The 88-page opus, published in October, was prepared by Northrup Grumman's Information Systems Sector for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was created 10 years ago to monitor the national security implications of trade and economic ties between the U.S. and China.
At the time the report was issued, InformationWeek ran a story with the following headline, "Evidence Points To China In Cyber Attacks." To repeat, that was two months before Google experienced its own targeted attack, which was revealed by Google's chief legal officer David Drummond in a Jan. 12 blog post.
In fact, since Drummond first published that, Google has gone back and provided a link to the Northrup Grumman report. You can download it here.
The report provides a detailed overview of China's cyber warfare and cyber espionage strategy, a case study in advanced cyber intrusion, a timeline of "Chinese related" cyber events over the past 10 years, and a chronology of network exploitations against U.S. and foreign interests that were allegedly undertaken by the Chinese government or its cohorts.
Notably, the report includes examples of socially engineered e-mail and zero-day exploits as among China's methods, both of which may have come into play in the December cyber attacks on U.S. companies. In its report, Northrup Grumman writes that, while conclusive evidence is hard to come by, it has reason to believe that Chinese security services have teamed with "elite individual hackers" in some cases.
The report's authors acknowledge that details are fuzzy and hard to prove, and the Chinese government has denied involvement in the attack on Google. Even so, new reports point to China as a suspected source of cyber attacks on U.S. oil companies back in 2008.
There's also this sobering assessment from Northrup Grumman: "The skill sets needed to penetrate a network for intelligence gathering purposes in peace time are the same skills necessary to penetrate that network for offensive action during war time." As I said, the report should be required reading for senior management and IT pros in business and government alike.
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