Information Warfare: Spear Phishing the Troops

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August 31, 2007: U.S. Department of Defense security officials were rather disturbed recently when they discovered that military personnel were getting targeted emails from hackers. If the soldier tried to open the attacked file, their computer who have hacking software secretly installed. This software would basically give the hacker control of that PC, making it possible to monitor what the user does on the computer, and have access to whatever is on that machine. While many troops sense that the "spear fishing" (or "phishing") attack is just that, some don't, and it only takes a few compromised PCs to give someone access to a lot of secret information. This would be the case even if it is home PCs that are being infected.

The Department of Defense has 11 million Internet users, five million PCs and 12,000 networks, and is the largest Internet user on the planet. In addition, there are millions of home PCs used by military and government personnel. Security researchers are trying to find out what kind of list (of military email addresses) was compiled for these attacks, and where the lists came from. These attacks could be in search of classified information, or attempts to set up military networks (with software that will take these systems down) for a future attack.

All the services are scrambling to get their Cyber War defenses strengthened. The U.S. Air Force is trying to establish itself as the primary Cyber War organization in the Department of Defense, but in a case like this, the best defense is alerting and training individual troops.

 


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