07 February, 2007

Venezuela Kubuntu -- must read

USA vs Chavez Hackers:

After INTESA software

(SAIC = CIA http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/18/18702/1.html )

sabotaged Venezuela's Oil during the Putsch



Within Daivd's story about his trip to Venezuela for the International
Forum on Free Knowledge he tells the story of what really happened in
December of 2002 when the Venezuelan oil workers were locked out from work.

What's most disturbing about this story is how it has been ignored,
discarded, passed up, burried... whatever you want to call it.

So they tried to close the oil company in December of 2002, by locking out
the workers, holding the oil resources of the nation as a whole hostage,
and by having the entire IT infrastructure under their control. If the
data and systems present then had been destroyed, it would have been years
before another drop of oil could have been produced. Out of 4800 managers,
about 200 chose to stay behind, and together, with the help of many by
then retired former managers who were less corrupt than the ones who left,
the workers tried to save the oil company. But the biggest challenge was
the computer infrastructure. *Management of IT was at the time contracted
to SAIC, (Science Applications International Corp), which has well known
political and business connections to Cheney's office, to the U.S. DOD,
and the CIA. At first, when the Venezuelan army was called out to secure
the oil facilities during the lockout, the SAIC staff created videos of
the troops securing the facilities in an attempt to claim they were under
attack and tried to persuade the U.S. congress to give Bush war powers to
seize the oil fields.* When this scheme failed, the SAIC workers fled the
country, but changed all the passwords and kept remote control of all of
the computer servers of PDVSA. They choose not to destroy the data on them
because they thought they'd be back in a few months once the government of
President Chavez finally capitulated. Much of the infrastructure of PDVSA
was under Microsoft Windows-based servers, and used proprietary database
software such as Microsoft SQL. The IT managers didn't expect a bunch of
oil workers to be capable of thwarting their plans. Those same oil
workers, working together with local computer hackers, were able to secure
control of vital computer servers, and in doing so saved the oil
infrastructure. The Venezuelan revolution is perhaps the first revolution
in history saved by computer hackers and this is one of the reasons the
government is so very strong on promoting the use of free software,
particularly in public administration. The Venezuelan government wishes
never again to have vital infrastructure held hostage or sabotaged by
agents of foreign nations. This cannot be accomplished by source secret
proprietary software, such as Microsoft Windows, with its infamous
backdoor NSA key. Even proprietary software from a trustworthy source has
to be suspect for possible tampering, and so must be rejected, not just by
Venezuela, but by any nation that wishes to protect and maintain its
sovereignty against sabotage. This part of the story has probably never
made it onto American television, and it needs to be told.  

In Venezuela a national strike has been carried out from December to
January 2003. The strike has had in national oil company, the PDVSA, an
important subject that it participated in part to the protests. Contrarily
to the custom strike mostly was made from the managing part of the country
with the payment of the wage to some workers who joined to the agitation.

What many have defined one "locked" (strong and not legal strike) aimed to
provoke general manifestations and to discharges the president Ugo Chavez.
To such aim the block of the oil activities was strategic for the
strikers.  The money from the production of the crude oil are remarkable
because the bolivariana nation are the fifth producer of oil in the world.

The computers  infrastructure of oil company PDVSA was in hand to the
society INTESA possessed with 60% of the actions from the American company
SAIC, a big USA company that has many contacts with the American

During the strike the PDVSA has repeatedly asked for having the keys of
access (password) to the computers system of the company for being able to
continue the oil production. According to the Venezuelan oil society, SAIC
through INTESA has changed from remote the codes of access to the computer
infrastructure so the entire production was stopped.  In order to obtain
the control of the national oil, PDVSA have been engages various hacker
with the precise task to bring back the computer system under the control
of the PDVSA and so to continue the fuel distribution.

From the 2003 government has had the test that the computer system cannot
be left in hand to private aliens and that the software must completely be
managed from the Venezuelans.  With decree presidential n. 3390 of 28
December 2004 the Venezuela has decidedly taken the road of the free
software that it considers strategic for the national security.

Josè has participated to the action of the hacker team that have brought
back the computers under the national control. He can therefore give us
its version of the facts and to illustrate the complexity of the operation
that he has been called to carry out for the good of the bolivariana

The Interview

Hi, my name is Josè Luis Rey, and at the time of the PDVSA crisis I were
working as IT Consultant for the ministry of Planning and Development,
I've been involved in the PDVSA crisis since the very begining, and left
the company short after the 3MM barrels per day of production were
reached, meaning that PDVSA have achieved full production capacity.  I
left PDVSA on April 21st, 2003.

Sandro kensan:  What is your point of view of the national strike?
Josè Luis Rey: As I state below, the national strike was a cover up for a
big conspiracy, which main visible goal was to remove Hugo Chavez but with
a hidden goal to keep a very good bussines rolling.

This bussines was so good that a US$ 1200 invest on the INTESA stock (of
US$ 2000), returned more than 50 million dollars in net revenue un just
six years, which I see as an excelent ROI.

Sk:  Can you give us a panoramic view of the computer system of the PDVSA?
JLR: PDVSA has a lot of computer systems of various kinds, from what they
call integrated envinronment (geological and mining operations) til
desktop platform, with some field and bussines automation systems and the
like in between those two.  Although the core bussiness applications are
the integrated environment, most of bussiness automation  is hadled as
expected from the desktop environment available at most workplaces in the
corporate offices.

Sk:  In order to obtain the control of the national oil, who has contacts
you and in order to make what?
JLR: I was a former IT Consultant for the Ministry of Panning and
Development, Felipe Pèrez Martì at the time of the strike, the President
Hugo Chavez asked his Ministries for help to recover oprational status of
the state oil industry,  and Felipe asked me to help in the crisis, so I
ended in PDVSA, under direct command of Ali Rodrìguez (the former
president of the corporation) and Diego Uzcategui (his right hand), they
ordered me to recover operational status of western fuil distribution
plants, because there were a severe crisis on at least 6 states due to the
lack of fuel, at this time there were only fuel for ambulances and fire
fighters, and even them were getting short of it.

Sk:  Which was the feeling, the air, that was breathed between the hacker
team when you start this delicate job?
JLR: I was not in contact with any hacker community at that time, just
some other IT people from the national government, and other IT
consultants.  As the crisis was being controlled, people was recruited,
and some of them turned out to be outstanding hackers who helped a lot in
some fronts, from the recovery of the desktop support to the
implementation of security measures to avoid possible counterattacks on
the computing platform.

Sk:  You have had contacts with your Americans colleagues  of the SAIC
that had retained the access codes, the password?
JLR: No, I have not contacted anybody from SAIC during the crisis,
although people from PDVSA tried to recover the changed passwords and new
access codes set up by the people of INTESA, but oficially INTESA did not
recognize any valid speaker at PDVSA, and this is the kernel of the

I will try to make a very long story short, but I really think this is the
most interesting and unknown part of the story.

The INTESA contract had a five year term, and it was already extended
twice six months before the strike, when it was beeing evaluted the
possibility of PDVSA not renew it again, this was based on the fact that
ageement between
PDVSA and SAIC was not giving the desired results as pacted during its

In that time SAIC agreed to buidup a national consultancy firm in
Venezuela and to arrange tecnological transfer to this niew firm (INTESA),
in return PDVSA agreed to buy all an every IT service and equipment from
INTESA, with a warrantied ammount of US$ 350 million a year (but all the
aditional services will raise this amount substatially) by at least 5
years.  But SAIC never did technological transfer, brought lots of alien
consultants to solve specific matters and didn't reinvest in INTESA,
rather they returned winnings to their headquarters.  As if this wasn't
enough, INTESA was a partnering between PDV-IFT (a PDVSA branch) and
SAIC-Bermuda (a SAIC branch located on fiscal paradise), and it is
forbidden by law to make associations between state companies and
companies on fiscal paradises, also since INTESA was not a 100% state
company, assignment of the contract should go over a public licititation
procedure, but instead was assigned directly.

So the agreement was very questinable at that time, and the Ministry of
Planning and Development was pushing for the adquisition of the SAIC part
of INTESA by PDVSA and other state entities.

And this is the real begining of the crisis, second extensión was about to
expire, coup attemp of April was a failure, and some big interests were
about to be harmed, so the conspiracy started, people from PDVSA and SAIC
build up a contingecy plan in which if some kind of disaster, flood,
earthquakes, and faily short list of problems, which included
specifically: "General National Strike", an event that happened about 3 o
4 times in last half century in this country.

The conditions of contingency plan were absurd and may be expressed in
just one sentence: "as the problems escalate, PDVSA will pay more, and
more money to INTESA, while INTESA will gave in return less and less
services", if you put it mathematically the limmit of this equation is
PDVSA paying infinity money for zero services which is simply ridiculous.

But the plan specification was really interesting, because it forgot very
radpidly  about broken infrastructure, and all that things usually seen
after a catastrophe, and started to describe the states of contingency
based in things like: lack of fuel and unavailavility of product delivery
due to lack of transport (wow, incredibly visionaries capable to predict
something like the fuel truck companies refusing to work, and ships
stopped in the middle of the sea)

Ahh, but there was another very important clause, that established an
emergency link team, as the only recogniced contect with PDVSA, as soon as
contingecy was declared (and may be declared unilaterally by INTESA).

So when the crisis started, and former workers left the company, INTESA
did not recongnice any valid authority from PDVSA as was stated on this
plan, not even Ali Rodiguez, so they resuse to talk with us.

Sk:  What was the job that the team had to make?
JLR: I can not speake for all teams, and there were lots of them, but my
specific responsibility was to recover control of the server platform
including desktop platform controlled mainly by the third biggest Active
Directory of the world at that time.  I was working closely with the mail
and collaboration work recovery team, and had two team at my charge, one
for the windows platform and one for the unix platform.

I also had to interact with application recovery teams.

Sk:  Which were the greater obstacles that could compromise the release of
the computers system?
JLR: Taking the control of the active directory, the main entry point to
most bussines and office automation applications, and after that, securing
the infrastructure to avoid possible counterattacks on the recovered
platform, most of the logistics were oriented towards this goal.

Sk:  Seen the change of the password from the American company, you even
had fear for some external or internal participation that could render
vain your enterprise?  Do you had fears of sabotages?
JLR: I don't consider INTESA an american company, and I have learned that
most of the passwords and codes were changed by citizens, under command
from other citizens, but I cannot assure you that orders came from US
executives or the like.

Not only fear, I have direct proof of sabotage to computer systems, while
at fuel distribution plants I have seen reconfigured control boards,
lacking its manuals, specifications and schematics, I also was surprised
by an alone console starting to work magically, which disabled a fully
recovered fuel distribution facility, this was done remotely through
managements systems like tivoly and some times timbuktu, after that, mi
first acction on a recovered system was to search and disable this kind of

Sk:  How much time has been necessary for a first restoration of the
computer infrastructure so that the crude oil production can restart?
JLR: Crude oil production is almost unrelated to the kind of
infrastructure impacted by the strike, most of the systems are for
bussines applications and exploratión for new oil sources, the most
affected core bussines were plant control systems, mainly at fuel
distribution facilities and refineries.

Sk:  You worked also of night?
JLR: Yes, the first 4 day I slept while not at plants, mainly in cars
going and comming form airports, and during flights (obout half an hour
flights).  But at some point I just didn't work, so I had to sleep on the
back of trunk from 3:00am to 5:00am.

Sk:  When the large one of the enterprise had been made that feelings you
JLR: I think that most of the people working in the contengency have the
same feelings (and passions), and as time passed people coming back were
sharing less and less of that feeling (and passion), so they were much
more like the old corporate employes of what I call the Old PDVSA.

Sk:  You imagined that from your job the free software was so important
that the government reacts with the approval of decree 3390?
JLR: No, in fact as soon as I went back from the fuel distribution
plants, to the main headquarters in Caracas, we started to lose more and
more systems until we had no desktop platform or any internet connection,
I quickly installed a Linux box, with an ADSL line, and restored internet
access, printing platform, and some other essential services, also CNTI
setup a web mail replacement for the lost PDVSA mail system, this mail was
also free software.

I used to publish this as a free software success but neither the
government nor PDVSA was very much interested on this matter, the approval
of 3390 have another unknown origin, which I suspect comes from Brazil,
since Hugo Chavez announce was just after his return from the Manaus
meeting with Lula.

Sk:  At the end, the future of the software used to the PDVSA, it is fresh
news of Supercomputer with free software. 
JLR: PDVSA is making a migration plan for it's systems, the have the
better intention of doing this well, I am currently working with them in
this regard, but despite the all the good intentions you must sort certain
obtacles, and the biggest one is the corporate culture of some of the
their executives, which start to offer passive resistence, fortunatly CIO
of PDVSA, Mrs Socorro Hernandez is very akin to this technology, and she
is a real iron women, she does not eat or sleeps just works all the time

http://www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/24/24576/1.html GERMAN

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, February 07, 2007


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