05.07.13

The Nebulous Menace: Shoeshine at its best

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Shoeshine at 9:13 am by George Smith

Formally, the Obama administration has chosen to allow the Pentagon to take the lead in describing the threat of Chinese cyberwarriors:

The Obama administration on Monday explicitly accused China’s military of mounting attacks on American government computer systems and defense contractors, saying one motive could be to map “military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

While some recent estimates have more than 90 percent of cyberespionage in the United States originating in China, the accusations relayed in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities were remarkable in their directness. Until now the administration avoided directly accusing both the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army of using cyberweapons against the United States in a deliberate, government-developed strategy to steal intellectual property and gain strategic advantage.

“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the nearly 100-page report said.

The report, released Monday, described China’s primary goal as stealing industrial technology, but said many intrusions also seemed aimed at obtaining insights into American policy makers’ thinking. It warned that the same information-gathering could easily be used for “building a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis.”

The Pentagon report is here.

Whether or not these Pentagon statements on Chinese cyberespionage are “remarkable in their directness,” as New York Times reporter David Sanger writes, is open to interpretation.

Chinese cyberwar/cyberespionage capabilities comprise somewhat less than two pages in the entire thing. More space is devoted to China’s conventional warfare capabilities and hardware, its ballistic missiles programs, it’s preliminary moves into aircraft carrier aviation through the refurbishment and equipping of the old Varyag — now renamed the Liaoning, its naval modernization and other subjects.

In fact, the Pentagon can say little about Chinese cyberespionage other than it exists and much material, from the US private sector devoted to supporting the US military, is being copied.

What benefit this has been the Pentagon does not know and cannot or will not say. No one knows. It’s impossible to put a finger on the value of it to China, or precisely what losses this country directly suffers. It is an argument that has no meaning for the majority of Americans, something only the top most cares about.

And that’s because they can only be made to care about things they suspect may make them slightly less wealthy.

In terms of what’s actually happening, for example, China has not made any obvious great leap in generating a carrier battlegroup-centered navy.

On the other hand, we certainly do know that the US private sector, our multi-national corporations, are intimately involved in business relations with China.

Indeed, it is safe to say that the strapped American middle class would have next to nothing if all its household consumer electronics and dry goods of Chinese origin were taken away.

If, for example, Chinese cyberwarriors are stealing Apple’s secrets, what does it matter? Is Apple stopping its majority manufacturing through China?

America’s electric guitar and rock amplifier companies make the majority of their mainstream goods in China. If Chinese cyberwarriors have stolen plans from Fender Musical Instruments or many other American companies, so?

The entire American industry of pop music instrumentation manufacturing, excepting custom shop artisan work, was sent to China to increase profit margins and decrease labor costs.

American business ceded its property to the Chinese industrial base for immediate profit in pursuit of the very cheapest unprotected manpower. This was long before Chinese espionage became an issue the national security megaplex decided to exploit for the purpose of parasitic rent-seeking.

Who are you going to find on the street who cares if Chinese cyberwarriors from a building in Shanghai are into American businesses? They’ve already lost their jobs or much of their earning power. And their access to the Internet is a smartphone made in China.

Take a day off from the memes. Corporate America isn’t hiring, haven’t you heard? It’s not because of mass Chinese cyber-spying.

One last figure, furnished to again put Chinese cyberespionage/cyberwar efforts in perspective, as they relate to the American experience …


You can really tell how Chinese cyberespionage/cyberwar is taking away our futures, right?


National cyberdisaster described in less than 120 words: We’ll lose power, then we’ll drown:

U.S. intelligence agencies traced a recent cyber intrusion into a sensitive infrastructure database to the Chinese government or military cyber warriors, according to U.S. officials.

The compromise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams (NID) is raising new concerns that China is preparing to conduct a future cyber attack against the national electrical power grid, including the growing percentage of electricity produced by hydroelectric dams …

The database contains sensitive information on vulnerabilities of every major dam in the United States. There are around 8,100 major dams across waterways in the United States.



The cyberwar menace repeat staff, at Scientific American:

Since this incident there has been a growing realisation that various elements of a critical national infrastructure are similarly vulnerable. They use similar, if not identical, embedded computer systems as were used at Natanz. The initial thought was one of defending the realm against foreign aggressors. After all, it was an obvious way to cripple a country without firing a physical shot. Why launch missiles if you can switch out the lights and turn off the water. It’s cheaper too. So much so that this form of attack has become a great leveller, allowing small nations to potentially punch well above their weight.

The same guy, in the Irish Times:

The North Koreans have been blamed for interrupting websites run in South Korea by banks, newspapers and TV companies in “a show and tell” warning about what they are capable of during a conflict, warns Sally Leivesley of Newrisk. The South Koreans have taken the warning seriously, upgrading security at their nuclear plants – including disabling every USB port in every computer at the plants lest they be used to breach defences.

States initially used internet hacking for espionage, or intellectual property thefts, but warns Prof Woodward, they are using it for “aggressive” attacks: “This is the cool war, as some people have put it, not the cold war. Why invest in bombs and bullets when, potentially, in a shooting match you can turn out the lights, turn off the water. Some countries are really punching above their weight. They don’t need a huge nuclear weapons programme.”

Some yob nobody knows at the Huffington Post:

Cyber terrorism. Terrorist groups and states will make use of cyber-war tactics, though government will focus on information-gathering than outright destruction. Stealing trade secrets, accessing classified information, infiltrating government systems, disseminating misinformation — traditional intelligence agency ploys — will make up the bulk of cyber-attacks between states.

Virtual statecraft. States will be wistful for the simpler days of foreign and domestic policy. Power in the physical world is no assurance of power in the digital world. This disparity presents opportunities for small states looking to punch above their weight

Cyberwar allows small nations to punch above weight — brainless new received wisdom.

Usage: North Korea was really punching above its weight when it quietly took its missile off the launch platform this week turned off all the electricity in Los Angeles County with a secret cyberattack.


From the New York Times, a few weeks ago, on the White House collecting the wealthiest and most infamous CEOs from the companies that have profited immensely in the last three years, to talk about cyberwar:

The difficulty of deterring such [Iranian cyber attacks] was also the focus of a White House meeting this month with Mr. Obama and business leaders, including the chief executives Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase; Brian T. Moynihan of Bank of America; Rex W. Tillerson of Exxon Mobil; Randall L. Stephenson of AT&T and others.

Mr. Obama’s goal was to erode the business community’s intense opposition to federal legislation that would give the government oversight of how companies protect “critical infrastructure,” like banking systems and energy and cellphone networks. That opposition killed a bill last year, prompting Mr. Obama to sign an executive order promoting increased information-sharing with businesses.

“But I think we heard a new tone at this latest meeting,” an Obama aide said later. “Six months of unrelenting attacks have changed some views.”

Unrelenting attacks, in this case, meaning making banking websites occasionally run more slowly.

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