Computer Espionage

An interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about online espionage, possibly coming from China, targeting American energy companies.

Every time I do a lecture on information security, I try to dispel what I call the Wargames myth. People still have this sort of romantic vision of hackers as awkward but brilliant loners, like the kid in Wargames. Sure, it’s technically illegal, but it’s just some misguided teenager who couldn’t get a date for the prom.

In reality, computer criminals are about as romantic and misguided as any other kind of criminal. There’s money in computer crime, and like anything else that offers easy money, it’s become an enterprise for serious criminals. There are actually Russian criminal syndicates offering scholarship for service programs now — young Ivan gets accepted into MIT, the Russian mob will pay his tuition if he agrees to come back to the motherland and write viruses for them when he’s done.

Computer networks have also become a major conduit for underground state-to-state warfare, as in this story. We’re competing with China for oil, and it’s entirely possible that the Chinese government has sanctioned some of these network attacks. Stealing the information about oil reserves straight from the oil companies saves hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sadly, there’s just not enough people like me out there – Infosec pros who know what they’re doing are pretty damn thin on the ground, and most of us have an anti-authoritarian streak that keeps us out of government employ. This is going to be a bumpy ride into a new Cold War.

2 Responses to “Computer Espionage”

  1. Pitt says:

    I still think “WOPPR” is one of the greatest computer names, ever.

    And now I suddenly have this uncontrollable urge to play “Global Thermonuclear War.”

    Or a nice game of chess.

  2. Dan says:

    Matt, why do we need people that know what they’re doing? That’s what we pay people from India for.

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