Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Real U.S.-China Challenge: A Showdown in Cyberspace?

The Real U.S.-China Challenge: A Showdown in Cyberspace?:
Adam SegalSecuirty,
"Washington appears intent on trying to strengthen deterrence in cyberspace—to convince potential adversaries that the United States can over time attribute attacks..."

Late last Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that Su Bin, a Chinese national living in Canada, had plead guilty to “participating in a years-long conspiracy to hack into the computer networks of major U.S. defense contractors, steal sensitive military and export-controlled data and send the stolen data to China.” Over several years, under Su’s direction, two hackers stole some 630,000 files from Boeing related to the C-17 military transport aircraft as well as data from the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets. The information included detailed drawings; measurements of the wings, fuselage, and other parts; outlines of the pipeline and electric wiring systems; and flight test data.
Su’s conspirators remain unidentified and at large. The 2014 indictment refers to the co-conspirators as “affiliated with multiple organizations and entities.” The plea announcement refers to them as “two persons in China” and says nothing more about them. But in documents submitted as part of Su’s extradition hearing, the U.S. government identified them as People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hackers. The documents included intercepted emails with digital images attached that showed military IDs with name, rank, military unit, and date of birth.
Still unknown is whether Su and the hackers operated on their own or were directed by Chinese government officials. Were they motivated by profit, patriotism, or some combination of the two? Much of the correspondence makes the hackers sound like PLA freelancers. Marketing themselves, they tell Su they were involved in previous attacks on defense industries as well as Tibetan and pro-democracy activists—targets with no commercial value but of interest to the government. In some emails, the hackers assure Su that the stolen files will not only give his aviation company, Lode Technologies, a competitive edge, but also help Beijing achieve its military modernization goals. Later Su warns the hackers about the size of the payout for their services, telling them that aviation companies are stingy.
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