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The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved. #techybygaurav

by Gaurav Gupta about a year ago in tech news
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All About Pentagon Mystery

The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved. #techybygaurav
Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

The Pentagon periodically contends with unauthorized squatting on its space, partially because there has been a shortage of first-generation internet addresses since 2011; they now sell at auction for upwards of $25 each

A very strange thing happened on the web the day President Joe Biden was sworn in. A shadowy company residing at a shared workspace above a Florida bank announced to the world’s computer networks that it had been now managing a huge , previously idle chunk of the web owned by the US Department of Defense.

That land has since quite quadrupled to 175 million addresses — about 1/25th the dimensions of the present internet.

"It is very large . that's the most important thing within the history of the web ," said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Kentik, a network operating company. It’s also quite twice the dimensions of the web space actually employed by the Pentagon.

After weeks of wonder by the networking community, the Pentagon has now provided a really terse explanation for what it’s doing. But it's not answered many basic questions, beginning with why it chose to entrust the management of the address space to a corporation that seems to not have existed until September.

The military hopes to “assess, evaluate and stop unauthorized use of DoD IP address space," said a press release issued Friday by Brett Goldstein, chief of the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service, which is running the project. It also hopes to “identify potential vulnerabilities" as a part of efforts to defend against cyber-intrusions by global adversaries, who are consistently infiltrating U.S. networks, sometimes operating from unused internet address blocks.

The statement didn't specify whether the “pilot project" would involve outside contractors.

The Pentagon periodically contends with unauthorized squatting on its space, partially because there has been a shortage of first-generation internet addresses since 2011; they now sell at auction for upwards of $25 each.

Madory said advertising the address space will make it easier to chase off squatters and permit the US military to “collect a huge amount of background internet traffic for threat intelligence."

Some cybersecurity experts have speculated that the Pentagon could also be using the newly advertised space to make “honeypots," machines found out with vulnerabilities to draw hackers. Or it might be looking to line up dedicated infrastructure — software and servers — to scour traffic for suspect activity.

“This greatly increases the space they might monitor," said Madory, who published a blog post on the matter Saturday.

What a Pentagon spokesman couldn't explain Saturday is why the Department of Defense chose Global Resource Systems LLC, a corporation with no record of state contracts, to manage the address space.

“As to why the DoD would have done that I’m a touch mystified, same as you," said Paul Vixie, an online pioneer credited with designing its naming system and therefore the CEO of Farsight Security.

The company didn't return phone calls or emails from The Associated Press. it's no web presence, though it's the domain grscorp.com. Its name doesn’t appear on the directory of its Plantation, Florida, domicile, and a receptionist drew a blank when an AP reporter asked for a corporation representative at the office earlier this month. She found its name on a tenant list and suggested trying email. Records show the corporate has not obtained a business license in Plantation.

Incorporated in Delaware and registered by a Beverly Hills lawyer, Global Resource Systems LLC now manages more internet space than China Telecom, AT&T, or Comcast.

The only name related to it on the Florida business registry coincides thereupon of a person listed as recently as 2018 in Nevada corporate records as a managing member of a cybersecurity/internet surveillance equipment company called Packet Forensics. the corporate had nearly $40 million in publicly disclosed federal contracts over the past decade, with the FBI and therefore the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency among its customers.

That man, Raymond Saulino, is additionally listed as a principal during a company called Tidewater Laskin Associates, which was incorporated in 2018 and obtained an FCC license in April 2020. It shares an equivalent Virginia Beach , Virginia, address — a UPS store — in corporate records as Packet Forensics. the 2 have different mailbox numbers. Calls to the amount listed on the Tidewater Laskin FCC filing are answered by an automatic service that gives four different options but doesn’t connect callers with one one, recycling all calls to the initial voice recording.

Saulino didn't return phone calls seeking comment, and a longtime colleague at Packet Forensics, Rodney Joffe, said he believed Saulino was retired. Joffe, a cybersecurity luminary, declined further comment. Joffe is that the chief technical officer at Neustar Inc., which provides internet intelligence and services for major industries, including telecommunications and defense.

In 2011, Packet Forensics and Saulino, its spokesman, were featured during a Wired story because the corporate was selling an appliance to government agencies and enforcement that permit them spy on people’s web browsing using forged security certificates.

The company continues to sell “lawful intercept" equipment, consistent with its website. one among its current contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is for “harnessing autonomy for countering cyber-adversary systems." A contract description says it's investigating “technologies for conducting safe, non-disruptive, and effective active defense operations in cyberspace." Contract language from 2019 says the program would “investigate the feasibility of making safe and reliable autonomous software agencies which will effectively counter malicious botnet implants and similar large-scale malware."

Deepening the mystery is Global Resource Systems’ name. it's just like that of a firm that independent internet fraud researcher Ron Guilmette says was sending out email spam using the exact same internet routing identifier. It pack up quite a decade ago. All that differs is that the sort of company. This one’s a indebtedness corporation. the opposite was an organization . Both used an equivalent address in Plantation, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale .

“It’s deeply suspicious," said Guilmette, who unsuccessfully sued the previous incarnation of worldwide Resource Systems in 2006 for unfair business practices. Guilmette considers such masquerading, referred to as slip-streaming, a ham-handed tactic during this situation. “If they wanted to be more serious about hiding this they might haven't used Ray Saulino and this suspicious name."

Guilmette and Madory were alerted to the mystery when network operators began inquiring about it on an email list in mid-March. But almost everyone involved didn’t want to speak about it. Mike Leber, who owns Hurricane Electric, the web backbone company handing the address blocks’ traffic, didn’t return emails or phone messages.

Despite an online address crunch, the Pentagon — which created the web — has shown no interest in selling any of its address space, and a Department of Defense spokesman, Russell Goemaere, told the AP on Saturday that none of the newly announced space has been sold.

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Gaurav Gupta

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