In two companion articles appearing in tomorrow’s edition (9/24/11) of The Sydney Morning Herald, reporter Dylan Welch describes international cyber spying. The first article, Code red: the cyber spy threat, discusses the wide-ranging problem of cyber espionage. The article describes a large number of cyber attacks against many governments and international organizations. Of course, spearphishing plays a prominent role in the story. These are just two of the incidents reported:
On June 1, 2009, messages with the heading ”China and Climate Change” dropped into the email inboxes of five US State Department officers. The five officers, working in the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, were involved in preparing for delicate bilateral climate change talks in Beijing in several days.
The email appeared to be from a respected economics columnist at a well-known US journal and contained information designed to be of particular and direct relevance to the five staff.
Germany has similar problems:
The BfV [the German domestic security agency] told its top-secret audience that in the 12 months to October 2007 it had discovered 500 such operations conducted against a range of targets including military, economic, science and technology, commercial, diplomatic, research and development, as well as high-level government systems.
”The socially engineered email messages delivered to German computer systems were spoofed to appear to come from trusted sources and contain information targeted specifically to the recipient’s interests, duties, or current events,” the diplomat noted.
The article ends with a warning that this problem has rapidly grown from a nuisance to a strategic threat.
The second article, Foreign spies with cyber eyes on our government, focuses on the threat to Australian security. This article contains an extensive discussion of cyber espionage against Australia. While many incidents are reported, this one is particularly alarming:
Earlier this year it was revealed that foreign spies – suspected to be Chinese – had hacked into the Australian Parliament House network and stolen thousands of emails from computers, including those of the PM [Prime Minister] and the ministers of foreign affairs and defence.
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