At the start of this week, documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden detailed DDOS attacks on chatrooms by a British online intelligence unit dubbed the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). Now he has released a new trove showing that JTRIG is about much more than purely online annoyances.
According to the documents, released to NBC News, JTRIG's role is to "deny, disrupt, degrade and deceive" by any means possible. These techniques include destroying an individual's computer with a custom virus dubbed "Ambassador's Reception", setting up social media honey traps to harvest embarrassing information, actively attacking companies online and off, and planting data on people's systems.
A PowerPoint presentation from 2010 states that JTRIG activities account for five per cent of GCHQ's operations budget and uses a variety of techniques. These include "call bombing" to drown out a target's ability to receive messages, attacking targets in hotels, Psyops (psychological operations) against individuals, and going all the way up to disrupting a country's critical infrastructure.
One system, called "Royal Concierge", involves tapping into hotel bookings data to see where a target is staying and determine if the hotel in question is "SIGINT [signals intelligence] friendly." If not, GCHQ has a Close Access Technical Operations team who can take further action to enable extra monitoring tools.