China electronic spying threat

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met last week in Beijing. The delegation traveling on the E-4B plane with Mr. Mattis had to take extraordinary security precautions. (Associated Press) Photo by: Mark Schiefelbein

 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis‘ recent visit to China highlighted the security dangers posed by sophisticated Chinese electronic spying in the capital of Beijing.

Security precautions for those traveling with the defense secretary were extremely tight during his June 26-28 visit.

To prevent Chinese spying through cellphones or laptop computers, the 10 journalists traveling aboard the secretary’s Air Force E-4B nuclear command plane, a militarized Boeing 747, were prohibited from bringing any electronic devices that were taken off the aircraft during the two-day visit back onto the plane. Anything that used wireless connectivity was deemed potentially vulnerable to Chinese hacking. Continue reading

Cyber Command moves closer to a major new weapon

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A proposal for the next generation cyber operations platform went out to industry recently, however, details are scarce. (J.M. Eddins Jr./Air Force)

 

The Air Force issued a formal proposal earlier this month for the Department of Defense’s long-awaited cyber weapon system, known as the Unified Platform, sources tell Fifth Domain.

DoD officials have said the Unified Platform is one of U.S. Cyber Command’s largest and most critical acquisition programs to date. Industry officials have said it is necessary to conduct cyber operations and is critical to national security. Continue reading

Report: 340M Americans’ Personal Data Leaked

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(Photo Credit: Luis Gomes/Pexels)

 

Cybersecurity expert says the information was on a publicly accessible server.

According to a new report, a data leak of personal information has far surpassed the Equifax leaks, and could affect nearly every American.

According to WIRED magazine, cybersecurity expert Vinny Troia has discovered that the Palm Coast, Fla., based data broker Exactis exposed a database with the personal data of 340 million individual accounts onto a publicly accessible server. Anyone who knew which server to look at had immediate access to nearly 2 terabytes of personal data—including the following from an estimated 340 million people and businesses: Continue reading

Obama Cyber Chief Confirms ‘Stand Down’ Order Against Russian Cyberattacks

 

Former Obama administration National Security Council cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel confirmed on Wednesday that a “stand down” order was given to counter Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election.

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho) asked Daniel about a passage in the book Russian Roluette. The passage was about a staffer from Daniel’s team, Daniel Prieto, retelling the time that Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice told Daniel and his team to halt their efforts and to “stand down” in countering Russia’s cyberattacks. Continue reading

Defense Chiefs: U.S. Cannot Win Global Cyber Wars

Defense Secretary Carter Visits U.S. Cyber Command At Fort Meade

Getty Images

 

“Permanent global cyberspace superiority is not possible due to the complexity of cyberspace”

The Defense Departments warns in a new organizational document that the United States cannot win the global battle over cyber security due the overwhelming complexity of the issue and the rapidly changing landscape in cyberspace, according to the document.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a new organizational guidance issued earlier this month, assessed the United States will never be able to fully achieve dominance in the cyberspace realm, but that officials are working on a series of plans to boost the country’s offensive and defensive capabilities in this realm. Continue reading

China Industrial Policy Seeks to Steal ‘Crown Jewels’ of U.S. Tech

Xi Jinping

Getty Images

 

White House exposes Chinese economic aggression

China’s government is using a multi-pronged strategy to systematically steal advanced American technology as part of economic aggression against the United States, according to a White House report.

The report, based in part on declassified intelligence from the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, provides some of the first public details on China’s industrial policies that have produced the world’s second largest economy, often at the expense of American companies. Continue reading

Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on the Offensive, Increasing the Risk of Conflict

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups.

Until now, the Cyber Command has assumed a largely defensive posture, trying to counter attackers as they enter American networks. In the relatively few instances when it has gone on the offensive, particularly in trying to disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State and its recruiters in the past several years, the results have been mixed at best. Continue reading

China hacked a Navy contractor and secured a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare

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China’s sole operating aircraft carrier leaves Dalian in northeast China for sea trials last month. (Li Gang/Xinhua/AP)

 

Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare — including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials.

The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry.

The officials did not identify the contractor. Continue reading

FBI: Iran to Launch New Cyber Attacks

Iranian cyber attacks on institutions

 

Iranian hackers poised for wide-ranging strikes in retaliation for U.S. leaving nuclear deal

The FBI is warning that Iranian hackers could conduct new cyber attacks on American businesses and government networks in response to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

“The FBI assesses foreign cyber actors operating in the Islamic Republic of Iran could potentially use a range of computer network operations—from scanning networks for potential vulnerabilities to data deletion attacks—against U.S.-based networks in response to the U.S. government’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the FBI said in a cyber alert to U.S. businesses. Continue reading

Sweden distributes ‘be prepared for war’ leaflet to all 4.8m homes

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The new pamphlet prepares the population for cyber and terror attacks and climate change, and includes a page on identifying fake news. Photograph: DinSäkerhet.se

 

Defence pamphlet shows how population can prepare in event of attack and contribute to country’s ‘total defence’

The Swedish government has begun sending all 4.8m of the country’s households a public information leaflet telling the population, for the first time in more than half a century, what to do in the event of a war.

Om krisen eller kriget kommer (If crisis or war comes) explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water and heat, what warning signals mean, where to find bomb shelters and how to contribute to Sweden’s “total defence”. Continue reading

China Warns Trump “We Will Outlast You” As US “Significantly Escalates” Trade War

Beijing sent the first messaging salvo ahead of the Steven Mnuchin-led delegation to China (which will engage in trade talks over May 3-4) overnight when the PBOC fixed the yuan sharply lower than many expected. The signal was clear: push us hard enough, and we may just launch another devaluation. Or worse.

A little while later, Beijing did its best attempt at managing expectations, when it said that it’s “unrealistic” to expect to solve all issues between the U.S. and China at a single meeting, given the economic sizes of the two countries and their complex economic and trade relationship, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says at daily briefing.

While Hua tried his best to pay the diplomatic “good cop”, saying it was in the mutual interest of both countries to solve trade issues through consultation, just a few hours later, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi was the bad cop, who warned that whereas China would welcome a successful outcome from upcoming trade talks with the United States, it  is “fully prepared for all outcomes and will not negotiate on core interests.”

Continue reading

China using students as spies

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The 350,000 Chinese students in the U.S. “are here legitimately and doing great research and helping the global economy,” said Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, but others are used as tools to facilitate nefarious activity. (Associated Press/File)

 

A senior U.S. counterintelligence official recently said publicly what many officials and experts have been warning privately for years: China is using its large student population in the United States to spy.

Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a DNI agency, said recently that China poses a broad-ranging foreign intelligence threat that includes the use of academics, students, cyberespionage and human agents to steal secrets from the government and private sectors.

“I look at the China threat from a counterintelligence perspective as a whole-of-government threat by China against us,” Mr. Evanina told a conference last week at The Aspen Institute.

“We allow 350,000 or so Chinese students here every year,” he said. “That’s a lot. We have a very liberal visa policy for them. Ninety-nine point nine percent of those students are here legitimately and doing great research and helping the global economy. But it is a tool that is used by the Chinese government to facilitate nefarious activity here in the U.S.” Continue reading

Ex-CIA Chief Says Obama Rejected Cyber Action Against Russia for Election Meddling

John Brennan

John Brennan / Getty Images

 

Obama instead issued veiled warning to Moscow

Despite an unprecedented Russian intelligence operation to influence the 2016 presidential election, former President Barack Obama rejected a plan to conduct retaliatory cyber action against Moscow during the campaign, according to former CIA Director John Brennan.

Brennan disclosed Saturday that Obama opposed a plan to carry out “a cyber event” against the Russians because the former president feared the action would lead to more aggressive interference by Moscow. Continue reading

German spy chief warns against Chinese investment in German hi-tech firms

Hans-Georg Maassen

 

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has warned of security risks resulting from Chinese direct investment in high-technology German and other European companies. Since 2012, Hans-Georg Maassen has served as director of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security and counterintelligence agency. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Maassen said his agency had noticed an inverse correlation between cyber-espionage attacks on Germany by Chinese actors and the acquisition of German technology firms by Chinese companies. German counter-intelligence officials were puzzled, he said, about a dramatic reduction in Chinese cyber-espionage activities in 2016. But they eventually realized that cyber-espionage operations had been replaced by “lawful methods”, he said, such as direct takeovers of German hi-tech firms by Chinese companies. Continue reading

Military Set for Cyber Attacks on Foreign Infrastructure

Paul Nakasone

Paul Nakasone / Getty Images

 

Cybercom nominee: U.S. intrusions in foreign networks to deter China and Russia

American military cyber warriors are ready to shut critical infrastructures in China and Russia during a future conflict by conducting cyber intrusions into their networks, according to the general set to lead Cyber Command.

Both China and Russia have been detected conducting similar cyber battlefield reconnaissance against the U.S. networks used to control critical infrastructure in the United States, including electric grids, transportation, financial, and other critical systems. Continue reading