Foreign Hackers On The Loose

Foreign Hackers On The Loose

Chinese HackersYou may have read about Chinese computer hackers breaking into the computer systems all around the world. It seems that foreign computer hackers are making it a practice of breaking into computer systems for industrial espionage and just plain vandalism. Uploading worms, screwing up code and general attempts at malicious destruction seems to be their modus operandi.

I have ten working web sites and I experience attempts to penetrate my security almost everyday. I a week, I may have 25 to 30 attempted attacks with the majority of them having Chinese IP addresses. The other locations are Russia, Ukraine, India and Lithuania.

Now, my sites are very non-controversial but I’m guessing that the hackers are using them for practice. Fortunately, I’ve secured them with firewalls and other security plugins but for those who haven’t taken the proper precautions, a site could be destroyed by a hacker.

We’ve all seen Matthew Broderick’s movie War Games, about a teenager who hacks into a top secret computer at Cheyenne Mountain and almost starts World War III.

Well, the current attempts are the real thing. Chinese hackers are supported by their government. Their goal is to compromise Western security by getting control of things like our power grids, water utilities, financial systems and government computer systems.

In the event of a war, their goal would be to immobilize our armed forces by crippling our capabilities and creating havoc among the general populace. On Nov. 8, a municipal water district employee in Springfield, Illinois noticed problems with the city’s water pump control system. A technician determined that the system had been remotely hacked into from a computer in Russia, said Joe Weiss, an industry security expert who obtained a copy of an Illinois state fusion center report describing the incident.

In February of 2011, hackers traced to China penetrated two key Canadian economic ministries, gaining access to highly classified information, Chinese Blue Army Hackersaccording to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports. The hackers took over computers in the executive offices of the Finance Department and the Treasury Board, unnamed sources told the network. They then sent fake e-mails to government computer techs and other employees to get them to divulge sensitive passwords in a technique known as executive spear-phishing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a group of hackers in China breached the computer defenses of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and gained access to everything stored on its systems, including information about its three million members, according to several people familiar with the matter. The complex operation, which involved at least 300 Internet addresses, was discovered and quietly shut down in May 2010.

In February of this year, it was reported in the New York Times that hackers in China and Russia are regularly breaking into foreign travelers’ mobile devices, leapfrogging into their corporate networks and stealing sensitive government information and corporate trade secrets, often undetected. This issue in an article in the New York Times on February 12, 2012.

How much have they stolen? We simply don’t know. Most companies are reluctant to discuss security breaches or even disclose what policies they have in place to protect their trade secrets. In most cases, security experts say, companies do not realize they have been compromised until long after the fact.

Cyber CommandMore threatening have been the attempt to hack into the government computer systems at the White House, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. There have been reports about break ins from as far back as 1995 when the GAO reported that a quarter of a million were attempted with 65% being successful.

What can we do about it? If we accuse foreign nations of facilitating hackers, they will simply deny all knowledge of the attacks. In the case of China, we walk a fine line since they have invested heavily in U.S. government bonds. Push them too hard and they might stop buying our securities, although there are excellent reasons that they would continue.

Our best defense is a good offense. We need to build up our own cyber warriors to respond to foreign attacks. Point and Counterpoint!



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