Malcolm Nance Interview: "Trump's Got a Million Things to Be Impeached On"
Image attributed to Michael Bryant
Hacking ISIS: How to Destroy the Cyber Jihad, released April 25, 2017, is written by two of the leading terrorism experts in the world – Malcolm Nance, NBC News/MSNBC terrorism analyst and New York Times bestselling author of Defeating ISIS and Christopher Sampson, cyber-terrorism expert.
Nance is a 35-year practitioner in Middle East Special Operations and terrorism intelligence activities. Sampson is the terrorism media and cyber warfare expert for the Terror Asymmetrics Project and has spent 15 years collecting and exploiting terrorism media. For two years, their Terror Asymmetric Project has been attacking and exploiting intelligence found on ISIS Dark Web operations.
“Mike Flynn will be the first to turn. He’s now in between a rock and a very hard place, perhaps thinking that Trump will bail him out. But he’s going to sink either way. So the question is: What’s your preferred way of going down with the ship?”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Malcolm, what’s the biggest challenge in cybersecurity today?
Malcolm Nance: Oh, God. The biggest challenge we have in cybersecurity right now is educating people to believe that they need cybersecurity on a personal, corporate and national scale. We’re seeing where people are extorting others using ransomware, putting out fake bots that spew out millions and millions of false (scamming) emails, going right up to the criminal underground that steals credit card accounts of individuals and their private information.
If you look at the Yahoo attack, it was half a billion records that were stolen there. Some of these are individuals. Some of them are cyber corporate criminals, and some are from actual nation states like Russia, China and Iran. They’re the top three out there that are doing these activities.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): A massive phishing attack recently targeted Gmail users.
Malcolm Nance: You know, phishing is just a link in an email that you shouldn’t click. I never click on emails. If somebody has a big file to send to me, I have to have a secure drop-off. But phishing is Russia’s favorite. That’s how they got John Podesta.
That’s how they got several other individuals. They were going after the German army, the Indian army, and they’d send these links out with information that was actually valid to conferences that they had planned. If you clicked on the link, it links you to a foreign computer that floods your computer with malware. Phishing is the single easiest method of cyber espionage. It’s just incredible.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s the difference between the American hackers and the Russian hackers?
Malcolm Nance: Well, this is the analogy I use. The US uses cyber warfare like snipers. I went through sniper training, and when you use sniper bullets, they’re not regular bullets. They are these perfectly matched grade bullets. The way the National Security Agency uses cyber warfare is like a sniper who hand fills each bullet. You’ve got some perfectly balanced titanium warhead bullet head, they load each individual grain of perfectly balanced explosive charge and fill only five. They shoot three of them as experiments. One of them is going to be used against a target and one is a backup. That’s how we do cyber warfare.
Russia uses cyber warfare like the way we use bottled water or the way we butter bread. They use it as a day-to-day component of all of their operations, and unlike us, they harness all of their Russian cyber criminals as sub-contractors to their intelligence agencies. It’s simple. They say that whatever you steal, you can have, except we have requirements that what we need you will turn over to us. That’s why the FBI put out sanctions against any individual hackers who were essentially sub-contractors to Russian Intelligence.
Some are multi-millionaires bordering on billionaires like Pyotr or Peter Levashov, who was just arrested in Spain who was the “King of Spam,” and he had systems that were putting out billions of pieces of spam per day. If one fraction of 1% clicked on those, he gets paid. You could make tens of millions of dollars per day. Now, I’ve always been an advocate that people like that who were running cyber criminal organizations have essentially forfeited their rights to keep their ill-gotten gain from that.
We should just go up there and take their money. But this is the way they do it. They have militias of people who are loyal to the nation state who will participate in cyber warfare. Russian Intelligence controls them. They determine who gets rich and who doesn’t get rich, and they make these people work for them.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How does WikiLeaks fit in with Putin’s cyberspies? I assume founder Julian Assange will be arrested as soon as he leaves the embassy of Ecuador in London.
Malcolm Nance: WikiLeaks started out as this cyber transparency organization, and Julian Assange was a hacker in his early days. But when he got pulled up in the Ecuadorian Embassy with the alleged rape charges, he blamed everything on the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton personally, and that’s when he flipped. He started doing television on Russia Today and radio. People who think they control something … this is where intelligence agencies and people like myself excel. We manipulate people.
It is their job to make a person feel wanted and feel needed and feel that he is in control of whatever he’s doing even though his every move is being controlled. Being stuck in that embassy, Assange became the perfect foil. Then, when he was offered all the intelligence that the Russians stole from the Democratic National Committee servers, he essentially became their laundry mat and he continued it.
I was out there as early as mid-July last year saying WikiLeaks is a Russian Intelligence laundry mat. They were releasing everything the Russian spies stole. The only way you can do that is to know where the source is, where all this stuff came from. He didn’t care, and at that point became an accomplice of Russian Intelligence and saw this as his salvation. Particularly interesting is that Donald Trump praised Assange 68 times on the campaign trail.
I made this prediction late last year that Edward Snowden and Julian Assange would be turned over by Russians one day or turned over by the Ecuadorians thinking they were going to come back as conquering heroes because they assisted Donald Trump, and they will be arrested, there will be the trial of the century, and they will be convicted because you want to control any assets that did anything in your favor, right? That’s not something you want lying around on the street. I think that WikiLeaks is a devil who made a deal with another devil and now it’s finding out what hell is like. He’s not going to be in that embassy for long.
I thought it was very telling when CIA director Mike Pompeo designated Assange and his organization a non-state, hostile intelligence service, which means they’re on par with ISIS. So, not a good thing. That being said, let’s touch on ISIS. ISIS, for the most part, and my book states this, is being decimated. It’s more of a history of how they created all of this information, how they disseminated it and how it came off extremely attractive to young people. These people were killers, mass murderers. But they had a cyber warfare capability.
There are two different kinds of hackers out there. There’s the old school hackers who know how to code and know how to write code and malicious code that can get into your system and worm their way through. Then, there’s these things called Skiddies. A Skiddie stands for “Script Kiddie,” and these are people who take other people’s hacking tools and use them maliciously. They’re not really hackers. It’s like the difference between LeBron James shooting on a basketball court and a kid who’s playing the LeBron James character on a computer game but is very good at it. Skiddies are dangerous because once they get those tools, they can use them. The ISIS hacker base is primarily Skiddies, but the strength of ISIS in the Cyber Caliphate and these Caliphate “ghost armies” is that they put out propaganda and created a new battle space and did things like deface a website. Well, anybody can do that. It’s not Central Command. It’s just an Internet base.
ISIS just did those things for propaganda purposes, and other groups existed before that. You had Al-Qaeda cyber armies. Before them you had the Palestinian Electronic Jihad that was doing the electronic cyberwar against the Israelis which was them just going back and forth defacing each other’s web pages. As I say toward the end of the book, none of that matters. There are tools and weapons out there like the CIA tools that were released just recently by hackers. They are very old tools, but these tools in the hands of some malicious kid at the right time with luck may not be devastating, but just enough to get the media’s attention, and that’s all that matters.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Trump said Middle East peace is “not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” From your experience, what’s the chances of peace being made?
Malcolm Nance: None. Zero. I have worked in the Middle East 35 years. I just moved back seven years from living in the Gulf States. I’ve been involved in numerous terrorist operations since working for the National Security Agency. Peace talks are dead. He thinks because he’s talking to the Israelis, that’s how he’s going to make peace? This is not going to happen. He’s crazy.
Just last week, Mike Pence was talking about moving the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which I’ve been warning about for months. Well, that is like saying Israel has a right to all of this land via God, via religion and literally discounting every person in all of Islam. Believe me, any Arab leader that will support that will be finished.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was FBI Director James Comey following proper protocol in announcing a new investigation into Clinton’s emails and not announcing the investigation on Russia’s ties to Trump and/or his campaign before the 2016 presidential election?
Malcolm Nance: Well, you know, there are two FBIs. There’s the regular FBI, and then there’s the FBI Counterintelligence, which is the National Counterintelligence Center. These are the spy hunters of America. Comey, I think, saw the Clinton discussion as purely political, and he understood it was a political decision that would have a political ramification. But opening his mouth about a spy-hunting espionage investigation that he may or may not believe in, but is going around Washington, DC, he is never going to talk about. These are the highest level investigations known to man, known to America, and now match that up with people who may be associated with them at the White House. Never going to open his mouth. Completely different world. The Clinton thing was politics. This other thing is national danger.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): On January 13 of this year, Trump tweeted that his “people” would have a full report on hacking within 90 days. That was investigated at the 90-day mark, and no one at the White House appears to know anything about a report or anyone that might be working on it.
Malcolm Nance: (laughs) He doesn’t know what hacking is. The man is a pathological liar. My greatest fear is that I don’t think he knows the difference between the truth and his lies. Think about that for a second. That’s beyond anything that we could ever imagine with regard to the presidency.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And Trump has tweeted on several occasions that the Russia “story” was a “hoax” or “phony,” even though the election hacking has been verified by 17 intelligence agencies.
Malcolm Nance: He just doesn’t believe anything. What if he’s briefed that Al-Qaeda is attacking the US and using drones over the White House? Does he walk out and say, “Wow, that’s interesting,” or does he believe it’s really going on when he sees it?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you predict the investigation into Russian ties to Trump and/or his staff will lead to impeachment charges?
Malcolm Nance: Yes. Definitely. Trump’s got a million things to be impeached on. But I think the Russian thing will do it. Mike Flynn will be the first to turn. He’s now in between a rock and a very hard place, perhaps thinking that Trump will bail him out. But he’s going to sink either way. So the question is: What’s your preferred way of going down with the ship?
Flynn has another issue, and that is the unconfirmed story that he may have been involved with a woman who was a Russian asset that he met at a Cambridge Intelligence Seminar in the UK. This story flared up in February for a day, and it was quickly put down. However, when you match it up with the fact that the former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove resigned from the seminar, saying that British Intelligence would have nothing to do with a Russian Intelligence operation, and Gen. Flynn was indeed with this woman because he was writing letters to her and signing them, “General Misha,” a Russian nickname for “Michael,” oh, my God.
Then, there’s the fact that he’s now under an espionage investigation. He will be disgraced in the military. At that point, I would start talking because there’s no future for him unless he thinks Trump will bail him out. But Flynn won’t even be able to be a manager at Starbucks after that, or he can go down as one of the greatest heroes in history by breaking open the conspiracy.
If Flynn turns state’s evidence, he’s saved. If he doesn’t, he’ll be stripped of his rank. They will strip him of his star. Being disgraced is worse than being fired. But that’s just me. I’ve said the same thing of Carter Page and other Trump advisors and associates.
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