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Cyberwar and American Freedom
Topic: Cyberwar and American Freedom (Read 37470 times)
Stratfor on the Wang Dong 5
Reply #300 on:
May 21, 2014, 10:26:27 PM »
Washington's decision to indict officers of China's People's Liberation Army over alleged state-sponsored industrial espionage marks an important change in Washington's relations with Beijing. The move highlights growing concerns over intellectual property rights and industrial spying, but it also shows the intensified attention being paid to the challenges that state-to-state competition in the cyber domain creates.
Indictments have real consequences. Washington did not place largely unenforceable sanctions on individuals or bring a lawsuit to an international body that would take years to resolve, and those indicted risk extradition if they travel to a country with extradition treaties with the United States. A step such as this is not frequently taken in minor diplomatic spats, particularly between such important countries.
Washington has specifically accused the indicted officers of industrial espionage. The move follows warnings made by U.S. President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address regarding state-backed cyber-espionage and intellectual property theft. However, it speaks to a much deeper issue: the management of international relations in cyberspace, from espionage to sabotage to warfare. The discussion inside China already equates actions in cyberspace as potential weapons of mass destruction, on par with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. There are concerns that hostile actors could use cyberspace to sabotage power grids; trigger industrial equipment to operate outside of its parameters and break down, perhaps catastrophically; or even trigger explosions or a meltdown at conventional and nuclear power plants.
In standard military action and in more traditional forms of espionage, there are commonly shared rules -- but no such standards govern cyber-espionage. Furthermore, it is difficult to distinguish between lone actors carrying out some form of protest or defacement, those engaged in commercial industrial espionage or state-led espionage and cyber activities that are directed toward a more concrete and sinister end, such as sabotage or the destruction of critical infrastructure. Cyberspace is not just a domain where information can be stolen -- it is a place where sabotage and disruption could be geared toward a strategic end.
This is a concern in the United States and in other countries, including China. Determining the perpetrator's identity and intent is next to impossible, and the initial actions of thrill-seeking hackers and strategic saboteurs are similar or even identical. This leaves little time to determine the most effective counter and how far to take it. In some ways, this is not entirely unique to the cyber domain -- debate persists over whether cyberspace really is its own domain as air, sea, land and space are. States often act through proxies to instigate or facilitate spying, infiltration, disruption and destruction. But the cyber domain has several unique characteristics, including the ability to work from a distance, to deploy large numbers of individuals on discreet missions, and the ability (at least in theory) to spy, destabilize and disable without physical risk to the operatives.
By offering the ability to operate from a distance, the cyber domain allows for a much greater use of human resources against a target that would not be vulnerable to traditional espionage techniques. Regimes and individuals have also always sought plausible deniability -- the ability to dissociate oneself from a hostile action -- and the cyber domain allows a deeper level of anonymity. This has altered the balance between risk and reward. In traditional espionage, the risk is always high, so the reward needs to be high as well. Cyber-espionage is low risk, so operatives can seek lower-level rewards, increasing the frequency of action and making the target set too broad to effectively defend. If states can increase the potential cost of action, the target set should shrink, thus enabling states to concentrate their resources to defend their most critical assets.
An Attempt to Set the Rules
By prosecuting a case that targets specific Chinese officials, the United States is trying to break the element of plausible deniability and increase the amount of risk involved in cyber-espionage. Washington is also removing the veil that covers government involvement in cyber-espionage, disruptions and sabotage. The Chinese have reacted sharply, declaring a cessation of talks with the United States on the management of cyberspace issues. And the United States clearly knew such a reaction was not just possible but likely. Yet Washington not only made the indictment but also warned that numerous others would follow.
In part this is about U.S. competitiveness, as statements attached to the indictments assert. But it may also be a way to force China into a more serious discussion of the rules of the cyber domain, or at least to lay out the rules the United States wants to impose. Until now, China has deflected criticism by claiming that since the United States has a Cyber Command and the Chinese do not, Washington is alone in owning state-sponsored cyberwarfare capabilities. Now that accusations and leaks from investigations are being backed up with prosecutorial evidence, that defense, from Washington's point of view, is tossed aside.
Beijing will probably issue a strong response. The Chinese government is likely to arrest or deport individuals it has identified as involved in espionage in China, or even those in the business sphere that fall within China's ambiguous regulations on corporate espionage. Beijing will probably also appeal to global public opinion by repeating information revealed in the Snowden leaks, distracting from the issue by shifting attention to U.S. cyber activities. But for the United States, this is more than just an attempt to briefly influence Chinese behavior. It is part of a broader reassessment of the strategic issues surrounding the question of cyber activities and of the general rules of conduct in the offense-defense balance, and it is an effort to find ways to avoid significant strategic miscalculations.
Read more: Washington Shows It Is Serious About Cyber-Espionage | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
WSJ: US to rev up hacking fight
Reply #301 on:
May 24, 2014, 09:08:52 AM »
I must say I am intrigued , , ,
The U.S. plans to "keep up the pressure" on China as it gauges that nation's response to this week's indictment of five Chinese military officials for allegedly hacking into American corporate computers, a senior administration official said Friday. If China doesn't begin to acknowledge and curb its corporate cyberespionage, the U.S. plans to start selecting from a range of retaliatory options, other officials said. They include releasing additional evidence about how the hackers allegedly conducted their operations, and imposing visa, business and financial restrictions on those indicted or people or organizations associated with them. Beyond that, some officials are advocating more stealthy moves. These could include the government working with a U.S. company that has been breached to feed hackers bad data, said one person familiar with the discussions.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges Monday, alleging the five men hacked into five U.S. companies, including Alcoa Inc. AA +2.19% and U.S. Steel Corp. X +0.96% , as well as the United Steelworkers union, to take sensitive information. U.S. officials said they expected the Chinese would strike back.
But so far, China's response has been fairly restrained: denying the accusations, canceling the nation's participation in cybersecurity talks and signaling that U.S. technology companies may face greater scrutiny in trying to do business in China. A senior administration official said the Chinese response is as expected, and the U.S. will tie any retaliation to Beijing's longer-term reaction.
"It has to be calibrated some to what the Chinese government chooses to do," the senior administration official said. "This is a long-term process."
U.S. officials expect it will take a few more weeks to discern the true Chinese response.
"If the Chinese don't re-engage, they [U.S. officials] have more things in their bag of tricks," said James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who frequently consults with the Obama administration.
Chinese officials in Washington didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The indictment in federal court in Pittsburgh is part of a much broader strategy to counter a growing cyber assault against the U.S. government and companies, which intelligence officials have said tops their list of national security threats. The indictment seems to be in direct response to a challenge Chinese officials issued more than a year ago, when U.S. officials launched a public shaming campaign to try to press China to stop hacking U.S. companies. Chinese officials called on the Americans to put forward the kind of evidence that would hold up in court.
Monday's indictment, in effect, is aimed at providing a foundation on which the U.S. government could build an array of punishments. It sets out evidence in detail—naming alleged actors and affected U.S. companies and organizations—that could be used to support additional penalties.
"Criminal charges can justify economic sanctions from our colleagues in the Treasury Department, sanctions that prevent criminals from engaging in financial transactions with U.S. entities and deny access to the U.S. financial system,'' said John Carlin, the head of the Justice Department's national security division, in a speech Wednesday at the Brookings Institution think tank. "They can facilitate diplomacy by the State Department."
On the prosecutorial side, follow-on steps may include releasing more evidence about the hacking cases, or filing new charges in other hacking cases in which investigators have collected a critical mass of evidence, officials say. Officials were mum on the nature of the additional evidence. But a person familiar with U.S. probes into Chinese hacking said investigators often collect video evidence of hackers.
"Some of these actors are not real good about turning off the Skype camera on their machines while they are working," this person said.
A more controversial response advocated by some Federal Bureau of Investigation officials is to work with companies under cyber siege to feed bad information to hackers, said a person familiar with the discussions. The goal would be to cast doubt on the quality of the data being stolen, and in addition raise questions about information taken from other companies.
If executed as a counter-spying campaign, advocates of the approach say it would force Chinese officials to spend much time trying to separate bad information from good and lead them to centralize their diffuse operations, which could slow the pace of their cyberspying.
The idea is "getting a lot of traction, both on the commercial and government sides," said the person familiar with the discussions. "The dilemma has always been finding companies willing to cooperate."
Another option government officials are considering is putting individuals or organizations linked to hacking, such as Chinese universities or government contractors, on Department of Commerce lists of "parties of concern." People or entities on the lists are essentially red-flagged by the U.S. government and can't trade with Americans or conduct financial transactions in the U.S. The move also could bar faculty or graduate students at listed universities from fellowships or conferences in the U.S.
In the past, it has been difficult to use the lists in hacking cases, because evidence pointing to specific responsible entities was limited. Monday's cases now provide that kind of evidence. Government officials are also weighing actions at the Treasury Department, such freezing assets or imposing individual sanctions, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Those penalties could take a form similar to those levied against Russian business people in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Officials in addition are assessing whether and how they might impose visa restrictions to prevent Chinese hackers from attending popular hacker conferences in the U.S., such as the annual Defcon conference in Las Vegas. Another option under consideration is whether to take action at the World Trade Organization. Monday's indictment focuses on trade-secret theft, and some U.S. officials believe they can make the case that Chinese hacking represents intellectual-property theft in violation of the WTO's trade-related aspects of intellectual-property rights.
U.S. officials also are looking to allies to both endorse the U.S. cases outlined Monday and take action of their own. Investigations "can lead other governments to take action, even when the United States doesn't end up doing so," Mr. Carlin noted.
Hackers will fight our next big war
Reply #302 on:
June 01, 2014, 09:54:51 AM »
Grid down scenario
Reply #303 on:
July 07, 2014, 12:29:05 PM »
Chinese hackers hit US personnel networks
Reply #304 on:
July 10, 2014, 08:50:31 AM »
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