Wednesday, February 20, 2013

They're Stealin' Are Stuff!

Since America became the greatest country on earth, all the other countries on earth have been trying to imitate her by stealing the a stuff that makes America great - her inventions. The latest reports of the Chinese devoting  army units to the 'theft of intellectual property' from the compromised computers of  sensitive individuals around the world, and in America, is another in the great 'blowing wind up' exercises of the people tasked with 'keeping America safe'.

While everybody knows that internet access allows a great number of institutions to legally let us download a blizzard of trackers and cookies that call home with information to help those institutions better serve our 'needs', people are terrified that some institutes might be doing things like that illegally, or without letting us make that download decision. And so, from the first days of the internet a new industry was spawned - Internet Security. This multi-billion dollar software industry that is designed to react to such 'threats' (usually well after the fact) has long ago discovered that while the detritus of internet merchandising is a minor (but lucrative) problem, accessing a computer's files either through sloppy security or with 'cracking' software can provide an opportunity for gaining knowledge or for wreaking havoc. Business is super-sensitive to this and Hollywood has used the computer-hacking scenario as a plot line in many 'ennertainments'. And thus another multi-billion dollar aspect was born the I.T. 'pro' and the related department.

Very few corporations can afford the cost of a department of time-wasting system watchers for braced for hacking - unless the site is governmental or military it is a fairly rare event. Even the massive data thefts of which we hear with some regularity don't seem to have those trickle-down effects - like world-wide identity theft we are so terrified about. Unless of course the People's Army is using your passwords to hack your facebook account, or, even worse, your mastercard to buy new tanks. And thus the rise of small anti-hacking companies that do nothing else. They're for hire and constantly looking for business. Ex-hackers have done quite well in this aspect of I.T.

The Mandiant Corp of Alexandria VA is how famous for having 'sleuthed' its way though the internet pecker-tracks of international hackerdom to an identification of an individual Chinese spy and the geo-location of a 'spy-site' in Shanghai. Every computer records every access every day - every key stroke is documented and recorded - often in 'erasable' .temp files. But then, to a computer geek, nothing is totally unrecoverable unless it's been melted-down for recycling. The folk at Mandiant would have us think they've been tracing this Chinese 'activity' for years and now the break-through has come. That the hacked computers have not noticed odd access, or unapproved transmissions, is more telling than the fact that nations spy. But what can Mandiant do about that? Apparently not very much except expect the Chinese to stop.

It can be embarrassing to someone to have his 'porn site history' accessed - that happens all the time when police seize a computer. The first thing 'geeks' search for, and find, is the downloaded smut  collection - just look at Bin Laden - 10 years of being electronically untraceable but the whiz kids found his porn before they got his computers back to base - amazing. But the same top-level hackers had no way of knowing exactly where he was, so a disease eradication program was virtually destroyed on a hunch to get some 'eyes on' him. Even that failed but a better guess was made about all those non-Pakistani  women and immunizable kids. I'd bet even the Peoples' Army couldn't have found Bin Laden.

But corporations and governments and militaries aren't trying to hide their secrets.They're trying to market their secrets. Since time immemorial when you sell somebody something better than what they've got, the first thought that occurs is, "How do they do that'? The second is, "Can I?"

In to-day's  'globalized' marketplace they're taking their secrets into places where internet security is a joke, or where 'computer crime' has been a cultural phenomenon since the first internet computer arrived. Just how long now have the world's smartest people been shilled out of billions to help get somebody's millions out a third world shit-hole? And they still wonder why and how somebody's stealing their stuff?

Taking advantage of third world resources and labour markets isn't like 'stealing' overpriced 'designer goods' and peddling them on-line, is it? After all, paying a Mexican worker 40 bucks a week is legal, although they'll work for a lot less in Bangla Desh.

But this isn't about 'bidness', it's about the 'fabric of democracy' and the 'safety of the nation'. Why, if the 'wily Chinee' had access to our technology they'd be building A-weapons and the fleets of ships, planes and rockets to get them over here. The "Yellow Peril" would be looking ta 'take over the world'. They'd be having their own "Chinese Century.' They've been at this too long and they must be stopped!

When you get an enemy weapon the first thing that happens after a few test shots - is that it gets disassembled. If it's good enough, it will be copied. From Hittite iron weapons to stealth technology - if you build it, it will eventually be 'stolen'. That's a no-brainer. To-day's technology - eg 3D printers - just make stealing, and reproducing,  ever so much easier. Ask a Hollywood film mogul.

But if the message of Mandiant is heard, some new multi-billions can be borrowed to set-up a state-of-the-art defense against computer sleuths. This will allow America to close the 'cybercrime gap' and increase it's ability to cyberfight its enemas.

Lets face it though, the only nation actually demonstrated to have used cybertechnology as a weapon is ... the United States of America, and it's best ally ... Israel. They invented a virus to cripple Iran's Seimens-built centrifuges. But even that, they couldn't get in with the internet. They needed, as such espionage usually always does, a human 'vector' to actually go in and  screw-up the system.

And having a human 'vector', either putting something in, or taking something out, will be the downfall of any electronic defense.

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