(NaturalNews) Britain's top spy agency has developed a suite of software programs it uses to manipulate Internet traffic, infiltrate users' computers and spread preselected messages across social media sites that include Facebook and YouTube, according to recently published reports.
ZDNet said that the technology used by the agency, GCHQ, was revealed in documents first published by The Intercept. Each piece of software is further described in a Wiki document written by the spy agency's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or JTRIG. The document reads like a software inventory list and it ominously calls the tools part of the agency's "weaponised capability."
As noted by investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept:
The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.
List of software tools for comprehensive Internet monitoring and manipulation
Some of the more interesting capabilities of the software tools listed include the ability to "seed the web with false information" ZDNet reported, "such as tweaking the results of online polls -- inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed 'extremist' and the use of psychological manipulation on targets," the latter of which is similar to a research project conducted recently with Facebook's approval -- research that elicited plenty of criticism and outrage directed at the social media site.
Here is a list of some of the interesting software tools in the document, along with a short description of how they operate, per ZDNet:
-- Astral Projection: Remote GSM secure covert Internet proxy using TOR hidden service
-- Poison Arrow: Safe malware download capability
-- Airwolf: YouTube profile, comment and video collection tool
-- Birdstrike: Twitter monitoring and profile collection
-- Glassback: The technique of getting a target's ISP address by pretending to be a spammer and pinging them; the target does not need to answer
-- Miniature Hero: Active Skype capability; a provision of real-time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) as well as bidirectional instant messaging and contact lists
-- Photon Torpedo: Technique to actively grab the ISP address of an MSN messenger user
-- Spring-Bishop: Finding private photos of targets on Facebook
-- Bomb Bay: The ability to increase hits to websites, thereby increasing rankings
-- Burlesque: The ability to send spoofed SMS messages
-- Gestator: The amplification of a given message, usually a video, on popular multimedia sites like YouTube
-- Scrapheap Challenge: An amazing tool used to spoof emails from Blackberry targets
-- Sunblock: The capability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
-- Underpass: This can change the outcome of online polls (it was previously known as Nubilo)
-- Warpath: The mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations (PSYOPS) campaign
-- Husk: A secure, one-on-one web-based dead drop message platform
The list, which is dated 2012, says that most of the tools are "fully operational, tested and reliable," adding, "Don't treat this like a catalogue. If you don't see it here, it doesn't mean we can't build it."
Further, the document notes: "We only advertise tools here that are either ready to fire or very close to being ready."
'Some of the most startling methods of propaganda'
The release of the documents came the same week that the UK intelligence agency's spying activities fell under investigation by the surveillance watchdog Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT). Civil liberty groups are gearing up to file a legal challenge against the GCHQ as a means of questioning the legal status of such schemes as Tempora, a project that was revealed in the NSA scandal which showed that the agency placed a number of data interceptors on fiber optic cables that transfer Internet traffic to and from Britain, ZDNet reported.
The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG's use of "fake victim blog posts," "false flag operations," "honey traps" and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.