Latest Snowden Revelations Suggest GCHQ Is Just Like 4Chan Trolls, But With More Firepower

from the 4chan-gone-professional dept

So you misspent your teenage years as a 4chan troll and are trying to figure out what to do for a career? Given the latest revelations from the Snowden Files by Glenn Greenwald over at The Intercept, you might want to consider taking a job for the UK’s equivalent to the NSA, better known as GCHQ. As Greenwald details (and the embedded document below reveals), among GCHQ’s capabilities in its Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) are a bunch of things that sound quite a bit like traditional internet trolling efforts. These include juicing internet polls to vote for GCHQ’s favorite candidate (remember when moot was voted Time’s Person of the Year in an online poll?) as well as flooding email inboxes or websites and even connecting two people on the phone and listening to the conversation.

Here are the programs Greenwald highlights:

  • ?Change outcome of online polls? (UNDERPASS)
  • ?Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign? (BADGER) and ?mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign? (WARPARTH)
  • ?Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.? (SILVERLORD)
  • ?Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.? (MINIATURE HERO)
  • ?Find private photographs of targets on Facebook? (SPRING BISHOP)
  • ?A tool that will permanently disable a target?s account on their computer? (ANGRY PIRATE)
  • ?Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website? (GATEWAY) and ?ability to inflate page views on websites? (SLIPSTREAM)
  • ?Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)? (GESTATOR)
  • ?Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers? (PREDATORS FACE) and ?Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG? (ROLLING THUNDER)
  • ?A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay ( (ELATE)
  • ?Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity? (CHANGELING)
  • ?For connecting two target phone together in a call? (IMPERIAL BARGE)

Of course, this is not the first time that JTRIG has been called out by Glenn Greenwald for its sneaky online practices. Last time, Greenwald highlighted its practice of putting a bunch of false info online about someone to destroy their reputation. This just digs deeper into some of the other “tricks” in JTRIG’s trick bag. Still, it is rather astounding to me just how similar many of the items sound to the kinds of things generally associated with trolling behavior. It really makes you wonder if the folks working in JTRIG are just 4chan trolls who never really had to grow up.

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Comments on “Latest Snowden Revelations Suggest GCHQ Is Just Like 4Chan Trolls, But With More Firepower”

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art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Yeah we know

i seriously doubt this is ONLY the brits who are in to this kind of dirty deeds done dirt cheap…
after all, WE ‘used to’ (coughstilldocough) engage in ALL KINDS of so-called ‘dirty tricks’ to fuck up dissenters and other true patriots; what makes you think we have stopped ? ? ?
further, we have some ‘proof’, in that -as i recall- the military has actually bought -what amounts to- sockpuppet software, which allows one person to setup and use HUNDREDS of ‘different’ accounts/pseudonyms to astroturf for/against issues online, spread FUD and propaganda, etc…
two other factoids i like to repeat, since the lamestream media will not:
1. it used to be that the USG was FORBIDDEN BY LAW to propagandize us lowly serfs…
2. we are STILL in a formal ‘state of emergency’ renewed every 6-12 months since 9/11…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: oh dear

What a cowardish thing to say. For king and country! Save the empire.

I think UK has more holes in their law controlling secret service than US. The problems I see are not vote-rigging, DDOS-type attacks or spam. The problem I see are the Spring Bishop and Miniature Hero (Circumvention of procedures? They should be able to give a warrent to the companies and get the information anyway…).

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

But 4chan & /b/ use their powers "responsibly"

GCHQ using the same tactics as the legendary trolls of 4chan doesn’t seem all that surprising, to be honest.

It’s just that while most of the trolling 4chan does is just make somebody’s life hell in the name of ‘teh lulz’ (or as the tumblr crowd are currently learning the hard way, teaching idiots that starting a fight with the biggest hornet’s nest on the internet is the worst idea in the history of bad ideas.), GCHQ’s use of those same tactics can have decidedly more nefarious goals.

Want a heavily pro-GCHQ/NSA/surveillance state candidate to look like he’s winning in the polls in a lame attempt to demoralize “your enemies”[everyone against the illegal actions of the NSA/GCHQ/Five Eyes]? Juice the polls in your candidate’s favor with UNDERPASS!

Want to DDOS an anti-surveillance activist website servers? Use PREDATORS FACE!

I’m actually kinda surprised that government use of LOIC programs (or as the Ministry of Silly Codenames call it, PREDATORS FACE) didn’t come up in earlier Snowden Revelations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perhaps this revelation will be the most damaging to GCHQ. Sure they chant their rights-eliminating “national security” mantra and trick the gullible into believing they are actually improving security, this shows them to be a bunch of fools. Now maybe we’ll see fiscal conservatives calling for them being reined in when it is revealed that their tax dollars were funding internet trolling.

Anonymous Coward says:

“A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer”

Buh? What’s that even supposed to mean? By “account”, do they mean the currently active user for Windows 7? Couldn’t the target just create a new user or something? I must be missing something here.

“Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

I used to do that with proxies when I was a bored little kid. I made some random site’s rank on one of those ranking sites go from like 750 to 150. (Only took about 7-10 votes per day for a week or two, which says something about how little people care about those ranking sites.)

“Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity”

Congratulations, you discovered packet forging. (They probably think it’s some amazing new hack. Pfft, script kiddies…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Gang stalking

It is gang stalking… methods that were widely used in totalitarian governments & systems. The reasons might be interchangeable, but the methods stay the same. It is comparable to organized crime as well, in which anyone under suspicion is drawn into crimes or criminal behavior just to negate any legal route.

These methods can go as far as artificially creating ups and downs in the psychological structure of their target – to time the ability to make reasonable statements or otherwise get an advantage. Use the wrong wording, tone or method and it could be a button that is being pushed – to the detriment of the victim. Similar to what internet trolls do (that know what they are doing), but not limited to the internet. These “tools” only complete a sector that has not been covered before.

The very existence does not proof it´s actual use, but that answer is open to the amount of transparency the public is allowed to receive. But as we know, the public is considered an enemy.

My key questions to these revelations are:
Does surveillance spark a totalitarian system?
Must a totalitarian philosophy employ surveillance as a tool?
How much influence is such an enclosed system within a democracy allowed to possess?

The more of these methods are uncovered, the more of this puzzle is exposed.

Roger says:

Edward Snowden

Sounds like a lot of GOBBLEDYGOOK to me. The plain and simple fact is Edward Snowden saw that our own Government was ILLEGALLY SPYING ON ITS PEOPLE AND BLEW THE WHISTLE TO WARN US! Once our own Government found out they were caught with their pants down they didn’t like it so they branded Snowden as a liar and a TRAITOR in hopes of turning the very people he sought to warn against him. Sadly many did. One day (if not here in Heaven) Snowden will be hailed the hero he is. Just like Paul Revere who also warned the masses! (That’s my opinion)

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