Information Warfare: September 10, 2001


The Cold War was supposed to have ended in 1991. But on the internet, it goes on. Consider the battles that have been fought in the past year. Russian criminal gangs, using Cold War era software experts, have broken into some three dozen heavily guarded e-commerce sites and financial institutions and stolen data on over a million credit card accounts. These gangs are considered some of the most dangerous ones in cyberspace. The Russian government has started to crack down on these groups, but the gangs are so rich, well connected and violent that any such crackdown will be very difficult. That other Cold War foe, China, is less interested in reining in its hackers. This past April, Chinese hackers began a popular movement to deface U.S. web sites in protest to the American patrol plane's downing of a Chinese fighter. The Chinese didn't do so well, defacing, at most, 300 sites while American hackers, in retaliation, defaced over 900 Chinese sites. Unbowed, Chinese hackers apparently were responsible for unleashing the Code Red worm, which brought down over 300,000 (mostly American) web sites (it even caused some minor damage on this one, but didnt shut us down.) The Code Red was traced back to a university in China. China openly proclaims it's belief that Cyberwar is one are in which it can achieve world class capability and meet America on even terms. Many net attacks, on U.S. targets have been traced back to Chinese locations, often Chinese government servers. 


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