Hacking The High Ground

Not content to merely cyberattack our civilian and military computer systems every second of every day, the Chinese have now taken their hacking attacks to a whole new, higher level.

Chinese Military Suspected in Hacker Attacks on U.S. Satellites

Computer hackers, possibly from the Chinese military, interfered with two U.S. government satellites four times in 2007 and 2008 through a ground station in Norway, according to a congressional commission.

The intrusions on the satellites, used for earth climate and terrain observation, underscore the potential danger posed by hackers, according to excerpts from the final draft of the annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report is scheduled to be released next month.

“Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions,” according to the draft. “Access to a satellite‘s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite’s transmission.”

See also:
Hackers Interfered With Two U.S. Satellites, Draft Report Says
Hackers Interfered With 2 US Government Satellites
Hackers reportedly behind U.S. government satellite disruptions
Hackers Targeted U.S. Government Satellites
Chinese military may have hacked US satellites
China may have hacked US satellites
Hackers Targeted U.S. Government Satellites
U.S. satellites tampered by hackers
Hackers interfered with two U.S. satellites, report says
Chinese hackers suspected of interfering with US satellites
New hacker target: Government satellites
Chinese hackers may have attacked U.S. satellites
China suspect in US satellite interference: report
US reportedly attacked by Chinese hackers linked with the military
US Satellites hacked by Chinese Military says Congressional Commission

Given their ongoing and constant obsession with conducting cyberwarfare, it’s hardly surprising that the Chinese would be interested in attacking satellites. After all, in the event of hostilities, taking out the enemy’s satellites would effectively render them “blind”. The U.S. military is particularly dependent on satellite technology for communication and navigation, so it would only be logical for the Chinese, either by hacking or with kinetic strikes, to attempt to neutralize our satellite network and with it our technological advantage. The question is, what are we doing to counter this extremely obvious and serious threat?

/does anyone still remember how to navigate using a map and compass?

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When Chinese RATs Attack

Oh, hey, look what China did, again. Isn’t this supposed to be an act of war now?

Massive Global Cyberattack Targeting U.S., U.N. Discovered; Experts Blame China

The world’s most extensive case of cyber-espionage, including attacks on U.S. government and U.N. computers, was revealed Wednesday by online security firm McAfee, and analysts are speculating that China is behind the attacks.

The spying was dubbed “Operation Shady RAT,” or “remote access tool” by McAfee — and it led to a massive loss of information that poses a huge economic threat, wrote vice president of threat research Dmitri Alperovitch.

. . .

Analysts told The Washington Post that the finger of blame for the infiltration of the 72 networks — 49 of them in the U.S. — points firmly in the direction of China.

See also:
Revealed: Operation Shady RAT
McAfee’s Operation Shady RAT exposes national cybersecurity lapses
McAfee discovers massive series of cyber attacks
Hacking Campaign Targets U.S. Government, Signs Point to China
Operation Shady RAT: five-year hack attack hit 14 countries
China Suspected Of Shady RAT Attacks
Q+A: Massive cyber attack dubbed “Operation Shady RAT”
Operation Shady RAT: A frightening web of global cyber-espionage
Operation Shady RAT smells like Chinese hacking
All cursors point to China in global hack attack that threatens nations
China accused of biggest ever global cyber spying attacks
Hackers Based in China Attack UN, Olympic Networks, Security Firms Report
Operation Shady RAT and the cyberhacking
APT Attackers Used Chinese-Authored Hacker Tool To Hide Their Tracks

Why did it take a private security company to uncover the largest case of cyberspying in world history and why aren’t we doing something about it?

/does China have to steal every last piece of sensitive and secret computer data we possess before we start taking this threat seriously?

Can You Hack It?

Calling all hackers, do you pack what it takes?

NSA is looking for a few good hackers

The National Security Agency has a challenge for hackers who think they’re hot stuff: Prove it by working on the “hardest problems on Earth.”

Computer hacker skills are in great demand in the U.S. government to fight the cyberwars that pose a growing national security threat — and they are in short supply.

For that reason an alphabet soup of federal agencies — DOD, DHS, NASA, NSA — are descending on Las Vegas this week for Defcon, an annual hacker convention where the $150 entrance fee is cash only — no registration, no credit cards, no names taken. Attendance is expected to top 10,000.

The NSA is among the keen suitors. The spy agency plays offense and defense in the cyberwars. It conducts electronic eavesdropping on adversaries, and it protects U.S. computer networks that hold super-secret material — a prime target for America’s enemies.

See also:
NSA Wants to Hire Hackers at DefCon
US gov’t building hacker army for cyber war
U.S. government hankers for hackers
U.S. Federal Agencies Look to Hire Hackers at Defcon; Cyber Criminals Offer Services to the Public
US government agencies scouting for computer hackers: report
Federal Agencies to Recruit Hackers at Defcon
R u h4X0R? n33d @ jo8? NSA wants you (locked up in a cubicle, not a cell)
The NSA Wants More Hackers for Their ‘Collection of Geeks’
Welcome to the National Security Agency – NSA/CSS
National Security Agency
Defcon
DEF CON

Would you rather work for them or be hunted down by them? If you’re good enough, it probably pays pretty well and beats sitting in a prison cell.

/don’t forget to bring your white hat

Is Our Back Door Open?

Gee, I wonder which computer component manufacturing country might be responsible for this? Hmmm, let me think.

(you might want to skip to 51:47)

U.S. Suspects Contaminated Foreign-Made Components Threaten Cyber Security

Some foreign-made computer components are being manufactured to make it easier to launch cyber attacks on U.S. companies and consumers, a security official at the the Department of Homeland Security said.

“I am aware of instances where that has happened,” said Greg Schaffer, who is the Acting Deputy Undersecretary National Protection and Programs Director at the DHS.

Schaffer did not say where specifically these components are coming from or elaborate on how they could be manufactured in such a way as to facilitate a cyber attack.

But Schaffer’s comment confirms that the U.S. government believes some electronics manufacturers have included parts in products that could make U.S. consumers and corporations more vulnerable to targeted cyber attacks.

A device tampered with prior to distribution or sale could act as a “Trojan horse” in the opening wave of an international cyberwar. Contaminated products could be used to jeopardize the entire network.

See also:
DHS: Imported Consumer Tech Contains Hidden Hacker Attack Tools
Tomorrow’s cyberwarfare may be carried out by pre-infected electronics: DHS
Malware Comes with Many Gadgets, Homeland Security Admits
Supply chain security – DHS finds imported software and hardware contain attack tools
U.S. official says pre-infected computer tech entering country
Homeland Security Admits Hidden Malware in Foreign-Made Devices
Homeland Security Finds Your Electronic Device Poses Risks?
Threat of destructive coding on foreign-manufactured technology is real
Homeland Security Official: Some Foreign-Made Electronics Compromise Cybersecurity
White House’s Cyberspace Policy Review (PDF)

So, Mr. Schaffer “did not say where specifically these components are coming from.” Well, here, let me help, it’s obviously China. There, how hard was that? The next question is, what are we doing about it?

Our national power grid, electronics infrastructure, you name it, very few of the critical components are manufactured in the U.S. anymore and if there exists a series of back doors, enabling a hostile country, like China, to preemptively take it all down at once, we’re in serious, catastrophic trouble territory, so far up the proverbial [expletive deleted] creek without a paddle we’re no longer visible. And we’d be down for the count too, because we don’t have the U.S. manufacturing capability to pick ourselves up off the canvas

/the end game scenario this revelation portends would make Pearl Harbor look like a sorority pillow fight

From Mubarak To The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood motto:

Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.

Sure, let’s talk to them, great idea, what could possibly go wrong? At least with Mubarak, we had someone committed to peace in the region and peace with Israel.

U.S. to expand contacts with Muslim Brotherhood

The U.S. government has decided to expand contacts with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, officials said Thursday, a shift that reflects the Islamist group’s growing role since the pro-democracy uprising in the key Arab country.

“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt, that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Budapest. “And we welcome, therefore, dialogue with those Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to talk with us.”

See also:
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood welcomes US talks
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood welcomes US talks
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood welcomes U.S. talks
Wiesenthal Center angry over US, Brotherhood talks
Wiesenthal Center slams US position on Muslim Brotherhood
Key US lawmaker condemns Muslim Brotherhood talks
Muslim Brotherhood to U.S.: Stop Backing Israel and We’ll Talk
Will Hamas be the next extremist group to be engaged by the U.S.?
The U.S. may be heading toward talks with Hamas

So now the United States is going to enter into formal diplomatic relations with Israel’s sworn enemies, how cool is that? Whoever in the Obama administration thinks this is a good idea is high on drugs or clearly on the wrong side of Middle East peace.

/one thing they surely are not is a friend of Israel

Have We Attacked China Yet?

No sooner was it publicly revealed that the United States would now treat damaging cyberattacks by other nations as an act of war, threatening retaliation with conventional weapons, the new, bold, some say foolish, policy, was immediately put to the test.

China Google hackers’ goal: Spying on U.S. Govt.

It’s the second time Google has blamed a major computer hacking scheme on China, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

This time Google says unknown hackers from Jinan, China, a city with a military command center, stole the personal Gmail passwords of hundreds of senior U.S .government officials.

Google said the hackers’ “goal” was to eavesdrop on the officials — “to monitor the content of the users’ emails.”

That suggestion — of spying — rang alarm bells in the Administration.

“These allegations are very serious,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “We take them seriously. We’re looking into them.”

See also:
Clinton: Google’s China Hacking Claims ‘Very Serious’
Hillary Clinton says FBI will probe Gmail hacker attack
US Investigating Google Claim of China Hacking
FBI Investigating Google Claim that China Hacked Them
Google breach gives way to diplomatic, high-tech tensions
China Denies Accessing High Profile Gmail Accounts
Google’s groundless accuses hurt global trust on Internet
The Google-China Saga Continues
Admin: Gmail phishers stalked victims for months
Gmail Hack Targeted White House
Cyber war: Google, China in fresh spat over email hacking
Google, what exactly is the China connection for the phishing scare?
Is Google an agent of the US Government? It certainly gives that impression

So far, the U.S. has uncovered a successful espionage phishing expedition, against top level U.S. Government officials, tracked back to a specific Chinese city. Why aren’t we bombing China, isn’t this a perfect situation to show how our new military policy will treat hacking intrusions like this as acts of war? Unfortunately for us, China denies the attack and, as I pointed out yesterday, it’s extremely difficult to be absolutely sure as to the origins of cyberattacks like this, so we do nothing and our brand new policy looks foolish and radiates national weakness.

/instead of making toothless threats to send missile strikes in response to hack attacks, why don’t we just send the Chinese back a nice Stuxnet worm or take down Baidu with a complimentary DoS attack

Running On Empty

Actually, we’re running beyond empty now. The United States can’t legally borrow any more money until Congress acts to raise the debt ceiling.

US government hits debt ceiling, lighting 11-week fuse

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner informed Congress on Monday that the United States has reached its legal debt limit, setting off a ticking time bomb that could explode in less than three months if lawmakers can’t bridge differences and allow more government borrowing.

In hitting the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling – the limit on how much the government can borrow – the Obama administration on Monday began temporarily halting payments to the retirement and federal pension accounts of federal workers and started borrowing from those funds, to be restored later.

Geithner sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warning that the government can move money around for about 11 weeks but if a new debt ceiling isn’t agreed to by Aug. 2, the U.S. government could effectively default on its obligations to its creditors. He warned of “catastrophic economic consequences for citizens” unless Congress raises the debt ceiling.

An increase of about $2 trillion is expected, enough to get the issue past the 2012 elections before Congress would have to lift it again.

Republicans who control the House of Representatives vow to link raising the debt ceiling to cuts in government spending of at least equal measure. In a combative statement Monday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, upped the ante.

“As I have said numerous times, there will be no debt limit increase without serious budget reforms and significant spending cuts, cuts that are greater than any increase in the debt limit.” Boehner has called previously for $2 trillion in spending cuts as part of any deal to raise the debt ceiling.

See also:
US hits $14 trillion debt limit
US Hits Debt Ceiling, But Treasury Market Rules Out Default For Now
Deja Vu, But No Disaster: U.S. Government Hits Debt Ceiling
U.S. Hits Debt Limit, Sky Doesn’t Fall
U.S. hit debt limit today
Treasury Tapping Federal Retirement Accounts to Stave Off Default
Turbo Tim Raids Pension Plans
With Debt Limit Maxed Out, Lawmakers Hold Firm On Remedy
Rep. Jordan: U.S. won’t default if debt ceiling isn’t raised
U.S. National Debt Clock

Well, we hit the debt ceiling and, despite all the Democrat Chicken Little hysteria, the Sun didn’t explode, the seas didn’t boil, and the markets didn’t plunge thousands of points. Go figure.

/all I can say is that the Republicans had better stand firm and hold their ground this time and hold out for concrete, verifiable spending cuts that at least equal the amount of any debt limit increase