But this was not enough to stop a team of GNU hackers & their collaborators. After making key discoveries about the details of HACIENDA, Julian Kirsch, Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, & Holger Kenn (among others) designed a TCP Stealth system to protect unadvertised servers from port scanning. They revealed this work at the recent annual GNU Hackers’ Meeting in Germany.
System & network administrators now face the threat of industrial espionage, sabotage & human rights violations created by nation-state adversaries indiscriminately attacking network infrastructure & breaking into services. Such an adversary needs little reason for an attack beyond gaining access & is supported by a multi-billion dollar budget, immunity from prosecution, & compelled collaboration by companies from Five Eyes countries. As a result, every system or network administrator should reconsider how their system isp protected against this unprecedented threat & level of coordinated attack. In particular, citizens of countries outside of the Five Eyes have, as a result of these programs have greatly reduced security, privacy, integrity & resilience capabilities.
What is now very real: Spy agencies are using their powers to commandeer Internet systems for power projection. Their actions follow the standard template of cyber-criminal behavior, using reconnaissance through active & passive port scanning to identify potential victims. Given this serious threat, system administrators must improve their defensive posture &, in particular, reduce visibility of non-public services. Patching services do not help against 0-day attacks, and firewalls are simply not be applicable or sufficient.
The consequence of inaction is unsettling… even if you’ve nothing to hide.