Monday, November 7, 2011

Cyberwar Salvos

"cool wall, great noodles ..."
By Jonathan E. Skillings, CNET News:  "It's like the Cold War never ended: US intelligence agencies see Russia and China as the most significant threats to the nation's interests.  The difference this time is that the field of engagement isn't proxy states in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, but in the vast reaches of cyberspace.  The Office of the National Counter-Intelligence Executive (ONCIX) points to those foes from the Cold War decades in their report.  Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.  US private sector firms and cyber security specialists have reported an onslaught of computer network intrusions that have originated in China.  ONCIX has released a number of economic espionage posters intended to promote greater counterintelligence awareness.  One that clearly has China in mind features a computer chip labeled "Made in the USA" and the coy but pointed phrase "Stolen and transferred to an unnamed country with a cool wall, great noodles and countless cyber hackers."  As for the threat from Russia - which comes across as a distant second compared with China - the report cites, among other things, the arrest in June 2010 of 10 Russian Foreign Intelligence Service "illegals" who it says were tasked with collecting economic and technology information.  The report also points to threats from "disgruntled insiders" who may leak corporate trade secrets or critical U.S. technology to the likes of WikiLeaks and other "hacktivist" groups.  Cyber espionage and other surreptitious online activities can be notoriously hard to document, but some high-profile examples have emerged in recent months.  In August, for instance, security company McAfee reported on Operation Shady RAT, which it described as a "historically unprecedented" operation in which information was stolen from scores of public and private companies in 14 countries.  Earlier in the year, McAfee called attention to what it termed the "Night Dragon" attacks that sought to steal e-mail and other sensitive information from companies in the oil and energy industries.  And also this year, a breach involving RSA's SecurID authentication devices apparently led to cyber-snooping at three big U.S. defence contractors.  A common thread in each of those incidents?  Strong suspicions that China was lurking somewhere in the shadows."

The Good News:  Some of the best cyber-sleuths in the world are Canadian, at the U of Toronto!