US claims China and Russia are stealing data on the economy and technology

November 5, 2011

US claims China and Russia are stealing data on the economy and technologyThe United States has finally accused China and Russia of stealing data that threatens the economic security of the US.  Up until now the US has been ignoring the problem that has been happening for years.  Just as with most things that threaten ones health, ignoring it only means it is harder to manage once you acknowledge the problem.

According to SciVista those cyber attacks against US interests have been happening for years and could have been dealt with earlier but the government decided to ignore them.  Now US intelligence agencies are acknowledging the problem and looking for solutions.

[US counter intelligent officer] Robert Bryant said, “If we build their economies on our information, that’s not right. We want to basically point out what the issue is. We want to be worried and we want to be careful, but we also want there to be an awareness and, frankly, drive that toward solutions where we work together to bring this under control.”

While many of the cyber attacks are sponsored by the Chinese and Russian governments, there are also attacks that are mounted by corporations within those countries.  Not surprisingly, attackers may have access to American Institutions making the thefts easier.

The irony is that the US has been accused of mounting its own cyber attacks.  The Telegraph’s report about Microsoft’s temporary patch against the espionage virus Duqu mentions it’s similarity to Stuxnet.  Stuxnet, which disrupted the Iranian nuclear program, is widely believed to have originated with Israel and the US.

Duqu, like Stuxnet, hides in Microsoft Word files and comes out to “install programs; view, change or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights". 

“Duqu’s purpose is to gather intelligence data and assets from entities, such as industrial control system manufacturers, in order to more easily conduct a future attack against another third party,” Symantec said.

The thought is that Duqu would be used as an advance scout that would allow a future Stuxnet attack.  Of course, that leads some to think that Duqu is also an Israeli/American espionage product.  

As with all intelligence work, it depends on where your loyalties lie as to whether it is simply a means to safeguard your country or a nefarious plot to sabotage your country.  If indeed the US and Israel were behind Stuxnet, the assumed argument is that they were protecting their countries from potential future nuclear attacks.

On the other hand, China and Russia’s thefts of US government and corporate data are attempts of those two countries to build their economies on the “shoulders” of American know-how ingenuity and information.

As a US citizen, I admit to following the rationale of US intelligence agencies.  Cyber attacks that steal corporate intellectual property and government secrets to undermine our economic health is extremely dangerous to our economic wellbeing.  Our struggles to climb out of our economic woes do not need to be exacerbated by foreign cyber espionage.

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