Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The boomerang effect of industrial cyber espionage

"Boomerang effect: it is the outcome of an action that turns against its author" (Real Academia Española). After the indictment of five accused Chinese military industrial accused of cyber espionage by the U.S., about we told you yesterday, it comes the analysis of the possible consequences for Americans. Does this decision could turn against them?

The comprehensive analysis by David E. Sanger on The New York Times covers the different espionage episodes on foreign companies carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA). Oil companies such as Brazil's Petrobras, technological ones such as China's Huawei or German Siemens, and even an optic fiber operator from Hong Kong called Pacnet have been targeted by NSA’s surveillance. But the actions of the U.S. intelligence services has also affected political figures such as Joaquin Almunia, antitrust commissioner of the European Commission or Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. Until what extend does all this espionage have to do with national security and not with the aim of enhancing the U.S. private sector’s competitiveness?

For its part, China has banned the use of Windows 8 in the government’s computers claiming security concerns. One might think that is a direct result of the U.S. indictment of industrial cyber espionage, but the decision was taken earlier last week. The operating system that they plan to implement from now on is still a mystery.

In any case, we must highlight that cyber espionage is not only done by governments or large corporations. Cybercrooks also want to cash in monitoring any user’s activity. That what the case of the 97 people arrested by the FBI for taking part in the infection of half a million computers across 100 different countries with a malware called BlackShades. This malware is a remote access tool (RAT) that allows the attacker to hijack a computer and control its webcam.

Thanks to this operation, the FBI teams that fight cybercrime add a new great success to their list. However they will not celebrate it smoking a weed spliff. The bureau has a no-tolerance marijuana policy. In fact, according to FBI director, marijuana is an actual factor for them when hiring new cybersecurity experts.


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