back to article Report: CIA runs secret cyberwar with little oversight after Trump gave the OK, say US government officials

The CIA is running a secret cyberwar including Russian-style hack-and-leak operations with little or no oversight, US officials have warned. The covert operations are largely targeted at Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea, say anonymous sources, and have included the public disclosure of 15 million debit card details …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is ww3.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, probably just US Civil War #2

      ,,, if the cyberwar is just between Trump and non-Trump supporters ahead of an election when the Loser in Chief doesn't accept the result.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: No, probably just US Civil War #2

        Unlike those Hillary supporters who just slept in late the next day and then mopped for a week or two, amIright?

      2. Michael Habel

        Re: No, probably just US Civil War #2

        Ahhh you mean Killary, and her Russians uder the Bed? Cause the only one bitching about the Election near on four years latter is Hillary.

    2. jason 7

      In that case America lost a couple of years ago and still hasn't noticed.

      Imagine that, America taken down by just money, patience and the internet. Who needs to spend $700 billion a year on defence? Not a bullet was fired.

      1. JCitizen

        Not a bullet was fired..

        other than the one that shot the US in the foot - big time! That is the way America will fall - and this latest CIA thing is just one of the problems going on for some time.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Well then? Now not such a crazy question, eh? But who and/or what is it for is now outed?

    Which presents the question ........ Do NCSC do ACTs ?...... as in Advanced Cyber Threats and/or Treats? Global Operating Devices would have you know. .....

    And ....... now that such Unconventional State Aided Madness it is outed ...... what/who do you prefer it to be for, [although to be perfectly frank and brutally honest, that choice is long ago well made], Almighty Brains in a Commanding Control Centre or Half Baked Nit Wits on a Jolly Cruising Holiday?

    And remember, .... Never forget, if you're not in, one cannot win win and/or be out outed ‽ .

    cc ...... Dominic Cummings's Eton Mess Hall of assorted super-talented weirdos and misfits with odd skills to exercise in/with masterly commands with/in exquisite controls and Special Forces AIR Services ..... which you do yourself a great favour realising are at least Advanced IntelAIgent Research and an Almighty Immaculate Resource easily made readily available to All in Great Dire Straits Need of Such Novel Proprietary Intellectual Property Feeds, which methinks extraordinarily renders it Universal Potential rather than confining it to/as a Local Application.

    USA Madness ....... The Insane Gift which just Keeps on Giving ITs Succour to the Oppressed and Depressed and Suppressed.


      Re: Well then? Now not such a crazy question, eh? But who and/or what is it for is now outed?

      amanfromMars was right all along.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twitter Hack

    Isn't Trumpet involved in a long running winge with Twitter? Cough....

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account

      Re: Twitter Hack

      No way is the money from the twitter hack is going to the trump election campaign. Far safer to spread it around his fringe supporters. Cool, I just invented a conspiracy theory

      1. DCFusor

        Re: Twitter Hack

        Meaningless for the numerate and informed. $100k for an election campaign? Are you thinking local dogcatcher?

        Needs more work as a theory, even the flat earthers wouldn't go for that, would they?

        1. crayon

          Re: Twitter Hack

          "$100k for an election campaign? Are you thinking local dogcatcher?"

          According to the reputable media, Russia managed to win the election for Trump by spending about that much on Facebook ads.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Twitter Hack

            According to the reputable media, Russia's Facebook ads had no effect on the election.

            1. Michael Habel

              Re: Twitter Hack

              So I'm guessing that Info didn't fall out of the Clown News Network then....

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Twitter Hack

              Reputable media

              What's that?

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Didn't it happen before?

    With these agencies, I'm always suspicious they don't ask necessarily an agreement before acting, even if they are required to.

    Regarding the apparent contradictions between Krusty Trump's says and actions, there no real surprise. That guy is totally nut.

    1. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: Didn't it happen before?

      There's no contradiction in Trump's actions at all, just as there was no contradiction when Obama broadly trusted his intelligence agencies but didn't allow them cyber-offensive autonomy.

      Did Obama do the thing? No - Do the thing. Yes - Do the opposite thing.

      Simple, and also incidentally why Trump is a sitzpinkler.

  5. eldakka

    “our government is basically turning into fucking Wikileaks…"

    Well, they have ben trying to fuck Wikileaks for a while now ...


      Do you think Assange got leaky between the legs when he heard the CIA wanted to get in bed with him?



  6. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A question

    Question: when does "national security" precipitate international insecurity?

    Answer: as soon as you remove the oversight.

    To quote Geoffrey Pelt (The Hunt for Red October) "wars have begun that way..."

    1. Michael Habel
      Black Helicopters

      Re: A question

      Question: when does "national security" precipitate international insecurity?

      Answer: When you as a proper Statesman care MORE for your own Country than that of the rest of the World. (e.g. America First), and you have the deacency to to come out and state it as expcit fact, with out retorting to lip service, and panderring gestures of globalists.

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: A question

        That has nothing to do with the current occupant of the White House then? He does not seem to care about much more than himself and his family.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Trump is a paranoid powermonger

    It is hardly surprising that he authorized the CIA to do something that even Dubya did not. Trump thinks that aggressiveness is a sign of strength, and he will seize any opportunity that allows him to feel strong.

    The next US President is going to have a lot of work returning the USA to a functional democracy.

    1. Erewhon

      Re: Trump is a paranoid powermonger

      "The next US President is going to have a lot of work returning the USA to a functional democracy."

      I don't think Kanye West has the skill set.

      1. Michael Habel

        Re: Trump is a paranoid powermonger

        And, Biden would only be so lucky to manage surviving the roughly 80 Days till inauguration, assuming that the DNC actually give Killary the VP Nomination.

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: Trump is a paranoid powermonger

          @Michael - you are really pushing the bounds of reality now.

  8. Quentintheflorid

    "deleting documents or machinery"

    They can delete machinery? I knew this I.O.T. was a mistake. "Judy, where's the fridge gone?"

  9. Julz


    When is the FSB going to leak the orange ones tax details. Oh, I forgot. Must keep up with the memos...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So

      Those alleged 'Golden Shower' leaks would be very much more interesting.

      Particularly if they were to be released as a parting gift when Trump loses the election as expected.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So

        I'm convinced the pee tape doesn't exist. If it did, the projector in chief would have accused Biden of hiding a watersports fetish by now.

        I'm also skeptical of the claims in this article. Really? We're supposed to believe Trump unleashed a cyber warfare campaign without creating the Cyber Force Warriors branch of the military?

      2. Michael Habel

        Re: So

        Newsflash the Stone Dossier is pure fiction created by the Clinton campaign to make a poor attempt at discrediting our President. Now if you want discuss some real abouse. How about them FISA Warrarnts taken up against then Candidate Trump, by the Obama Whitehouse?

        Talk about an abuse of power...

  10. poohbear

    What colour are their hats?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Trump wasn't told what he was signing (see below). When he found out his reaction was exactly what you'd expect a Russian puppet to say.

    He really is sending intel to Russia, he really is working with Russia while they are killing US troops abroad. He really is working with their Russian troll farms to help spread Corona Virus through the US.

    Trump is a traitor that's sold out his country for quid-pro-quo.

    And Putin is performing biological warfare on the USA, it makes no difference that he didn't come up with the virus. His guys are trying to spread it as much as possible. It's killing people. That's biological warfare.

    Trump is complicit.

    From 2019:

    "The US is escalating cyber attacks on Russia's electric power grid and has placed potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system, The New York Times reported Saturday. "

    "Two administration officials told the Times they believed President Donald Trump HAD NOT BEEN BRIEFED in any detail about the US computer code being implanted inside the Russian grid.

    "Pentagon and intelligence officials describe to the Times "broad hesitation" to tell Trump about the details of the operations against Russia. They tell the Times there was concern over how Trump would react, and the possibility that TRUMP MIGHT REVERSE THE OPERATION or discuss it with foreign officials.

    Trump said in a string of tweets Saturday evening that the Times report was "NOT TRUE," calling the Times' reporting "a virtual act of Treason" and the news media the "enemy of the people."

    "Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country....." Trump said in one of the tweets.

    See how angry Trump is to find out the US is attacking boss Putin's troll farm?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dear Brad Parscale

      Time to get that book written. You can see the courts are ignoring his NDAs just as he's ignoring their rulings and laws and subpoenas. So you'll be able to publish.

      Be sure to add all the gruesome details about the Russian troll farm contracts. Both now and in 2016.

      As wave 2 of Coronavirus hits, and Betsy Devos forces schools open, with potential ~56,000 dead kids*, there will be great anger. So who told all those Karens that wearing a mask would cause them to die from lack of oxygen? You? Your app? Your trolls?

      Brad you can see your future here can't you? There'll be lots of kid-sized body bags. They'll want prosecutions, you'll be the bad guy spreading lies, kids will be dead from those lies, your lies, "thoughts and prayers" won't hack it this time. Too many crying mothers. "Brad did that, Brad told those lies to those Karens, that's why we sacked him" Trump'll say.

      Did you? Better get your side of the story down in writing now.

      1 million people expected at Tulsa, only 6200, that's 0.62%. Less than the death toll from Covid19. Not enough Karens and Darrens to hide behind, and anyway, it will be *their* kids. You fooled *them*, you caused *their* deaths, they'll be at the front of the pitchfork mob!

      * CDC current figure for under 25's death toll is 0.1% *not* 0.02%. The potential death toll among kids is not 14000 as some claim, its far higher. That assumes you have the ventilators at the time too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear Brad Parscale

        "As wave 2 of Coronavirus hits, and Betsy Devos forces schools open, with potential ~56,000 dead kids*, there will be great anger."

        As against Disney reopening theme parks and ignoring social distancing? How many dead kids and adults will that get you? (And you seem to have missed that, somehow, children seem to be resistant to Covid 19. But why let such tiny details ruin a crappy political diatribe?)

  12. iron Silver badge

    If Iranian hackers posted details of millions of US bank accounts online the US would, rightly, be calling for their arrest.

    But apparently it's ok if you're with the CIA.

    Can we just cut them off from the rest of the Internet? Pleeeeease. As a bonus we wouldn't be able to read the caveman rantings of the orange one.

    1. Ben Tasker

      > If Iranian hackers posted details of millions of US bank accounts online


      It might be "cyber" (ugh), but choosing civilian targets is not OK, and setting a precedent for doing so is particularly unwise given that others will use that as an excuse to target US civilians.

      1. JCitizen

        Like they haven't already??

        How long is the US expected to stand around with a giant "kick me" sign taped to its butt! Why is the US always expected to withstand the slings and arrows, and not do a damn thing about it?

        1. Ben Tasker

          Re: Like they haven't already??

          > Why is the US always expected to withstand the slings and arrows, and not do a damn thing about it?

          Where did I say do nothing?

          I said don't target civilians. And, by extension, don't be surprised when the result of you targeting civilians is your own civvies being targeted more by state level actors.

          If the US wants to target foreign infrastructure, whatever. But leaking lists of individuals credit-card numbers? They're *supposed* to be better than that - doing it sends a serious message about their morals, their capabilities or perhaps both.

          The individual citizen doesn't have an awful lot of say in their government's politics, even in the US. But the CIA seems to have decided it'll hold an unfortunate few citizens responsible all the same.

          If they airdropped some seals into an Iranian high street who went around beating randomers up for an hour to teach the IR gov a lesson, would you defend that? It's the same underlying principle, states should act against states, military and high-level officials, not individual citizens.

          Sorry, but it's reprehensible and utterly indefensible IMO.

  13. TheInstigator

    So where's the limit

    So given this memorandum - where is the limit of what is acceptable in a cyberwarfare scenario.

    If all traffic lights are set to green, all water purification measures are switched off intermittently - all train routing is randomised, aircraft routing systems compromised etc - this will obviously result in the loss of human life - whether it be the new Axis (Russia, Iran or China) or Allies (5 eyes et al)

    How do you draw a limit - is it a free for all ? Why don't we just start killing everyone ? It's the ultimate in equal opportunities.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Where it can be enforced

      The convention against the use of chemical weapons works because it is relatively easy to trace the physical components. Nuke treaties can (in theory) work because ICBMs are large enough to be traceable.

      Bits? Not so much.

      The real justification for this stuff is that if we don't continually improve our capabilities, the Chinese will get so far ahead of us that we will be wiped out in a minute. Okay if you want to live in Hong Kong these days, I guess. But for me? No.

      I REALLY wish I had a good answer for this.

      1. TheInstigator

        Re: Where it can be enforced

        This was also the reason given for the nuclear arms race - and we ended up with a modelled scenario called "Mutually Assured Destruction" and the advent of the Doomsday Clock.

        Maybe we need a cyber warfare version of this.

        1. seven of five

          Re: Where it can be enforced

          A digital clock set to 23:58, obviously.

          Kill for gain or shoot to maim

          But we don't need a reason

          The Golden Goose is on the loose

          And never out of season.


        2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Where it can be enforced

          But the "D" part never happened. This was because of the tracability of any strike (which I forgot to mention) & the rationality of the actors.

          The Doomsday Clock was & is a publicity stunt by leftists. Nothing more.

          1. TheInstigator

            Re: Where it can be enforced

            I don't profess to be a cyber warfare expert - but surely if you can IP spoof then you can pretend attacks have been launched by another country ?

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: Where it can be enforced

              That's what I'm saying. It is much harder to spoof a missile launch than a cyber strike.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. vtcodger Silver badge

    It's a good thing

    The covert operations are largely targeted at Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea, say anonymous sources

    It's a good thing that "they" have opted to target folks who are too well mannered and/or have insufficient skills to retaliate.</SARC> This is a problem that may well solve itself once the "targets" start shooting back. We may be learning a lot more about CIA, NSA, and Trumpian procedures, workflows and finances in coming months and years.

    Popcorn Time!!!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: It's a good thing

      "This is a problem that may well solve itself once the "targets" start shooting back."

      You're a bit late to the party!

    2. TheInstigator

      Re: It's a good thing

      Popcorn time ?

      You won't be around to eat the popcorn

  16. Pen-y-gors

    But on the bright side...

    This means that attempting to hack US government networks is now completely legal outside the USA. If they are fighting an undeclared war against the rest of the world they can hardly object when people fight back.

    So no more extraditions to the USA.

    Release Julian-the-prat now!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: But on the bright side...

      That sounds perfectly reasonable and a fully legitimate argument for judicial agreement, Pen-y-gors.

      The consequences and just desserts due to wanton gaolers of the unwarrantedly persecuted and criminally confined is a bitter sweet confection all not worthy can enjoy in applications which destroy the corrupted and perverted and subverted systems administrations as would labour to enable and support such abominations and tolerate injustice.

      You certainly don't want to be on the wrong side of that enigmatic equation for it is suitably hellish by all accounts. No Escaping Prisoners, No Capturing Survivors.

      1. sitta_europea Silver badge

        Re: But on the bright side...

        Are you still here?

        1. Julz

          Re: But on the bright side...

          Yes. Why do you ask?

  17. batfink

    When did this get the go-ahead?

    So, any relation to the current waves of sabotage across Iran then?

    Although I would be interested to hear how any cyberattack managed to set seven boats on fire.

    I'm of two (maybe three) minds about these attacks. Are they (say) Israel trying to make sure that the Iranian nuclear programme is delayed, or is this the US trying to provoke a serious Iranian reaction just in time for the election?

    I don't credit internal actors, as the targets seem unlikely for any internal group upset at the current regime.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like