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The Military United States Government

Pentagon Cyberweapons 'Disappointing' Against ISIS (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: It has been more than a year since the Pentagon announced that it was opening a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing Cyber Command, then six years old, to mount computer-network attacks... "In general, there was some sense of disappointment in the overall ability for cyberoperations to land a major blow against ISIS," or the Islamic State, said Joshua Geltzer, who was the senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council until March. "This is just much harder in practice than people think..."

Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America's partner in the attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers... The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain.

Citing military officials, the Times also reports that "locking Islamic State propaganda specialists out of their accounts -- or using the coordinates of their phones and computers to target them for a drone attack -- is now standard operating procedure."
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Pentagon Cyberweapons 'Disappointing' Against ISIS

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  • Bombs and bullets still better at dealing with the problem.
  • AAAHHH (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kelanos ( 4973983 )

    The terrorists are winning! We need more cyber stuff (especially mass surveillance) to stop the terrorists! If we don't ramp it up there will be more terror attacks besides 9/11 (year 2001, almost 16 years ago).

  • Well, Duh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 )

    Of *course* these "cyberweapons" are ineffective against ISIS!

    These weapons and the entire current US surveillance infrastructure were designed from their inceptions to monitor and control the US population and their digital communications. It is entirely unsuited to combating external threats.

    That's like using a hammer on a machine-screw. Duh! Wrong tool for the job.

    It's either that, or the US government has known beforehand of past attacks and allowed them to go forward and kill innocent people to stir up

  • Citing military officials, the Times also reports that "locking Islamic State propaganda specialists out of their accounts -- or using the coordinates of their phones and computers to target them for a drone attack -- is now standard operating procedure."

    Locking them out of their accounts means squat - it's trivial for them to create new ones. Also, given all the cash ISIS has from the Iraqi & Syrian oil it sold, wouldn't they have enough money to buy whatever hardware they needed? As for software, a lot of it is FOSS which ISIS hackers can use just like anyone else.

    Also, cyberweapons are completely useless in separating terrorists from their human shields, which is the reason Raqqah hasn't already been overrun. Everybody has a major cow ov

    • by mean pun ( 717227 ) on Saturday June 17, 2017 @01:20PM (#54639275)

      Everybody has a major cow over civilian casualties, despite the fact that only one side - ours - is concerned about that. But the people of Raqqah are not innocent bystanders: they are Sunni opponents of the Assad regime and support ISIS for that reason.

      No, the vast majority of the people of Raqqah are just ordinary people that want to live a decent life, just like most everyone else all over the planet.

      Levelling the city would be a good solution, but unpalatable to our PCMC sensibilities.

      What you're proposing is genocide. I have no idea what PCMC sensibilities are, but yes, I'm all in favour of having a major cow over that. And that's just based on ethics, there's also the point that levelling a city is a very effective way to create terrorists.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        No, the vast majority of the people of Raqqah are just Dead

        FTFY

  • They'll find a use (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vektuz ( 886618 ) on Saturday June 17, 2017 @01:01PM (#54639215)
    But they're REALLY effective against themselves and the American people, when they leak.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday June 17, 2017 @01:08PM (#54639233)
    an organization that relies primarily on soviet era guns, makeshift bombs and the occasional 50 caliber on the back of a Toyota? Ya don't say... Next you'll tell me they're completely ineffective against the Amish.
    • The House of Stark considered a cyberattack on the House of Lannister, but found that valyrian steel doesn't expose much of an attack surface.
  • Back in early 2000s, Al Qaeda (cough CIA's clandestine Arabic unit cough) tried in desperate vain to have a simple html web page that was properly taken down multiple times by registrars and well to do web security professionals.

    Nowadays, we have major corporations who are so inept that they let the same malcontents run their propaganda crap on simple to use platforms instead of immediately banning them.

    You want to fight an information war? Start by banning their social media accounts.

  • by mfh ( 56 )

    I bet ISIS refused to run the windows updates required to allow the cyberwarfare thingymagic! :)

  • "or using the coordinates of their phones and computers to target them for a drone attack"

    So ISIS just have to use a phone to post crap to Facebook, then drop it wherever they want bombed, and the Americans will bomb it for them?

  • BAE Systems' subsidiary, Applied Intelligence, got around UK export controls by having it's Denmarked-based subsidiary sell Qatar (ISIS buds) their Evident technology, which has state-of-the-art decryption programs (for decrypting your emails, etc.). Stands to reason the Pentagon stuff would be a dud.
  • We just need to send ISIS some laptops with WindowsXP installed. Then they will be easy to cyber-attack.

  • Is put trackers in all those Toyotas they sold them. Then they could drone them up at will. Maybe put trackers in all the arms we sold over there to Saudi Arabia as well. --OR-- We could stop providing material support to anyone in the entire region and anyone who does business with those in the region since all of our arms and materials end up in the hands of terrorists.
  • ... its shit away ...

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