Friday, November 25, 2005

US Military Hacked, Sober Worm Goes Worldwide, What Next?

Military installations being attacked from China in what is being called; The new Trojan war, Chinese hackers breach US military defenses. The worst computer worm of the year is being spread by bogus e-mails from the FBI and CIA, Computer Worm Poses as E-Mail From FBI, CIA. Meanwhile, there are stories of the military removing word documents from the internet after it was discovered that sensitive information had been compromised, US military security defeated by copy and paste CNET

If this were fiction, it would be the makings of a best selling thriller.

Reading all these stories in the past few days and considering the implications made me consider how high the stakes in internet crime really are. At this point, it is unknown, specifically who the attackers are (at least to the general public). Organized criminals, unfriendly governments and even terrorists could theoretically be the culprits.

The Chinese (who seem to be behind the most recent attack on the military) have been suspected of selling technology (including nuclear) to governments, who might be dangerous to world peace. All one has to do is read the story of AQ Khan, who developed nuclear weapons for Pakistan and admitted selling secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran. There is a lot of speculation that he obtained a lot of his knowledge from the Chinese, who were caught stealing nuclear secrets from us during the Clinton Administration, Online NewsHour: Spies Among Us -- June 9, 1999.

Meanwhile, the worm attack dubbed as "Sober X" has spread so far and fast that both the CIA and FBI have placed prominent warnings on their websites.

Besides attacks throughout the United States, there have been similar attacks in Europe. Bogus e-mails impersonating law enforcement and intelligence agencies are being used to trick unsuspecting users into downloading the virus. Video clips of popular celebrities have been used also.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 4,000 reports on Monday alone, per the FBI. Symantec stated that this worm has the ability to compromise personal information and McAfee reported 73,000 customers found the worm on their system. A British company (MessageLabs) reported intercepting more than 2.7 million copies of the "Sober X" worm and it's mutations (Sober X, Y, Z).

One security vendor, MXLogic is now reporting that one in every eight e-mails is infected. Thus far, the experts can only speculate what the intent of this massive attack is.

In another shocking revelation, there are reports that the military is removing Word documents off the internet after it discovered that when they obscured parts of documents that were classified on (Word and Adobe documents), they could be recovered and read by simply "cutting and pasting" them on to another document.

This was discovered after classified information about an incident in Iraq was posted on the internet.

Unless the private citizen and our governments take these massive attacks seriously, we could stand to lose more than our identities and bank accounts. National security and financial systems could eventually be at stake! Diplomacy and being politically correct need to be thrown out the window and replaced by swift action that includes severe consequences for individuals and governments found guilty of engaging in this activity.

My best guess is, failure to do so, could have grave implications.


admin said...

This is some news! Very informative, thanks.

The worm spreads if one opens the attached file. Right? Mere viewing of and email with deactivated html, would not do any harm. Right?

Ed Dickson said...

According to what I have read you are correct, but caution is key.