Last month the Russia-based cybercriminal group DarkSide shut down Colonial Pipeline in an audacious and successful ransomware attack. As foreign hacker gangs increase cyber attacks on US corporations, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its new strategy to counter these foreign criminal gangs.
The best defense is a good offense,” explained Jennifer Marshall, Director of the DHS’ Office Cyber Security. “We will lose if we only play defense, react to attacks, and provide malware shields for domestic corporations. We will win if we take the initiative and hit these cyber criminals where they live. We will degrade their technical capabilities, including their computer operating systems and communications capacity. More important, we will destroy their morale by introducing frustration and exasperation every time they use a desktop. We will bombard them with thousands of cyber annoyances. Each one seems small, but in combination they become Chinese water torture–a steady drip of irritation, vexation and resentment. These hackers will end up cursing their very own cyber tools of extortion.
Ms. Marshall said that DHS has convinced Microsoft and Apple to automatically upgrade basic operating systems weekly making many desktop functions inoperable. For example, after an Apple update, Google GMail ceases to send outgoing emails. “It should take about two days for criminal gangs to realize all their extortion demands are all stuck in their outboxes,” Ms. Marshall said.
“Then if they sign into Google to enable this feature, they realize they cannot remember their password. If they click ‘Forgot password,’ Google will require a code that expires in 60 seconds that was sent to their iPhone that is in the garage. Google will then reject the new password either because it does not contain #, or it does contain #.
“Our statisticians assure us they once these hackers combine operating system software from Google, Apple, and Microsoft with Windows Word, Excel, iCal and other apps, their computers will mysteriously crash eight times a week and require a slate of new unretrievable passwords to reopen. It is the equivalent of expecting native speakers of Greek, Tagalog, Norwegian, Khoisan and Cambodian to all understand each other. This is as likely as an HP printer that does not frequently lose its WI-FI connection.
“In addition, we have placed fiendish traps in many applications, such as requiring criminals to prove they are not a robot. Proving a negative is difficult enough, but we make it impossible. When they click on ‘I am not a robot’ their computer totally freezes. When cyber criminals encounter a software bug, we seductively offer help through an on-line chat facility. In each subsequent chat exchange, we supply just enough information to keep the criminal engaged but never enough to fix the problem. Thirty seconds before our algorithm predicts the user will explode in frustration, we terminate the conversation with no explanation.
“Freezings, unexplained terminations and WI-FI disconnections enhance the enemy’s feeling of hopelessness and impotence. We then precipitate paroxysms of rage by randomly posting undecipherable screen messages such as:
- Safari could not load the page because the network connection was lost.
- Error 404, page not found
- A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer
- Error while sending the “Recycle Bin” to “Recycle Bin”
- There is a problem with this website’s security certificate
- DEC UNIX/OSF1:
“Our newest anti-ransomware innovation is group meeting software such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. These apps can paralyze organization like Darkside for weeks as senior mob bosses blame each other for the apps’ futility. Often this provokes the assassination of the CFO who insists on using them, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NEVER WORKED ONCE, because he negotiated a package deal with Microsoft or Google.”
Ms. Marshall stated that projects under development include:
- Scanners that will not works with Mac OS
- Keyboards that intermittingly disconnect
- Software the refuses to install
- Interminably long start up because the computer was not shut down properly
- Dysfunctional USB Ports
- Driver reinstallations that abort.
“American can sleep soundly knowing that DHS is guarding their cyber security,” Ms. Marshall concluded.