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Hacking a Terror Network: The Silent Threat of Covert Channels, Syngresss

Hacking a Terror Network: The Silent Threat of Covert Channels, Syngresss

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Hacking a Terror Network: The Silent Threat of Covert Channels

Copyright
Copyright © 2005 by Syngress Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced
or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the
prior written permission of the publisher, with the exception that the program listings may be entered,
stored, and executed in a computer system, but they may not be reproduced for publication.

Distributed by O’Reilly Media, Inc. in the United States and Canada.

For information on rights and translations, contact Matt Pedersen, Director of Sales and Rights, at
Syngress Publishing; email matt@syngress.com or fax to 781-681-3585..

PUBLISHED BY
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street
Rockland, MA 02370

Contents

Foreword
Prologue
It was unbearably hot outside.The summers in Ramadi, Iraq seemed to get hotter and hotter with each passing year, and this year, in his city, it was no exception as the mercury pegged out at 42 degrees Celsius. Sweat trickled down his back as he navigated through the dirty side streets of the city—the winding avenues coated with dust and poverty. After turning a final corner, he adjusted the Kufi against his hot, damp head and ducked into a public coffee shop. Choosing a table next to the front window, he set the envelope he was carrying next to a public computer terminal. It wasn’t long before a waiter approached his table once he was seated.
1: The Mind of Terror
He woke up choking on a sob, bathed in sweat. It was late at night (or very early in the morning depending on your perspective) and this time it wasn’t the thick heat that had him sweating. Salah had endured many nights like this since his childhood, nights filled with nightmares of his father beating him. He ran his hand across his forehead and pulled back his long hair. Staring out
the window, he tried to catch his breath and calm his rapidly beating heart.
Father was dead, why couldn’t he relax?
2: Unseen Planning
Salah unlocked the dead bolt and stepped through the doorway into the barren space beyond.The apartment held no real emotional sway over Salah; it was a quaint dwelling, but only temporary.Walking across the stained brown carpet, he stopped at the window near his bed to look out over the city.The university was only a few blocks away, but even for a single person
walking, it was sometimes difficult to navigate the traffic below. 
He watched silently as the cars on the road below battled to dominate the road, relentlessly working to carry their occupants home.
3: Making Friends
“I’m telling you, dude, I’ve never met a woman who knows so much about networking concepts,” Jeremy said.“She’s amazing. I could totally use her help. 
I’m dying here! Have you seen how well she does on those tests?”
4: One Step Closer
“Welcome, Jimmy.Won’t you please have a seat?” asked the young woman.
“Someone will be with you in a moment for your interview. 
Please let me know if you need anything.” Jimmy watched her as she left the room. She
was attractive and he was enjoying watching her hips sway as she walked away.“
You’re not here for the women,” he told himself quietly and tried to get his mind back on what he was really here to do—get a job.
5: Over the Line
It was already dark outside when he shut the apartment door behind him and locked it again. He had spent more time at school today than intended, but he reminded himself that some things were necessary. Aside from his normal homework, Salah had been doing some research trying to design a better method for covert communication with his team over the Internet.
6: Images of Death
It was dark.The clock next to the bed cast an eerie glow across her face as she looked at the time. It was 1:56 a.m. Looking across the small room, she noticed that the small television was still on. She had apparently fallen asleep watching CNN. 
She was lying awkwardly across the small bed, her clothes still on.The fog in her head was clearing now and she remembered:There had been an attack in the Middle East.
7: The Real Assignment
“Jeremy!” A voice shot across the office. Jeremy stood up to look over the cubicle wall and watched as his partner walked across the office toward his cubicle. He was truly enjoying his new life in a real job. His security clearance had been approved about five months earlier, enabling him to start working on actual cases versus sitting in an uncleared facility studying investigation training manuals. When Jeremy had walked into this office for the first time, he found the work already piling up for him, since apparently, the other employees had been anticipating his arrival. But much to his own disappointment, he found all the initial cases to be exercises in futility.The other team members had already grown accustomed to those cases that were likely to be fraudulent and had graciously taught Jeremy his first real lesson on the new job.
8: Creating the Code
Salah woke up the next morning with the sky still dark outside and his head pounding.The alarm clock on the nightstand next to his bed seemed to be blaring much louder than normal. As frustrated as he might be, he knew that the clock was set to perpetually ensure that he was up in time for the morning call to prayer and so he took a deep breath and tried to calm his weary mind. His body was exhausted as well. 
He felt as if he had slept very little during the night.
9: Over the Edge
Jimmy woke up to the sound of the small alarm clock going off. Glancing at the clock he noticed that it was 6:30 in the morning. He was due to report to the ship for his next cruise early this afternoon, but until then he would relax.The apartment he lived in was small with very few furnishings because Jimmy had no real intentions of being in this location much longer. In fact, today might very well be the last time he ever slept in this bed. 
He smiled to himself.The time was almost here.
10: Biding Time
Jimmy lay in his bunk staring at the ceiling and pondering the items on his mental to-do list. He was off duty for the day, which meant that he had time for some much-needed reflection. He relished the rare solitude as his roommate was somewhere on the ship, enjoying his day off as well. It had been just over six months since he had started working full-time on the ship,
and he was now fully trusted by nearly every crew member on board. He thought to himself about how easy it had been to get hired and become accepted as a part of the team.
11: Covert Channels
Jeremy sat up slowly. He had fallen asleep at his desk, and the office was deserted with the exception of the cleaning crew.They must have been especially noisy tonight as they awakened him when they came in the front security door. His coworkers had called him crazy when he mentioned that he would be working this weekend, saying that he had lost his mind and
should be out somewhere trying to have some fun. But they apparently just
didn’t understand.To Jeremy, this was fun.
12: Facing the Truth
Layla lay in her bed, crying again. She was desperate; her mind was split down the center into two completely different and conflicting mind-sets, and she was definitely losing it. One side of her had been created years earlier by her father and tormented her day and night. She had a purpose based in hate, excused by religion, and a requirement for her to be cold and uncaring.The other side of her longed to be gentle and tolerant; this side of her wanted to forget the failure of what had been her childhood and develop a new purpose in life. Her youth had been stolen from her, as had her future.
13: Taking Command
It can be difficult to sit idly by and wait for the inevitable.The truth can be standing directly in front of you, staring you in the face, and still be invisible when your mind refuses to accept it. Every man is born with some degree of hope and faith, but there’s always a limit; the line where the gap has grown too wide for even a leap of faith. Discovering where your own internal limits
are can be frustrating and painful. Believing that someone you depend on and trust let you down completely is hard to accept. Our own internal emotional defenses refuse to allow the acceptance of those realities. But in time, the truth becomes impossible to ignore, and that’s when the anger sets in.
14: Racing the Clock
Jeremy watched silently from a chair across the desk as his partner continued his conversation with the last cruise line company.They had been calling each and every company over the last 90 minutes. He had been surprised to find so many cruise line companies operating in the United States, many of which he had never heard of before. Some went up North to the colder
climates to show passengers the whales and icebergs. Others were content with endlessly cruising the tropical climates down South.There were even some companies that took extended cruises to Europe or the Mediterranean.
15: Losing Control 
“Jesus Christ, Jeremy!” Neil was obviously perturbed. “I need you in the
office, and I need you here now.”
“Okay, calm down. I’m on my way.” Jeremy held the phone closer to his ear.
It was difficult to hear Neil’s voice above the cars driving by on the street next to him. He stood up from his table on the patio of the small eatery he was at and motioned to the waiter that he would be right back. Opening the door to the inside of the restaurant, he headed to the men’s room.“Tell me what’s going on. I need to pay my lunch tab, and I’ll be right in.”
16: Heightened Motivation
Jimmy was fuming inside as he sat in the old wooden chair in the rundown restaurant.The food here was awful, but then again, he hadn’t found any food in the local establishments that appealed to his Middle Eastern palette. A small but steady stream of locals came and went as he sat at the table looking out the window into the dirty street.They were content enough to eat the food. Perhaps it’s just an acquired taste, he thought to himself.
17: Chasing Ghosts
Jeremy pressed the small white button just outside the door and waited patiently. He had the clearance required to enter the area, but his badge hadn’t been added to the system yet. It just meant that he had to wait until someone came and let him in—not too much of an issue. He heard the sound of the lock click from the inside and the door swung open and the
face of a woman appeared. She looked as if she was in her mid-40s and had
likely been working in the government for some time. Her clothes were
professional, yet casual by most standards.“Yes, can I help you?”
18: Taking Back Control
Jimmy sat back in the hard wooden chair and waited as the web browser loaded. He had quickly become a regular at the library in this small town, using the computer several times a day, sometimes for hours at a time. His resolve and motivation had been strengthened when the perfect location for the second phase of attacks had occurred to him.The inability of the local authorities to secure the area, combined with the sheer number of
Americans, made the target attractive. He had spent time wondering why this particular idea had never occurred to him or Salah before that moment.
19: Vengeance for Deceit
“Sources claim that federal officials have two of the terror suspects currently in custody in the Washington, D.C., area. One of the suspects is said to have been the mastermind of the recent failed attacks on three American cruise ships, and the other was captured while trying to escape.”
20: Eliminating False Positives
Jeremy flicked his pencil into the air again with his left hand and caught it rather precariously with the two middle fingers on his right hand. His documents were strewn across his desk haphazardly, unorganized piles of information. He had been going over the information repeatedly for what seemed like weeks now. Regardless of how much time he looked at the evidence, it never changed.
21: Gaining a Finger Hold 
“So how many target images have we actually passed off to the agency now?”
Jeremy asked Tyler.The two men were sitting with Neil at a small sandwich shop around the corner from their office.They had been working on finding suspect images for weeks, and he was beginning to feel as if there was simply no way they were going to stop this attack.
22: Compressing Timelines
The days were getting cooler, even in this small, dry Mexican town. Jimmy stared out the cracked window of his small hotel room at the night sky. His appearance had changed drastically over the last two months. He had let his black hair grow longer, and it now hung down just above his shoulders.A dark beard now covered his young face. He kept it trim and clean, but it
made him look more like the locals.
23: A Plan Comes Together
The old junker ground to a halt in front of a small petrol station roughly 150 miles from where Jimmy had started. He had bought the only vehicle available in town, an old pickup truck whose rust-covered surfaced hinted that blue had been the original color. It had been just after midnight when he actually left the small town for good, following the small road out of town for 15 miles until he met with the main highway that ran south.
24: Turning Fiction into Reality
The story you’ve just finished reading was completely fictional.Well, at least the story itself was fictional.The technology was very real and accessible today on the Internet.The unfortunate, and very scary part about all this is that the story fails to touch on the reality of the situation. For years, the Western world has ignored the threat of destructive activities over the
Internet. Our perception has been that the technology is neither known nor
prevalent in the parts of the world we consider to be dangerous.
Glossary

Author
Russ Rogers (CISSP, CISM, IAM, IEM) is a Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Principal Security Consultant for Security Horizon, Inc., a Colorado-based professional security services and training provider and veteran-owned small business. Russ is a key contributor to Security Horizon’s technology efforts and leads the technical security practice and the services business development efforts. Russ is a United States Air Force Veteran and has served in military and contract support for the National Security Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency. He served as a Certified Arabic Linguist during his time in the military and is also the editor-in-chief of The Security Journal and occasional staff member
for the Black Hat Briefings. Russ holds an associate’s degree in applied communications technology from the Community College of the Air Force, a bachelor’s degree from the University of
Maryland in computer information systems, and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland in computer systems management.
Russ is a member of the Information System Security Association (ISSA) and the Information System Audit and Control Association (ISACA). He also serves as the Professor of Network Security at the
University of Advancing Technology (uat.edu) in Tempe,AZ. Russ is the author of Hacking a Terror Network:The Silent Threat of Covert
Channels (Syngress Publishing, ISBN: 1-928994-98-9). He has contributed to many Syngress books, including Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent (ISBN: 1-931836-05-1), Security Assessment:
Case Studies for Implementing the NSA IAM (ISBN 1-932266-96-8), WarDriving, Drive, Detect, Defend: A Guide to Wireless Security (ISBN: 1-931836-03-5), and SSCP Study Guide and DVD Training System
(ISBN: 1-931846-80-9).

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 ISBN
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 Copyright
 2005 by Syngress Publishing, Inc 
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