Technology in the Mumbai Attacks – A Quick Overview

Share

Details are now starting to emerge from the deadly attacks by terrorists on the city of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. News outlets are starting to report technologies used by the attackers to communicate and coordinate their attacks that killed an estimated 172 people from various nations[1]

Among all the commercial technologies used by the terrorists are GPS and satellite phones. The attackers, apparently trained in marine assault[2], entered the city by the MV Kuber[3], a hijacked fishing boat used as mother ship, and navigated by an experienced sailor using GPS maps[4]: “A trained sailor, [Abu] Ismail used the GPS to reach Mumbai coast on November 26.[5]” According to the Times of India, the GPS contained an escape route once the operation would be deemed completed[6].

Among the other objects found in the boat a satellite phone, a Thuraya model[7], was discovered which could be the key to find more information about the terrorists.

Satellite phone used by the terrorists

Satellite phone used by the terrorists[8]

The satellite phone could be used to track conversations between the individuals before their landing on the city. According to an article published by ABC News, Indian Intelligence also intercepted a satellite phone call:

“Nov. 18, Indian intelligence also intercepted a satellite phone call to a number in Pakistan known to be used by a leader of the terror group, Lashkar e Taiba, believed responsible for the weekend attack, Indian intelligence officials say.[9]

Officials from the RAW, the Indian Intelligence agency, said that they got hold of SIM cards found with the satellite phone, possibly bought in the U.S. Those are providing leads to Lashkar e Taiba, a Kashmir separatist group, according to the same ABC article.

Also, many of the articles reports that BlackBerries phones were used by the attackers to communicate between each other and to attest the medias’ reports about the attacks. Damien McElory from The Telegraph claims that the terrorists used them to monitor the situation using British medias[10].

Finally, it appears the terrorists proclaimed their identity by sending various forged emails to news outlets by using a remailer[11].

More to come as the investigation continues, now that the siege has ended…

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl


[1] “India clears last Mumbai siege site”, Ravi Nessman, Associated Press, December 1, 2008, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hz0C0SXcxgP0NxzlqGA_EI57FBkQD94PMPC00 (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[2] “‘No regrets’: Captured terrorist’s account of Mumbai massacre reveals plan was to kill 5,000”, Daily Mail, December 1, 2008, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1090546/No-regrets-Captured-terrorists-account-Mumbai-massacre-reveals-plan-kill-5-000.html (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[3] “MV Kuber opens can of worms”,  Ninad Siddhaye, DNA, December 1, 2008,  http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1210640 (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[4] “Is technology a toy in the hands of terrorists?”, CyberNews Media, November 28, 2008, http://www.ciol.com/News/News-Reports/Is-technology-a-toy-in-the-hands-of-terrorists/281108113190/0/ (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[5] “Arrested terrorist says gang hoped to get away”, Times of India, November 29, 2008, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Arrested_terrorist_says_gang_hoped_to_get_away/rssarticleshow/3771598.cms (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[6] Ibid.

[7] “U.S. Warned India in October of Potential Terror Attack”, Richard Esposito, Brian Ross, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, December 1, 2008,  http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6368013&page=1 (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[8] “Mumbai attack: Satellite phone vital clue to solve mystery”, Yogesh Naik, The Times of India, November 28, 2008,  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai_attack_Satellite_phone_vital_clue_to_solve_mystery/rssarticleshow/3770611.cms (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[9] “U.S. Warned India in October of Potential Terror Attack”, Richard Esposito, Brian Ross, Pierre Thomas, ABC News, December 1, 2008,  http://www.abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6368013&page=1 (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[10] “Mumbai attacks: Terrorists monitored British websites using BlackBerry phones”, Damien McElroy, The Telegraph, December 1, 2008, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3534599/Mumbai-attacks-Terrorists-monitored-coverage-on-UK-websites-using-BlackBerry-phones-bombay-india.html?mobile=basic (accessed on December 1, 2008)

[11] “How Gadgets Helped Mumbai Attackers”, Noah Shachtman, Danger Room – Wired, December 1, 2008, http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/12/the-gagdets-of.html (accessed on December 1, 2008)

Twitter Terrorism

Share

Today the U.S Army discovered something called Twitter, and realized that, as MySpace, Facebook, Google Earth and many other sites, it could be used by terrorists to plan attacks on landmarks or other targets. Although the Army report admits it has no proofs that Twitter is currently used by individuals for terrorism. The report details many interesting scenarios described in the report:

Scenario 1: Terrorist operative “A” uses Twitter with… a cell phone camera/video function to send back messages, and to receive messages, from the rest of his [group]… Other members of his [group] receive near real time updates (similar to the movement updates that were sent by activists at the RNC) on how, where, and the number of troops that are moving in order to conduct an ambush.

Scenario 2: Terrorist operative “A” has a mobile phone for Tweet messaging and for taking images. Operative “A” also has a separate mobile phone that is actually an explosive device and/or a suicide vest for remote detonation. Terrorist operative “B” has the detonator and a mobile to view “A’s” Tweets and images. This may allow “B” to select the precise moment of remote detonation based on near real time movement and imagery that is being sent by “A.”

Scenario 3: Cyber Terrorist operative “A” finds U.S. [soldier] Smith’s Twitter account. Operative “A” joins Smith’s Tweets and begins to elicit information from Smith. This information is then used for… identity theft, hacking, and/or physical [attacks]. This scenario… has already been discussed for other social networking sites, such as My Space and/or Face Book.[1]

Although this is true, for anyone having a clue about technology, this shouldn’t be any news. Any social networking site offers the opportunity to criminals and terrorists extensive information about someone. This can only by solved by educating people about privacy, and why it’s important. This is especially true for security and military personnel.

See also:

Noah Shachtman, “Spy Fears: Twitter Terrorists, Cell Phone Jihadists”, October 24, 2008, http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/10/terrorist-cell.html (accessed on October 27, 2008)


[1] “Sample Overview: alQaida-Like Mobile Discussions & Potential Creative Uses” http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/10/terrorist-cell.html (accessed on October 27, 2008)

Cyberwarfare Magazine – Introduction

Share

For anyone reading the news on a daily basis and being careful to the state of world affairs, one can’t help but feel some kind of tension between world nations. Whether it’s for resources, land, religious or ideological beliefs, these tensions are transforming or will transform into conflicts one day or another.

For centuries these conflicts, crisis and wars have been fought on the battlefield: warriors of two or more factions were crossing the blade until a victorious side emerged. This has been true for ages and will probably go on for a long time, as human nature doesn’t evolve easily. What will change thought is the battlefield, and we are currently witnessing a new and fast-paced battlefield, which isn’t on land, air or sea, but rather on copper wires, in air and computer networks. With the emergence of the Internet, the cyberspace has now become a new world were a new generation of soldiers and warriors will fight.

Previous events, although few, are a clear sign that more and more militaries are becoming aware of the new possibilities of exploring the cyberspace as a new field where battles can and will be fought. Whether our enemies are terrorists, criminals or opposing nations, we can see that more and more interest is put toward cyber warfare. Recent events are all pointing to that fact. Some may be familiar with the recent conflict in Georgia, where Russia is suspected of having used denial-of service attacks against Georgian servers[1] and against Estonia[2] also. The U.S announced the creation of the Air Force Cyber Command; an unit entirely devoted to cyber warfare. Let’s not forget previously suspected Chinese attacks on various western nations in 2005 and 2007[3].

Let it be clear though. This magazine is about cyber warfare, not electronic warfare (EW), although cyber warfare is usually considered part of the EW field, the inverse is not true. EW is fairly well documented, but it’s not the case for cyber warfare. This magazine intends to cover the following topics:

Cyberspace will become the first battlefield
Cyberspace will become the first battlefield

  • Government Cyber Defence
  • Cyber crime
  • Cyber terrorism
  • Cyber espionage
  • Case studies
  • New technologies
  • Attacks, defence and tactics
  • New products
  • Opinions
  • Book reviews
  • Computer security
  • Events analysis
  • Cyber warfare across world militaries
  • Etc…

In our days and age, we can’t forget about terrorism and counter-insurgency. Therefore it would be unbelievable not discussing about cyber-terrorism and cyber-crime. All those topics are going to be covered in future articles.

Our time offers us a great new aspect of war to study and explore. Among information, psychological and economical warfare, cyber warfare is one of the most fasting growing and fascinating method of conducting war. More research and analysis needs to be conduct on this kind of war, and this is what this magazine will achieve.


[1] Thomas Claburn, “Under Cyberattack, Georgia Finds ‘Bullet-Proof’ Hosting With Google And Elsewhere“, Information Week, August 18, 2008, http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/attacks/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=210002702 (accessed on October 23, 2008)

[2] Ian Traynor, “Russia Accused of Unleashing Cyberwar to Disable Estonia”, The Guardian, May 17, 2007, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/may/17/topstories3.russia (accessed on October 23, 2008)

[3] Joël-Denis Bellavance, “Cyberattaque à Ottawa” (in french), Cyberpresse, June 9, 2008,  http://technaute.cyberpresse.ca/nouvelles/internet/200806/09/01-18725-cyberattaque-a-ottawa.php (accessed on October 23, 2008)