The Chinese Cyber Threat: Japan Under Attack

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pierluigi Paganini

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(Translated from the original Italian)

The events of recent days from the closure of the Megaupload web site to the heavy offensive of the Anonymous group have distracted media attention, in my opinion, from important the cyber operations of the military matrix against Japan.

Japan has successfully managed fallout from severe earthquake damage in 2011 and the subsequent nuclear accident in Fukushima.

But last week several Cyber attacks were been conducted against Japanese institutions and corporations, and systems of the government of Japan have been also attacked. 

The first attack in the time line, in what is considered to be a real escalation, was conducted against the Japanese Parliament from China according to official sources.

A server located in China has been used from which have been observed several attacks to the Japanese Lower House.  

The intruders were able to gain access to email and confidential documents, and this has made necessary an extraordinary meeting of executive to respond to what is being considered a real national emergency.

The number of reported cyber incidents is growing, and despite the government's attention to cyber defense, they can not halt the offensive. During the attacks the servers of Japanese lower house were hit, causing the loss of many authentication credentials.

Confirming that the attacks are in fact military operations, are the other objectives targeted.

Documents on military aircraft and nuclear power plants appear to have been stolen in a series of cyber attacks on Japanese defense contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.  

On more than one occasion, observed attacks have hit the company with the intent to steal sensitive information. The company denies any possible theft, but history has shown often that the reality is quite different from corporate statements.

Mitsubishi declared in fact last month that 83 computers at 11 of its facilities had been hit by cyber attacks, but claimed no leakage of information on products and technologies has been confirmed. That is a clear demonstration of a targeted strategy.

By analyzing the attacks, some reflections are mandatory:

Behind every cyber operation is often present the Beijing government that is among the main actors in the field of cyber offense. As previously mentioned, the aggressive cyber strategy of China is a serious threat to any nation.

As always, we have to accept the interference of this country for economic reasons, and do not forget that China itself offers indispensable business opportunities in a time of a global economic crisis.

China itself is also in fact an owner, more or less hidden, of the many major Western brands. All this raises serious questions about the real willingness and capacity of key nations to want to punish the country. Are we are willing to accept this?

Private companies can hardly defend against similar offensives, as the war is uneven.

China is a cyber power capable of destroying any opponent, especially when going against private companies in serious difficulties because of the difficult economy situation.

These companies are the most vulnerable members of the security chain and therefore a favorite target for information gathering operations by hostile governments. Unfortunately, these companies tend to consider security as a cost center, with obvious consequences.

If there will not be a change in the policies of major governments on the above points we will find ourselves having to deal with very dangerous situations that are politically difficult to manage.

References

Cross-posted from Security Affairs

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Krypt3ia A response to the rape of Nanking?
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Pierluigi Paganini Hi Krypt3ia, first of all I desire to congratulate with you for interesting posts. Thank you! Regarding your comment ... Do Not cultivate hatred on hate. The event is dated 1937, certainly there are unhealed wounds, but today everything is a function of ignoble money.
Regards
Pierluigi
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Krypt3ia Well, the rape of Nanking still resonates with the Chinese quite a bit. So I would not put that past the Chinese to use as a propaganda tool with the Green Army etc. Nor for that matter the Green Army and others performing such actions against Japan in memory of this.

In the end though, "if" it was China who did the attacking, it was for their purposes of being a superpower/financial power through their soft power methods.
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Pierluigi Paganini Yes, I see your point and share it
Regards
PL
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Mikel Gore Anyone have any idea why Chinese attackers don't obfuscate their attacks better? Seems rather amateur to always allow the attacks to lead back to their own country. They have the funds to rent a location in any other country they want. Confusing, or perhaps something else is going on.
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Krypt3ia Mikel, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar... However, I would not always claim that China were the actors.
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