Information Warfare: Pentagon Spooked By Corporate Spies

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January 18, 2008: Corporate security officials have been delivering some bad news to the U.S. Department of Defense, and American intelligence agencies. It seems that the Internet criminals are putting more effort, and skill, into seeking out corporate secrets. Why should that trouble the Pentagon? Mainly because many of the corporate secrets sought are all about military technology, and the U.S. government uses the same kind of networks and software, and security tools, that corporations use. Worse, corporate security tends to be better than what's found in government organizations. So if the Black Hats (criminal hackers) are getting into corporate systems, they can burrow into the Pentagon, and other government agencies, as well.

The latest wave of attacks on corporations are targeted. The hackers are going after specific people, who have access to a limited set of valuable information. This is often done with email that appears authentic, but actually contains hidden software that gives the hackers access to the victims PC. Such messages will often be sent to hundreds, or thousands, of people working in a part of the corporation that the data thieves want to plunder. The hidden software is well crafted, and quite capable of keeping itself hidden. This stuff is not invulnerable, but corporate network guardians are appalled at how difficult some of it is to find and remove. Sometimes the targets are a mystery as well. There has been quite a lot of activity directed at health care records, which are being stolen and transmitted to foreign locations. This is either to propagate some illegal drug scam, or seek secret data on new drugs being developed.

From a military point of view, the fear is that these thieves would hire themselves out to a foreign nation, to perform espionage, or allow their hacking techniques and software to be used for military purposes. No one will admit exactly how good the criminal hacking tools and techniques are. But the implication is that it's more powerful than what the military hackers have.

 


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