Feeds

Pentagon: Chinese military hacked us

We'll need a whole bunch of expensive stuff

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Sources in Washington have indicated that the cyber attack last June which targeted the office of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was conducted by the Chinese military.

According to a report in the London Financial Times, "senior US officials" and "persons familiar with the event" have briefed that there is a “very high level of confidence...trending towards total certainty” within the Pentagon that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) carried out the June attack. That was seen as a particularly significant event, apparently, as it involved disruption of networks as well as passive snooping.

The FT quoted a former official as saying that:

“The PLA has demonstrated the ability to conduct attacks that disable our system...and the ability in a conflict situation to re-enter and disrupt on a very large scale.”

The US military has long warned of a rising cyber-warfare capability in the PLA, releasing a report earlier this year that China "is expanding from the traditional land, air, and sea dimensions of the modern battlefield to include space and cyber-space".

The document said that the inscrutable commies are also developing an "information warfare" force capable of "computer network attack," to achieve "electromagnetic dominance".

America has been far from idle in rising to meet this challenge; indeed there has been something of a scramble among the US military to gets its cyber boots on. The US Air Force has been particularly active, forming up a Cyber Command that may, in the future, be manned up at least in part by career net-combat specialists.

Quite apart from cyberspace, confrontation with China is one of the few justifications for much of America's huge panoply of ultra-high-tech air, maritime and perhaps space weaponry. This is stuff that many in the Pentagon love and believe in passionately, but which is occasionally threatened by the basic counter-insurgency wars the US is currently fighting. Huge amounts of money are being spent on things including armoured trucks, which could have gone on satellite-busters or energy weapons or something.

So leaks out of the Pentagon that big up China as a threat always need to be taken with a pinch of salt. It's a certainty that the PLA probes US networks, just as the US does Chinese ones. It's very likely that China is prepping some naughty network tricks for use in the event of a serious scuffle with America - and again, this will not be a one-sided effort.

But China doesn't want to fight the US - who would pay for all the iPods? And America doesn't really want to fight China - where would they get all the damn iPods made?

If the PLA really did shut down Robert Gates's unclassified email, it was a schoolboy error to show their hands so early. All they have achieved - if it was them - is give their adversaries ammo to use in demanding more resources to fight them with. And it seems exceptionally sloppy to get traced back, when it would be simplicity itself for government hats* to operate out of third countries.

But nobody's saying the PLA are all that clever, so it may well have been them. If it was, though, they evidently aren't as fiendishly cunning as all that.

FT writeup here

*Whitehat if you're Chinese, blackhat if American. Govhats? Redstarhats? Milhats? Spookhats?

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.