Chinese Hackers, Russian Cyber Crime and American Apathy

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dan Dieterle


A couple years ago, I used to spend a lot of time on government related blogs just stunned to hear about America’s slow movement in securing critical infrastructure and government systems.

I feel that the American government, like a huge ship, takes a long time to turn. Signs look good that the ship is starting to turn though. At the government level at least.

The next huge hurdle is businesses and even home users…

We as a nation are facing very dedicated international hackers, including Chinese state sponsored hackers and Russian crime syndicates.

I was watching a security video featuring David Kennedy (Social Engineering Toolkit creator, Former military intelligence) and he made some interesting comments about Chinese hackers.

He mentioned that China was known to just take software created by others and implementing it as their own.

Even the “Great Firewall of China” was found to have “borrowed” code in it.

He then asked the audience how many security guys that they had protecting their networks at their places of employment. One said 2 another said 15.

David mentioned something that really puts the whole Chinese hacker thing into prospective. 

You have 2 to 15 guys protecting your network; they have the manpower to task 1,000 hackers to penetrating your system if you have something they want. Who is going to win that battle?

Also, I have heard that many of the Russian hackers are out of work IT workers that could not find jobs. They have turned to hacking to make money.  

These guys are no joke; they are top tier programmers and system engineers using their skills to crack networks.

Unfortunately, many American businesses and home users don’t focus on securing their systems, or simply don’t care.

Meeting corporate budgets so the CEO can get a big bonus or allowing peer to peer software so managers can download movies is of greater concern. Until something happens of course.

But apathy is not always the case. Many American business owners and home users have been misinformed.

They think that if they have a firewall and anti-virus that they are safe. Some businesses do not even have policies about system usage or online safety. 

Yet, they are an integral link to American infrastructure.

Our government is waking up to online threats, now it is time for businesses and even home users to come along side and provide a united front in protecting America’s digital borders.

Cross-posted from Cyber Arms

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Anthonie Ruighaver Why would home users and business have to care? Improving preventative security in the current environment is extremely costly and, as you stated in this post, almost futile.

The real next hurdle is still government not putting pressure on industry to provide better (management) tools and not providing incentives to business and home users to improve their security.

There are plenty of good ideas in academia, but none of them seem to be taken up by the security industry. We need government support to improve innovation and to facilitate large scale adoption of successful new approaches to information security.
Ray Tan "He mentioned that China was known to just take software created by others and implementing it as their own. "
I am ashamed of this although it is not exactly the truth, some of the Chinese companies did these things.
I hope more and more excellent software can be developed all by our own.
Dan Dieterle Anthonie, excellent points. Symantec recently stated "that 80% to 85% of critical infrastructure is in the private sector and a good portion of it is small businesses."

You are right, the question really is, how to get everyone on the same page?

Rsignia has some great automatic cyber defense systems, which currently are a government only device. And most monitoring system software is geared to large/enterprise level businesses.

It would appear that if small business is that critical to our infrastructure, the government needs to get together with the private sector and come up with a good civil defense strategy.

Dan Dieterle Ray Tan, true, it is not China as a whole doing this, but certain parts.
And China is not the only country doing this.

A large American software company used to borrow generously from other software companies.

I agree with you, it would seem that one would be proudest of the software that was completely created internally.
Anthony M. Freed "You might be interested in a video produced by the National Security Agency (NSA) about their commercially available High Assurance Platform (HAP). It's a revolutionary concept to mitigate cyber-threats at the enterprise level or below...again, commercially available. It's worth a look-see."

A good reference from a LinkedIn member: Carol Taska Smith
Anthonie Ruighaver Had a look at the first part of the video. Got bored. So let's assume everybody will use this platform (unlikely and expensive). Will we now be secure, or was this just an escalation of the conflict? There will be new vulnerabilities and we will need a new platform.

What we really need first is better "virus protection" which is guaranteed to detect any compromised platform. (Notice I did not say detect any attack, there is a difference. A blacklist just detects attacks)

We may need hardware support for this. So, how do we get Intel to take this seriously, for unless it is build in the standard PC, home owners and small business will not use it.
Dan Dieterle Thanks Anthony, I will definitely check that video out.

Its been a while since I have read up on the High Assurance Platform. It looked very interesting.

If my memory recalls correctly, it is based around using the Trusted Platform Module chip for cryptography.

I have a great picture of one stamped "Made in China"! :)
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