“Operation Shady RAT”: Worldwide Cyber-spying

computer hacker steal password“Operation Shady Rat”.  The name alone already sounds suspicious.  That is the name of the five year operation to infiltrate various companies and governmental agencies for the purpose of deriving information for differing political ends.

The operation was more about infiltration and less about malicious cyber-attacks.  It was organized by a collaboration of hacking agencies, some of them pointing directly to China.

The corporations and organizations that were hacked include the Associated Press, International Olympic Committee, the United Nations secretariat, various U.S. defense firms and a U.S. Energy Department lab.  McAfee discovered the network intrusions and formally offered their discoveries in a report.

The reason China is being painted as the main perpetrator in this is not only because they are repeat offenders of this sort of action, but also because the McAfee report indicated the target list’s focus was on Taiwan and on Olympic organizations leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Operation Shady RAT (remote access tool) sought to retrieve data on U.S. military systems, satellite communications, gas companies etc. Forty-nine of the 72 companies that were infiltrated were in the United States.

This gets me very upset for two reasons.  One, I am an American.  Two, this is not the first time I have had to report about negligible behavior by the Chinese.  China targets the West and the United States rigorously, yet no penalty has ever been enforced to curtail the practice, and no accountability has been taken by China.  Every report that has pointed to China for their Internet criminality has been written off as some sort of political propaganda–as some sort of tale to single China out.

Beijing’s newspapers often portray this victim point of view, while in fact their are mountains of empirical evidence showing that the cyberattacks came out of various cities in China.  They are only sorry that they got caught.  You cannot claim you are being singled out when facts show you are the ones partaking in the criminal activity.

The unfortunate realization of the McAfee report is that such actions continue to happen, and are happening more and more often.  The amount of cyber-spying going on worldwide is a major factor that is now central to United States national security.  Several industries have come out reporting on varying infiltrations, however most are not.  This indicates a massive amount of cyber attacks that are going on unreported.  The problem is a lot more serious than it seems.




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