Print 87 comment(s) - last by anandtech02148.. on Apr 3 at 12:10 AM

  (Source: ScreenRant)
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. (EMC) subsidiary RSA and 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. (LMT), a top U.S. defense contractor.  It is thought that China's remarkable progress in stealth fighter technology has been fueled by stolen U.S. Department of Defense Secrets.

Indeed a 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.

RSA dongle
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 (ADBE) 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 study.  

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."

surrender flag
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 for cutting off its supply of rare earth metals.  China argued the complaint was unfair and that it's all about playing by the rules.

Source: U.S. Senate

Comments     Threshold

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

RE: We prosecute our hackers
By EricMartello on 3/29/2012 4:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
So if I murder someone in cold blood, can I get sent to the military instead of sitting in jail?

How are you making the jump from "hacking" to "murder"? Only one of those two is considered "wrong" on both a moral and social level by most people. Hacking is illegal but if wittle trayvon was hacked by a 1/2 white guy rather than shot & killed, I wonder if we'd have all the racist blacks protesting like we do now.

If I start a bar fight unprovoked and beat 3 guys up half to death, instead of jail time can I be sent to the MMA?

Another problem with this hypothetical question and your first one is that neither provide a service to the USA that only a small portion of the population can do. Just about anyone can be taught to shoot someone and perform basic military service...and many people can be trained as MMA fighters as long as they're in good physical condition, but the talent and skills required to crack complex code is not something you can "train" someone to do and it's not an ability that many people have.

You're talking about treating cyber crimes like a doorway to a great career opportunity, instead of a serious and punishable crime. Even paying them like $50k a year?

Not really - it's more like they'd be doing "community service" under close watch - a service which benefits the USA and makes the $40K per year taxpayer cost of feeding and housing them more palatable. Having them sit and rot in their cells is proving to be little more than a Pyrrhic victory for the USA as a nation.

Considering that most hackers do not single out individuals, the "crimes" they are accused of really don't have the social impact on people that something like assault or murder does. At worst you are inconvenienced by having to cancel some credit cards and open up new bank accounts - yeah man, that's harsh.

I don't think I'm "pro jail". I think if you commit a crime that warrants jail time, you should be punished for that crime and serve that sentence. Isn't that the whole point?

No, it's not the whole point. A modern society should always give people a chance to right their wrongs rather than taking a moronic "throw em all into jail and lose the key" approach which benefits neither the country nor the prisoner.

At a fundamental level, hackers typically do what they do just to see if they can do it. If that is their intent and they act without malice, then sentencing them to "national community service" as state-sponsored hackers is perfectly sound.

You've obviously never been a victim of ID theft or had your credit card number stolen by hackers and misused. If you had I'm pretty sure the idea of your tax dollars going to paying their salary, when they should be in jail after costing you years of pain and aggravation, disgusting.

Pain? No. Aggravation is the extent of it...and being a nuisance is hardly a justification to keep someone locked up. Credit cards will not hold you liable for fraudulent activity and neither will most banks.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki