back to article Computer and data scientists should be as highly regarded as 'warriors' says top UK cybergeneral

Military computer scientists ought to be treated with the same regard as pilots and warship captains, the head of the Army's cyber command has said. In a speech delivered at the DSEI arms fair in London, General Sir Patrick Sanders said: "I have more need of Q than I do 007 or M," referring to characters from the James Bond …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Misdirection From People WHO ACTUALLY KNOW THE TRUTH -- BUT ARE AFRAID TO TELL IT!!!!!!

    @Gareth_Corfield

    Quote: "....so far the only active hacking the UK has admitted to carrying out was targeted against the Islamic State terror group...."

    *

    Gareth, you forgot the hack on Belgium......only the tip of a very ugly iceberg I'm afraid!

    Link1: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/british-spies-hacked-into-belgacom-on-ministers-orders-claims-report

    Link2: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/13/gchq-data-collection-violated-human-rights-strasbourg-court-rules

    ......and so on!

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Where do attacks come from ?

      In Oct 2020 I put a new Linux (Debian) machine on line. In 18 1/2 hours it had 2,438 ssh attacks (none succeeded).

      Where did the attacks come from:

      1218 China

      732 USA

      482 Russia

      An established Linux server gets 13,000 to 20,000 ssh attacks in a day (less at weekends). In addition attacks are directed at web server, email, ...

      (All numbers are from a quick survey)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Where do attacks come from ?

        So obviously all British hackers using VPNs

        1. martyn.hare
          Trollface

          Totally

          We all know that MI5 fail2ban terrorism

        2. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: Where do attacks come from ?

          I'd imagine, those stats show coutries with compromised hardware rather that indicating anything about botnet owners.

          By "Ssh attacks" I presume that you mean a knock on port 22. Hardly warfare.

          1. Tomato42

            Re: Where do attacks come from ?

            > I'd imagine, those stats show coutries with compromised hardware rather that indicating anything about botnet owners.

            Except Putin doesn't care about Russian hackers as long as they keep far away from Russian targets, including laughing at any extradition requests.

            So they really have to reason to hide themselves.

      2. Bartholomew Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: Where do attacks come from ?

        I did something similar a few years ago, I modified the source for sshd, to get sshd to do what it should never normally be able to do - log the times, IP addresss, usernames and attempted passwords of every incoming connection to file. And I ran this fake sshd on port 22. In reality the this machine fully isolated in its own DMZ, so even if by some miracle anyone did managed to own the machine outgoing SYN packets in the three-way handshake were blocked. This meant that new outgoing connections could never be created, so they could not use it as a bot to attack other machines.

        At the time I looked at the collected information and there was a four stages to it:

        An initial portscan looking for ports with ssh on them

        Followed by an initial connection from a machine that worked out the configured MaxAuthTries (default 6), LoginGraceTime (default 120 seconds) and MaxSessions (default is 10) then things got hot and heavy

        Random connections from I'm guessing previously owned machines started from all around the internet (my MaxSessions was set to 1, so only 1 machine attempted connect at a time) most of which would connect once try a (my MaxAuthTries was 3) username with 3 random passwords, then disconnect never to be seen again. And amazingly nearly instantly a totally different machine from somewhere else would connect and try the next username from an alphabetically sorted list of usernames with three random passwords from I'm guessing a password list. And rinse and repeat this continuously for about a week, then

        The slower attack started where it was like the initial hot and heavy failed miserably and they had farmed off the attack to a lower tier running at a low priority with a smaller number of machines.

        So your 1218 China, 732 USA, 482 Russia is probably related to the number of insecure machines owned in those countries as opposed to being the original point of origin of the attack.

        1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

          Re: Where do attacks come from ?

          I just double checked it was MaxStartups and not MaxSessions that I had set to 1

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    More window dressing as specialist personnel get pushed out of posts

    When the labour party recently made a bunch of people redundant, they asserted they could regroup with a product-mindset using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and encouraged to focus on rapid prototyping, deployment and iteration.

    I imagine the same kind of "thinking" applies here. If we just replace the military with those IT types, we can strategise our "Epic" campaigns using our class-responsibility-collaboration cards and progress across the plains of Germany in weekly sprints, fuelled by an endless supply of free fruit and coffee.

    I'm not sure it will really help if their advanced intelligence can tell them in great detail exactly when and where they're going to be blown to atoms.

    1. Cereberus
      Pint

      Re: More window dressing as specialist personnel get pushed out of posts

      Thank you, have a beer on me. ------------->

      I've just won the team B*llsh1t Bingo off one post by a commentard.

      My previous best was 3 posts.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: More window dressing as specialist personnel get pushed out of posts

      My productivity and will to live falls through the floor during all the agile whatnots - after which I get back to normal service and create things. I think the only people who relish the whole thing at the place where I work is the product owner, team leader and the scrum master (mistress?)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't there a James Bond quote

    about "Eliminating Free Radicals"?

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Wasn't there a James Bond quote

      The plot of Oxidizepussy?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patrick Sanders needs to think about history (some of it very recent)......

    1839-1842 Brits thrown out of Afghanistan

    1878-1880 Brits thrown out of Afghanistan

    1979-1989 Russians thrown out of Afghanistan

    2001-2021 Brits thrown out of Afghanistan

    *

    Now.......regarding the latest expulsion, (say around 2002), did any of these fantastic IT specialists take a look at Wikipedia and wonder if there was any chance that HISTORY MIGHT REPEAT ITSELF?

    *

    Does Patrick Sanders have ANY IDEA of the previous incursions (by Brits, by Russians)?

    *

    Or does he think that computer skills will minimise or eliminate these sort of screw ups in the future? If that's his view, someone should SACK HIM NOW!!!!

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Patrick Sanders needs to think about history (some of it very recent)......

      Captain: Is the Cyber Squad ready to go Sgt. Major?

      Sgt Major: Yes Sir. All ready, Sir.

      Capt: Very well, Sgt. Major, proceed with the operation.

      Sgt Major: Squad, squad shun. Squad will march to their keyboards, by the left, quick march.

      [ squad move to their keyboards and sit down ]

      Sgt Major: Squad. Squad will launch cyber attach... CAPS LOCK ON

      Sgt Major turns to Capt. and salutes: Sir. Caps lock is now on Sir. That'll show 'em Sir.

      1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        Re: Patrick Sanders needs to think about history (some of it very recent)......

        Caps lock engaged.

        Twitter accounts activated.

        Fake pronouns declared.

    2. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: Patrick Sanders needs to think about history (some of it very recent)......

      @A/C

      You seem to have a very selective memory when it comes to history. Just about every country in the world has tried and failed to "win" Afghanistan.

      Nor were we the only one's "thrown out" of the country in 2021. Though in my opinion we should never have been involved in the first place.

  5. Irony Deficient Silver badge

    General Sanders said the MoD should be developing …

    … “penta-phibians”, using a mashup of Latin and Greek

    First of all, congratulations to General Sanders, after all that time of being a colonel.

    Regarding “penta-phibian”, it is actually a mashup of Greek and Greek (πέντε + ἀμφίβιον), although “-phibian” represents a lousy surgical site, since the proper place for the knife in ἀμφίβιον is ἀμφί- (“both”) + -βιον (“life”). Something like “quinque-phibian” would be a mashup of Latin and Greek. Given what the general believes the MoD should be developing, Greek πέντοδοί → Latin pentodi → English “pentods” (/ˈpɛn.tədz/, “five-ways”, to demonstrate the plural) would be closer to the mark.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: General Sanders said the MoD should be developing …

      And the fact that more of the senior military ranks learned Greek or Latin at school than Computer Science shouldn't be an issue in C21

      1. mikepren

        Re: General Sanders said the MoD should be developing …

        I did Latin at school, and additional maths. After an IT career of 30+ years,none as scrum master or product owner, not sure which was the better choice.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: General Sanders said the MoD should be developing …

          Well if you wanted to be a senior cyber-warrior fighting the asymmetric threats from Chinese ninja super hackers - then being able to make a pun about having captured Sindh is vital

  6. BigBadBoss

    Out Of Touch

    As someone who's worked in both military and civvi roles in architecture and cyber security; it never ceases to amaze me how little the senior brass understand about reality; and the skills gap that's generally present with "taught" military and real world cyber security specialists with real world experience.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    If the Totally Honest Truth of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Matter be told ......

    As amusing? as some may find that Cyber Squad skit to be, 2+2=5, the powers that presently be and the military machinery which do their awful bidding have every good and bad reason to be absolutely terrified of the ....... well, I suppose they should/would identify both it and Advanced IntelAIgent IT as a Cyber Space Force Terrain of Practical and Virtually Real AI Domains, for theatres of operations in which they are not anywhere near well enough equipped to either lead or server and thus be they fatally disadvantaged.

    And yes, such does more than just suggest a New More Orderly World Order in Global Command Head Quartered Control. And to dismiss it as most improbable and even impossible, and believe it simple fanciful errant nonsense, is a stealth delivered to its programming and projects that all the money in the world could not buy ... but it could supply at a nominal agreeable fraction of that cost.

    1. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: If the Totally Honest Truth of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Matter be told ......

      @amanfromMars1

      After reading your post, it leaves me with a question. How do you know you are the first man from Mars?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Who and/or What Knows whenever it is to be forever to remain a Mystery

        @amanfromMars1

        After reading your post, it leaves me with a question. How do you know you are the first man from Mars? ..... idiot tax payer here again

        Hmmmm? A Puzzle to Answer with the Delivery of Deeper Quandaries to Question and Interrogate and Integrate or Dismiss and Excommunicate/Purge and Exorcise from Reviewed Output to Prime Premium Input into Novel NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTivated IT and AI Solutions.

        One probably doesn't and possibly cannot if ever and/or whenever a man from Mars1 is . And such then suggests that there be others too, and that can be many just as easily as a few, from that other similarly unknown and unexplored region and not dissimilar environment with both Sympathetic Autonomous and EMPathetic Anonymous Locations ..... Advanced IntelAIgent Spaces.

      2. LionelB Bronze badge

        Re: If the Totally Honest Truth of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Matter be told ......

        Gah. Now look what you've done.

  8. martinusher Silver badge

    Irony

    What with China being "the enemy" I daresay nobody's noticed that the bulk of the kit these cyber warriors will be using day to day will be "Made in China". Not just the computers and printers but also the coffee machine.

    Maybe it will be a home-made effort (cue scenes from "Brazil" plus the traditional tea lady -- sorry, 'person').

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital Soldier!*

    "Boo-lean!"

    *Yes, yes. Ex-Gen Flynn and his cohort of whackos already claimed this nomenclature.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re: Advanced Cyber Treats .... A Western Confection or Eastern Delight ..... or a Mutant Amalgam

    If General Sir Patrick "I have more need of Q than I do 007 or M" Sanders really requires Digital Special Raiding Squadrons, he would need to meet with a man in Conway Square so they can mull over kick starting an idling and cruising Holywood Palace Barracks into Affirmative Future Futuristic ACTion Engaging and Employing and Enjoying to XSS the Benefits Delivered with Success in the Vast Novel Fields of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT.

    And that's sure to be extremely easily arranged for it is not as if there is not an embarrassment of communication riches freely available to practically all nowadays to facilitate just such a quiet private meeting in any such open public space.

  11. revenant
    Thumb Down

    Warriors?

    I spent 30 years working on computer systems in support of the military, mostly involving the non-shooty aspects of their missions. But the thing is, I was always aware of one thing: I was well paid to do interesting things in a relatively safe environment whereas they were paid to get shot at if Her Majesty so commanded. The idea that I could be called a warrior would have been laughable.

    Wind the clock forward and I don't think the situation is any different. The day that the enemy can remotely command the techies' equipment to blow up in their faces, then maybe call them warriors.

    Until then - Nope. It's an insult to those who do put their lives on the line.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Warriors?

      So somebody piloting a drone from a trailer in Nevada to blow up somebody in Afghanistan isn't a soldier because they can't be shot at? Or somebody in a minuteman missile silo?

      What about a B52 pilot dropping bombs from 30,000 ft above any possible insurgent gunfire?

      Even a sailor on a battleship bombarding the beaches on D-Day was pretty safe from return fire - I doubt they would consider themselves non-combatants

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    General Sanders also called out the West's two biggest authoritarian enemies

    Let's split also the West in two: The Five Eyes and the other ones. For the other ones the Five Eyes can also act as enemies, at least not as friendly allies.

  13. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Spaceballs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH7dDzDWyHk&t=11s

    'What's the matter, Colonel Sanders, CHICKEN?'

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay

    A while back I was looking at adverts for IT jobs at the SIS (A.K.A. MI6). One of the IT jobs, based in London, quoted a shockingly low salary. My Russian wife commented "That's why our guys can buy them so easily".

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Pay

      One covered in el'reg a week or two back.

      Masters degree in e-eng, hardware builder, programmer, hacker, etc, etc Central London and 34K

      1. dinsdale54

        Re: Pay

        That's wonderfully delusional. Double that and you might get people with some basic experience. Triple that and you might get somebody reasonable.

      2. Def Silver badge

        Re: Pay

        That's just embarrassing at best, and fucking insulting at worst.

        My salary when I left the UK 20 years ago was 33k. I was living in Bristol at the time and even back then I thought London was obscenely expensive to just visit, let alone live there. (These days I live in Norway and London is incredibly cheap by comparison, but I digress.)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a country where Nadine Dorries is made the "Digital Secretary"

    You realise the lunatics really are running the asylum.

    https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/experts-concern-digital-secretary/

    Digital Transformation - like many in leadership positions across industry, they've heard of that :/

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trade and competition is not war, it's not his remit

    We haven't declared war on China, and he has no remit to hack it for commercial aims.

    This statement is well out of his bounds from a General:

    "Under its 'Made in China 2025' strategy, China has explicitly declared the ambition to dominate these technology frontiers. It includes artificial intelligence, advanced computing, quantum technologies, robotics, autonomous systems, commercial space technologies, additive manufacturing and the Internet of Things, along with new generations (5G and beyond) of the mobile telecommunications that will connect it."

    For a while Boris was trying to position the UK for a US-UK-China three way. Recognizing that the US is no longer the technological leader and shifting the UK slowly over to broader cooperation. Huawei 5G, China funded Nuclear power stations and post Brexit economic co-operation. That was quickly spiked with a dodgy attack on Huawei by the USA, and Boris doing a U-turn.

    Same in Australia, their PM, Malcom Turnbull, did a "China Reset" speech back in 2018, he got attacked for it by Peter Dutton (a Trumpette), and Dutton attempted to oust him in August and then again a few months later, forcing out Turnbull before year end.

    Dutton did the : "War with China cannot be ruled out..." speech a few days ago, trying to claim trade as war. He is also the 5-eyes rep for Australia that helped undermine encryption.

    I point out that this General in this article is likely in the "hi-viz set" of people, he gets to see all the internet comms inside UK political circles, so if he thinks he sets policy, it makes UK a military run state with a civilian veneer, similar to Myanmar.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trade and competition is not war, it's not his remit

      Also notice this, 2018, after Peter Dutton, ejected Turnbull, also after Dutton had done the 5 eyes meeting where they decided to backdoor encryption):

      In relation to the ANOM 'fake encrypted phones":

      https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2021/06/09/afp-fbi-operation/

      "That law, passed in the dying moments of the last sitting day of Parliament in December 2018, was controversial as it gave Australian authorities the power to force encrypted messaging companies to install secret ‘back doors’ in their apps, to give police power to access and unscramble encrypted messages."

      "Privacy and tech experts were aghast when the laws were proposed in 2018, but the legislation was rushed through Parliament after then-home affairs minister PETER DUTTON warned there was an “urgent” need."

      [So Dutton, 5 eyes bod at the meeting where they decided to backdoor encryption, slotted this into Australian law at the close of session].

      "The ANoM-equipped phones began being distributed to criminals in October 2018. TOLA would be rushed through Parliament just two months later. ... ANoM had a “beta test” in Australia, the court filing says, where “the AFP obtained a court order to legally monitor” about 50 ANoM devices operating on our shores."

      [only 50!]

      Again, ANoM looks like psych-op propaganda not real. To be useful for comms, both ends would have to be ANoM devices, yet the distribution of the devices was tiny (50 will mostly be "distributors", small time crooks offered a cut to distribute the encrypted phones to their friends).

      I think Australian democracy has been very badly compromized.

  17. Binraider Silver badge

    And if the army is serious about recruiting and keeping talent in this sector, maybe it should pay appropriately for it.

    No doubt cyber sec bods are still expected to endure boot camp and other such nonsense too.

    I still say the best source of cyber expertise is to hire those folks that broke into your system illegally. Make it more worth their while to wear a white hat.

    1. martyn.hare
      Devil

      Or give folks something else...

      Like the so-called enemy states do for their "warriors". If their jobs can't tick the money/property/corpo box then at least avail us poor souls of the need to try to socialise instead!

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