Risk
11/29/2010
02:43 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Confirmation? Chinese Government May Have Been Behind Operation Aurora Hacks

We suspected there would be some interesting cyber security related news to come out of the thousands of cables released by WikiLeaks over the weekend. We were not disappointed.

We suspected there would be some interesting cyber security related news to come out of the thousands of cables released by WikiLeaks over the weekend. We were not disappointed.As you're most likely aware, earlier this year Google came public with what was then rather astonishing news: it was under attack from systems that appeared to have come from China. While Google went to lengths to make it certain that they were not accusing the Chinese government of being part of the attacks, the security industry certainly believed, but had little evidence, to support the notion that the attacks were government backed and sponsored.

InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn wrote a great take on the incident back when it happened in his story, China Denies Attacking Google, where Chinese officials were quoted as saying the accusations that the Chinese government were behind the attacks in any way were groundless.

Turns out those claims are not so groundless after all, from Claburn's story today, China Directed Google Attack, Leaked Cable Says:

The cables also reveal that China's Politburo "directed the intrusion into Google's computer systems," according to the New York Times, which was provided with copies of the documents.

A Chinese contact reportedly confirmed to U.S. embassy officials in Beijing the involvement of China's government in the cyber attack on Google's network that occurred late last year and was disclosed in January, 2010. The officially sanctioned cyber attack involved government operatives, private security contractors, and Internet criminals recruited by the Chinese government, the New York Times said.

We know now that companies initially included in the so called "Operation Aurora" attacks included Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks, and Rackspace. Intel may have also been targeted. And various media reports have claimed that Yahoo, Symantec, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical were also targeted.

The question now is how much evidence is enough to respond, and what type of response should the U.S. take? Our Mathew J. Schwartz offers a discussion here about potential U.S. response to cyber incidents.

What do you think? How should the U.S. respond, if it should at all above bolstering IT security to a more acceptable level?

For my security and technology observations throughout the day, find me on Twitter.

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