back to article GCHQ boss calls out Russia for 'industrial scale disinformation'

GCHQ‬ boss Jeremy Fleming has hailed the success of a cyber-offensive against ISIS last year and warned of the growing threat posed by Russia. During a wide-ranging speech at the CyberUK conference in Manchester on Thursday morning, Fleming said a cyber operation last year had disrupted ISIS's [Daesh] communications. In 2017 …

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that the outside threats aren't necessarily coming from outside, but are also being reflected from inside. Much as I loathe being spied on by my own government and hold our politicians in contempt, I actually don't doubt that the people in our security agencies are trying to do the right thing and really don't have it in for me.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Most of them, honest scientists, yes.

        The 'rogue operators' and the ones who prefer to let the political management be their conscience .. not so much. Don't forget what happened to David Kelly - one of the honest scientists, I believe.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        people in our security agencies are trying to do the right thing and really don't have it in for me.

        So long as you aren't an NUM member, calling for employment rights in the building industry, in CND, an environmentalist, or supporting Independence for one of the nations of the union

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I actually don't doubt that the people in our security agencies are trying to do the right thing"

        And that's where we part company. To me, the evidence seems to point to those agencies interfering in the country's internal political affairs.

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Kremlin is "blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity" and not playing by international norms.

    Well, the Kremlin could of course send all of those criminals to another country/continent to decimate the native population and exploit their natural resources.

    Would that be a bit more in line with the international norms ?

    Is a cyber warrior with a keyboard less honourable than a soldier in an ironed uniform? Technology is just a vehicle of a disinformation campaign. Every country in world has used disinformation trying to gain an advantage. It's called lieing - and it is human. Everybody does it.

    The Kremlin and the GHCQ tell their citizens to "please come work for us, because we are the good guys!"

    Both are lieing...

    1. Uffish

      Re: Both are lieing...

      I would hope that at least the GCHQ bod would be lying.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Judging by the number of poms here, I think the UK is still exporting undesirable people to other places. Fortunately most of them are sane and civilised, which I understand is now a crime under the Tories.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This goes beyond the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, blamed by UK authorise against Russia, that has resulted in a diplomatic crisis and the worsening of Anglo-Soviet relations."

    I don't know why the Russians love poison so much? They should have used one of this BUK rockets to kill him. It would have worked and they would have gotten away with it.... Now look at this mess.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    No matter how much the UK and US moan on about 'Fake news' from Russia, There is no doubt in my mind that UK/US spooks also use similar techniques to try and influence the politics of other countries. If they aren't, they aren't very good at their jobs.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What he's really saying is...

    They're better at it than we are.

  5. GrumpyKiwi

    Oh GCHQ. Well luckily for us they've never been caught out as lying scum. So we can totally trust them. It's not as if they have an employment policy of only hiring morally dubious bumbags after all*.

    *have worked with a number of ex-GCHQ people. They've all been morally dubious bumbags with a tendency to move into management where they belong.

  6. FlamingDeath
  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russia is testing the waters

    Russia uses denial and disinformation to get away with murder - literally. Their use of hackers and social media trolls to manipulate popular opinion of the gullible illustrates some of their digital crimes. After downing a commercial airliner killing 300+ innocent people, their imperialism into Crimea, attempted murder of a former KGB agent and his daughter with nerve gas in the UK, supporting Syria's chemical attack on civilians, etc. Russia is testing to see just how much they can get away with before NATO sends a clear message that Russia will understand. Nothing short of a punishing response will deter the Russian government from their criminal ways.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russia is testing the waters

      "Russia is testing to see just how much they can get away with before NATO sends a clear message that Russia will understand. Nothing short of a punishing response will deter the Russian government from their criminal ways."

      How does Russia benefit by trying to provoke the West to act against it?

      Why do you think that doing what you believe they want you to do is a good idea?

      That was rather a weird post: unquestioning repetition of Western accusations to justify a call to arms - might be a bot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Russia is testing the waters

        re: "...might be a bot."

        Or the BBC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russia is testing the waters

      That sounds very much like the official line from the government.

  8. Temmokan

    Oh yes, evidence

    If the "evidence" of Russian "cyber-warfare" is of the same type as "evidence" of Russia involvement into Skripal poisoning, then that evidence is as valuable as cheapest toilet paper. And worth the same manner of usage, too. The above comments from the person who really knows organic chemistry are a good illustration.

    One more thing is obvious - too few people regard the mass media even with little skepticism...

  9. martinusher Silver badge

    We need a bit of perspective here

    There's been a couple of op-ed articles n the US press about the use of English to subtly slant the meaning of news articles so that an ostensibly factual, even handed, article actually ends up being quite biased. The only one that readily comes to hand was on Al-Jazeer's website...

    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/media-mass-deception-180409092703608.html

    ...but there was something along the same lines in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks back. This material has a good provenance as well -- George Orwell wrote several essays on the use of language as propaganda; his book "1984" built of this work.

    The fact is when it comes to propaganda everyone is at it. Some, like the BBC, have a track record that's unenviable (which makes the recent Newsnight backdrop featuring Jeremy Corbyn, St. Basils/the Kremlin and a lurid red color even more inexplicable -- they're supposed to be good at this stuff, not setting standards for crudity). Language has always been a weapon so expecting it to be pure is really asking too much.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    It's All the Result of an Abdication of Prime Monumental Leadership ‽ .

    The BBC's systemic problem is that it has no exclusive executive leadership and simply follows third party agents' orders with audiotelevisual media presenting their skewed views for advancement and enhancement of hidden agendas in failing programmes with pretensions at being New World Order Projects.

    Would Sir David Cecil Clementi care to disagree?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    STASI Boss (as Pot) calls Kettle black...

    Quote: "The Kremlin is "blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity"

    *

    This is the guy in charge of the illegal and anti-democratic intrusion into the lives of sixty million UK citizens by GCHQ. Also responsible for a major hack into Belgian affairs (https://theintercept.com/2014/12/13/belgacom-hack-gchq-inside-story/).

    *

    And we are supposed to just sit here as citizens and pay up BILLIONS of pounds for this illegality and bare faced hypocrisy and lying. What I wonder is why no one is opening their windows and shouting: "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"....but no one seems to give a damn! Go figure!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STASI Boss (as Pot) calls Kettle black...

      Him and Rudd have been giving the leading university computer scientists wargasms this week over potential new enhanced income opportunities for their research departments.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    According to Boris Johnson the murder attempt ob Skripal was directly ordered by Putin. Apparently Russians also collaborate with Cyber Criminals on Disinformation campaigns of industrial dimensions. Sounds to me like the Russian Leadership have got their shit together.

    In the West the Intelligence Agencies do whatever the f@ck they want without any oversight. And when they find out the Russians are better at it they have a whinge and call unfair...

    The reason is that Russians outsource trolling and disinformation campaigns to entire armies of cyber criminals whereas the West has only one idiot on twitter (and maybe Boris Johnson when he's not busy getting pissed at the cricket). All the code breakers and computer hackers in the world won't stand up against a good lie or story .... No surprise that GHCQ guy is pissed off. He spent all of the money on the Turing type of people, while a few high school dropouts with twitter accounts would have sufficed.

    It's one thing to scare the British into voting for the Brexit. But it takes real skill to place an idiot into the oval office from thousands of miles away. You almost miss the days when the U.S. found WMD's in Iraq. Back then politicians and intelligence agencies called a spade a spade.

  13. HmmmYes

    '"Yes, for some of our roles we’ll continue to need those with a Doctorate in Mathematics or Computer Science, but we also need people straight from school or those who want a career change. People who can lead and make decisions," he concluded.'

    Neither of those requirements give me any confidence he's grasped what needs doing and what skilled are required.

    Yep, having good crypto people is required. But thats best done as research. Until someone cracks large primes then the current set of breaking the current crypto tech is as likely as turning an omelette back into eggs.

    The bulk of the work and skills required is finding people who've done a lot of software - OSes, protocols, large scaled distributed systems/phone networks.

    And by a lot, I mean 10+ years of grunt work.

    You wont find these people in academia or 'straight out of school'. As a rough n ready guess, I think the number of the UK citizens with 5+ years of C + OS + network + assembler is somewhere less than 10k.

    Sadly there appears to be a very long queue of people looking for these people as everyone's decided that whatever their business is, its going to use a lot of software.

    This is made worse as the IT bust of 2000, followed by 'outsource to India!' has lost a generation of software people.

    Oh, and beardly hipsters re-writing their 100th javascript library wont really help you.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      "I think the number of the UK citizens with 5+ years of C + OS + network + assembler is somewhere less than 10k."

      I'm one of those, I suspect there may be more than 10,000 of us, maybe closer to 50,000. I was blacklisted in 2001 though due to British security service paranoia after 911. I keep getting invited to apply for jobs at MI5, but I've always assumed they are just being sarcastic.

      [Edit : actually, blacklisting in IT might make for a good El Reg article if other folk chip in. Personally I kind of invited it on myself, but I've heard of other cases too. There is the legal case about blacklisting in the building industry that has progressed, but it's not just one industry]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " I keep getting invited to apply for jobs at MI5, but I've always assumed they are just being sarcastic."

        I think they want you where they can keep an eye on you.

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I did eventually become a peace protestor and I certainly got some special treatment. One time I went to a Trident X Berth public meeting late, and the police had saved me a seat and the RN officers who spoke looked right at me. Even at protests I never attended police officers would ask for me by name. While I'd love to be a Bond super-villian I am just average, innocent, inconsequential.

    Like I said I had a great job history, security cleared despite being openly anarchist, but I was only average in C / OS / network / assembler etc.

    I met one guy whose mate had given him a job working the gardens at a naval college, who lost that job because he'd signed a CND petition. I've seen very nasty criminals who infiltrated the peace movement who have been rewarded to the tune of at least £100,000. Snitches get ISAs.

    I was the first innocent male Briton this century to be chatted up by a female undercover police officer, as far as I can determine. Which is kind of flattering but I'm not a dangerous revolutionary. I am very glad I am an innocent victim of the British state rather than a poisoned victim of the Russian state, but I'd still far rather live in a genuinely participative democracy.

    The builders who were blacklisted were either union officials or workers who complained about health and safety violations. This is all admitted now in court, and apparently that particular blacklisting company was closed in 2009. For all I know I am no longer blacklisted from IT because after eight years absence from employment then who would get employed? This has been going on in the UK for more than a hundred years.

    Put it this way, in the last month I worked I paid £2000 in tax. Since then I've been a financial drain on the UK taxpayer.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since then I've been a financial drain on the UK taxpayer.

    There are times when I aspire to be the equivalent in the US, rather than to help finance things I find morally reprehensible.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Since then I've been a financial drain on the UK taxpayer.

      Refusing to pay tax on principle is just not practicable.

      In 2002 about a dozen of us pledged to pay no tax until British troops left Afghanistan. That was an easy pledge for me because I was already blacklisted, but it was impossible for my fellow pledgers and I witnessed them paying taxes one by one. None of us expected British troops to be in Afghanistan in 2018.

      To be clear, after 16 years I would happily break my pledge and accept a job if I could. I seriously underestimated the idiocy of my government.

      US pressures Britain to send more troops back to Afghanistan to bolster efforts against Taliban

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/05/us-pressures-britain-send-troops-back-afghanistan-bolster-efforts/

  16. onefang

    This article sounds like a job advert to me. "Hey, we're really great at what we do, and it's exciting, come work for us."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Bullshit is cheap and can travel at near the speed of light

    Surprised Russia aren't selling it to other countries as a part of their ballistic arsenal.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Kremlin is "blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity" and not playing by international norms, Fleming told delegates. This goes beyond the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, blamed by UK authorities as Russian work, that has resulted in a diplomatic crisis and the worsening of Anglo-Soviet relations.

    It must be working, because I think that many of the faults are on our side and Russia is being used as a classic displacement strategy.

  19. FISA does not rule OK ?

    The great man forgot something

    What Mr Fleming forgot, conveniently, is that neither Mr Putin or the Kremlin have ever been convicted of anything in a court of law. But the NSA has. On 18th June 2014 the Irish High Court found the US Government engaged in criminal and unlawful "mass and indiscriminate surveillance" that now affects 270 meelllion European internet users. That must be the beeegeest hack, ever, ever. In Mr Flemings universe all the clapping is one hand clapping.

  20. anna91

    GCHQ chief is sitting in his Ivory-Tower, while doing more harm than good?

    A research data collection excerpt, which shows where and Why GCHQ (&MI5) take the UK down the abyss of conflicts of interest.

    http://sqcic.org/._UK/P.05.html

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