NSA: China is Destroying U.S. Economy Via Security Hacks
March 28, 2012 7:06 PM
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NSA director fingers China in recent RSA intrusion and subsequent data thefts, U.S. oblivious its at war
Well, no more hemming and hawing about, it's official -- the Chinese hacked EMC Corp. (
stole the secrets of its proprietary security algorithm
according to the chief of the
U.S. National Security Agency
I. A Grave Threat
U.S. Cyber Command
leader and NSA director
Gen. Keith Alexander
made the information public on Tuesday in a briefing to the
Senate Armed Services Committee
, in which he testified, "I can't go into the specifics here, but we do see [thefts] from defense industrial base companies. There are some very public [attacks], though. The most recent one was the RSA exploits."
China successfully used the information to hack into Lockheed Martin Corp. (
), a top U.S. defense contractor. It is thought that China's
stealth fighter technology
has been fueled by
U.S. Department of Defense
massive amount of intellectual property
is being stolen from both the public and private sector by Chinese hackers, according to Gen. Alexander. The U.S. has
done precious little
to protect its own economic prosperity, as it has been overwhelmed by the Chinese thieves. One official in past commentary graphically described a cyberwarfare compaign of an unnamed nation state (suspected to be China) as "raping" the world.
Whether the Chinese government is perpetrating these attacks first hand, sponsoring third parties to conduct them, or merely condoning corporate interests to conduct them is almost as hazy as the sketchy financial ties the Chinese government holds to many of its private sector business (to be fair such allegations have increasingly been raised about the U.S. gov't).
But at the end of the day, the result is the same -- the destruction of the U.S. economy at the hands of the Chinese attackers.
Spearphishing and an unreleased Flash exploit allowed China to hack the RSA standard and steal secrets from U.S. DOD contractors, according to NSA testimony.
[Image Source: RSA Security]
U.S. companies who speak out against the attacks are
threatened by the Chinese
. The Chinese government is more than willing to ban U.S. firms that rock the boat, locking them out of the lucrative emerging market of almost 1 billion internet-active device users.
Complains Gen. Alexander, "We need to make it more difficult for the Chinese to do what they're doing. Intellectual property isn't well protected, and we can do a better job at protecting it."
The security official shared interesting details of the attack. He says the RSA hack used a zero-day (unreleased) exploit of Adobe System Inc.'s (
) Flash player (somewhere the
spirit of Steve Jobs is smirking
) and used "spearphishing" (targeted phishing) to get an RSA employee to click on the offending executable, resulting on backdoors being installed on the company's servers. Ironically, the Subcommittee hearings were livecast using Flash.
II. Are the NSA's Cyber Command Efforts Really Helping?
Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.) criticized Gen. Alexander's commentary as just lip service. He pointed out that a
DOD pilot program
to share malware signatures with defense contractors did not contribute significantly to new awareness, according to a
Carnegie Mellon University
Gen. Alexander responded, "Industry has a bunch of signatures, government has those too. All of us need to work together to provide the best set of signatures."
He then countered that private sector communications efforts have been hindered by red tape. He compares the situation to a bank robbery in which no one can tell the police. He points to one incident in which the NSA detected 3 GB of data being stolen, stating, "I think that industry should have the ability to see these attacks and share them with us in real time. It's like neighborhood watch. Somebody is breaking into a bank, and somebody needs to be in touch with the police to stop it."
Is the U.S. surrendering its future by allowing China to victimize its businesses and defenses with no response? The hacks may go down in U.S. history as the nation's first unofficial surrender. [Image Source: Allison Nazarian]
On the upside Gen. Alexander says DOD efforts to establish a Cyber Command outpost at every major geographical and functional Combatant Command branch are coming along nicely. He points to a major recent combat exercise at Nellis Air Force base as a sign of that progress.
Tensions between the U.S. and China are running high after the U.S. filed a
World Trade Organization
complaint against China
cutting off its supply of rare earth metals
. China argued
the complaint was unfair
and that it's all about playing by the rules.
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RE: We prosecute our hackers
3/29/2012 8:00:35 AM
Heh well not to speak for the entirety of europe but this would actually improve your image, not degrade it.
Considering what the US spends on defence your cyber security is a joke.
The reason you'll get more hate though is because when the US goverment tries to fix anything they, somehow, always choose the wrong option. And i don't mean there are right/wrong options, i mean out of 2 wrongs they can still consistantly go for the worst option.
We all know in the end the US government will find some way to only slightly reduce the risk while monumentally reducing the rights of it's citizens.
That's why i'm skeptical about this article. It's the NSA complaining, the same NSA that has wiretaps at all ISP's since the 90's and is building multiple multi-billion dollar cybersecurity complexes, ment to listen into the entire internet and break encryption faster then ever before (and of course to spy on it's citizens even better then they do now).
And they still want more power? What more is there for the government to do? If businesses can't protect themselves, obviously their priorities are in the wrong place because that's not impossible.
Also lol @ whining about the chinese stealing your technology, but not wanting to pull out of the chinese market. Don't be greedy and then bitch when it doesn't work out....
RE: We prosecute our hackers
3/29/2012 1:03:12 PM
FTA it sounded as though the NSA is already capable of at least seeing the attacks in real time. It may also be able to stop them. However, I'm sure that the NSA operates under a strict set of rules required for a high security operation. I'm guessing that those rules can be bent and shaped for the right price.
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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