China’s success at perpetrating massive cyber-attacks against the United States – including arguably the biggest hack in history, the Office of Personnel Management raid – without any repercussions means cyber espionage is here to stay. It’s too easy, too effective, and too deniable to be stopped.
It’s fairly easy for hacker operations to pull off significant attacks. Aggressors are always one step ahead of defenders in the security game, and experts have warned for several years that the gap is growing. Some of the biggest data raids, including the one at OPM, didn’t even rely on techniques that most people would consider “hacking” in the traditional sense – the thieves acquired valid passwords and logged right into the system.
Some methods of electronic attack are very difficult to stop. An article at the Daily Dot traces the beginning of the modern cyber-war era to a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) assault on the Estonian government by “pro-Russian activists” in 2007. A network of nearly a million computers worldwide was controlled with malware and fused into a digital artillery battery, bombarding government and newspaper websites in Estonia with enough garbage data to make them inaccessible to legitimate users.
There is no question such cyber-attacks and data raids are highly effective, and they can be conducted with relatively little risk or cost. Even the large, well-supplied, highly coordinated cyber-espionage units maintained by China cost less than the conventional People’s Liberation Army units based around them.
DDoS attacks are very difficult to block pre-emptively; system administrators must fight back, as the Estonian government did in 2007, by identifying many of the million IP addresses attacking them and enlisting expert assistance to take them offline. Even NATO got involved, although they came up short of invoking Article V of the NATO treaty and classifying the incident as an attack on a member state.
Read the full article at Breitbart.com