Tag Archives: CISPA

Is Cyberwar the New Normal?

The Internet these days is often compared to the Wild West. It, too, is a wide open frontier with endless possibilities, loose rules, limited government controls and not a few rustlers and bandits lurking along its trails. But unlike other frontiers, the Net seems to steadily becoming more dangerous, not less. And there are now armies on the move. Hackers aren’t just computer whiz kids, online scam artists, or even criminal networks any more. Hacking has become a weapon of war. Stunning accusations in a recent report by Mandiant, a US online security firm, provide insights of just how persistent threats from government hackers working for certain enemy states have grown. The company has been investigating security breaches at hundreds of organizations around the world since 2004. Their tracking of threats has allowed them to identify more than 20 hacking groups within China. The largest of these, which they called APT1, for “Advanced Persistent Threat” has conducted vast hauls of information from hundreds of organizations since 2006. Madiant’s detective work on over 150 corporate victims for over 7 years paid off. They were able to identify APT1 as a unit of the People’s Liberation Army of China with a code designation of Unit 61398, precisely located its facilities in the middle of Shanghai, and even named three key developers. They watched APT1 compromise 141 companies in 20 industries, and studied in detail APT1’s sophisticated methodology – in one case, as … Continue reading

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CISPA: The Fight for Privacy Continues

The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. That has been demonstrated once again in the ongoing legal struggle over privacy on the Internet. The celebration and congratulations among the people who united to defeat SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act“, the last proposed draconian legislation aimed at protecting copyright and intellectual property, had not even ended before another such bill was proposed. This one is called CISPA, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act“, which indicates it’s a somewhat different beast than SOPA, directed against hackers rather than file-sharers. (You can download a PDF of the actual bill, H.R. 3523, here.) It’s not quite SOPA risen like a zombie from the grave, but it is written in such ambiguous language that many privacy advocates consider it even more insidious and potentially harmful. CISPA, opponents claim, allow “cyber entities” such as ISPs, social networks, and cell phone and other service providers, to circumvent Internet privacy laws. It allows the government to monitor online communications if it suspects any kind of cybersecurity threat to be involved. And since the bill does not really define cybersecurity, that leaves the door wide open, allowing virtually anyone to be spied on for any reason. Not only the government is given this power. If a cyber entity thinks a threat is involved, it can take action. The only safeguard built in is that it cannot be done for “unfair competitive advantage”. All that’s … Continue reading

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