Risk
6/10/2013
06:41 PM
50%
50%

U.S.-Chinese Summit: 4 Information Security Takeaways

What did the summit accomplish with regard to cyber spying and cyber attacks -- and what's left undone?

The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
(click image for larger view)
The Syrian Electronic Army: 9 Things We Know
Don't expect advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks emanating from China to stop anytime soon.

During a historic, two-day summit last week, President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping spent eight hours discussing numerous issues of mutual concern. Results included new agreements on greenhouse gas emissions and North Korea; plans to run a joint naval exercise next summer; and, for Xi, the gift of a bench made of redwood.

But absent from the summit was any resolution regarding U.S. government allegations that APT groups operating from China have been waging a sustained and successful online industrial espionage campaign against U.S. government agencies and businesses, including defense contractors.

[ China accuses the U.S. of the same cyber intrusions. Read China To America: You Hack Us, Too. ]

The White House did, however, address information security concerns during the summit. Here are the takeaways:

1. Chinese Now More Aware, Says White House

Simply put, the White House had little to show on the information security front after the two-day talks in California, which began Friday. "The President made clear the threat posed to our economic and national security by cyber-enabled economic espionage," said the President's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, in a press briefing Saturday. "The President underscored that resolving this issue is really key to the future of U.S.-China economic relations."

2. White House Continues To Pursue Diplomacy

Still, some progress has been made. Donilon said that a three-part diplomatic strategy, hammered out in March 2013, had to begin by first getting China to even discuss cybersecurity, which it previously hadn't done. "I think this concern is acknowledged at this point," he said.

Second, the White House has asked China to investigate industrial espionage operations being run from inside its borders, "and the Chinese have agreed to look at this," Donilon said. Finally, he said that China agreed "to engage in a dialogue with the United States on norms and rules -- that is what is acceptable and what's not acceptable in the realm of cyber." The presidents also agreed to the creation of a cybersecurity working group that will begin meeting in July, and meet regularly thereafter.

3. China Talks Cybercrime Generalities

China has previously responded to allegations leveled by the U.S. government -- that the Chinese government supports a number of APT attack groups -- by saying that China gets hacked too, and President Xi reportedly emphasized that again during the summit.

But Donilon said the White House has been attempting to push beyond bland generalities about global cybercrime. "The discussion that we're having with China with respect to this topic is really not focused on cyber hacking and cybercrime," he said. "These are problems that we've faced and we've faced jointly."

"The specific issue that President Obama talked to President Xi about today is the issue of cyber-enabled economic theft -- theft of intellectual property and other kinds of property in the public and private realm in the United States by entities based in China," he said Saturday.

4. Chinese Media Downplays Cyber Angle

Diplomatically speaking, China is now striking a more conciliatory cybersecurity note, with government officials at least mentioning the word publicly. "At this summit, Xi told Obama that cybersecurity should be a new highlight of bilateral cooperation instead of a source of suspicion and friction," said China's official Xinhua News Agency. "They agreed to strengthen dialogue, coordination and cooperation through the already-established cyber working group."

But in recent days, multiple official Chinese press outlets have suggested that the U.S. media has been obsessing over information security. For example, political science professor Zhu Zhiqun at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., told the state-owned China Daily that many Western media outlets had focused on cybersecurity "without a proper understanding of the complex relationship between the two great powers."

"Cybersecurity is hardly a major issue between the two countries," claimed Zhu.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2188
Published: 2015-02-26
The Authentication Proxy feature in Cisco IOS does not properly handle invalid AAA return codes from RADIUS and TACACS+ servers, which allows remote attackers to bypass authentication in opportunistic circumstances via a connection attempt that triggers an invalid code, as demonstrated by a connecti...

CVE-2015-0594
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the help pages in Cisco Common Services, as used in Cisco Prime LAN Management Solution (LMS) and Cisco Security Manager, allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug IDs CSCuq54654 and CSCun1...

CVE-2015-0632
Published: 2015-02-26
Race condition in the Neighbor Discovery (ND) protocol implementation in Cisco IOS and IOS XE allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a flood of Router Solicitation messages on the local network, aka Bug ID CSCuo67770.

CVE-2015-0651
Published: 2015-02-26
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in the web GUI in Cisco Application Networking Manager (ANM), and Device Manager (DM) on Cisco 4710 Application Control Engine (ACE) appliances, allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users, aka Bug ID CSCuo99753.

CVE-2015-0882
Published: 2015-02-26
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in zencart-ja (aka Zen Cart Japanese edition) 1.3 jp through 1.3.0.2 jp8 and 1.5 ja through 1.5.1 ja allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted parameter, related to admin/includes/init_includes/init_sanitize.php an...

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
How can security professionals better engage with their peers, both in person and online? In this Dark Reading Radio show, we will talk to leaders at some of the security industry’s professional organizations about how security pros can get more involved – with their colleagues in the same industry, with their peers in other industries, and with the IT security community as a whole.