Random bits

12 February 2010

Einstein 2: The Revenge of the Signature

Network attack game

“Most U.S. federal government agencies are expected to meet cybersecurity defense requirements by buying managed security services from carriers”


Random bits

10 February 2010

Snowstorm round-up edition…

PRC busts a hacker ring…convenient timing for a PR-friendly move. But don’t look too soon…

Verizon blocks 4chan

Phishing .gov and .mil

Mobile phone communication patterns

Graphene superconducting at 90 K

Apparently some people think steganography is nontrivial

Hackers steal $4M in carbon credits

Botnet vs. botnet

Iran’s big day: Thursday


Random bits

29 January 2010

RFID data illuminates London commute pattern

National Ignition Facility success


The Clinton doctrine

25 January 2010

After the fallout from Aurora, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major speech last Thursday at the Newseum in DC. Highlights below:

The spread of information networks is forming a new nervous system for our planet…in many respects, information has never been so free…[but] modern information networks and the technologies they support can be harnessed for good or for ill…

There are many other networks in the world. Some aid in the movement of people or resources, and some facilitate exchanges between individuals with the same work or interests. But the internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that’s why we believe it’s critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms. Freedom of expression is first among them…

…a new information curtain is descending across much of the world…

Governments and citizens must have confidence that the networks at the core of their national security and economic prosperity are safe and resilient…Disruptions in these systems demand a coordinated response by all governments, the private sector, and the international community. We need more tools to help law enforcement agencies cooperate across jurisdictions when criminal hackers and organized crime syndicates attack networks for financial gain…

States, terrorists, and those who would act as their proxies must know that the United States will protect our networks. Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our society or any other pose a threat to our economy, our government, and our civil society. Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation. In an internet-connected world, an attack on one nation’s networks can be an attack on all [ed. see article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty]. And by reinforcing that message, we can create norms of behavior among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons.

China denies everything and is trying to change the subject.

The tone of this speech was remarkable. While it is natural to expect that most nations conduct offensive computer network operations against foreign governments and organizations, getting publicly called on it is rare. Most observers have no doubt that the PRC has been infiltrating and attacking US government and commercial networks for strategic ends, and the NSA would not be doing its job if it were not doing the same thing abroad. So even if everything isn’t Marquis of Queensberry you wouldn’t expect to see folks complain too loudly.

But human rights and censorship is another story. There is a simple reason why Cold War rhetoric was recycled in this speech. Regardless of whether Google capitulates or leaves China (any other outcome is unlikely), by going public instead of leaking to the press they have put the PRC on the defensive. As I remarked earlier, Google surely must have known it had the (at least implicit) backing of the US before it (effectively) named names. The administration must have seen this as a golden opportunity to seize the moral high ground. When force of arms cannot be decisive, the justness of a cause still might be.


Random bits

20 January 2010

Arbor’s Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report

The global shipping network

China’s increasing antisatellite…I mean, missile defense capability. Also here.


China and Google

14 January 2010

Time for the (n+1)th dissection of Google’s recent announcement concerning cyberattacks and censorship. (You’ve got to love recursion!)

As Galrahn points out, discounting Google’s market share relative to Baidu isn’t really sensible. They’ve got a lot of market share there, especially for non-search services without strong competitors—but many of these services (YouTube, Picasa, and often Blogger) have been blocked by the Chinese government. That speaks to two things in China: an opportunity for user base consolidation and to a governmental approach to information that is inimical to Google’s business model. More to the point:

For what amounts to only 2% of revenue, Google is threatening to disrupt the internet behavior of at minimum 118 million internet savvy Chinese and believes that fact alone has value in negotiations.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dong/4271035989/ / CC BY 2.0

Is this really a funeral, or will a hundred flowers blossom?

That is, Google is using a casus belli to force an issue that predates their entry into the Chinese market. It doesn’t cost them much to do so. They’ve already got the explicit backing of some other heavyweight Western companies (e.g., Yahoo) and network effects may induce many others to climb on board the bandwagon. They surely have the implicit backing of the US government in pushing back against China (and am I the only one who is thinking about the possibility of honeypots here? No way).

The bottom line is that this is not about a moral stand. By taking things public, Google is creating a negotiating opportunity for what it’s wanted all along from China. The real issue here is not who is “right” or “wrong” but who is going to win. For Google to thrive in China, the Chinese Communist Party’s control over information has to be weakened. For the CCP to thrive in China, it has to retain a monopoly on political power, and this requires controlling the flow of information. Moreover, and as I’ve mentioned before, there is a clear path from China’s cyber strategy to the foundations of its politics. So Google will probably not win much if anything in this skirmish.

The larger point is much more interesting, though. After a decade of undeclared cyber war with Chinese characteristics, this is the first overt public response. China has less to lose from cyberwarfare than the West does. But as it finds what it’s looking for with rampant cyberespionage, China may also find that it is hurting itself.


Random bits

13 January 2010

“Google said Tuesday that it may pull out of China because of a sophisticated computer network attack originating there and targeting its e-mail service and corporate infrastructure, a threat that could rattle U.S.-China relations, as well as China’s business community…[the hackers] appeared to be after information on weapons systems from defense firms and were seeking companies’ ‘source code'”. More from the WSJ. As Richard Bejtlich asks, has China crossed a line? Google will stop censoring search results, which is yet another huge implication for Chinese internal and foreign affairs.

DDoS stats from Arbor

Adobe gets attacked

“Complex software-hardware systems are not proved correct [in 1976], they are not proved correct today, and will not be proved correct in the future. If I am wrong why do we need cyber-security? Why do systems get attacked and broken into every day? Why is security a multi-billion dollar a year industry? I think the answer is obvious.”

National Cyber Range awards

Entropy, entropy, entropy…


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