Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

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rbqapfym
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Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby rbqapfym » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:36 am UTC

I've copied the article here, and it's the first link after googling "Chinese cyber attacks on West are widespread, experts say" (I can't link it because of posting restrictions).

Spoiler:
Chinese cyber attacks on West are widespread, experts say
By Kevin Voigt, CNN
February 2, 2013 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Allegations that Chinese hackers infiltrated the computers of two leading U.S. newspapers add to a growing number of cyber attacks on Western companies, governments and foreign-based dissidents that are believed to originate in China, experts say.

According to one recent report, one in every three observed computer attacks in the third quarter of 2012 emanated from China.

Chinese officials have denied that Beijing has supported any cyber attacks, stressing that hacking is illegal in the country.

The New York Times reported Wednesday it had been the target of four months of cyber assaults, which started during an investigation by the newspaper into the wealth reportedly accumulated by relatives of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. The Wall Street Journal said Thursday that its computer systems also had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers.

Cyber security experts say the alleged attack on The New York Times appeared to be similar to previously reported attacks that were linked to China.

"To do a spear-phishing attack of this kind is a well-established move in attacks against Google and various U.S. defense contractors from China," said Thomas Parenty, a former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency who now advises foreign firms in China on computer security.

NYT attack a wake-up call, security experts say
China denies NY Times hack attack
China denies NY Times hack attack
New York Times: We were hacked

"You could say the tools are sort of stock-in-trade" for Chinese hackers, he said.

"Spear-phishing" is a technique of disguising an email so that it appears to be from a trusted source, luring the victim to open an attachment or link that unleashes malicious software on the computer.

Investigators for The Times say they suspect the technique was used by the hackers to break into the newspaper's system where they were able collect passwords of every Times employee and gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees.

Security experts who helped the newspaper to counter the attacks accumulated evidence that the hackers used methods "associated with the Chinese military in the past" to breach the network, The Times said.

Chinese denials

Asked about The Times's allegations on Thursday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that "all such alleged attacks are groundless, irresponsible accusations lacking solid proof or reliable research results." China has been the victim of cyberattacks and "has laws and regulations prohibiting such actions," the spokesman, Hong Lei, said at a regular news briefing.

A separate statement from the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said the country's military "has never supported any hacker activities."

But data reported by Western companies suggest that even though Chinese authorities say they prohibit hacking, they are struggling to keep it under control.

One-third of all observed computer attacks from July through September last year came from China, according to a report last month from Akamai Technologies, an Internet services company.

The United States was a distant second, originating 13% of observed attacks, followed by Russia with 4.7%.

"China has been consistently responsible for the largest percentage of observed attacks since (the fourth quarter of) 2011," the report said.

The most recent report shows a dramatic upswing in incidents from the Asian country. In the second quarter, 16% of observed cyber attacks came from China, the company said.

The executive summary of the report didn't specify from which groups or individuals in China the attacks might have come.

Google had a very public spat with the Chinese government in 2010 after it claimed China had led a hacking attack against Google, other technology companies, defense corporations and Chinese dissidents.

"In the past they've been pretty much focused on either intellectual properties, such as the hacking of defense companies, or dissidents they want to get at, like the Google Gmail attacks," Parenty said. "In this case, it appears they were trying to be able to get to people who talked to The New York Times -- they could make their lives miserable and send the message: Don't do this.

"They love to instill fear so people self censor or limit what they would say or do with the media," he added.

Compromised computers

Mandiant, the security firm that led the investigation at The New York Times, says there is good reason for concern in the United States.

"There are thousands of computers compromising the United States at universities, at Mom and Pop shops -- small organizations without a big cyber security program -- and those computers serve as the beachhead to hack blue-chip American companies," Kevin Mandia, the chief executive of Mandiant, told CNN.

"The majority of victims, well over 90% of the victims we have responded to, really don't disclose that these attacks occur" for fear of losing customer trust, Mandia said.

"The folks that perpetrated this intrusion have done it to hundreds of other organizations and usually they are very successful," Mandia said. "What's really unique here is the fact that the victim organization, The New York Times, has decided to share this information with the public, so people can be more aware of the problem -- because it's a very pervasive problem."

Marc Frons, chief information officer of The Times, told CNN that the newspaper believed it had prevented this attack from revealing confidential sources.

In the case of the investigation into Wen's family's finances, much of the information came from public records.

But Frons said The Times isn't letting its guard down after expelling the hackers.

"I think we're over this phase of the attack and obviously the types of things they tried to do previously they'll have a more difficult time doing, but this isn't over," he said. "As long as there are computers and networks we're going to be faced with cyber espionage threats."


On that page, I scrolled through the comments, but even after reading that I'm not sure that the attacks come from China. My question is: could it be simply attacks from computers in the US that use VPN/proxies to appear as though they're in China? Is there evidence for or against?

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sardia
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:11 pm UTC

They did it, the only question is who in China did it. Was it patriotic hackers who turn over the data for money or patriotism, the military/universities, or friends of the family that hold a grudge.
It also sends a message out to potential leakers and sources that journalists can't keep you anonymous, and they will find your names by hacking into their servers. It could provide a chilling effect on future stories because people won't be as willing to talk.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Роберт » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:39 pm UTC

sardia wrote:They did it, the only question is who in China did it. Was it patriotic hackers who turn over the data for money or patriotism, the military/universities, or friends of the family that hold a grudge.
It also sends a message out to potential leakers and sources that journalists can't keep you anonymous, and they will find your names by hacking into their servers. It could provide a chilling effect on future stories because people won't be as willing to talk.

How are you so confident it's China?
The Great Hippo wrote:[T]he way we treat suspected terrorists genuinely terrifies me.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:12 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:
sardia wrote:They did it, the only question is who in China did it. Was it patriotic hackers who turn over the data for money or patriotism, the military/universities, or friends of the family that hold a grudge.
It also sends a message out to potential leakers and sources that journalists can't keep you anonymous, and they will find your names by hacking into their servers. It could provide a chilling effect on future stories because people won't be as willing to talk.

How are you so confident it's China?

Repetitive circumstantial evidence, a lot of it. That, and there's no real downside to assuming it. There's security holes everywhere on the net, you have to recognize that. Second, if your sources believe the Chinese did it, then they'll act like the Chinese did it. Would it hold up against a jury? Maybe, but would you act on this level of evidence? Absolutely.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Роберт » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:10 pm UTC

It just seems that a lot of people are pushing the idea that we should hate China so I'm skeptical.
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Chen » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:49 pm UTC

One-third of all observed computer attacks from July through September last year came from China, according to a report last month from Akamai Technologies, an Internet services company.

The United States was a distant second, originating 13% of observed attacks, followed by Russia with 4.7%.


That distant second of 13% is not as distant when you realize there are more than double the amount of people in China who use the internet compared to the US. A little more info on WHY they think the attack is linked to China besides the attack type being similar would be nice. Sure if the phishing emails were nearly identical I might be able to get on board, but just saying its the similar TYPE of attack is pretty damn broad.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:44 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
One-third of all observed computer attacks from July through September last year came from China, according to a report last month from Akamai Technologies, an Internet services company.

The United States was a distant second, originating 13% of observed attacks, followed by Russia with 4.7%.


That distant second of 13% is not as distant when you realize there are more than double the amount of people in China who use the internet compared to the US. A little more info on WHY they think the attack is linked to China besides the attack type being similar would be nice. Sure if the phishing emails were nearly identical I might be able to get on board, but just saying its the similar TYPE of attack is pretty damn broad.

That's not why people say China is behind the attack, there's what the attack did. People who want money steal personal identity or credit card information. Hacktivists and such use denial of service attacks to shut down a website. (Iran's attack on Saudi's Aramco destroyed a lot of data, costing them money) Corporate espionage looks for proprietary source code and other plans to get an edge on their competitors. The current attack was looking for names and data on sources of articles regarding China's wealthiest leaders. Not typically the kind of thing robbers and hacktivists go for, though there is some shared attacks. If you had just ratted out the family of a corrupt politician in China on the condition of anonymity, you'd be pretty scared if the NYtimes asked you, or anyone else to do it in the future.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:28 pm UTC

sardia wrote:That's not why people say China is behind the attack, there's what the attack did. People who want money steal personal identity or credit card information. Hacktivists and such use denial of service attacks to shut down a website. (Iran's attack on Saudi's Aramco destroyed a lot of data, costing them money) Corporate espionage looks for proprietary source code and other plans to get an edge on their competitors. The current attack was looking for names and data on sources of articles regarding China's wealthiest leaders. Not typically the kind of thing robbers and hacktivists go for, though there is some shared attacks. If you had just ratted out the family of a corrupt politician in China on the condition of anonymity, you'd be pretty scared if the NYtimes asked you, or anyone else to do it in the future.


Well it IS what the article you linked said was the reason for the attack. I had to dig a bit to find more articles that do clarify they saw people looking at the chinese articles which does further support your point. However, nothing in the article this thread was about said that. It merely said the attacks coincided with a time when reports were being done about wealthy chinese politicians. The cynic in me assumed it was putting that there to make people assume there was a link even though one wasn't mentioned, its not like that doesn't happen in most news articles...

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Fire Brns » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:52 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:It just seems that a lot of people are pushing the idea that we should hate China so I'm skeptical.

I see that too. Their government is the real bad guy of the country and I wouldn't fault the citizens for that. I don't hate them but I do see them as competitors on a global game of chess. I'm not against the purchase of their goods as they need to fully industrialize for the sake of their own people, they still have no internal economy to speak of and if we just cut our flow of money as some people are suggesting we could throw them into an unrecoverable depression or even civil war(worst case scenario). I do think we (the US) need to be more competitive as well: reduce our own cost of goods, encourage business growth, deregulate some aspects of manufacturing.

To the hacking part, China is still old school in it's oppressive tactics: restricting, manipulating, and destroying information. It looks like if they are targeting information on rats then they are using coercion and intimidation as well. As governmental hacking that seems like an act of war if it can be proved. As a private entity they only face legal repercussions if we can catch them. And from previous experience we know how China can claim people are volunteers.
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:04 pm UTC

Does that mean you do believe someone from China is behind this attack? It wasn't clear based on your post. Anyway, while you could read this as cold war-esque talk about a future rival, it's also an acceptance of a new age. The US started this when they and Israel attacked Iran's nuclear program with malicious code. That signaled a new era where state and nonstate actors can act behind anonymity to strike at whatever interests them. China isn't the only one doing hacking attacks, every major country is. It's just that a news organization is gonna report that they got hacked, especially if it leads to a juicy story. This is on par with yahoo cooperating with an authoritarian country or corporate espionage due to malicious coding.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby mousewiz » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:47 pm UTC

sardia wrote:The US started this when they and Israel attacked Iran's nuclear program with malicious code.

I'm curious, how did you reach the conclusion that Stuxnet started this as opposed to any other attack where some government is alleged to have been involved despite their denial*? Just to name the first example to come to mind, Operation Aurora was discovered several months before Stuxnet was discovered.


*I'm aware that the US has fessed up to Stuxnet, but if confessing was the important bit, then you'd have to say it started when the US admitted to doing it; not when they did it. There's a significant gap between the events.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:10 pm UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/opini ... .html?_r=0
This provides a good argument, but if that's not very convincing, I can say stuxnet symbolizes a beginning of a new age rather than the simplistic "US started it". Does the entry of the US into cyber attacks correlated into an increase in cyber attacks? I'm not informed enough to make that declaration, but that's what the papers are saying.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby rbqapfym » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:24 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Well it IS what the article you linked said was the reason for the attack.

Unless you're talking about some other article, that was me.

In any case, disregarding circumstantial evidence, can there be reasonable doubt that the attack came from within China's borders? Do proxies or VPN work that way?

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby addams » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:55 pm UTC

sardia wrote:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/opinion/stuxnet-will-come-back-to-haunt-us.html?_r=0
This provides a good argument, but if that's not very convincing, I can say stuxnet symbolizes a beginning of a new age rather than the simplistic "US started it". Does the entry of the US into cyber attacks correlated into an increase in cyber attacks? I'm not informed enough to make that declaration, but that's what the papers are saying.

Such an interesting article.
I vaguely remember that attack.
It was the US? Oh me yarm.

Cyper Wars? The Future Is Now. (?)
I like the computers. They are simply a tool.
Like a hammer or a car or a train.

Cyper Damage. I do not understand the subject, either.
I have seen my computer do funny things.
It can be controlled by a unknown agent.

It seems to be common knowledge.
Ten years ago it was not common knowledge.
Twenty years ago it was not possible.
Thirty years ago it was not thinkable by most persons.

Today; Today, (Deep Breath.)
Today. What is true, today.

How fast will that truth change?

I heard a woman speak with passion two days ago.
She wanted to unplug The World.
The idea does have some charm.
It is a bad idea.

I was thinking about a similar thing.
I was walking along, thinking.
Turn off the electronic voice.
No more, TV!

Well; That is a bad idea, too.
That would be cruel.
The People are attached to the imaginary people on TV.
How empty our lives would be.

I am sorry. I did not know the US did that attack.
Is it true? How can I know? One article linked in a Forum in the Internet?

I listened. That attack was a long time ago; In Computer Years.
Then, I heard no news.
Today, I read an article dated June 2012.
Is it true? A computer virus? Used to harm the ability of a nation to produce safe electricity to its people?

That was done by agents of the United States? Who said? Is it true?
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:23 pm UTC

Роберт wrote:It just seems that a lot of people are pushing the idea that we should hate China so I'm skeptical.


You certainly don't have to hate china to recognize that they're implicated in rather a lot of malware and what not. Given what the apparent goal of the attack was, it certainly seems highly probable that it was the chinese.

Most open proxies are pretty well known about, and your average small fry doesn't have the resources to set up ones for casual mucking about with. Governments do, I suppose, but without any actual information from the event...china seems by far the most likely and obvious culprit.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby mousewiz » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:13 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Most open proxies are pretty well known about, and your average small fry doesn't have the resources to set up ones for casual mucking about with. Governments do, I suppose, but without any actual information from the event...china seems by far the most likely and obvious culprit.

Huh? Setting up closed proxies is as easy as setting up a small botnet; skiddies do that all the time (for some definition of 'all the time'). Not to mention that the threat isn't limited to small fry or government; I imagine that anyone doing professional cybercrime (or doing it well, at least) could afford to maintain dedicated machines in China without trouble.

Without knowing what the attack was we can't really judge the resources required to carry out the attack; everyone who gets hacked says the attackers were sophisticated for obvious PR reasons. The trail of IPs pointing back to China means basically nothing. Motive is the only piece of published evidence that really points at China. A case could be made for history being another piece of evidence, but the evidence in past attacks is about the same as it is now, so that doesn't really work.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby addams » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:29 pm UTC

http://www.zdnet.com/no-shame-in-admitt ... 040155093/

It seems I am behind the wave on this one.
I am behind the wave on many things.

China? Really?
If China wants your information, give it to her.
What would be the point of fighting a Cyper War with China?
What would be the point of fighting a Cyper War with The US?

This screen leaves me wondering what to believe.
You? The World is so sure of its self.
Are you?

Cyper security?
Does that mean one person is out thinking a different person?
Oh! It is a team sport?!
The US team against the team from China?

No one gets hurt. Right? Like computer games.
But; That attack on a public power plant.
That is a mean thing to do. Who did that?
Does it matter?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby rbqapfym » Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:37 pm UTC

addams wrote:It seems I am behind the wave on this one.
I am behind the wave on many things.
<snip>

I'm not familiar with these forums. Are you disguising a message in the number of syllables per line?

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby Fire Brns » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:07 am UTC

rbqapfym wrote:
addams wrote:It seems I am behind the wave on this one.
I am behind the wave on many things.
<snip>

I'm not familiar with these forums. Are you disguising a message in the number of syllables per line?

addams just likes to talk in poetry, it is easier to parse some times than others.
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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby PossibleSloth » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:49 pm UTC

mousewiz wrote:The trail of IPs pointing back to China means basically nothing. Motive is the only piece of published evidence that really points at China.

China's internet traffic is heavily regulated by their government. There are far easier ways of hiding your location than routing through Chinese servers.

It's widely acknowledged among government and corporate security people that China is actively hacking US companies and government agencies. We know they've stolen intellectual property and military secrets, including software source code and plans for Lockheed fighter jets. We can't prove it's government sponsored yet, and maybe we never will. Still, if you were a government, would you rather spend 100 billion developing a new jet or 10 million training some hackers to go steal some blueprints?

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby mousewiz » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:29 am UTC

PossibleSloth wrote:
mousewiz wrote:The trail of IPs pointing back to China means basically nothing. Motive is the only piece of published evidence that really points at China.

China's internet traffic is heavily regulated by their government. There are far easier ways of hiding your location than routing through Chinese servers.

Given that they still can't block Tor traffic, anyone with the knowledge to hack the NYT should have the knowledge to easily route through China if they feel like it.

It's widely acknowledged among government and corporate security people that China is actively hacking US companies and government agencies. We know they've stolen intellectual property and military secrets, including software source code and plans for Lockheed fighter jets. We can't prove it's government sponsored yet, and maybe we never will. Still, if you were a government, would you rather spend 100 billion developing a new jet or 10 million training some hackers to go steal some blueprints?

@Your rhetorical question - I think the thing you quoted acknowledged that motive points at China, so I don't know why you reiterate motive as evidence.
@"Widely accepted" - sure, in general. At least I think you need to start invoking conspiracy theories to say it's not happening in general. In most particular cases, though, there isn't published evidence beyond the facts that (1) it appears to be happening in general and (2) China has motive.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:36 am UTC

Are you claiming that there are other groups out there that want the names of Chinese informants and dissidents? Or that the evidence simply isn't enough that we can prove in court? We can play this reasonable doubt game all day, but I dunno why we should. i.e. Did the US/Israel cyberattack Iranian centrifuges with Stuxnet? Yes, No, There's an outside group that framed the US/Israel. Pick one.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby mousewiz » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:42 am UTC

sardia wrote:Are you claiming that there are other groups out there that want the names of Chinese informants and dissidents? Or that the evidence simply isn't enough that we can prove in court?

I'm not making either claim. In this thread I think I've made approximately the following claims:
1) I don't believe that Stuxnet symbolized anything. Perhaps the near admission of responsibility for Stuxnet did.
2) It is *easy* to set up closed proxies.
3) It is *easy* to route through China, regardless of the firewall.
4) Due to 2 & 3, an attack originating in China should not be evidence that the attackers were Chinese. As I've said already, motive is the only real evidence here.

If you want my opinion on this attack, it'd be that this attack was probably China. Just like every other attack that gets blamed on China. Obviously there isn't enough to prove it in court or else someone would (I hope) be doing it already; the un-provability of it is not a good enough reason for other countries to ignore the problem though, so it's good that they're not. That said I suspect that some non-zero number of attacks that are blamed on China are not of Chinese origin; malware authors do plant foreign language strings in their binaries to throw off analysis, and I would expect other hackers to behave in a similar manner.

We can play this reasonable doubt game all day, but I dunno why we should. i.e. Did the US/Israel cyberattack Iranian centrifuges with Stuxnet? Yes, No, There's an outside group that framed the US/Israel. Pick one.

Given that the US has virtually admitted to that one, combined with the nifty certificate collision in Flame, it was probably them. However there was a lot of sloppiness in Stuxnet (eg, its purpose was reverse engineered largely because instead of searching for a hash of a string, it searched for a string) so, honestly, in 2010/11 I would have said "no" purely because I would've given the US too much credit.

If you think I'm playing some reasonable doubt game, you might note that I pointed to Operation Aurora as an attack that was probably from China and was discovered before Stuxnet to support claim (1) above.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby addams » Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:19 am UTC

“It’s the greatest transfer of wealth in history,” General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, said at a security conference at New York’s Fordham University in January.


That is from the 'actively' linked article.
Is that funny?

This is the News from a international smarty pants point of view. Right?
The Communists come from behind and Win with Game!
(Think Kermit running around in circles because the game is over, Thank God.)

How did they do it? Long Story.
Short Story? They bought it. The Communists did what?!

The Chinese are Communists. Right?
The greatest transfer of wealth in history?
That strikes me as funny.

You know about the Communists. Right?
Do you know what their Moto is? Well; I'm not sure.
I have not talked to all of them. I talked to some.

One man told me in no uncertain terms: "We Do It For The People."

I have no idea what a Communist is. I have met The People.
People can be frightening.
Some are so very kind.
Ya' never know with people.

Of course, I am frightened.
The world of the computer is a large and forbidding environment.
Cyber War could be very painful for The People.
The People in the US are frightened of their shadows, now.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Chinese(?) hacked NYTimes

Postby sardia » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:43 am UTC

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/techn ... technology
Mandiant, the company that the NYtimes hired to repel the group hacking them has released a public report on a series of attacks that all originate in the same neighborhood as a Chinese army affiliated office tower.
http://www.mandiant.com/apt1
60 page study by mandiant.

While everyone thinks the Chinese are behind cyber attacks, this is the first attempt to show evidence that the attacks are state backed. I'm concerned about the potential US response to these growing attacks. Are we going to hit back? Will it also be cyberattack or a missile slamming into the office tower? Or will some unlucky hacker linked to this office building have an unfortunate accident? At the very least, this has implication for privacy on the internet as we could consider trading anonymity for security.


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