Vigilante Hackers Take Over North Korea’s Internet. Now He’s Taking Off His Mask

“That’s not good, and it’s not normal,” Schneider said. He says much of the US government’s slow response to cybercrime stems from its concern to ensure that it avoids accidentally attacking people and violating international law or provoking violent retaliation.

However, Schneider agrees that Caceres and Angus have a point: the US can use its cyber power more, which is one of the reasons why it is not the same as a government. “There are good reasons, and then there are bad reasons,” says Schneider. “Like, we have complicated party politics, we don’t know how to do it differently, we’re unfit to use this kind of technology, we’ve been doing it this way for 50 years, and it worked well in dropping bombs.”

U.S. organized crime, by all accounts, has gotten smaller and smaller over the past decade, Schneider says. Starting in 2018, for example, General Paul Nakasone, who was the head of the Cyber ​​​​​​​​Command, advocated a “defend forward” strategy aimed at taking cyber conflicts into the enemy’s network rather than waiting for them to happen in America. In those years, Cyber ​​Commando​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​front has been in place for the Cyber ​​Commando to launch a number of disruptive and destructive operations destroying a Russian disinformation farm at the Internet Research Agency and take download the core of the Trickbot ransomware groupwhich some feared at the time could be used to influence the 2020 election. Since then, Cyber ​​​​Command and other US military hackers seem to have remained silent, often leaving the response of foreign hackers to law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, which meet with many obstacles.

Caceres is not entirely wrong to criticize this stance, said Jason Healey, who until February worked as a senior cybersecurity expert at the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He responds to the cyberhawk arguments of Caceres by citing the Subversive Trilemma, an idea presented in a 2021 paper by researcher Lennart Maschmeyer: Subversive operations must choose between strength, speed, and control. Even in earlier, more aggressive years, the US Cyber​​​​Command has tended to call for control, Healey says, and put it ahead of other nations. But he says there could be other targets — such as ransomware criminals or hackers working for Russia’s unsanctioned GRU military intelligence agency — who would be willing to renew the calls. “For what you want,” says Healey, “you can free criminals.”

Dead P4x, Viva P4x

As for Mr. Caceres himself, he says he is not opposed to the American organizations that are robbing them taking steps to limit their damage or protect civilians – as long as they do something about it. “There is being careful,” he says, “and then everything is going well.”

Arguing that more aggressive cyberattacks could lead to more attacks by foreign hackers, Caceres points to attacks that foreign hackers are already carrying out. AlphV’s ransomware group critical attack on Change Healthcare For example, in February, for example, the disabled medical center of hundreds of agents and hospitals, which is very disturbing to the general public as it happens in any cyberattack. “The increase is already happening,” says Caceres. “We’re not doing anything, and it’s getting worse.”

Caceres says he hasn’t stopped pushing someone in the US government to follow his gloves-off approach. Dropping the P4x handle and revealing his real name, in a way, is his last attempt to get the US government to listen and start a conversation again.

But he also says he is not waiting for approval from the Pentagon before going ahead with this approach on his own. He said: “If I continue to do this alone, or with just a few people I trust, I can move very quickly.” “I can do bad things to the right people, and I don’t have to tell anyone.”

The P4x handle may be dead, in other words. But the P4x doctrine of cyberwarfare continues.

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