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Chinese Military Connection to NY Times Attack

From Wired and New York Times

The New York Times has been hacked, prompted by an investigation by the New York Times into the amassed fortune of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's family. 

The hackers tried to cloak the source of the attacks on The Times by first penetrating computers at United States universities and routing the attacks through them, said computer security experts at Mandiant, the company hired by The Times. They apparently used the same university computers that hackers working for the Chinese military used previously to attack Defense Department contractors.

Security experts found evidence that the hackers stole the corporate passwords for every Times employee and used those to gain access to the personal computers of 53 employees, most of them outside The Times’s newsroom. Experts found no evidence that the intruders used the passwords to seek information that was not related to the reporting on the Wen family.

During the three months they were in the paper’s network, the attackers installed 45 pieces of custom malware, though nearly all of it went undetected. Although the newspaper uses antivirus products made by Symantec, the monitoring software identified and quarantined only one of the attacker’s tools during that time, according to the report.

Michael Higgins, chief security officer at The Times, said: “Attackers no longer go after our firewall. They go after individuals. They send a malicious piece of code to your e-mail account and you’re opening it and letting them in.”

 

In Amenas Attack Predicted in Advance

From CNBC
Exclusive Analysis, a London-based risk assessor and forecaster, warned twice last year that oil and gas assets in southern Algeria and foreign personnel employed there could be the target of kidnapping and attacks by Jihadist militants.

In an ominously near-accurate prediction, intelligence experts at the firm referred to the In Amenas gas plant by name, warning foreign employees working there "would be at risk" from kidnapping for ransom.

[...]"Weeks before September 11 the U.S. intelligence warned against plane hijacking but the White House couldn't address the threat appropriately because it wasn't specific enough," said Dr. Gal Luft, a senior adviser to the United States Energy Security Council and a former lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces.

"Issuing a warning is easy; acting on them is a whole different matter," Luft added. "My main takeaway from the episode is t...

Dr. Gal Luft on Energy Terrorism

From Bloomberg News:
Algeria Attack No Outlier as Oil Targeted 3 Times a Week: Energy
By Brian Swint on January 23, 2013

While the attack in Algeria that killed at least 38 hostages was the deadliest raid on the oil industry in five years, it’s far from unprecedented.

From Colombia to Yemen, oil workers have suffered violence for decades as militants strike an industry seen symbolizing political and economic power. The bloodiest attack came in 2007 when 72 people died after a secessionist group in Ethiopia overran a camp run by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (600028), according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. Each week about three attacks were made worldwide on oil employees and installations in 2011, the data show.

“This attack has surely got some attention, but I wouldn’t say it’s an outlier,” said Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global...

DHS: Energy Targeted by Cyber Attacks

The Department of Homeland Security reports that in 2012, ICS-CERT responded to a steady stream of cyber incidents, coordinated ICS vulnerabilities with vendors, and produced alerts and advisories to notify the ICS community of emerging cyber risks. 

For fiscal year 2012, the largest single target for cyber security incidents was the Energy sector, accounting for 41% of attacks, followed by water (15% ) and internet-facing (11%).

In fiscal year 2012, ICS-CERT received and responded to 198 cyber incidents as reported by asset owners and industry partners. Attacks against the energy sector represented 41 % of the total number of incidents. Notably, ICS-CERT assisted 23 ONG sector organizations with incident response and recovery efforts following a targeted spear-phishing campaign. Analysis of the targeted systems indicated that information pertaining to the ICS/SCADA environment, including ...

US State Department Asserts Right of Defense from Cyberattack

In an address last year, Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State asserted that a cyber attack can be considered to be an act of war, and reserves the right to respond with force.

Excerpt:

Question 3: Do cyber activities ever constitute a use of force?

Answer 3: Yes. Cyber activities may in certain circumstances constitute uses of force within the meaning of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter and customary international law. In analyzing whether a cyber operation would constitute a use of force, most commentators focus on whether the direct physical injury and property damage resulting from the cyber event looks like that which would be considered a use of force if produced by kinetic weapons. Cyber activities that proximately result in death, injury, or significant destruction would likely be viewed as a use of force. In assessing whether an event constituted a use of f...
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