Information Warfare: Professional Chinese Military Hackers

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December 22, 2005: Chinese Cyber War efforts are being betrayed by increased professionalism. What? In the past, Chinese hacking efforts were typically numerous, and often sloppy. Being able to trace some of the attackers back to Chinese neighborhoods ( known to contain military or government bureaucracies) made it pretty clear who the intruders probably were. The Chinese denied everything, although they admitted that there were Chinese students who might do that sort of thing, and, of course, there were criminal elements out there as well. But more recently, a lot of the attacks from China have been much better organized, possessing a, shall we say, "military precision." These guys aren't trainees, bored students or inept criminals. The latest batch of Chinese hackers are going after American military servers, and are trying to plant Trojan Horse type software, that will enable them to return, at will, to grab data from the infected PC, or quickly shut it down. A Trojan Horse can also be used to monitor what goes on in the infected PC, but that requires sending stuff back to China, which makes it more likely that the PC infection will be discovered. Many of the infections are being discovered, although it's a secret how many, and how. The big question is, how many of the infections were not detected. The Chinese are also going after American defense contractors, and U.S. government systems in general. Many of these attacks appear to be to collect secret information.

Cyber War begins in peace time, as you constantly scout enemy networks, trying to get a good idea of how vulnerable they are to infection. When the real war comes, whoever can do the most damage, the quickest, wins. While the rest of the Chinese army may not train a lot, the same cannot be said for the Cyber War troops. They are training hard, and doing it on the networks they would attack in wartime.

 


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