Thursday, September 06, 2007


While the Americans claim that the Chinese have hacked the Pentagon how do they know it wasn't the Russians?

Is the Chinese military responsible for recent attacks on Pentagon computers?

That's the question after numerous reports surfaced claiming that the People's Liberation Army of China hacked into a system in the office of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June.

In a statement published Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed that a system in Gates' office was hacked in June.

He declined, however, to identify the origin of the attack.

After all they crippled Estonia last spring. Though there was no evidence proving this was a state sanctioned attack.

“In information warfare, you may know your opponents, rivals, and enemies, but you do not know who is actually attacking," Evron said.

These hack-attacks may be shadows of the new cold war.

Attacks on U.S. systems have never been linked directly to state-sponsored cyberwarfare, but in 1999 Chinese hackers took down three U.S. government sites after NATO bombers mistakenly attacked the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The astonishing thing about last spring's alleged Russian cyberattack wasn't the crippling effect it had on Estonian's government and the lives of its citizens but the lack of serious reaction elsewhere. The European Union raised but one scolding finger, NATO sent a few experts to the Baltic nation, and the US protested mildly and briefly — then President Bush welcomed Putin to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. In fact, as the world witnessed the trial run of a new mode of warfare, pundits at The New York Times and other publications dismissed the digital assault on the tiny nation as much ado about nothing.

Nevertheless, despite such outcry about these attacks
, Beijing and those responsible in the PLA can sleep easy. What reprisals will seriously affect them? Earlier this year, Russia launched a major cyber-attack on Estonia, taking down the Baltic state's government, banking and press websites. Estonia is a Nato country and a cyber-attack is a hostile act yet no sanctions were taken and the Kremlin used this successful defiance to escalate its rhetoric and actions even further. As far as Titan Rain, it will probably soon descend to a "Team America" moment of "we will be very angry with you ... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are."

The Russian bear is back with a vengeance. But seen from Moscow, the Kremlin is simply reacting to a series of provocations by the United States and Nato as the Western alliance creeps towards Russian borders, threatening the security of the state.

The "new Cold War" has its origins in a speech made by Mr Putin last February at a security conference in Munich, in front of an audience of Western defence ministers and parliamentarians, in which he listed Moscow's grievances and accused the Bush administration of trying to establish a "unipolar" world.

"One single centre of power. One single centre of force. One single centre of decision-making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign," the President complained.

In May, Mr Putin fired off another volley against American unilateralism, obliquely comparing US policies to those of the Third Reich in a speech commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the fall of Nazi Germany.

In the same speech, he attacked Estonia, a new European Union member, for relocating a monument to the Red Army, which he said was "sowing discord and new distrust between states and people". When Estonian government websites fell victim to an unprecedented cyber attack, Nato was called in as the finger of suspicion fell on the Kremlin.

Ironically the hack attack could have been launched in the U.S. itself and re-routed through China.

Web-Hosting Terrorists

Most Americans will be surprised to learn that many Islamist hacker sites are hosted right here in the U.S.

Consider it an unmistakable and very much intended irony that these cyberjihadists are using our own domestic Internet resources against us.

Under Executive Order 13224, companies are forbidden to provide services to organizations known to support terrorism.

Technology industry leaders have also been doing their part to raise threat awareness, but greater cooperation between government and industry would go far in closing these sites down.

In some cases, sites have been shut down in the U.S. only to reappear in highly Internet-savvy countries such as Malaysia.

As one of the 9/11 terrorist planning locations, Malaysia has hosted a number of jihadist sites after authorities acted to terminate them in the U.S.

To its credit, that nation has not been deaf, dumb and blind to the problem -- quite the contrary.

In May 2006, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi announced the creation of a program called the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber-Terrorism, or IMPACT, to help countries work globally to fight cyberterrorists.

In one notable case, an especially worrisome jihadist hacker site first registered in Florida was shut down, but the organization behind it reconstituted operations in Badawi's country.

The Malaysian authorities took action to shut the site down. Unfortunately, it has appeared again where it originated: Tampa, Fla.

The site has grown from a membership list of only about 300 to more than 122,000 over the past few years. Skill levels are improving and technical information-sharing is taking place.

Some in the intelligence field -- and many on its fringes -- have argued that the U.S. needs to keep these jihadist sites up in order to monitor and understand their activities. True, some of this surveillance is necessary, but this is a wholly misguided attitude.


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