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Hacking the new world order

Thursday, 11 February, 2016

“Hackers used malware to penetrate the defenses of a Russian regional bank and move the ruble-dollar rate more than 15 percent in minutes.” So begins a recent Bloomberg story about a group of Russian hackers who infected Energobank in Kazan with the Corkow Trojan this time last year and placed more than $500 million in orders.

Hacked This is scary stuff, indeed, and hardly a day goes by now without some similar tale of nefarious hacking making the headlines. A lot of what’s going on is simply opportunistic crime being carried out by thieves equipped with keyboards as opposed to knives, but there’s a global dimension as well and this is what Adam Segal, Director of Cyberspace and Digital Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, addresses in his forthcoming book, The Hacked World Order: How Nations Fight, Trade, Maneuver, and Manipulate in the Digital Age. Snippet:

This new age of spying is more than a national security concern. Since much cyber-espionage targets commercial secrets, it poses a persistent threat to America’s economic strength. Many countries are snooping. The US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) names France, Israel, and Russia, among others, as states collecting economic information and technology from American companies. During the 1980s and ’90s, the business class seats on Air France planes were allegedly bugged. While the airline has long denied the allegations, French intelligence officials have been forthright about the strategic importance of industrial espionage. As Pierre Marion, former director of France’s Directorate-General for External Security, said with regard to spying on the US, “In economics, we are competitors, not allies.”

Historians looking for a date on which to pin the start of the Cyber World War might yet settle upon 2009, the year in which the Stuxnet virus was launched into an Iranian nuclear facility. The disclosure of the Sony Pictures hacking scandal in November 2014 is another historical milestone. Both reveal the geopolitical aspect of hacking and its potential impact on security, business and personal data. The Hacked World Order is timely reading and a useful guide to the dangers that lurk along the infobahn.

Note: “Trolls, Hackers and Extremists — The Fight for a Safe and Open Web” is the title of a discussion at the Munich Security Conference this evening.


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