Not wanting to add to the din, we do want to point out one of the best articles lately on the topic that we’ve seen, featured as Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Feb. 18th cover story. (Ironically, Bloomberg itself may have been hacked during its own reportage on the very topic, as described here.)
In the Bloomberg article authors Dune Lawrence and Michael Riley first re-tell the now familiar story about the New York Times’ recent hack attack, when it first started posting articles about suspicious money activities among China’s elite ruling class, as well as recounting the famous earlier (2010) tales of hacking done at Intel and Google, among others.
But then they turn their sights to a fellow named Joe Stewart. He’s the director of malware research at Dell SecureWorks, a unit of Dell Computer, where he spends his days “hunting for Internet spies.”
And from there unfolds an intricate tale of sleuthing involving a labyrinthine network of hacking and network nodes from Eastern Europe all the way back to Shanghai. And how through one small slip, he eventually followed the trail back, through a Hotmail account connection no less, to a blog containing musings on Buddhism, eventually back to something called the “PLA Information Engineering University,” one of China’s principal centers for electronic intelligence.
It’s a fascinating yarn of sleuthing, all worthy of a John Le Carre novel, and you should give the full article (linked above) a read. This stuff is real. And as the U.S. Attorney General pointed out recently, there are only two kinds of victims here: those that have been hacked and know it, and those that have been hacked but don’t yet know it.
A few days after the Bloomberg article, by the way, The Wall Street Journal made its section B headline about hackers strikes against Apple and Facebook. Interestingly, the article points out that a report in February from a U.S. research firm, Trustwave Holdings, noted that in 2012, for its own clients, “data breaches around the world” showed 33% originating from Romania, and 29% from the U.S. China, the report said, was only the fifth most common source.
And finally, Verizon Communications in a report published in 2012 exposing the geographic distribution of hackers said that of 855 intrusions it detected (in conjunction with the Secret Service) that fully two-thirds originated from Eastern Europe, 20% from the U.S., and only 2% from East Asia.
Proving, one supposes, that our enemies these days are… everywhere.