Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Cyber spies and thugs attacking power-water plants
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 28, 2010

Brazil Internet fest targeted by military, politicians
Sao Paulo (AFP) Jan 31, 2010 - An Internet festival in Brazil billed as one of the biggest in the world has proved an irresistible attraction not only for corporate technology sponsors -- but also for military recruiters and politicians. All were out in force at the third annual week-long Campus Party which closed this weekend after gathering 6,000 web-savvy "nerds" from across Latin America. Among the areas promoting robotics, debates, computer games, design and programming were officials looking to lure the young participants to their missions. Next to a camouflage tent bedecked with a US Marine flag, Brazil's air force had set up multi-screen, surround-sound flight simulators that officials insisted were not mere "games."

"It's more historic, to show how planes developed over the decades," said one demonstrator/recruiter, Kurt Krause, next to a 20-something "pilot" whose virtual cockpit was being strafed by a World War II enemy plane. "We've had about 100 people a day come through, and there's been quite an interest in learning about the air force," affirmed a colleague, Andrea Krauthein. Just a few meters (yards) away, though, a much bigger crowd was waiting for turns to play another simulator whose theme -- and popularity -- dismayed the air force team. Those players were battling their way through a split-screen duel based on the hugely popular point-of-view shoot-em-up game Modern Warfare 2.

The made-up world they were blasting their way through to bloody effect was a representation of a Rio de Janeiro slum. One player assumed the role of a gun-toting gang warrior and the other a member of Brazil's brutal elite urban police unit. The screen was set up in a booth belonging to the telecom group Telefonica, which was ostensibly showing off the roll-out of its new 10-gigabyte broadband offer. One player, 22-year-old student Rodrigo Prado Morena, quite cheerfully called it "just a game" with no hidden intent, as he locked his hapless rival into "kill cam" mode before a respawn. Elsewhere, past rows of laptops and desktops plastered with joke stickers like "If you don't follow me on Twitter, don't walk behind me" and "C:/RUN/DOS/RUN," officials from a government department were readying a presentation on how sites such as Facebook can promote human rights.

"We're reaching out to young people... We have even launched a web mascot to help fight against child pornography," explained Mariana Carpanezzi, who was there for Brazil's special secretariat for human rights. The small number of chairs prepared for that talk, though, contrasted with the many rows already filled in front of a neighboring podium where a talk on "Is the Internet for porn?" was about to start. And then there were other areas pulling in large number groups intent on just having fun -- even at the literal risk of mental health. One such was a variation on the bestselling "Guitar Hero" game. Only instead of the player standing in front of screen and strumming a hooked-up guitar in time to the music, this one featured a wireless shaggy wig as the "instrument." The aim: to shake, jerk and snap the head in time to heavy metal riffs.

Power plants, oil refineries and water supplies increasingly dependent on the Internet are under relentless attack by cyber spies and thugs, according to a McAfee report released Thursday.

The "Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber-War" analysis by the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said the price of "downtime" from major attacks exceeds six million dollars a day.

"If cyberspace is the Wild West, the sheriff needs to get to Dodge City," concluded the study commissioned by McAfee, which sells computer security software.

In most developed countries, operating systems of critical infrastructure including power grids and oil refineries are linked to the Internet where they can be targeted for attacks.

"There are absolutely foreign entities that would definitely conduct (cyber) reconnaissance of our power infrastructure," said Michael Assante, chief security officer of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

"They would be looking to learn, get a foothold and try to maintain sustained access to computer networks."

Researchers surveyed 600 IT and security executives from critical infrastructure enterprises in 14 countries in September of 2009.

Operators of enterprises reported that their networks and control systems are under repeated cyberattack, according to the study.

And while defenses were deemed acceptable, harsh economic conditions have tightened spending on computer security while attackers have grown more sophisticated, survey results indicated.

"There is no identifiable protection model that will keep pace with the evolution and sophistication of cyber threats," said Assante.

"In addition, innovative technologies, from cloud computing to Smart Grid meters and SCADA connectivity, continue to create new vulnerabilities."

While the most common target of attacks was financial information, operators of energy, oil, and gas facilities saw assaults on operational controls, according to the survey.

A third of the respondents saw the threat as growing, while two fifths said they expect a major Internet security incident in their sector within a year.

The United States said Thursday that Google's problems in China with cyberattacks could deter US companies from investing in the Asian economic powerhouse.

Google has threatened to abandon its Chinese search engine, and perhaps end all operations in the country over the recent cyberattacks. It has also said it is no longer willing to bow to Chinese government censors.

China has said the hacking charges were without foundation.

Critical systems operators feared the potential of cyber-war.

"Although attribution is always a challenge in cyberattacks, most owners and operators believe that foreign governments are already engaged in attacks on critical infrastructure in their country," the study said.

"Other cyberattackers range from individual hackers and e-vandals to organized crime enterprises. Financially motivated attacks like extortion and theft-of-service are widespread."

Oil and natural gas operations reported the highest rates of "stealth infiltration" with 71 percent claiming to have been targeted.

One-in-five critical infrastructure entities reported being the victim of extortion through cyberattack or threatened cyberattack within the past two years.

Extortion was described as demanding payment to appease attackers that say "hey, I can make the lights go out."

The study showed cyber-extortion to be most common in India, Saudi Arabia/Middle East, China and France.

China registered highest in infrastructure cyber-security while Italy, Spain and India were at the low end of the spectrum, according to the study.

"As long as major governments desire unimpeded operational freedom in cyberspace, it will continue to be the Wild West," researchers said.

"In the meantime, the owners and operators of the critical infrastructure which makes up this new battleground will continue to get caught in the cross-fire and may indeed need what amounts to their own ballistic missile defense."

UN chief calls for treaty to prevent cyber war
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 30, 2010 - The world needs a treaty to prevent cyber attacks becoming an all-out war, the head of the main UN communications and technology agency warned Saturday.

International Telcommunications Union secretary general Hamadoun Toure gave his warning at a World Economic Forum debate where experts said nations must now consider when a cyber attack becomes a declaration of war.

With attacks on Google from China a major talking point in Davos, Toure said the risk of a cyber conflict between two nations grows every year.

He proposed a treaty in which countries would engage not to make the first cyber strike against another nation.

"A cyber war would be worse than a tsunami -- a catastrophe," the UN official said, highlighting examples such as attacks on Estonia last year.

He proposed an international accord, adding: "The framework would look like a peace treaty before a war."

Countries should guarantee to protect their citizens and their right to access to information, promise not to harbour cyber terrorists and "should commit themselves not to attack another."

John Negroponte, former director of US intelligence, said intelligence agencies in the major powers would be the first to "express reservations" about such an accord.

Susan Collins, a US Republican senator who sits on several Senate military and home affairs committees, said the prospect of a cyber attack sparking a war is now being considered in the United States.

"If someone bombed the electric grid in our country and we saw the bombers coming in it would clearly be an act of war.

"If that same country uses sophisticated computers to knock out our electricity grid, I definitely think we are getting closer to saying it is an act of war," Collins said.

Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, said "there are at least 10 countries in the world whose internet capability is sophisticated enough to carry out cyber attacks ... and they can make it appear to come from anywhere."

"The Internet is the biggest command and control centre for every bad guy out there," he said.

The head of online security company McAfee told another Davos debate Friday that China, the United States, Russia, Israel and France are among 20 countries locked in a cyberspace arms race and gearing up for possible Internet hostilities.

Mundie and other experts have said there is a growing need to police the internet to clampdown on fraud, espionage and the spread of viruses.

"People don't understand the scale of criminal activity on the internet. Whether criminal, individual or nation states, the community is growing more sophisticated," the Microsoft executive said.

"We need a kind of World Health Organisation for the Internet," he said.

"When there is a pandemic, it organises the quarantine of cases. We are not allowed to organise the systematic quarantine of machines that are compromised."

He also called fo a "driver's license" for internet users.

"If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance."

Andre Kudelski, chairman of Kudelski Group, said that a new internet might have to be created forcing people to have two computers that cannot connect and pass on viruses. "One internet for secure operations and one internet for freedom."


Related Links
Cyberwar - Internet Security News - Systems and Policy Issues

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Clinton in 'open, candid' Google talks with China
London (AFP) Jan 28, 2010
The United States and China agreed on Thursday to keep talking about their spat over Google, following "a very open and candid conversation" on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan. Speaking to reporters, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she raised "the issue of Google" and its threat to quit China over cyberattacks and censorship with Chinese Foreign Ministe ... read more

Seed Bank For The Moon

Obama to propose abandoning US return to Moon: report

NASA Adds Israeli Technical Expertise To Lunar Science Research

PVAMU Scientists Add "Moon Mud" To Lunar Radiation Shielding Studies

A Stationary Spirit

Spirit Bogged In Sand: Now A Stationary Research Platform

Close Encounter With Mars

Spirit rover to remain stuck in Martian sand

CSF Comments On NASA Commercial Crew Program And Budget Increase

Obama trims US space ambitions

Feeding Our Future On Earth And In Space

Alternate Space Capsule Concept Passes Tests

UK's First China Space Race Exhibition Launched

No Spacewalk From Tiangong-1

China's Mystery Spacelab

China launches orbiter for navigation system: state media

NASA Provides Inside Look At ISS With Streaming Video

Endeavour to bring high-tech 'sunroom' to ISS

Russian Specialists Raise ISS Orbit

Robotic Capture And Mating Of Orbital's Cygnus Cargo Delivery Spacecraft To ISS

Arianespace Wins ESA Contract

SpaceX And Spacecom Sign Contract

Arianespace To Launch The First Ten Galileo Satellites

Activities At Esrange Space Center 2010

NASA's Rosetta "Alice" Spectrometer Reveals Earth's UV Fingerprint

Make A Play Date With Planet Explorers At The Adler

VLT Captures First Direct Spectrum Of An Exoplanet

Alien Planet Safari

Ball Aerospace Begins Integration Of VIIRS For NPOESS

Northrop Grumman Provides Microelectronics For ESA Spacecraft

Japan's Fujitsu says it made first 'iPad'

An iPad by any other name would still be Apple

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement