War By Any Other Name

China is at it again, waging a back door war against the West. Usually, they just try and steal our technology, now they’re going to try and cripple our technology production.

China Signals Further Rare-Earth Cuts

Chinese officials are signaling plans to further reduce rare-earth exports next year, sustaining its controls of the metals—key ingredients in high-technology batteries and defense products—that have already severely frustrated foreign governments.

Reducing the export quotas is under consideration, but it’s too early to talk about any reduction rate,” Lin Donglu, secretary general of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, told Dow Jones Newswires on Tuesday. The state-run English-language China Daily on Tuesday quoted an unnamed Commerce Ministry official suggesting that cuts of as much as 30% from already-trimmed 2010 levels are possible. A Commerce Ministry official declined to confirm the report and the ministry didn’t reply to faxed questions Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference on rare-earth elements in southeastern China on Tuesday, Chinese officials, including a Commerce Ministry deputy director, Jiang Fan, highlighted their concern about aggressive development of the country’s resources, attendees said. One official there suggested China, by far the world’s largest producer and consumer, could even become an importer.

“Their main thrust was China needs to work to protect its rare-earth industry,” said Nigel Tunna, managing director of Metals Pages Ltd., host of the conference.

China’s decision in recent months to impose tougher quotas on rare-earth metal exports has sparked outcry from Tokyo to Washington.

China, which uses around half of its output of the elements and produces around 97% of world supply, says its limits—which this year aim to cut exports around 40% from 2009—reflect its growing environmental awareness, are perfectly legal and won’t be used as a policy tool.

Yet, foreign importers worry reductions are designed to lift their metals import costs, undermine their high-technology industries and unnerve their defense departments. The metals, 17 chemically similar and expensive-to-mine elements, are critical to the manufacture of products from iPhones to smart bombs.

See also:
China reins in rare earth exports
China to Cut Rare Earth Export Quotas by Up to 30%, Daily Says
Report: China to Reduce Rare Earths Exports
China Halts Shipments to U.S. of Tech-Crucial Minerals
China Reins in Rare Earth Exports
China Official Says No Plans to Cut Rare Earth Quotas
UPDATE 1-US checking if China halted rare earth shipments
China-Japan Rare Earth Fracas Continues
Japan Looks for Rare Earth Alternatives
Kan Says Japan Should Consider Stockpiling of Rare-Earth Metals
Decline in Rare-Earth Exports Rattles Germany
China’s Rare Earths Gambit
More on Rare Earths: Looking for a Way out From Under a Monopoly

Obviously, this isn’t a good development because there’s not a hell of a lot we can do about it unless we want to start an all out trade war. They’re got most of the rare earth metals and we’re dependent on it.

/at a minimum, expect prices to rise for any technology that requires these metals

Nothing Good Can Come Of This

Just in case our enemies have been lax in their espionage operations, Dana Priest and the Washington Post have decided to draw them an online, interactive roadmap. I smell Pulitzer! Or I smell treason, but seriously, what’s the difference nowadays?

State Department warns employees about new website highlighting Top Secret facilities

The State Department is bracing for a potentially explosive new feature on the Washington Post website that would publish the names and locations of agencies and firms conducting Top Secret work on behalf of the U.S. government, according to the copy of an email obtained by The Cable.

The Diplomatic Security Bureau at State sent out a notice Thursday to all department employees warning them to protect classified information and reject inquiries from the press when the new web feature goes live.

“The Washington Post plans to publish a website listing all agencies and contractors believed to conduct Top Secret work on behalf of the U.S. Government,” the notice reads. “The website provides a graphic representation pinpointing the location of firms conducting Top Secret work, describing the type of work they perform, and identifying many facilities where such work is done.”

According to the notice, the Post used only open-source information to compile its site. However, if some of that open-source information turns out to have been classified, its publication by the Post doesn’t change that classification, the State Department emphasized.

“All Department personnel should remain aware of their responsibility to protect classified and other sensitive information, such as the Department’s relationships with contract firms, other U.S. Government agencies, and foreign governments,” the notice says.

See also:
Internal Memo: Intelligence Community Frets About Washington Post Series
Sources: Washington Post Set to Disclose Intelligence Contract Information
State Department warns that Washington Post may reveal location of secret facilities, names of top secret agencies
Previewing Priest: Inside the Semi-Secret World of Intelligence Contractors
Nation’s Spies, Contractors Brace For Post Expose
Post Expected to Reveal Top Secret Information in Story Next Week
TWT Exclusive: Is Wash Post harming intelligence work?

In case you don’t remember, Dana Priest was the one who blew the cover off the CIA’s overseas secret prisons, used to detain and interrogate terrorists, forcing the CIA to abandon them all.

/who the [expletive deleted] is she really working for?

The Cyberwar Rages 24/7

Corporations’ cyber security under widespread attack, survey finds

Around the world, corporations’ computer networks and control systems are under “repeated cyberattack, often from high-level adversaries like foreign nation-states,” according to a new global survey of information technology executives.

The attacks include run-of-the-mill viruses and other “malware” that routinely strike corporate defenses, but also actions by “high-level” adversaries such as “organized crime, terrorists, or nation states,” a first-time global survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington has found. More than half of the 600 IT managers surveyed, who operate critical infrastructure in 14 countries, reported that their systems have been hit by such “high-level” attacks, the survey concludes.

A large majority, 59 percent, said they believed that foreign governments or their affiliates had already been involved in such attacks or in efforts to infiltrate important infrastructure – such as refineries, electric utilities, and banks – in their countries.

Such attacks, the survey said, include sophisticated denial-of-service attacks, in which an attacker tries to so overwhelm a corporate network with requests that the network grinds to a halt.

But they also include efforts to infiltrate a company. Fifty-four percent of the IT executives said their companies’ networks had been targets of stealth attacks in which infiltration was the intent. In two-thirds of those cases, the IT managers surveyed said company operations had been harmed.

The IT managers also believed that these “stealthy” attacks were conducted by “nation states” targeting their proprietary data, says the survey’s main author, CSIS fellow Stewart Baker, in a phone interview. Mr. Baker is a cybersecurity expert formerly with the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

“It’s all the same kind of stuff – spear-phishing, malware, taking over the network and downloading-whatever-you-want kind of attack,” he says. “Over half of these executives believe they’ve been attacked with the kind of sophistication you’d expect from a nation state.”

The CSIS report describes such attacks as “stealthy infiltration” of a company’s networks by “a high-level adversary” akin to a “GhostNet,” or large spy ring featuring “individualized malware attacks that enabled hackers to infiltrate, control and download large amounts of data from computer networks.” The GhostNet attacks, which Canadian researchers attributed to Chinese state-run agencies, bear similarities to recent attacks on Google and other high-tech companies, Baker says. Google attributed attacks on it to entities in China.

Read the report:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War

See also:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War
Report: Critical Infrastructures Under Constant Cyberattack Globally
Utilities, Refineries and Banks Are Victims of Cyber Attacks, Report Says
Critical Infrastructure under Siege from Cyber Attacks
Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable To Attack
Critical Infrastructure Security a Mixed Bag, Report Finds
Report shows cyberattacks rampant; execs concerned
Key infrastructure often cyberattack target: survey
Critical infrastructure execs fear China
SCADA system, critical infrastructure security lacking, survey finds

Ironically, the more dependent we become on interconnected network technology, the more vulnerable we become too.

/so keep your fingers crossed and your computers patched against hacking and intrusion, at least you can do your part to avoid being part of the problem