According to the 2012 document, Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has developed a set of tools that can easily hack into platforms and plant false information on the internet. It also contains a detailed list of haughty code named tactics and tools and what exactly they stand for.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald’s recent article in the The Intercept explains that the tools were created by GCHQs Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previous documents have detailed JTRIGs use of fake victim blog posts,” false flag operations,” honey traps and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.
Here are but a few (as described by JTRIG):
- SPRING BISHOP – Find private photographs of targets on Facebook ;
- CHANGELING – Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity ;
- MINIATURE HERO – Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists ;
- UNDERPASS – Change outcome of online polls ;
- MUSTANG – Provides covert access to the locations of GSM cell towers ;
- SODAWATER – A tool for regularly downloading gmail messages and forwarding them onto CERBERUS (JTRIG desktop) mailboxes ; and
- TRACER FIRE – An Office Document that grabs the targets Machine info, files, logs, etc, and posts it back to GCHQ.
It seems that JTRIG also has the ability to target particular social media platforms, such as collecting various different data and amplifying messages on sites. So far it is unclear, however, if the sites themselves are aware of these practices.
More worryingly, is the fact that JTRIG claims that the tactics and tools on the list are in development,” or fully operational, tested and reliable,” even going so far as to tell that GCHQ not to treat the list as a catalogue. If you dont see it here, it doesnt mean we can’t build it. And since its last modification the page has been accessed almost 20,000 times!
Almost as an afterthought at the end, the documents highlights that there may be legal restrictions.
In a Guardian interview, Snowden himself “condemns the emergency bill.” He said: “I mean we don’t have bombs falling. We don’t have U-boats in the harbour.” And after a year of the government ignoring it, “it now defies belief.The NSA could have written this draft. They passed it under the same sort of emergency justification. They said we would be at risk. They said companies will no longer cooperate with us. We’re losing valuable intelligence that puts the nation at risk.”