Cyber-Securitys New Global Battlefield: U.S., Russia, China

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Cyber-Securitys New Global Battlefield: U.S., Russia, China

by Brian Prince

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Hijacking the Internet

A report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission aired accusations that China Telecom had intercepted massive amounts of traffic, rerouting traffic to 15 percent of the Internets destinations through servers in China. China Telecom has denied the allegations.

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Google vs. Aurora

In January, Google revealed it had been attacked in what came to be known as Operation Aurora. The attack is believed to have stretched from the middle of 2009 to that December, and affected dozens of organizations, including Adobe Systems and Juniper Networks. Blame for the attack was laid at Chinas doorstep, with the State Department at one point condemning the attacks and requesting an explanation from the Chinese government. Chinese officials denied involvement.

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Twitter as a Weapon of Unrest?

In the aftermath of the Aurora revelations in January, Chinas state-run Peoples Daily newspaper accused the United States of fomenting unrest in Iran using Twitter and YouTube during controversial elections there in 2009. The editorial criticized America as being hypocritical. The State Department acknowledged contacting Twitter to urge the company to delay an upgrade that could have disrupted the flow of information for people in Iran.

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Stuxnet Finger-Pointing

There has been plenty of speculation about the authors of the Stuxnet worm, which makes its living targeting industrial control systems. What there hasnt been much of is direct proof. However, that has not stopped some people from contending the worm was meant to sabotage Irans nuclear ambitions.

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Vietnamese Dissidents Hit

Vietnamese dissidents were twice reported to be victims of cyber-attacks this year. In March, Google and McAfee uncovered evidence??íof a malware campaign targeting critics of Chinese-backed mining operation in Vietnam. Vietnamese officials denied any involvement. Then in October, SecureWorks reported DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against blogs and forums criticizing the Vietnamese Communist Party.

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Cyber-Attacks Proceed Ground War

Prior to Russians invasion of Georgia in 2008, DDoS attacks were launched against the Georgian government, news media and other Websites. Though some said the timing of the attacks suggested the involvement of the Russian government, an August 2009 report by the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit said the culprits were civilian hacktivists, though the organizers of the attacks had advanced knowledge of Russias military plans.

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Estonia Gets Attacked

Starting in late April 2007, hackers began a major campaign against Estonian government and commercial sites. At the time, the country's leadership was locked in a heated debate with the Russian government over a memorial to fallen soldiers. Most of the attacks were DDoS. Estonia immediately blamed the Russian government for the attacks, while Russian officials??ídenied any culpability. In the time since, there have been various claims of responsibility.

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GhostNet Haunts the Web

GhostNet was a massive cyber-espionage operation revealed in 2009 by researchers at Information Warfare Monitor, or IWM, following a 10-month investigation. GhostNet is believed to have infiltrated computer systems in 103 countries, including embassies and government offices. GhostNets command-and-control infrastructure was based mainly in China, but IWM said there was no conclusive evidence to link the Chinese government to the operation.

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