Public Secrets - Americans Sharing Secrets
originally published by Security Intelligence Report
Ego, pride, machismo, insecurity, sex and dozens of other motivations contribute
to the reasons why Americans talk too much. "Loose lips" are a way of life in
American Society. From school child who uses his telephone modem to share the
solutions to homework problems to USAF Colonels who embrace the fact that since you
know some secrets you are privy to all secrets, to lonely people who "hang out" and seek
companionship by talking about things not all people should know, Americans contribute
to national insecurity twenty four hours each day. They use BBS and the INTERNET to
American morality is a quilt of various shades of gray. Nothing is black or white,
good or bad. Everything we do is conditioned by social modifiers which rationalize
the degree of responsibility placed upon the perpetrator of any act. Mr. Morris
stopped 6,000 computers. He was penalized 400 hours of community service. His penalty
is a high paying job at AT&T. Kevin Mitnick caused himself to get caught. He earned
community service, book royalties and a movie about his exploits as his sentence.
Americans take free speech for granted. Our notion of free speech extends to high
technology electronics such as "ham" radio, CB radio, signal scanning, telephone
phreaking and computer hacking. A liberal interpretation of free speech emerges, i.e., "if
you do not intend to commit a crime, you have not committed a crime". By our attitude we
support the rights of the evil doer at the expense of the victim. We aid the professional
terrorist in his preparation for that we hope will never be. We cause monies to be spent
to pay for the crimes our carelessness allows to happen.
In 1979 approximately 3,000,000 microcomputers had the capability of talking to other
computers. In 1995 70,500,000 of approximately 175,000,000 microcomputers, in use,
have this capability. In 1979 only 5% of the machines capable of affecting other devices
were under the control of hobbyists. In 1995 45,000,000 microcomputers (64%) are
operated from non-business and non-professional locations. The threat projections
concerning the loss of control of electronically based resources made by SRI, Menlo Park,
CA in the early 1970's have reached the level of actuality to be a major danger to our way
of life. American national security is confronted by a faceless, unintentioned threat which
no agency has yet to fully address. Public secrets are replacing physical confrontation
as a means to achieve social and political goals. The discussion which follows provides
examples for emphasis.
EXAMPLES OF INTELLIGENCE AT RISK
The National Security Agency became involved in the attack by a computer WORM which
affected 6000 machines at 300 locations. The network of telephone interconnections
which was violated belonged to ARPA and the National Science Foundation (major
sponsors of this long term experiment). It is called INTERNET. The attack proved that
there is no central authority to trigger action to prevent harm to American resources. The
introduction of T1/T3 telephone lines, Satellite, RF, etc. further complicate the absence of
central control as they speed the process of intrusion and interdiction of national secrets.
The director of the NSA when the Morris attack occurred was Admiral Stadmann. He has
a small office in an exposed area of the Pentagon, for all to see, and a more secure
operation at Fort George Meade in Maryland. Our research followed the media reporting
about the WORM. Press releases were confusing. Tangents were taken to move the
interest of the public from the key point, i.e., security had been breached. The benefit of
knowing how insecure the INTERNET and connecting networks are was ignored. Sobczak
decided to learn how the community of electronic hobbyists responded to this catastrophe.
The hobbyist community was up in arms. The professional hacker thought that Mr. Morris
was getting away with his crime because his dad was the chief scientist of the National
Computer Security Center, an NSA operating division. Most felt that he deserved to be
treated as was Kevin Mitnick, the hacker who walked into and all over NORAD. Divided
opinion creates public secrets. In a contact with a person from the Baltimore area who
may have had a relationship with the NSA, a trade was offered. How would we like a copy
of the NSA Director's report to the Secretary of Defense concerning the WORM attack?
All I gave away was some utility software. With a bit of judicious negotiation copies of the
MIT Project Athena report and drafts of letters for signature by Executive Branch
Secretaries were included. A part of the NSA had apparently gone public in protest of their
lack of enthusiasm in the prosecution of Mr. Morris. It appears that frustration on the part
of individuals involved in a rigid bureaucracy creates the temptation to achieve
individualism and independence by the release of data which has no purpose in the
public domain except to cause damage.
The MIT Report talked about IDHS and DEFSMAC being at risk. A leak in the NSC added
JSANS. A person seeking public secrets is shocked by the billions of characters of text
available to those who know where and how to seek them out. As in all things
bureaucratic, intelligence is not a single item. Thirteen separate intelligence operations
exist under the loose control of a Director of Central Intelligence. He also happens to head
the CIA but that is secondary to IDHS as it was exposed during my research. To
coordinate the movement of intelligence and to prevent duplication of intelligence agency
efforts an Intelligence Community Staff (ICS) exists. It is located with the Director at CIA
Headquarters. The ICS uses IDHS (Intelligence Data Handling Systems) among others
which I do not think I should outline in this paper. As you read, notice the large amount of
extraneous public secret type information which falls out. IDHS is a part of something
called a Network Access System which ties into the DOD Intelligence Information System.
Somewhere in this collection of trivia a standard called CUBIC becomes involved. CUBIC
is Common Users Baseline for the Intelligence Community. IDHS is actually four sub-
systems (IBM, MAXI, CATIS AND IDEX).
Further explanation would cause me to be guilty of contributing to the universe of public
secrets. Suffice it to say someone, actually more than just one person, spoke too freely.
(For readers who know the DODIIS system: the buzz word for the global system has been
DOD IS AT RISK, AN AIR FORCE EXAMPLE
As you continue to read realize that older out of date information is used to explain
public American secrets. Airplanes and missiles of the Strategic Air Command (now
STRATCOM) were protecting our country from attack by any nation. SAC was ripe with
public secrets. For those who would like to listen to KC135's, B-52's, B-1B's you will find
that individuals who function in secrecy during their work day give away secrets on their
own time. The task of groups like AFOSI and AF/CSC (now part of the Air Intelligence
Agency) is to find them. The laws of the United States protect the free speaker. It is
apparently illegal for Federal agencies to develop the methodology and system of data
collection that snoopers have in place and functioning. The frequencies listed in the
example change every day, sometimes they change twice a day. The listed frequencies
are still used by renamed segments of the USAF. As a listener to public secrets you must
have the patience and fortitude necessary to await that occurrence. Individuals involved
in the dissemination of public secrets usually verify and validate information. It is
a requirement of the hobbyist community that exchanges public secrets that those
involved be trustworthy. Accuracy is a matter of honor.
Some frequencies are encrypted and require a code key card in order to be deciphered in
the cryptographic devices aboard planes in flight. Specification of these frequencies has
no consequence to this discussion. Import should be derived from the volume of valid data
available unsecured in cyberspace.
One of the individuals who we have spoken to concerning public secrets claims to have
Boeing information specifying how to bypass the controls which govern the firing of a
Minuteman missile. This allows a crew commander to hot wire and jump start the bird
circumventing the fail safe mechanisms should he be ordered to do so. This person claims
the time to climb out of the silo takes 3 or 4 seconds longer than the time to achieve
ignition. The public secret indicates that it requires 61 seconds for a crewman in top
physical shape to climb out. This information is not far fetched.
One can convert a telephone to an AUTOVON capable device by the addition of simple
electronic hobbyist parts following the instructions provided on the Internet by a military
telephony technician. One can enter military computer databases at almost any installation
about 9 of 10 times. Wright Patterson AFB Area B Computer Center is a frequent target
entered obliquely through a Contractor or a SPO.
When Sobczak told SAC about their lapse no one cared. General Searock refused to
admit that he had a problem. In doing a bit of digging we located a BBS that told me about
a War Gaming computer and the SAC operations computer. Both are supposed to be
secure. Public secrets allow a professional to use devious logic to gain access to
federal computer networks. While the shortest path between two points in mathematics
is a straight line, the highest probability of unsecured access might be from San Diego (a
contractor's computer) to Oklahoma City (a USAF logistics center) to Bellevue NE (another
contractor) to a place about five stories underground located in a position to the left of the
SAC headquarters (the operations computer). The location was provided by a USAF
Colonel who thought I knew more than I did. People make secrets public when the
words, tone, and/or attitude you use triggers response mechanism that satisfy their
need to show you they know more or at least as much as you claim to know. A quick
mind, or better, a tape recorder is very beneficial to the collection of a flood of meaningful
trivia. When it comes to discussion of secrets, talk is not cheap to the person losing control
of his secrets.
In another episode, Sobczak was told that the USAF Electronic Security Command was
protecting the Air Force against attacks by computer Virus. When we asked about their
mission no one would talk. I was not cleared to discuss classified information. To my
surprise a caller to the Computer Virus Industry Association BBS special interest group
(SIG) asked for copies of live computer Virus for a secret USAF virus test laboratory he
was implementing. The naivete prompted a question. It turned out that the individual
asking the question told me that his firm was a subcontractor to an minority small business
who was building a secret virus laboratory for AF/ESC. AF/ESC joined the universe of
those betrayed by over zealous individuals trading on secrets. No matter how one may try,
sooner or later the secret will slip out. The more experts you involve the greater the
opportunity to make secrets public as a means to create new secrets. As we collect
trivia and structure that trivia into knowledge we find that people are not aware as they
DRUG SECRETS ARE TOPICAL
The media tells America that President Bush and the ONDCP are winning the drug war.
Unfortunately agents continue to be victims of free speech. A group of "listeners" with
short wave radios who live in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, South Jersey and the
Delaware Valley banded together to listen to and catalog the radio frequencies used by law
Lists exist on BBS for almost every major metropolitan area in the United States. Some
frequencies are universal and will be found in most cities across the country. If they are not
the exact frequency for an area, more than likely they are in the same frequency range and
may be found by using the "search" function on your scanner. Someone exercised his free
speech and placed this information on a publicly accessible computer Bulletin Board
System (BBS). Frequencies became fair game for professional drug dealers who might
use them to evade apprehension.
In 1993 a New York City drug bust went sour because the drug kingpins are into free
speech using computers, hacking and using derived radio frequencies to monitor law
enforcement activities. In Queens, New York, someone, monitoring his scanner, heard
Law Enforcement radio calls preparatory to a supposedly secure drug raid. The raiders
were put at risk when free speech announced the frequencies to monitor.
The DEA had tremendous media coverage at the raid. An early media report blamed the
New York City Fire Department for loose security. A review of the backup tapes for the
raid's communications will show the reviewer the error was from a Police radio belonging
to a sector car from the 108th Police Precinct. One might assume nothing important
happens in this community because the officer was excitedly telling his peers about the
raid and the frequencies to monitor to keep abreast with its progress.
The Fire Department is by no means free of blame for loose lips. The Hazardous
Materials unit from a place called MASPETH and a Rescue Unit with a Lieutenant named
John were monitored because someone thoughtfully placed messages for fire receivers
so all interested parties could listen. The raid and drug removal took days to accomplish.
The release of public secrets made the raid old news as it happened.
A bad guy involved in the operation walked away as the raiders assembled. Later these
facts were communicated upon a message type BBS. It could be that the bad guy
watched the raid while having breakfast at the corner luncheonette, a place called
Riverview. The counterman was Louie.
The information being exchanged should be secret, secure and protected. An interested
hobbyist recorded the transmission and well he did. Within minutes the transactions had
been erased. It is important to the success of drug interdiction that occurrences
such as the foregoing be identified and analyzed so that appropriate counter actions
can be developed and put in place.
A DEA agent was killed in Staten Island, New York a while ago. Was he wearing a body
wire which made him a target? I listen to body wires in the town next to my home. The
DEA and County Police share frequencies. Law Enforcement Management must be
made aware that their secrets are public secrets. Until Lawmen are aware of and made
responsible to protect secrets, people will propagate public secrets.
A secret is subverted in many ways. The mechanisms range from a snitch who leaks
information for personal gain to the organization of free spirits, called hackers, who have
decided that nothing should be secret. At prime risk is the DEA street agent, a victim of
poor protection. The US Secret Service in New York City as a result of my question
indicated it is legal to possess criminally oriented data so long as you do not use it. This
bureaucratic logic corresponds to a liberal concept of free speech.
Those who extract information from computer databases are the most dangerous
because they are not traditional criminals. They are well educated and intelligent as
a class. They share the load by exchanging information and asking others to
participate, who might be better suited, to locate and exploit weaknesses within
bureaucracy, to expand upon their efforts. They do not know fear, as without intent
they will not be prosecuted. The law is on their side even if by their actions they aid a
criminal endeavor. Liberal lawmakers and judges pardon unintentional crime repeatedly.
The free speaker does not view his/her actions as dangerous or negative. This is
because hobbyists do not feel the physical effect of their actions. They do not / can
not establish a prospective of the effect their disclosures cause upon unsuspecting
law enforcement officers. While a compromised body wire frequency might cause an
agent to die, its availability is nothing more than the result of an intellectual exercise which
is far removed from the real world in the mind of the hobbyist.
The free speaker did not know the agent personally. In good conscience he would never
be involved in such filth. The location of the body wire frequency was a mathematical
exercise involving the development and test of an algorithm. The free speaker did
no more than thousands of other free speakers. He posted his success upon a BBS.
He has no regard for his involvement. When the free speaker sees news reports
concerning a crime and its effects upon the victim's family, he is incensed as any good law
abiding citizen should be that government has allowed society to degrade to this level. He
never realizes that his free speech may have caused the problem.
A computer can be hacked (modified to allow unauthorized use) so as to strip a law
enforcement agent of his anonymity. Were the local law enforcement files to be hacked,
the entire agent universe in a locality would be at risk. You do not have to imagine a Drug
Kingpin who invests in a computer and the appropriate staff to break into local law
enforcement computers. The sheriff's office staff in a metropolitan New York County
became tired of the time consuming interconnection process to access the county law
enforcement computer. Programming oriented sheriff's deputies illegally short cut the
system. They put all the information about cases on file in that county computer at risk.
If you know the right Deputy Sheriff in that county you can browse at will in the files which
should be secret. No one ever considered the remote possibility that this knowledge
would be misused. This is perhaps the main problem. There does not exist an
awareness of the consequences of the actions on the part of those who disseminate
A fact of life in the computer world is that if you know a man's name you can determine a
wealth of information about his lifestyle. With the proper amount of malicious behavior a
interested individual could identify an agent's home address, telephone, parents names
and, if living, their address. The agent's wife and children, true innocent bystanders,
become pawns to criminal ventures.
In many county governments the central computer is shared by the Comptroller, Tax
Assessor, Hospital or Community College. Attempts at access usually occur through the
county agency with the least security. Once access is gained and the time taken to
familiarize himself with the device, the malefactor can begin his foul deeds. First he
isolates the partition which houses the law enforcement or criminal court files. Next he
browses. A true professional will down load all the help files for off-line study. In about
a week he will have become expert in the manipulation of the computer system. A mole
seeking knowledge is in no hurry. To be in a hurry can cause mistakes which
acknowledge his presence. A professional hacker will not only rape the local files,
he will seek access to networks and connections to district, regional, and
headquarters devices. One BBS states that the telephone number of the DEA's dial up
computer is 202-633-7809. In a bureaucracy everyone accepts orders. With the
proper amount of bureaucratic bravado an aggressor can roam secure networks at
Back at the local county computer, browsing will identify the type of information which
allows the criminal to control the law. He is free to modify records, delete incriminating
data and most dangerous to the agent, identify his pursuers. As not every agent is named
Jones or Smith, the Jasinski's, Vaurio's and Icove's will stand out. Knowing the name of
any person allows a search of the TRW Credit Corp files. Computer hackers have been
accessing TRW Credit illegally via hacked bank computers for years. A hobbyist with
criminal intent will know of the bank in a certain north-east state capital that allows its
clients and hackers to check personal and corporate credit records. A name based search
provides more information than a criminal could ever want and/or use.
At minimum, the stalker will learn how many David Vaurio's live in Your town/Your
county/Your state, USA. By generating a list of all Vaurio's a person can associate many
otherwise unconcerned relatives. In minutes the hacker will know the local address,
telephone, wife's name, kid's names and ages, in some cases the private schools will
appear if payment is made using a credit plan. Spread before a villain will the credit status,
credit card balances and limits, mortgage information, etc. of an individual who can now
be manipulated. A Newsweek reporter and a NEWSDAY reporter were targeted to the
point where they gave up their jobs.
Criminal's may seek out those law enforcement agents who demonstrate a history of
financial instability. These individuals are likely targets to succumb to criminal endeavors.
Others might be coerced by threats against family and home. Could you do your job well
if a woman called you at work and asked "Did little David get to school today?". And you
do not know. Public secrets and the potential for high tech criminality makes the law
enforcer more of a target than ever. His job is now a family affair. Everyone is equally
at risk, thanks to free speech and the resultant public secrets.
THE WHITE HOUSE CAN BE BREACHED
The Secret Service is charged to protect the President, Vice President, visiting heads of
state, and investigate electronic fraud among its duties. A group of individuals have taken
it upon themselves to build a White House and critical relocation site telephone directory.
The fact that they can accomplish this task is important only because the so called non-
secured numbers are not available to the common caller to the White House. The
following is a sample of available telephone numbers:
As a good citizen, I reported the fact that we had located this information. Special Agents
visited. They impressed us by their computer illiteracy. The inability of law enforcement
professionals to comprehend the nuances of dealing with computer "nerds" is a
major weakness in the ability of law enforcers to identify security threats. President
Bush was visiting New York City that day, we were asked "Do you know where Mr. Bush
is now?". We honestly answered "no", there was no logical reason why we should know.
They were satisfied and left for greener pastures. Had they asked, "Do you know how to
locate the schedule of the President and any key Executives in his administration?", we
would have told them about the information on BBS concerning the dial up White House
database for the media, AP and UPI sources and leaks in a computer network which
advises the key Administration players about schedules and policy releases so that all
components of the government speak as one. We did not speak because fear of
involvement upon the part of the innocent is magnified by the absense of public
information concerning the consequences of being a good citizen.
We also suggest that public secrets can emerge from asking the properly formatted
questions under the freedom of information act criteria. A convicted felon incarcerated
at Eglin AFB was provided sufficient information to put the SEC EDGAR system at risk
from prison. Philosophically you may ask, does one commit electronic fraud if as an
outsider he has access to and tracks the activities of insiders?. It becomes apparent as
one looks at the tremendous volume of available public secrets that our nation does
not pay the least bit of attention to the national resources leaving this country via the
exchange and capture of BBS text.
IS TECHNOLOGY MISSING?
What proved most interesting was polling to determine if other individuals were extracting
secrets either knowingly or as a consequence of the efforts they were involved in
researching. Americans, including the designated protectors, take the security of our
critical technologies for granted. A review of BBS as presented below is shocking.
Security oriented protectors of American technological secrets lose data by not realizing
that applying the technology applicable to Industry A, in Industry B, C, and D gives away
the proverbial store. While there is no promise of miracles, the amount of substance
available for the price of a phone call to a BBS or individual interested in trading or selling
knowledge is mind boggling. I reported my observations of foreign government
representatives extracting American secrets. No one seemed to care.
My results at their poorest are proving to be amazing. Were I to describe this
unique system to collect, structure, analyze and produce new knowledge / intelligence
concerning specified topics prohibited from transfer to foreign countries this discussion
would be TOP SECRET not an expose of public secrets which appear to be unprotected
and exposed to America's economic competitors and the enemies of our way of life.
ENHANCING THE RISKS TO AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY
A discussion of public secrets would be incomplete if one did not discuss the DOD
Computer Aided Logistics Support system. This is the paperless society of our production
industry. Rather than print thousands of pages of specifications, technical manuals,
product drawings, etc. everything will be stored upon computers and transferred and
manipulated electronically using communications networks to optimize the data
manipulation. Our government is paying a contractor to create a pathway to convert
weapon systems secrets to truly public secrets. In the past individuals were arrested
for attempting to steal high technology jet airplane engines for the F-16, Fighting Falcon,
from Hill AFB Utah. Given time, the day will come when a computer hacker will
download all the information needed to build that engine. My worry and your worry
must be, where will that hacker be located. If he is in Iran, Syria, North Korea or China
will it bode well for American security. If his access goes beyond jet engines, how will our
security services handle public secrets about nuclear weapons, directed energy beam
weapons or microwave psycho destruction.
The availability of public secrets can never be totally eliminated. Awareness of the
frequency and depth of data lost should make every agency of the United States
government consider the detrimental effect of our national failure to protect that
which we know. It is possible for the sophisticated reader to smirk and think "I know that".
The thoughts expressed in this paper have been documented by the FBI, Secret Service
and CIA many times over. Unfortunately 95% of the readership population now knows
what less then .01% should be privy to. Public secrets contribute to the decline of the
American system of laws. Each time you see an oriental with a camera taking pictures and
asking questions you are viewing the erosion of America's technological strength. For
every one you can physically see collecting technology, imagine that there are dozens
skillfully hewing away at our knowledge base as students, researchers and hacker type
hobbyists. Time, and experience with the American people, are on the side of the
collector of public secrets. If the United States of America is to survive to reach its 300th
birthday, we must treat our strategic intelligence and technology in a deserved manner. We
must stop our private secrets from going public.