Sunday, 11 March 2012


The revelation, during the Independence Day parade held in Ghana's capital city Accra's Independence Square, on the 6th of March, 2012, that all the three services that make up the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) now have special forces, comes as a huge relief to those of us who have advocated for just such a development, over the years.

One hopes that the same dedication to protecting the national interest, which led the authorities to create those special forces, will now inform the task of protecting Ghana's cyber borders, too.

It is vital, dear reader, that the task of protecting Ghana's cyber borders is taken seriously by our ruling elites. It is totally unacceptable, for example, that Ghana's law enforcement agencies have allowed a small army of online crooks, to turn Ghana into a global power in online fraud.

One humbly suggests that the same imaginative thinking that led to the creation of special forces for the GAF's three armed services, henceforth underpins the task of ensuring that the Ghanaian nation-state's cyber borders (including the government machinery's online presence) remains secure.

Above all, Ghana's security agencies must hunt down and prosecute all the crooks responsible for making Ghana a global superpower in online fraud - many of whom have apparently moved here from places like Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast.

Together with the contingent of Ghanaian online fraudsters (known locally as Saakawa), those online crooks from sister West African nations, are doing untold harm to Ghana's reputation globally - and it is time their activities were curtailed.

In that regard, it is for the benefit of those in charge of Ghana's national security, that this blog is reproducing the Daily Telegraph story below.

It ought to be required reading for Ghana's politicians too. Ditto its business leaders. It is entitled: "How spies used Facebook to steal Nato chiefs’ details" and was written by the paper's Investigations Editor, Jason Lewis, in Washington DC. Please read on:

"How spies used Facebook to steal Nato chiefs’ details

By Jason Lewis, Investigations Editor, in Washington DC

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

NATO'S most senior commander was at the centre of a major security alert when a series of his colleagues fell for a fake Facebook account opened in his name - apparently by Chinese spies.

Senior British military officers and Ministry of Defence officials are understood to have been among those who accepted "friend requests" from the bogus account for American Admiral James Stavridis.

They thought they had become genuine friends of Nato's Supreme Allied Commander - but instead every personal detail on Facebook, including private email addresses, phone numbers and pictures were able to be harvested.

Nato officials are reluctant to say publicly wo was behind the attack. But the Sunday Telegraph has learned that in classified briefings, military officers and diplomats were told the evidence pointed to "state-sponsored individuals in China".

Although they are unlikely to have found any genuine military secrets from the Facebook accounts they accessed , the incident is highly embarrassing.

In the wake of it Nato has advised senior officers and officials to open their own social networking pages to prevent a repeat of the security breach.

Admiral Stirvis - who was in charge of operations in Libya to bring about the end of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime - now has an official Facebook site while the bogus one has been permanently deleted from the internet.

But it opened up a treasure trove of personal information to the people behind the fake.

As well as their names, people routinely put personal email addresses, dates of birth, clues about their home address and personal and family pictures online. Some even state their current location, and messages on a page's "wall" can reveal huge amounts about their beliefs and state of mind.

Although it is not known how much information was harvested, foreign intelligence agencies would be delighted to have such huge amounts of information which can be used to produce detailed profiles of potential targets for espionage or even blackmail.

Senior Nato staff were warned about the fake account late last year and made representations to Facebook.

It is understood that Facebook uses very sophisticated techniques to identify bogus accounts which, it says, have very different footprints to genuine Facebook users.

A spokesman said: "After the profile was reported to us, it was taken down as soon as we were notified and investigated the issue."

Last night officials at SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, reluctantly confirmed that its commander had been targeted.

They refused to be drawn on the origin of the security breach although other senior security sources confirmed that it had been traced to China.
A spokesman for SHAPE said: "This type of compromising attempts are called "Social Engeneering" and has nothing to do with "hacking" or "espionage".

"Discussions/chats/postings on Facebook are of course only about unclassified topics."

A NATO official added: "There have been several fake supreme allied commander pages. Facebook has cooperated in taking them down. We are not aware that they are Chinese.

"The most important thing is for Facebook to get rid of them. First and foremost we want to make sure that the public is not being misinformed. Social media played a crucial role in the Libya campaign last year.

"It reflected the groundswell of public opposition, but also we received a huge amount of information from social media in terms of locating Libyan regime forces. It was a real eye-opener. That is why it is important the pubic has trust in our social media."

The so-called "spear fishing" exercise is the latest tactic in the wide ranging use of the internet to spy on key Western figures and to steal their secrets.

Fears centre on the espionage operation of Chinese intelligence agencies - which are targeting not just military secrets but every aspect of western life.
Among the items stolen are said to be the secrets of stealth aircraft, submarine technology, the space programme and solar energy.

British institutions are equally vulnerable including Chinese hackers successful getting access to House of Commons secure computer network.

Shawn Henry, the FBI's executive assistant director in charge of targeting cyber crime said: "We see thousands of breaches every month across all industry and retail, infrastructure and across all sectors.

"We know that the capabilities of foreign states are substantial and we know the type of information that they are targeting."

The state-sponsored attacks are aimed at stealing information to give them an economic, political and military advantage.

Some hawkish figures in the US also fear that a hostile country or terror group might launch a "cyber war" against them attempting to attack and destroy military and civil infrastructure using viruses or other electronic weapons. However most experts think this is highly unlikely.

It is similar to the so-called "Night Dragon" attacks which targeted executives of some of the world biggest oil and gas companies.

The names of the firms involved have not been disclosed. Their reluctance is widespread as companies fear disclosure will damage customer confidence in them and it their share price.

The attacks infiltrated the energy companies computer system and looked for how the firms operated.

The attackers targeted the Western firms' public websites and specific individuals using Facebook and other social networking sites to learn about them first, and then trying to dupe them into revealing their log in names and passwords.

The hackers were traced to China, to Beijing and investigators found the attacks only happened on week days between 9am and 5pm local time suggesting they were working at an office or a government facility.

Security expert Dmitri Alperovich, who helped uncover the "Night Dragon" breach, says Western businesses and Government are all routinely being targeted.

He said: "They will know your strategy, your price list, everything to undercut and beat you. The Chinese are using every trick in the book

"They stole emails between executives about high level negotiations. They are stealing their negotiation playbook and then they outbid them.If they know your strategy they can't lose."

Last year an executive at a key US defence firm, RSA, opened a personal email with the subject line "2011 Recruitment Plan" and clicked on the attached Excel spreadsheet.

The attachment contained a virus, apparently engineered by the Chinese, which opened up RSA's system and allowed access to all its secrets, including its work for the White House, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security(DHS).

Such is concern over the cyber-attacks that the DHS now sees it as a key priority along with tackling terrorism.

Bruce McConnell, its director of cyber security said: "The internet is civilian space. It is a marketplace. Like the market in Beirut in the '70s, it will sometimes be a battleground."

He likened his department's job to attempts to co-ordinate the civilian response to a hurricane.

But "unlike in a hurricane, we are responding to incidents every day," he added. "

End of culled Daily Telegraph article by Jason Lewis.

Well, there it is, dear reader. Clearly, it will be an uphill task protecting Ghana's cyber borders - but it is not a task beyond our nation's capabilities.

Perhaps Ghana's law enforcement agencies could begin that task by working with Google and Twitter to hunt down and prosecute those behind and this google search result: "Ghanapolitics (@Ghanapolitic) on Twitter!/ghanapolitic

Sign up for Twitter to follow Ghanapolitics (@Ghanapolitic). Ghana Politics. Health, Finance, Showbiz, Celebrity Gossip, People, Entertainment and News ..."

The intention of the rogues responsible for the outrage above, is simply to profit from selling ad-space to the search traffic generated by what is my intellectual property: the articles I write and post on this blog. It really is intolerable that internet giants known for adhering to corporate good governance principles, Google and Twitter, are unwittingly assisting online fraudsters to piggy-back off my intellectual property, the articles posted on my Ghanapolitics google-blog.

To end such online shenanigans by ruthless and faceless crooks, using the internet to enrich themselves through fraudulent means, surely, the time has now come for the authorities in Ghana to prosecute all those whose fraudulent online activities have turned Ghana into a global superpower, in online fraud?

Tel (Powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana, which actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.
Post a Comment