Cyber warfare in the US; a VERY REAL threat

Cyber warfare refers to politically motivated hacking for the purpose of sabotage and espionage. It is a form of warfare…information warfare and is sometime seem as analogous to traditional warfare.

Map: 2011 cyber attacks in the US – Interactive – Al Jazeera English.

On March 4, 2011 Epsilon, the largest email marketing service company in the world, announced it was hacked by a group targeting the company's email lists. Epsilon hosts over 2,500 customer email lists from Capital One to Wal-Mart and said about 50 of its clients were affected. Those emails are expected to be used by "spear phishing" hackers hoping to gather sensitive consumer data.

This year has been a busy one for hackers targeting organisations in the US. The map above gives detailed information on 15 of the most significant cyber attacks of 2011, according to various tech media reports, including a compilation of hack attack profiles by Business Insider.

Stated goals have ranged from simple larceny in attacks on banks like Citigroup to brazen government vandalism in hacks on the CIASenate and IMF websites.

Some of the attacks are said to be punishment for corporate policies that hackers resented. This was the justification cited in both attacks on Sony, after which Lulz Security said it aimed to cause “maximum embarrassment … for security flaws”.

The same group said it defaced PBS websites, leaked corporate user names posted fake stories saying “Tupac still alive” in order to protest what it viewed as a biased “Frontline” documentary about WikiLeaks.

The techniques used range from “spear-phishing” sensitive consumer data, harnessing falsified SecurId codes and taking advantage of “Zero-day vulnerability”.

Much of the hacking against US-based companies – both criminal and light-hearted – reportedly originates from within the US. But daring cyber assaults on Lockheed Martin and Google allegedly came from a centre in eastern China.

While the US president has sworn to defend the cyber security of the nation with the legal rationale that hacking is an “act of war”, stopping attackers residing in “neutral” countries is a major challenge for law enforcement.

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About GREGinSD

A Generation X|Y'er that resides in beautiful San Diego, Ca.
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