March 29, 2009

China: GhostNet spying threat

The Times is reporting further about the GhostNet cyber-spying effort and that it is being run out of China.
A cyber spy network operated from China hacked into classified documents on government and private computers in 103 countries, internet researchers have

The spy system, which investigators dubbed GhostNet, compromised 1,295 machines at Nato and in foreign affairs ministries, embassies, banks and news organisations across the world, as well as computers used by the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles.

The work of Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) investigators focused initially on allegations of Chinese cyber espionage against the Tibetan exile community but led to a much wider network of compromised machines.

IWM said that, while its analysis pointed to China as the main source of the network, it had not been able conclusively to identify the hackers. The IWM is composed of researchers from an Ottawa-based think tank, SecDev Group, and the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies.
Espionage is going on all the time but typically without proof. This is a smoking gun that China is spying on over 1200 computers in 103 countries. The spying was done using traditional malware techniques, and with an ever spreading number of computers being infected. But the implications of what could be done were far stronger -it even went beyond removing classified documents.

"Almost certainly, documents are being removed without the targets’ knowledge,
keystrokes logged, web cameras are being silently triggered, and audio inputs surreptitiously activated."
This sort of activity requires a strong response from the United States and from Western countries in general. Unfortunately with President Obama trying to shill to the Chinese to buy more American debt securities, the amount being in the trillions, a strongly worded rebuke is likely not forthcoming. Instead of sanction, about the strongest wording we can expect from the administration is something along the lines of 'concern about the reports if they are indeed true.'

That's not what the free world needs from its leadership.

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