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Social Media Manipulation Continues

GCHQ Catalogue of Exploit Tools

Edward Snowden may still be seeking refuge in Russia, but the revelations from his whistle blowing continue to roll in, with new surprises surrounding social media and international intelligence services.

At the beginning of the year, government spy agency GCHQ ordered senior editors at the Guardian to destroy the newspaper’s computers holding encrypted files and information leaked by Ed Snowden to the press outlet. Despite this heavy-handed warning from the government, last week the Guardian continued to publish information linked to the Snowden files.


Snowden files
Source: theguardian.com
It emerges that GCHQ has developed sophisticated surveillance and propaganda tools to manipulate online polls, spam targets with SMS messages, track targets and monitor social media postings.

The disclosure comes the day before the UK parliament is due to begin up to three days' debate on emergency legislation governing British surveillance capabilities, in light of recent public unhappiness with the manner in which online security is being handled. 

Snowden files
Source: theguardian.com
GCHQ declined to provide a detailed statement, but told the press that all its programs were "in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework" with "rigorous oversight". Analysts describe this as “questionable”, which we would also use to describe the operation names bearing more resemblance to something out of a 60s Bond movie. Take a look:

GLASSBACK: obtains a target’s IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.

MINIATURE HERO: provides real time Skype call records and contact lists.

MOUTH: tool for downloading a user's files from Archive.org.

SPRING BISHOP: finds private photographs of targets on Facebook.

ANGRY PIRATE: is a tool that will permanently disable a target's account on their computer.

BOMB BAY: to increase website hits/rankings.

BURLESQUE: to send spoofed SMS messages.

CLEAN SWEEP: masquerade Facebook wall posts for individuals or entire countries.

CONCRETE DONKEY: is the capacity to scatter an audio message to a large number of telephones, or repeatedly inundate a target number with the same message.

GATEWAY: ability to artificially increase traffic to a website.

GESTATOR: amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites like Youtube.

SWAMP DONKEY: is a tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a target’s machine.

UNDERPASS: changes the outcome of online polls.

It seems that the postmodernist’s greatest fears have come true – we live in a world where wars are fought on Twitter, governments continuously manipulate the online community and Miley Cyrus is allowed an Instagram account.


Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Social Media Manipulation Continues Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 Rating: 5
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