Archive for the ‘cyber’ Category

Chinese Hackers Routinely Attack U.S. Computers

February 13, 2009

Chinese government and freelance hackers are the primary culprits behind as many as several hundred daily attacks against U.S. government, electric-utility and financial computer networks, a senior congressman said.

“Sophisticated hackers could really wreak havoc on our financial systems if they were successful,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in an interview. The threat is “primarily from China.”

By Jeff Bliss
Bloomberg

While cyber plots to disrupt U.S. computer networks have been thwarted, significant vulnerabilities exist, said Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.

Many of these problems will be detailed in a 60-day review the Obama administration on Feb. 9 said it would conduct on government cyber-security efforts, Thompson said. President Barack Obama also has said he would appoint a computer-security chief who will report directly to him, a move Thompson supports.

Currency trading is among the financial networks targeted by hackers, Thompson said. An attack would be particularly damaging in light of the financial system’s troubled state, he said.

He said electric utilities’ networks also have several points of weakness.

“We were provided alarming data on the vulnerability of our electrical grid in this country,” he said.

China’s Denial

Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., denied that the Chinese government was attacking U.S. computer systems.

“Allegations that the Chinese government is behind cyber attacks against the U.S. computer networks are totally unwarranted and misleading for the America public,” Wang said in an e-mailed statement.

Wang said the Chinese government is “cracking down” on computer hacking and other cyber crimes.

Thompson, during the interview, touched on topics ranging from immigration legislation to terrorism. He called a “cheap shot” former Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion in an interview Feb. 3 that Obama’s policies make a terrorist attack more likely.

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http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pi
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China targets big websites in Internet crackdown

January 5, 2009

China has launched a crackdown against major websites that officials accused of threatening morals by spreading pornography and vulgarity, including the dominant search engines Google and Baidu.

Reuters

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China’s Ministry of Public Security and six other government agencies announced the campaign at a meeting on Monday, state television reported, showing officials hauling digital equipment away from one unidentified office.

The meeting “decided to launch a nationwide campaign to clean up a vulgar current on the Internet and named and exposed a large number of violating public morality and harming the physical and mental health of youth and young people,” the report said.

The 19 Internet operators and websites named had failed to swiftly cut “vulgar” content and had not heeded warnings from censors, it said.

Baidu dominates the Chinese web search and advertising market with an estimated two-thirds of the audience. Google Inc, the global market leader, is a distant number two in China.

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/nm/20090
105/wr_nm/us_china_internet_3

Chertoff Says Cyber Threat Increasing

December 20, 2008

Following a two-day wargame exercise on cyber-security issues, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff today said that no one person should be in charge of cyber-security, despite the growing and emerging future threats.

By Jason Ryan
ABC News
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“As we look at this threat, [it] is clearly only intensifying over time,” Chertoff said. “A system where one agency sits over everything, military and civilian, is not usually one that has been regarded favorably by the American public.”

Chertoff urged that the existing cyber-security strategy developed and shared by the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the FBI be continued by the incoming Obama administration. “I’m sure this is going to be a major area of focus of the new administration,” he told the Cyber Strategic Inquiry 2008 Conference in Washington, D.C., which was organized by the government consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and Business Executives for National Security. “And we obviously want to work with them to help them get the benefit of what we’ve done and whatever advice they seek from us.”

US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael ...
Michael Chertoff, Director, Homeland Security says cyber security is an ever increasing problem.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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http://www.abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6491376&page=1

White House Ready With Crisis Briefings to Obama

December 17, 2008

The White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration, part of an elaborate operation devised to smooth the first transition of power since Sept. 11, 2001.

By Peter Baker
The New York Times
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The memorandums envision a variety of volatile possibilities, like a North Korean nuclear explosion, a cyberattack on American computer systems, a terrorist strike on United States facilities overseas or a fresh outbreak of instability in the Middle East, according to people briefed on them. Each then outlines options for Mr. Obama to consider.

The contingency planning goes beyond what other administrations have done, with President Bush and Mr. Obama vowing to work in tandem to ensure a more efficient transition in a time of war and terrorist threat. The commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, noting problems during the handover from President Bill Clinton to Mr. Bush, called for a better process “since a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice,” as its report put it.

“This is very unusual,” said Roger Cressey, a former Clinton White House counterterrorism official who was held over under Mr. Bush. “We certainly did not do that. When the transition happened from Clinton to Bush, remember it was a totally different world. You had some documents given that gave them a flavor of where things were at. But now you’ve got two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a hot war against Al Qaeda.”

In addition to the White House contingency memorandums, the Department of Homeland Security said it had given crisis training to nearly 100 career officials who may fill in while Mr. Obama’s appointees await Senate confirmation. Starting before the election, those career workers have conducted exercises alongside departing political appointees to test their responses.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/17/u
s/politics/17transition.html?_r=1&hp

French embassy in Beijing ‘under cyber-attack’ after Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with Dalai Lama

December 11, 2008

The website of the French embassy in Beijing has apparently come under cyber-attack after President Nicolas Sarkozy outraged the Chinese government by meeting the Dalai Lama.

By Richard Spencer
The Telegraph (UK)

French embassy in Bejing 'under cyber-attack' after Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with Dalai Lama

France has gone into diplomatic overdrive since Mr Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama to soothe China’s hurt feelings Photo: AFP

The authorities in Beijing issued a stern denunciation of the meeting last week, cancelled an EU-China summit and said trade with France might suffer.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry rejected any suggestion that the Chinese government might approve of the cyber-attack, reported to have made the embassy’s website inaccessible for several days.

“From the perspective of the Chinese government, China is against the hacking of the websites of the embassies of other nations,” its spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said.

“We have not seen any questions or concerns raised by France.”

Nevertheless, relations between China and France remain at a low.

France has gone into diplomatic overdrive since the meeting to soothe China’s hurt feelings.

Mr Sarkozy called China “one of the greats of the world” on Monday and stressed he supported “one China”.

On Tuesday, his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who was appointed in part due to his work on human rights, weighed in.

“We did not want to cause offence to China, to the Chinese people or to Chinese leaders,” he told a French parliamentary committee.

The cyber-attack is believed to have taken the form of mass attempts to access the site simultaneously, largely at night, disabling the system.

There are numerous informal hacking groups in China, some of which are believed to operate for nationalistic purposes, including attempts to access Pentagon and European defence ministry websites.

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/3707778/
French-embassy-in-Bejing-under-cyber-attack-after-Nicolas-Sarkozy
-meeting-with-Dalai-Lama.html

U.S. “Highly Vulnerable” To Cyber attack, Especially Military, Government

December 11, 2008

Center for Cybersecurity Operations is proposed to protect military, government, and corporate electronics from criminals and other nations….

The U.S. faces a cybersecurity threat of such magnitude that the next President should move quickly to create a Center for Cybersecurity Operations and appoint a special White House advisor to oversee it.

Those are among the recommendations in a 44-page report by the U.S. Commission on Cybersecurity. The bipartisan panel includes executives, high-ranking military officers and intelligence officials, leading specialists in computer security, and two members of Congress.

To compile the report, which is entitled “Securing Cyberspace in the 44th Presidency,” commission members say they reviewed tens of thousands of pages of undisclosed documentation, visited forensics labs and the National Security Agency, and were briefed in closed-door sessions by top officials from Pentagon, CIA and British spy agency MI5. From their research, they concluded that the U.S. badly needs a comprehensive cybersecurity policy to replace an outdated checklist of security requirements for government agencies under the existing Federal Information Security Management Act.

The report calls for the creation of a Center for Cybersecurity Operations that would act as a new regulator of computer security in both the public and private sector. Active policing of government and corporate networks would include new rules and a “red team” to test computers for vulnerabilities now being exploited with increasing sophistication and frequency by identity and credit card thieves, bank fraudsters, crime rings, and electronic spies.

By Keith Epstein
Provided by

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The leader of these Chinese hackers says there “is always a weakness” on networks that allows cyber break-ins. 
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“We’re playing a giant game of chess now and we’re losing badly,” says commission member Tom Kellermann, a former World Bank security official who now is vice president of Security Awareness at Core Security.

Obama seems on board

Kellermann should know: He had a hand in crafting the nation’s cybersecurity strategy in 2003. But as he tells it, government efforts led by the Homeland Security Dept. have been stymied by bureaucratic confusion and an unwillingness by agencies and corporations to share information about cyber break-ins.

The commission’s report catalogues incidents afflicting financial institutions, large corporations, and government agencies, including some first detailed publicly over the last year in various BusinessWeek articles. In an ominous note for the private sector, the commission notes that “senior representatives from the intelligence community told us they had conclusive evidence covertly obtained from foreign sources that U.S. companies have lost billions in intellectual property.” (For more on the spread of malicious software, read the New York Times article, “Thieves Winning Online War, Maybe Even in Your Computer.” )

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http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnfla
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