A cold conflict on the digital front

In Opinion
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

The appearance of a new army has come to the attention of the United States. This army is part of the war that is occurring through the Internet.

Hacking attacks have occurred on many different companies and organizations around the world. The United States needs to take a stand now before the situation worsens.

Mandiant, an American computer security firm, has recently published some findings revealing China to be behind a significant part of the alleged hacking attacks. The origins have been tracked to the headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Unit 61398, located in Shanghai.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei, responded by saying there was not enough proof that the Chinese are behind the hackings, adding that it is very difficult to track down origins of hacking and that Mandiant had “groundless accusations.”

Yet there is significant information that the Chinese government is completely aware of what is occurring with hacking groups like Comment Crew and APT1. Even if the above accusations are indeed groundless, it’s difficult to believe that Chinese hacking is not a threat of some kind.

Although China is standing by its innocence, there is an alarming amount of proof that it is the origin of the attacks—especially since information found by Mandiant comes from looking at years of hacking, as well as researching and studying the hacking groups.

Mandiant is just one of the firms that are attempting to track the hacking attacks. Additionally, Dell SecureWorks discovered that hackers were also using a hacker tool to hide their true location. Using a reverse-engineering tool, Dell found that the location of the attacks derived from Shanghai, where Unit 61398 is located.

This should be alarming to companies, even those who previously had little concern regarding hacking.

According to Mandiant, the hacking armies have stolen hundreds of terabytes of information, which included past blueprints and business plans. APT1 alone has been able to stay inside of companies for as long as four years. Apple, Coca-Cola and three major U.S. newspapers have each been victims.

Mandiant’s accusations arise from years of research and continue to point out that, despite protestations, those groundless claims actually do stand fairly solid.

These hacking attacks should be taken very seriously by the United States. According to the New York Times, methods like “spear-phishing” send maligned e-mails that, when clicked, place malware on target computers that run rampant. With this information, there is a lot of damage that China can do. If hackers are able to get into companies, then they could manipulate plans, steal valuable information and use them to their advantage, selling them to the appropriate party to reveal once-clandestine business strategies.

This has already occurred with Coca-Cola. The company attempted to purchase a China beverage company, but as the final steps of the deal were being completed, Comment Crew was inside the company learning more about their business strategies.

As a result, the deal fell apart, and Coca-Cola did not purchase the company.

President Obama seems to be taking the hacking threats seriously, mentioning it in his State of the Union speech, signing an executive order on Feb. 12 in order to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity.

Obama voiced concerns, saying that the United States does not want to look back and have done nothing about the growing threat of hackers.

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