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The Secret China-U.S. Hacking War? 107

bored-at-IETF-ntp-session writes "In an article at eWeek Larry Seltzer examines the supposed hacking war between the US and China. He surmises 'Even if you can't prove that the government was involved ... it still bears some responsibility'. He quotes Gadi Evron who advised the Estonians during the Russian attacks. 'I can confirm targeted attacks with sophisticated technologies have been launched against obvious enemies of China ... Who is behind these attacks can't be easily said, but it can be an American cyber-criminal, a Nigerian spammer or the Chinese themselves.' Seltzer concluded 'It's just another espionage tool, and no more or less moral than others we've used in the past.'" This a subject we've also previously discussed.
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The Secret China-U.S. Hacking War?

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:46PM (#22742156) Homepage Journal
    Fixed that for you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheSpengo ( 1148351 )
      Actually he has a point, it's not exactly secret if it's being posted on /., so there's no reason for that post to be modded troll. It was posted in the past too such as in this article. [] Articles about China and the US beefing up their network security are all over the place too. Just put "china hacking" in the search bar. :P As far as I know, this has been public for a long time.
  • Please. Everyone knew what was going on. The evidence is so many zombified spam spewers all over the place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:50PM (#22742212)
    I can confirm this. I work for the department of defense, and we get port sweeps every day coming from china.
    • Re:Not suprised (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:00PM (#22742356) Homepage

      ...we get port sweeps every day coming from china.
      Probably so, but I'd guess that you're also getting port sweeps from Russia, Korea, various others, and from within the US - Am I right?

      Also, FTA:

      Is the United States under attack again?
      If there any nation's government with a large on-line presence that isn't constantly under attack?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Deanalator ( 806515 )
        You must have forgotten to put on your lulz hat this morning :-p
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Deanalator ( 806515 )
          Seriously now, did I just get a troll mod point for mentioning the word "lulz"?

          geez.. some people.
          • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

            The modding today is way out of whack -- multiple threads where legitimate statements are modded Troll.

            (BTW mods, this one is OffTopic. Thanks.)
        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          You must have forgotten to put on your lulz hat this morning
          I guess so. Today I opted for my "So obtuse that I could believe that Chinese cyber-attacks on the U.S. may be news to some people" hat. Lulz hat is in wash - May wear it tomorrow.

      • Re:Not suprised (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JustAnObserver ( 1194117 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:39PM (#22742720)

        ...we get port sweeps every day coming from china.
        Probably so, but I'd guess that you're also getting port sweeps from Russia, Korea, various others, and from within the US - Am I right?
        Hardly. In my university (top 50), well over 90% of such attack attempts (and port scans are just a small fraction of those, mind you) come from China. Connection attempts from Russia happen much, much less often, and those from other sources are extremely rare exceptions.

        Yes I understand your scepticism. I used to think along same lines until having had looked at Snort logs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AaronW ( 33736 )
          I saw the same thing in my home firewall logs. One IP address in China filled 75% of the logs. Out of curiosity I googled that address and came up with a PDF file from the Department of Homeland Security from two years earlier listing the same IP address.

          It's well known that China has been spying on us since we periodically catch them and they make the news. It's probably safe to say that a lot of it is quietly supported by the Chinese government or at least they turn a blind eye to it. Much of the espio
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Valcrus ( 1242564 )
      Yeah but I don't really rank the military up there in security. I High School I took a vocational network admin course for Novell. We had a couple of network engineers from the DoD come in to talk to us about what they did and they explained the basics of network layout (I believe one of them was a friend of the teacher). They even brought a layout of the network with them. It was great. The only issue was the layout the had listed all of the IP Addresses for the servers at each point. The next day th
    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:10PM (#22743082)

      For kicks, I opened up my secure log (just on my home computer, which only has ssh enabled)... - Pakistan - Denmark - Argentina (who tried to log in with "fluffy", among others...) - India (and from a company my company contracts with! small world) - Poland - Japan - China! Finally. - California - Spain - Poland (again! WAR! WAR!) - Korea - France - Taiwan - China! Again! But it's the guy who starts with "fluffy" again...

      China has tried to hack me twice, along with Poland. We must be having a secret war! I'm going to declare war on California, too. You'll see my wrath in the form of an earthquake sometime in the next 30 years.
      • Do we know for certain that all of these attacks originated wholly in China, or is there a possibility that the attacks originated somewhere else, and were simply proxied through a Chinese server?

        Just playing devil's advocate.....
        • I'm nearly 100% certain that all of these attacks are from scripts on previously compromised machines - I was sort of making fun of the whole concept.

          Going through the logs, you can see patterns emerge - so it's either the same scripts or the same attackers working through many different locations.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I can confirm this. I work for the department of defense, and we get port sweeps every day coming from china.

      I can confirm this, too. I work for NetCraft.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by angus_rg ( 1063280 )
      And 99% of the port sweeps aren't a hacking war. It's people looking for places to store warez. I'm not saying there is no hacking war, but I think it gets hyped up by a lot of unrelated traffic.
  • More than hacking (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by uncoveror ( 570620 )
    China is doing a lot more to wage war on us than just hacking. All the tainted products are a part of it, too. Read more! []
    • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:00PM (#22742354) Homepage
      The article says: "He quotes Gadi Evron who advised the Estonians during the Russian attacks. "

      Note that this wasn't a "hacking war," and it wasn't a "Russian attack". It was a 20-year old Estonian kid with a botnet []. More details here []

      • The first thing that popped to my mind when I heard it turned out to be an Estonian kid was the question if anyone would stop thinking of it as a Russian aggression. I guess not. It is a more exciting version of history, to be sure.
      • From TFA: ...police are still trying to find others who may have been involved in the attacks, although the investigation is complicated since the attackers are likely outside Estonia...
  • Too Many Secrets !
  • Well, isn't this a surprise. The USA (and US media) is pointing fingers at an outside force for causing internal problems. Sure, it probably happens (that people in china attack american networks) ... but people all over the world do the same. Why target china? well... the US economy is in trouble, and china is economically booming.

    Then again, both Hillary and Obama have said they'd renegotiate NAFTA if elected (and basically blaming canada and mexico for their problems) - which is already skewed in the
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kazrath ( 822492 )
      You do realized that the reason China's economy is booming is because we buy so much of their crap. We have a HUGE trade deficit with China which if resolved/balanced out would stablize our economy much more than the inflation causing double infusion the gov is doing to our econmy over the next few months.

      • And how much of this deficit is due to the Chinese lending money to us to support our budget deficit?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bug1 ( 96678 )
          So, let me see if i understand this...

          China is the cause of the US problems as its lending the US money so that the US can afford to continue to buy stuff.

          I have an idea, maybe the US is to blame for being such a consumer driven society and wasting all their money on useless shipt that they hardly ever use and dont really need.
          • My biggest expenses are:

            1) Taxes (35%)
            2) Rent (17%)
            3) Food (11%)
            4) Tythe (10%)
            5) Transportation (7%)
            6) Student Loans (7%)
            7) Therapy (6%)
            6) Bills (4%)
            7) Other stuff (3%)

            Most of the stuff I buy from china comes from the "other stuff" department, which is my smallest expense. I think this is also a pretty typical for other Americans. I don't think it's fair to say that I or people like me waste "all their money on useless shipt that they hardly ever use and dont really need."

            A bigger contributor to the trade
            • by caferace ( 442 )
              My biggest expenses are:

              1) Taxes (35%)
              2) Rent (17%)
              3) Food (11%)
              4) Tythe (10%)
              5) Transportation (7%)
              6) Student Loans (7%)
              7) Therapy (6%)
              6) Bills (4%)
              7) Other stuff (3%)

              Drop that whole "tythe" thing and you'd have a boatload of cash for blow and hookers. :D


              • Fair enough. As long as they're not Chinese blow and hookers my point still stands.

                If your theory is correct the spending pattern for a typical american might look something like:

                1) Taxes (35%)
                2) Rent (17%)
                3) Food (11%)
                4) Blow and Hookers (10%)
                5) Transportation (7%)
                6) Student Loans (7%)
                7) Therapy (6%)
                6) Bills (4%)
                7) Other stuff (3%)
                • by Kazrath ( 822492 )
                  Who the hell goes to therapy? And "most" christians unless your a mormon don't actually give 10%.. nice to claim on taxes though.
                  • Who the hell goes to therapy?

                    I live in southern california.

                    And "most" christians unless your a mormon don't actually give 10%

                    I'm not mormon, neither are most of my friends who give 10%. Of course the church does not require it, but how is the church supposed to raise funds and operate without it?

                    nice to claim on taxes though.

                    I'm not sure why to government lets you write off charitable contributions. It seems to me that it's still income. They should only let you write off business expenses. Tax law is fubar.

            • But even if China skews its currency, it still will have problems maintaining its "positive" balance of trade. The costs of manufacturing are not just monetary, but involve d the opportunity costs, that is, the foregone use of resources. So the costs of producing cars in China includes the foregone opportunity to produce computers.

              David Ricardo argued along a similar line in his theory of comparative advantage. Suppose the Chinese can produce cars at half the cost of American cars and can produce computers
          • I wasn't blaming China. I'm perfectly willing to blame the US government.
    • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:41PM (#22742752)
      China's economy isn't booming quite to the extent that the American media would have us believe. Inflation [] is becoming a serious problem there. It may not be as big an issue for the small percentage of the population who are well off, but given that most of the nation still lives close to or in poverty it is a serious problem.

      There are economists who believe China has a bubble economy built on credit and corruption. So far they've done well for themselves but it's only a matter of time before they hit a downturn. And when that happens they're going to have serious problems with civil unrest. My concern is that when that happens the government will quickly start blaming other nations for all their ills.

      Believe me, Chinese people have a lot to be resentful of. All that economic growth has been great, but many people have suffered greatly for it. Thousands, if not millions have lost their homes to what amounts to eminent domain to make way for new development. People have gone off to work only to return to find their homes demolished. Supposedly the government has passed property rights laws but they don't seem to have amounted to much of anything. And let's not forget how they control free speech, although people seem to have largely forgotten about that in the midst of this economic boom.

      And they may be right in a few regards. There is already the big issue of low-quality goods coming out of the country. Just recently a number of people in Japan died from having eaten tainted food from China. Sales of Chinese foods have dropped dramatically. Quality clearly isn't improving but it's getting more expensive to manufacture in China. As infrastructure improves in places like India, Vietnam and elsewhere American, European and Japanese companies are going to look to those nations for their manufacturing needs.

      From personal experience, a few years ago in Taiwan everyone and their grandmother was chomping at the bit to do business in China. Many gave it a try and most failed. Nowadays, there's still a good deal of interest, but people have are a lot more tentative. China's market is over-saturated with competition and business is too cutthroat. And that's to say nothing of all the corruption.

      I'm not saying there aren't problems with the American economy, because there are. But the fundamentals are still good and we're on a somewhat more stable ground. This current downturn is due to speculation more than anything. Gasoline prices are high because of the weak dollar, and more importantly because of speculators. Some economists are saying that oil's value should be at about $70 per barrel, not $100+. Demand has actually dipped in the US. The problem is who the hell knows when a correction is coming. Speculation has led the housing and stock market to the situation we find ourselves today. Look at all the people who overpaid for homes because they expected to continue seeing these absurd increases in values. And that was despite the fact that we were being warned of the housing bubble.

      Now, on to the topic at hand, some people have this tendency to criticize the US for it's supposed double-standards regarding this sort of thing. How can the US government complain about China doing the very thing they themselves are engaged in?

      Well, here's my thinking, I live in the United States, not China. China is free to do whatever they like, of course, but I want my nation to have the upper-hand economically and militarily. I'm not saying the US should go around pushing everyone around with impunity, nor do I think the US should be invading every second country who looks at them the wrong way.

      One thing China does have is a lot of nationalistic pride. Even when they're critical of the government they still manage to have a lot of ambition. When they set their minds to doing something they get it done and don't get mired in all kinds of nonsense like is so often the case here. I think that's admirable and something sorely lacking in the US.
      • [...] And let's not forget how they control free speech, although people seem to have largely forgotten about that in the midst of this economic boom.


        One thing China does have is a lot of nationalistic pride. [...]

        How would you know if they didn't?

        I guarantee you this: lower the firewall, end all censorship and crackdowns, set up, and then you'll see what they really think of their country and how it is run.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grumpyman ( 849537 )
        And they may be right in a few regards. There is already the big issue of low-quality goods coming out of the country. Just recently a number of people in Japan died from having eaten tainted food from China.

        Wiki tells a different story - about the Chinese Dumpling poison thing in Japan check this out:'s_Republic_of_China#Tainted_Chinese_dumpling [] []

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by qazsedcft ( 911254 )
        Nice speech, but please look at the facts first. Reality check:
        • The US debt is currently almost 9.4 TRILLION dollars. The biggest debt of any government in the history of the world, adjusted for inflation. Even the Romans had a better financial situation and historians agree that the Roman empire fell largely because it went broke.
        • It's not like the trend is reversing either. The US government has declared a deficit of 175.6 billion dollars just for the month of February. The largest single month deficit e
        • Regarding the U.S. debt, you are absolutely correct that it is the largest debt in the history of the world. However, what you ignore is its relative size. The size of the U.S. debt relative to US. GDP is not terribly large when compared to the historic debts racked up by other great powers. Historically, other great powers would survive debts of up to 200% of their GDP. The U.S. debt is not yet even 100% of GDP. Thus, while I too am troubled by the size of the U.S. debt, the level of alarmism in your
          • Okay, maybe my post was sensationalist, but I still argue that the situation is very bad. The 1945 situation was completely different. To come out of the Great Depression and finance WWII the US government just had to have enormous deficit spending. There is absolutely nothing in the present relatively peaceful and prosperous world that warrants the current astronomical military spending (please don't mention imaginary and artificially created wars). Also, the blue line on your graph for future years is pro
    • It is my opinion that while we were wasting time and money in Iraq, China became the first country to hit that critical milestone in the cyber race. They were the first nation to have a large, well trained, offensive military network attack unit. Sure, the US has pulled contractors together in the past, and probably run some pretty sophisticated network attack operations, but I doubt those were anything more than one night stands with greatness.

      Not that it's bad that they were first to get there. I think
    • I am sorry- insightful? How is this modded so high? The first paragraph literally says nothing, and is just as guilty for heresay and bullshit as who he is pointing his finger at. And as for the NAFTA comment? WHAT? There is an extremely large contingent in the United States (like HALF) that think we should keep NAFTA and that its great for the United States, and vice versa. This is almost mirrored in Canada and Mexico. Which begs the question, WHAT is your point?

      I love /. for it's readers' intelligence an
    • Skewed in favor of American-based MNCs, perhaps, but not in favor of America, per se., I think.
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:56PM (#22742308) Homepage
    And engages in no similar practices.
  • by beer_maker ( 263112 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @02:56PM (#22742310)
    WTF, Batman?! If we've done this one already, and you know that well enough to put it in the initial summary, then what's the frackin point? Since when did "piling-on" become "News That Matters?"
  • I'm thinking... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:04PM (#22742398) Journal
    My guess is:
    • Script kiddie idiots carrying out the attacks
    • Self-promoting "security experts" making up far-fetched theories about "cyberwarfare" to get press coverage
    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )
      There have been a few very well-organized, very successful attacks on U.S. military organizations (though the only ones there are any details about are commercial members of the military-industrial complex) from unidentified outside sources. Far from idiots using well-published exploits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bagheera ( 71311 )
      • Script kiddie idiots carrying out the attacks
      • Self-promoting "security experts" making up far-fetched theories about "cyberwarfare" to get press coverage

      Being in InfoSec where I deal with this stuff a lot, I'd say you're over 99% right on the first part. And about 80% right on the second.

      The organization I work for sees a huge number of simple scans and lame intrusion attempts on a daily basis. A handful appear to be more sophisticated, and are sourced from a number of interesting locations: Mostly compr

    • I agree, i think its more script kiddie doing this kind of attack. Perhaps IT security consultant also could be suspect, who get the opportunity over this kind of news []
  • by christoofar ( 451967 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:15PM (#22742520)
    They are looking for weaknesses in our defenses against melamine-free wheat gluten, procedures for testing toys for lead paint, and new marketing strategies to get more teenage girls mesmerized by Hello Kitty.
  • by Sheen ( 1180801 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:32PM (#22742666)
    I'm tired of the US govt. spying on me, i constantly get scanned by US IP's.
  • Well ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by BigBlueOx ( 1201587 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @03:41PM (#22742748)
    1) Of course there is a hacking war going on! And this is news?

    2) Blaming "China" is like blaming "America". I mean. How stupid is ...
    they do?
    on Slashdot??

    never mind
  • If said networks were better defended/defended at all I get the feeling this wouldn't be as much of a problem.

    The US Government, the most incompetent show on earth!
  • Russian attacks? (Score:3, Informative)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:12PM (#22743126) Homepage
    It should be noted (search for it if you don't believe me) that these so-called russian attacks on estonia were actually done by an estonian teenager. Kind of makes me doubt that expert's expertness.
  • To censor its internal internet, China has built a "Great Wall" around it internet with relatively few portal links. Thta makes it quite vulnerable to attack.
  • Secret or Ignored? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @04:26PM (#22743318) Journal
    Attacks by the Chinese are known to have occurred for at least 10 years. The first amateurish and easily traced attacks were against a particular US based "free Tibet" web site owned by a Brit, and followed by attacks on other sites of a similar nature. Within weeks the same IP range (clearly within the Chinese ministry of defense) was used to breach a mail relay at a US naval installation in Virginia. (To be fair to the Navy, the system was a relic with the then still common non-closed relay, and was a purely administrative system, not part of anything security or defense-sensitive). The reports were publicly released and largely ignored, as have been some that followed. The little public attention waned as rapidly as it tends to for larger events that fall out of the news over time. I suspect escalation, probably by both sides, occurred after attention fell off, taking advantage of that and adding expert spoofing to insure that most would not be able to consider further reports reliable.

    If I were going to conduct surgical attacks against a government from within a large IP block, I'd allow others with less ambitious nasty plans to use it, and hide my activities within the flood from them, like hiding an artillery attack within a thunderstorm. I have little doubt that there are "Nigerian spammers" and such using Chinese machines. That doesn't preclude their government doing it -- to my mind it indicates the probability.

    And they wouldn't want reports to be entirely absent either. Taking over or subverting the infrastructure that carries content is as much a part of psychological warfare as is the content itself. Subversion of the medium is also the message, and that must become known to the system's owners and their allies. It causes mistrust in the system, its owners, and any messages to come from them. The general public wouldn't care or pay attention, but those who did care would get the intended message. And you have.

    This is the war that the General who recently answered /. questions was recruiting for. It's already in progress. I'd enjoy the hell out of serving again, and being able to do so without having to put on a uniform. I'd especially enjoy it when I found that the majority of "combatants" were somewhere below my own level of expertise, though somewhat higher than script kiddies -- interesting but not too frustrating.

  • ...for 'hacking' into the mysql database (which had no root passwd, btw), and defacing their site to say "Hacked by America". It's just been tit-for-tat [] ever since. =/
  • To a good portion of the Chinese netblocks: []

    Just stick them in your firewall to drop all packets and go on with life.
    • by drpimp ( 900837 )
      That only will stop/detour threats coming directly from China's IP block you listed. If they are using a proxy or through some already compromised machine, perhaps even in your own public IP block, then you might as well drop ALL packets entirely because you'd never be able to tell. Better yet, you might as well disconnect the ethernet since that is the only way to guarantee any REMOTE access. Now if someone breaches your data center, or where ever your system is stored, all bets are off. We all know if you
  • [] if it's got the DOD quaking in their boots, then why aren't the Chinese already doing it? how would we know if that 'raided pirate cisco gear' wasn't loaded with mal-firmwares... hrm? anyone?

    does anyone bother to backup their firmware, and do a quickie md5 sum vs it and the version that it's supposed to be on the manufacturer's site? that's how i caught a Working Bios virus that blackhats got on my machine... and two of my parents computers... there
  • by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Thursday March 13, 2008 @07:47PM (#22745822) Homepage
    Not to play devil's advocate, but do we know it is the Chinese hacking the U.S.'s data networks?

    One of the comments above mentioned that "just mentioning the words 'network security' in China can land you a lot of jail time." If this is correct, then it seems to me that there are probably a lot of unsecured networks and hosts in China. If that is the case, then how do we know that it is really the Chinese who are trying to hack DoD and business networks rather than some thirteen year old script kiddie in Hackensack who just happened to find a way into a computer in some backwater school in China?

    Just because you are seeing hits from Chinese IP addresses doesn't mean the Chinese are behind it. The real question is "how deep does the rabbit hole go?" Unfortunately, there isn't really any way to know unless you hack the originating IP(s) yourself.
    • Since the barriers to owning networks and computers are low and the expertise to secure them is rare, this scenario plays out in every country without a strong IT base(or those which do not wish to employ any networking staff).
      Same thing with wireless networks.
  • Honestly, what the hell? I live in the United States and I have to tell you most of the people I deal with don't seem to give a damn about any other country. There are still some who think invading Iraq was the right thing to do (even though it was most definately not for the reasons we were given) but aside from that handful people are worried about paying the bills and just getting on with life. I'm sorry, but from my personal experience most Americans just don't really care about the rest of the world
  • Firstly, espionage happens - get over it. It may be immoral, but funnily it is not immoral enough to stop anybody from doing it. The Chinese do it, no doubt, and they get away with a lot of things, but then, so do we, whoever 'we' are.

    Secondly, I think espionage is less of a national venture these days and more of an international business. The nationality of a spy may matter less - an Iraeli spy, say, might spy on America and sell to whoever bids the most; China, Russia, UK, whatever. Or perhaps even the U
  • Dear friend

    I am Mr. Daniel kankan, one of about hundred talented American IT professionals, who at any time are working overseas in secret. Please don't treat this mail as spam but rather give it the priority it deserves because I only resorted to mailing you when my attempt to reach you on ___________ failed due to poor network. I have just returned from the remote deserts of Oman where I swapped the swamps of the Niger Delta eighteen months ago, working for the Software Development Oman Company in tem

  • Based on past experience, this could also be the CIA or similar working through useful idiots to help make a case for more control of the Internet by the US government. Given everything else we've seen in recent years, this IS the most likely explanation.
  • Yes, I was learning Python by myself and wrote a script using the HTTPLib package. Purely for an exercise. The script just greps information from a Web server's HTTP response header. By careless misconfiguration the script started an infinite loop! And I was banned by Slashdot (yes I was connecting to Slashdot, my favorate Website). I sent an Email to expain and I'm here again.

    Your missiles, please.

    PS. This is really terrible to admit. In punishment to the troublemaking script I mv'ed it to /dev/null. Tha

Air is water with holes in it.