A co-founder of the hacker activist group LulzSec warns how a UK Government cyber warfare unit has been actively engaged in subverting democracy and creating fake news for the last decade. Leaked documents back this up.
A presentation [0:15] on 27 December by LulzSec co-founder and security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam to the Chaos Communication Congress summarises the work of the secretive Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). This includes how JTRIG interfered in Iranian affairs, beginning with the 2009 elections:
And according to Al-Bassam, JTRIG, an arm of Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) is tasked with creating sock puppet accounts and fake content on social media, in order to use “dirty tricks” to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them.
More slides show how JTRIG makes use [pdf, p5] of media to promote news stories and propaganda.
Identifying activists is a core part of JTRIG’s work and a report reveals [pdf] a strategy to identify Tor browser users. JTRIG also developed a fake URL shortening service [8:36], lurl.me (codenamed DEADPOOL [pdf, p8]), to target activists:
Other documents indicate how GCHQ/JTRIG would use [pdf, p3] Distributed Denial of Service to disable servers hosting chat rooms of not just hacktivists, but political groups. The units responsible [pdf, p15] include JTRIG, SIGINT (Signals Intelligence), CDO (Cyber Defence Operations) and INOC (InterNet Operations Centre).
The report further elaborates [pdf]:
They’re all at it
JTRIG is by no means the only player in this cyber-based warfare. For we are in an era where services similar to some of those pioneered by JTRIG are now the norm. They are offered by commercial organisations, such as the SCL Group and its subsidiary Cambridge Analytica, or AggregateIQ (linked to SCL). For example, they use social media and psychological profiling to target specific audiences and manipulate voting behaviour. Such services have been provided/recommended to political campaign groups, such as Leave.eu, Vote Leave and Trump for President.
Democracy is once more the loser.
– Read more from The Canary on Brexit.