backtop


Print 72 comment(s) - last by ninus3d.. on Dec 4 at 4:08 PM

Leaks include documents which raise serious questions about China's cyber-aggression

On Sunday the U.S. Congress and White House's reasons for backing Google so heartily in its conflict with the Chinese government over cyber-attacks and internet freedoms became much clearer.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable states:

A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

Silence Under Fire:  Why Didn't the U.S. Publicly Air its Suspicions?

If the information in the cable is to be believed, the central controlling body of China's government perpetrated what was perhaps the most serious online attack on a U.S. corporation in our nation's history.   The Politburo of the Communist Party of China, commonly referred to as the Politburo, is a 24-member council that controls China's most important decisions.

The cyber-attacks in question were dubbed "Operation Aurora" in the security community and occurred from mid-2009 through December 2009.  Their highest profile target was Google, who had its "secret recipe" -- its search engine source code -- stolen.  Other victims of the assault included Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks, Rackspace, Yahoo, Symantec, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical.

But if the U.S. government had strong evidence to believe that the Politburo masterminded the attack, why not just come out and say it, or take action?  

The answer is likely a combination of a complex set of factors.  First, China owns much of the U.S. government's debt obligations and is one of the largest trading partners of the U.S. commercial sector.  Economic action against the nation would be virtually infeasible.  Also, the U.S. is desperately seeking China's cooperation on a number of geopolitical issues including Korean stability, terrorism in the Middle East, and global warming.

The leaked cable is somewhat embarrassing to the U.S. government, regardless, given its relative inaction.  It will doubtless increase the East-West tension that exists between the two global superpowers.

And perhaps that's precisely what the perpetrators of this leak were hoping for.

Leaks: Preventing Wrongdoing, or Espionage?

It's little secret that 
Wikileaks, masterminded by convicted cyber-criminal Julian Assange, is no fan of the U.S. government.  Mr. Assange has accused the U.S. military of "murdering" innocent Afghani and Iraqi citizens.

Over 90 percent the documents aired since 2006 by 
Wikileaks targeted the U.S. or its Middle Eastern allies.  That percentage ballooned further on Sunday with the release of 251,287 leaked U.S. documents, of which the Google-related cables were part of.

A key topic of debate is whether this new leak was truly geared at preventing wrongdoing or represented an cyber-espionage attack against the U.S. 

The newly leaked documents indeed largely deal with the Middle East, which could lend some support to 
Wikileaks' claims.  On the other hand, documents like this one, while certainly fascinating for the light they cast on the inside of U.S. foreign policy, seem to have little effect on preventing military wrongdoing and are more likely to hurt the U.S. financially and diplomatically.

Mr. Assange in his early days in the hacking community was a vocal proponent of anarchy -- the philosophy that the world would be better off if its largest governments -- including the U.S. government -- collapsed.  The recent leaks, while damaging to the U.S. gov't and its diplomatic relationships, aren't likely damaging enough to achieve such a goal.  However, they are arguably Mr. Assange's most successful attack on the stability U.S. government yet.  And unlike past damage he inflicted on the U.S. government's credibility, this one seems to have a great deal of meat that has little to do with the war on terrorism.

Adrian Lamo -- the convicted ex-hacker who turned in Bradley Manning, the young soldier who leaked these documents -- condemned 
Wikileaks actions and called for the U.S. government to be more vigorous in pursuing charges against the leaks' masterminds, including Mr. Assange.

He writes in a press release:

Known co-conspirators reside in districts competent to arrest, prosecute, and punish these people for their involvement in one of the greatest breaches of trust in the history of our intelligence community.  [I]t would be irresponsible in the extreme for us to not use all the tools available to us in bringing them to justice.

Mr. Assange resides in Iceland, which has offered him protection from foreign charges.  He is currently wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for unrelated sex crimes charges in Sweden.  

Wikileaks Taken Down

Wikleaks was coincidentally the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack over the weekend.  While it's tempting to suspect that China or the U.S. governments were responsible for this effort, that ultimately seems less likely.  As 
Wikileaks aptly pointed out, it had already passed the cables to news efforts, so attempts to take down the site would not prevent their release.

As of 10 a.m. EST on Monday the site appeared to be up and responding normally to requests. 
Wikileaks is hosted by a worldwide collection of servers and is blocked in some nations, including China.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Much ado about nothing
By Shatbot on 11/29/2010 3:10:54 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Again, the documents don't seem to disclose anything we didn't already know.


You already knew that Saudi Arabia wanted the US to strike Iran's nuclear facilities?

The US caught the Vice President of Afghanistan with $52 million dollars in the Arab Emirates, that he was allowed to keep without explaining why he was carrying it, or where he was going? (how do you carry 52 million dollars? It's like a plane full of money)

North Korea has given Iran better missiles than previously thought?

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has leukemia?

There was nearly a massive environmental disaster with a uranium shipment?

The US government got encryption keys for cell phones of the UN Secretary General and top UN staff?

American officials warned Germany not to arrest CIA officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan?

If you already knew all this you have your finger on the pulse.


RE: Much ado about nothing
By bug77 on 11/29/2010 5:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Iran not getting much love from the arab countries is not news.

Didn't know about the afghan VP, but I still fail to see how that's important (could be, but need more details).

North Korea selling missiles to Iran? Common knowledge.

And so on...

But What I was trying to say is, nobody talks about the actual leaked info. The present article is one of the better ones I've come across, but it still talks only about one fact - chinese cyberattacks - and only till the middle. After that it again turns into a Wikileaks PR post.


RE: Much ado about nothing
By SunTzu on 11/29/2010 7:04:25 PM , Rating: 3
...you dont think its important that one of the most powerful men in afghanistan, thats supported by the US, is openly considered to be corrupt and a drugsmuggler, to be important? You dont think its important that the US illegaly kidnapped and held an innocent man for several months in an afghani secret prison (Where he claims he was tortured), and then dumped alongside the road in a foreign country, to be important? And that the US (When Germany moved to arrest the perpetrators of this incredible crime) they threatened them? Come on, these are all BIG news, and stuff that will re-shape the political climate for years to come. Yes, there's too much talk of the private lives of Wikileak employees, but theres some really big stuff in that batch.


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki