Friday, January 17, 2014

Opting Out to Link In To Quantum

"What's new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency's ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before. 
"Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it's never had before."
James Andrew Lewis, cyber-security expert, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington
 The NSA has tools to allow them to access computers that aren't even online, a report says.
"How do you ensure that Cyber Command people [are able to look at] those that are attacking us? That is what the submarines do all the time. They track the adversary submarines. [Precisely what in cyberspace the U.S. does] to silently track the adversaries while they're trying to silently track you."
Senior (unnamed) U.S. official

Back in February of 2013 when the United States was publicly excoriating Beijing for its presumed cyberattacks on American military and industrial sites, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng accused overseas computer hackers of targeting two of China's official Defence websites an average of 144,000 times each month in 2012.

AP / Kyodo News files
AP / Kyodo News filesIn this Feb. 20, 2013 photo, the building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai. For state-backed cyberspies such as the Chinese military unit implicated by a U.S. security firm in a computer crime wave, hacking foreign companies can produce high-value secrets ranging from details on oil fields to advanced manufacturing technology.
Two thirds of those attacks, according to the Chinese, originated in the United States. Who, us? Beijing's countercharges arose out of U.S.  cybersecurity company Mandiant's claims that Chinese military-backed cyberspies infiltrated overseas networks to steal massive data from American companies and other entities. China denied its military has ever supported hacking.

It has now been revealed to the public eye that the American National Security Agency implanted software in 100,000 computers across the globe allowing the U.S. to conduct surveillance and also enabling it to create a digital highway from which it can launch cyber attacks. Most of the software was put in place through access to computer networks, but the NSA has also made use of a secret technology enabling it to enter and alter data in computers even when they aren't connected to the Internet.

Now that's amazing, in a sinister kind of way, isn't it? But it's a technology in use since 2008, relying on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from minuscule circuit boards and USB cards stealthily inserted into computers. Then forwarded to a small relay station that intelligence agents can set up kilometres from the target. Computer security impervious to cyber attack? Not if the NSA has anything to say about it. Strike before you're struck. Proactive cyberwar.

This is all misunderstood, needless to say. A country must defend itself through a reliable security network, and this is precisely what the United States is doing. Amusingly enough, the technology has been in active use since the election to the presidency of the country of a dove, a socialist-minded democrat swept to power in a promise of the 'audacity of hope', promises of equality and a brighter future not only for his country but the international community. It earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Quantum program, since that's what it has been named, succeeded in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and 'partners against terrorism' like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan. NSA insists it has never, would never, use its investigative powers to appropriate industrial secrets to empower American corporations.

That, it declares emphatically is what China does, and its actions relating to the Quantum program are not to be compared with China's. Check the Internet to determine the number of American companies hawking solutions to ridding computers of NSA malware, and the complaints lodged online by panicked Americans.

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