complex and borrowed so heavily from Duqu that it “could not have been created by anyone without access to the original Duqu source code,” Kaspersky writes in its report.
To check his conclusions, Mr. Raiu a few weeks ago emailed his findings to a friend, Boldizsár Bencsáth, a researcher at Budapest University of Technology and Economics’ Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security. Mr. Bencsáth in 2011 helped discover the original Duqu virus.
“They look extremely similar,” Mr. Bencsáth said in an interview Tuesday. He estimated a team of 10 people would take more than two years to build such a clean copycat, unless they were the original author.
Kaspersky declined to identify the three hotels.
Hotels that served as venues for the talks include: the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Intercontinental in Geneva, the Palais Coburg in Vienna, the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich and Royal Plaza Montreux in Montreaux, Switzerland.
A Beau-Rivage spokeswoman said the hotel was unaware of being hacked. A manager on duty at the Intercontinental said he also was unaware of such an incident. The management team at the Royal Plaza said, “Our internal policy doesn’t allow us to deliver any information.”
The others didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In addition to the three hotels reported to have been hacked, the virus was found in computers at a site used to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Some world leaders had attended events there.
A former U.S. intelligence official said it was common for Israel and other countries to target such international gatherings. “The only thing that’s unusual now is you hear about it,” the official said.
Mr. Raiu said Kaspersky doesn’t know what was stolen from the three hotels or from the other venues. He said the virus was packed with more than 100 discrete “modules” that would have enabled the attackers to commandeer infected computers.
One module was designed to compress video feeds, possibly from hotel surveillance cameras. Other modules targeted communications, from phones to Wi-Fi networks. The attackers would know who was connected to the infected systems, allowing them to eavesdrop on conversations and steal electronic files. The virus could also enable them to operate two-way microphones in hotel elevators, computers and alarm systems.
In addition, the hackers appeared to penetrate front-desk computers. That could have allowed them to figure out the room numbers of specific delegation members.
The virus also automatically deposited smaller reconnaissance files on the computers it passed through, ensuring the attackers can monitor them and exploit the contents of those computers at a later date.
All is fair in love and war. This is definitely war. I'm proud of our troops and I hope they did this and that our government got a lot out of it. Oh wait... we already know we got a lot out of it, don't we?

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At 7:27 AM, Blogger InMemoryOf Yossi said...

That's what those anti-Semitis get for under estimating the Yiddishe kup!
Too bad they are picking the losing side. We have a secret weapon, Hashem.


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