November 18th, 2010
05:55 AM GMT
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – The lines among corporate espionage, cyber protection and national security seem to be blurring in a raft of news out in the past 24 hours.
The head of cyber security for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told a government panel that the July release of `Stuxnet,’ which first attacked Iran’s nuclear power plants in July, was a “game changer.”
"This code can automatically enter a system, steal the formula for the product you are manufacturing, alter the ingredients being mixed in your product, and indicate to the operator and your anti-virus software that everything is functioning as expected," Sean McGurk told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Computer antivirus maker McAfee released a report Wednesday said the Stuxnet worm “marked a beginning of a new era.”
The report said Stuxnet was the first malicious software, or “malware,” that targeted industrial control systems, “anything from a pizza oven to an oil rig.” The report said the sophistication of the worm indicates the perpetrators were well-moneyed; who remains a mystery. The virus had a marker that matched the date of the executive of a Jewish-Iranian business person, but added “this could be highly misleading or even a false path.”
Still, even if it were a targeted attack against Iran, the collateral damage is immense, infecting “thousands, if not millions” of computers worldwide.
“The damages Stuxnet causes will certainly dwarf those intended by the authors,” the report said.
Now accusations that China Telecom ‘hijacked’ 15 percent of U.S. web traffic last April, according to a U.S. Congressional report. The report said China telecom redirected the web traffic through China for 18 minutes. Sites impacted included all branches of the U.S. military, the U.S. Senate and NASA.
The report doesn’t know if the diversion was intentional, whether Beijing played any role, or whether sensitive data was compromised. Both the Chinese embassy in Washington and China Telecom denied the charges.
Regardless, the raft of reports indicates the heat of cyber threats is rising across borders, across industries and across computers.
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