Tag Archives: Information Technology

Pentagon: The Chinese stole our newest weapons

Pentagon: The Chinese stole our newest weapons

Reuters / Carlos Barria

The designs for more than two dozen major weapons systems used by the United States military have fallen into the hands of the Chinese, US Department of Defense officials say.

Blueprints for the Pentagon’s most advanced weaponry, including the Black Hawk helicopter and the brand new Littoral Combat Ship used by the Navy, have all been compromised, the Defense Science Board claims in a new confidential report.

The Washington Post acknowledged late Monday that they have seen a copy of the report and confirmed that the Chinese now have the know-how to emulate some of the Pentagon’s most sophisticated programs.

“This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China,” a senior military official not authorized to speak on the record told Post reporters. “They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development.”

“It’s nuts,” the source said of the report.

The Defense Science Board, a civilian advisory committee within the Pentagon, fell short of accusing the Chinese of stealing the designs. However, the Post’s report comes on the heels of formal condemnation courtesy of the DoD issued only earlier this month.

“In 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military,” the Defense Department alleged in a previous report.

Ellen Nakashima, the Post reporter who detailed the DSB analysis this week, wrote that the computer systems at the Pentagon may not have necessarily been breached. Instead, rather, she suggested that the defense contractors who built these weapons programs have likely been subjected to a security breach. US officials speaking on condition of anonymity, she reported, said that a closed door meeting last year ended with evidence being presented of major defense contractors suffering from intrusions. When reached for comment, the largest defense contractors — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — all refused to weigh in.

Chinese hackers have previously been accused of waging cyberattacks on a number of US entities, including billion-dollar corporations and governmental departments. In 2007 it was reported that China accumulated the blueprints for the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jets, the most expensive weapons program ever created, but the latest news from the DSB decries that much more has been compromised.

According to the Post, the plans for the advanced Patriot missile system, an Army anti-ballistic program and a number of aircraft have all ended up in the hands of the Chinese. The result could mean the People’s Republic is working towards recreating the hallmarks of America’s military might for their own offensive purposes, while also putting China in a position where even the most advanced weaponry in the world won’t be able to withstand complex defensive capabilities once those projects are reverse engineered.

“If they got into the combat systems, it enables them to understand it to be able to jam it or otherwise disable it,” Winslow T. Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight, told the Post. “If they’ve got into the basic algorithms for the missile and how they behave, somebody better get out a clean piece of paper and start to design all over again.”

Mandiant, a US security firm located outside of Washington, reported earlier this year that the China has enlisted an elite squadron of cyber warrior to attack American computer systems and conduct espionage on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. When the report was released in February, Mandiant said the PLA’s elusive Unit 61398 has successfully compromised the networks of more than 141 companies across 20 major industries, including Coca-Cola and a Canadian utility company. Those hacks reportedly subsided after Mandiant went public with their claims, but earlier this month the firm said those attacks have since been renewed.

“They dialed it back for a little while, though other groups that also wear uniforms didn’t even bother to do that,” CEO Kevin Mandia told the New York Times recently. “I think you have to view this as the new normal.”

On their part, China has adamantly denied all claims that they’ve waged attacks on US networks. Following Mandiant’s initial report, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the claims were “irresponsible and unprofessional.”

“Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous,” Hong Lei said. “Determining their origins are extremely difficult. We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable.” SOURCEu

Tracking the trackers: Mozilla’s anti-Big Brother add-on

Tracking the trackers: Mozilla’s anti-Big Brother add-on

The owner of Firefox, the world’s second most popular browser, is backing an add-on which would allow users to monitor in real-time how their actions are tracked and shared by various websites as they surf the net.

­The tool currently in development visualizes the flow of information as a meshwork of bubbles representing different websites. It tracks the sites which the user visits and also shows their known partners – ad companies, behavior profilers and other third parties. As surfing continues, a pattern emerges revealing that different popular sites are linked to the same data collectors, which are building up their knowledge on the user’s habits and preferences.

The ultimate goal of those companies is to identify what kind of advertising would ring a bell with each user, and then to target them accordingly.

For instance, Google’s controversial new privacy policy aims to share info on users of its various services to build more accurate advertising profiles. The policy came into effect on Thursday amid a chorus of objections from activists and officials that it violates privacy and may be illegal in some jurisdictions. Another example is Facebook, which learns about every visit to a page which has its “Like” button on it.

The amount of data collected by Google, Facebook and other players less-known to the general public is astounding. But the majority of Internet users are oblivious to this fact. Mozilla’s new add-on – called Collusion – aims to change that.

“Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data,” says Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs in his blog.

Mozilla wants the users of Collusion to submit anonymized data on their surfing habits to build up a database on who tracks them and how it is done. It is intended for researchers, journalists and privacy activists who would monitor data-tracking practices and find possible abuse.

The full version of Collusion will also work together with other tools like TrackerBlock to allow users to selectively hide from some trackers while allowing others to track them.

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