CIA pulled officers from Beijing after massive cybertheft of US federal personnel records

The CIA pulled a number of officers from the US Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure following the massive online theft of personal data of federal employees, current and former US officials said.

The move is a concrete impact of the breach, one of two major hacks into Office of Personnel Management computers that were disclosed earlier this year. Officials have privately attributed the hacks to the Chinese government.

The theft of documents has been characterised by senior US officials as political espionage intended to identify spies and people who might be recruited as spies or blackmailed to provide useful information.

Because the OPM records contained the background checks of State Department employees, officials privately said the Chinese could have compared those records with the list of embassy personnel. Anybody not on that list could be a CIA officer. Continue reading

Google secretly installs audio snooping program on Chrome browsers to listen to your private conversations

As reported by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, privacy advocates and open source developers are livid after discovering that the installation of Google’s browsing software, Google Chrome, comes with an added capability: it allows remote technicians to listen in on conversations held near computers where the browser is installed.

The capability was first identified by open source developers, who noticed that the Chromium browser that Chrome is based on remotely installed audio surveillance code enabling computers to be tapped. Continue reading

Merkel office’s computers hit by cyberattack — report

German premier’s office targeted in Trojan Horse infection, shortly after spyware found at hotels hosting Iran talks

A computer in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s legislative office was hit by a cyberattack that targeted the country’s lower house of parliament in May, the Bild newspaper reported on Sunday.

The daily, which did not cite its sources, said the cyberattack was broader and greater than originally anticipated and the Bundestag struggled to control it. Continue reading

Russian hackers accused of Bundestag attack

A cyber attack on the German Bundestag lower house of parliament reported last month is still stealing data and could force officials to spend millions of euros replacing the entire computer system, German media reported on Wednesday.

The online edition of news magazine Der Spiegel also quoted what it said were experts from an internal investigation saying there were indications that a Russian intelligence agency had staged the attack.

Continue reading

2015 Or 1987? Computerized Trading & “A Crash Is Coming” Or Rates Mean “Bull’s Not Over”

 

First 10 minutes of Wall Street Week episode from Friday October 16, 1987 just prior to the market crash on black Monday. Hosted by Louis Rukeyser, guests included Martin Zweig, Marry Farrell, Louis Holland and Allen Sinai. Continue reading

FBI warns US businesses of ‘destructive’ malware

The FBI warned U.S. businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch destructive attacks in the United States, following a devastating cyberattack last week at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The five-page, confidential “flash” warning issued to businesses late on Monday provided some technical details about the malicious software that was used in the attack, though it did not name the victim. Continue reading

Mystery explosion at Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor

Tehran did its utmost to conceal the mystery blast which last week struck the heavy water reactor under construction at Arak in western Iran. It is revealed here for the first time by debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources.  The explosion, whether accidental or not, will delay for a second time the reactor’s first test with real fuel. Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency in August of a previous holdup. Continue reading

China’s Military Preparing for ‘People’s War’ in Cyberspace, Space

China’s military is preparing for war in cyberspace involving space attacks on satellites and the use of both military and civilian personnel for a digital “people’s war,” according to an internal Chinese defense report.

“As cyber technology continues to develop, cyber warfare has quietly begun,” the report concludes, noting that the ability to wage cyber war in space is vital for China’s military modernization. Continue reading

White House Hack Attack

What good is a nuclear deterrent when it’s compromised? The “MAD” concept has been effectively thrown out the window. What’s more is the American public is 99.9% unaware of the grave danger this puts them in, let alone it happened at all. Sadly, the only “football” most are concerned about is the one that gets tossed around on Monday nights.

Hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks, breaching a system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands, according to defense and intelligence officials familiar with the incident.

One official said the cyber breach was one of Beijing’s most brazen cyber attacks against the United States and highlights a failure of the Obama administration to press China on its persistent cyber attacks.

U.S. officials familiar with reports of the White House hacking incident said it took place earlier this month and involved unidentified hackers, believed to have used computer servers in China, who accessed the computer network used by the White House Military Office (WHMO), the president’s military office in charge of some of the government’s most sensitive communications, including strategic nuclear commands. The office also arranges presidential communications and travel, and inter-government teleconferences involving senior policy and intelligence officials.

“This is the most sensitive office in the U.S. government,” said a former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the work of the office. “A compromise there would cause grave strategic damage to the United States.”

Security officials are investigating the breach and have not yet determined the damage that may have been caused by the hacking incident, the officials said.

Despite the administration national security official’s assertion, one defense official said there is fairly solid intelligence linking the penetration of the WHMO network to China, and there are concerns that the attackers were able to breach the classified network.

Details of the cyber attack and the potential damage it may have caused remain closely held within the U.S. government.

However, because the military office handles strategic nuclear and presidential communications, officials said the attack was likely the work of Chinese military cyber warfare specialists under the direction of a unit called the 4th Department of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, or 4PLA.

It is not clear how such a high-security network could be penetrated. Such classified computer systems are protected by multiple levels of security and are among the most “hardened” systems against digital attack.

However, classified computer systems were compromised in the past using several methods. They include the insertion of malicious code through a contaminated compact flash drive; a breach by a trusted insider, as in the case of the thousands of classified documents leaked to the anti-secrecy web site Wikileaks; and through compromised security encryption used for remote access to secured networks, as occurred with the recent compromise involving the security firm RSA and several major defense contractors.

According to the former official, the secrets held within the WHMO include data on the so-called “nuclear football,” the nuclear command and control suitcase used by the president to be in constant communication with strategic nuclear forces commanders for launching nuclear missiles or bombers.

The office also is in charge of sensitive continuity-of-government operations in wartime or crises.

The former official said if China were to obtain details of this sensitive information, it could use it during a future conflict to intercept presidential communications, locate the president for targeting purposes, or disrupt strategic command and control by the president to U.S. forces in both the United States and abroad.

Former McAffee cyber threat researcher Dmitri Alperovitch said he was unaware of the incident, but noted: “I can tell you that the Chinese have an aggressive goal to infiltrate all levels of U.S. government and private sector networks.”

The White House network would be the crown jewel of that campaign so it is hardly surprising that they would try their hardest to compromise it,” said Alperovictch, now with the firm Crowdstrike.

Last week the senior intelligence officer for the U.S. Cyber Command said Chinese cyber attacks and cyber-espionage against Pentagon computers are a constant security problem.

“Their level of effort against the Department of Defense is constant” and efforts to steal economic secrets are increasing, Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, Cyber Command director of intelligence, told Reuters after a security conference.

“It’s continuing apace,” Cox said of Chinese cyber-espionage. “In fact, I’d say it’s still accelerating.”

The office is also in charge of the White House Communications Agency, which handles all presidential telephone, radio, and digital communications, as well as airlift operations through both fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft.

It also operates the presidential retreat at Camp David and the White House Transportation Agency.

“To assure proper coordination and integration, the WHMO also includes support elements such as operations; policy, plans, and requirements; administration, information resource management; financial management and comptroller; WHMO counsel; and security,” the website states.

“Together, WHMO entities provide essential service to the president and help maintain the continuity of the presidency.”

A report by the defense contractor Northrop Grumman made public by the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in March stated that China’s military has made targeting of U.S. command and control networks in cyber warfare a priority.

Chinese capabilities in computer network operations have advanced sufficiently to pose genuine risk to U.S. military operations in the event of a conflict,” the report said.

“PLA analysts consistently identify logistics and C4ISR infrastructure as U.S. strategic centers of gravity suggesting that PLA commanders will almost certainly attempt to target these system with both electronic countermeasures weapons and network attack and exploitation tools, likely in advance of actual combat to delay U.S. entry or degrade capabilities in a conflict,” the report said.

C4ISR is military jargon for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Little is known within the U.S. intelligence community about Chinese strategic cyber warfare programs.

However, recent military writings have disclosed some aspects of the program, which is believed to be one of Beijing’s most closely guarded military secrets, along with satellite weapons, laser arms, and other high-technology military capabilities, such as the DF-21 ballistic missile modified to attack aircraft carriers at sea.

A Chinese military paper from March stated that China is seeking “cyber dominance” as part of its efforts to build up revolutionary military capabilities.

“In peacetime, the cyber combat elements may remain in a ‘dormant’ state; in wartime, they may be activated to harass and attack the network command, management, communications, and intelligence systems of the other countries’ armed forces,” wrote Liu Wangxin in the official newspaper of the Chinese military on March 6.

“While great importance is attached continuously to wartime actions, it is also necessary to pay special attention to non-wartime actions,” he said. “For example, demonstrate the presence of the cyber military power through cyber reconnaissance, cyber deployment, and cyber protection activities.”

Full article: White House Hack Attack (Washington Free Beacon)