Over the recent months of hacking incidences, there have been some individuals and groups that are pinpointing China as the one responsible for the attacks. China has published a statement in their national newspaper regarding the allegations and has shown great remorse over the accusations thrown at them.
“Linking China with Internet hackers is irresponsible,” it said. “In fact, as hacking attacks against internationally renowned companies or international organizations have increased this year, some Western media have repeatedly described China as ‘the black hand behind the scenes.”
The newspaper also claims that they suspect that US is most likely behind these hack attacks as reports have surfaced that the US government (Department of Defense, Homeland Security, NASA) openly recruits hackers to help them fend off cyber threats. During the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Former hacker Peiter Zatko announced the start of a fund-the-hackers program, called Cyber Fast Track.
“One of the ways I see fixing it is bridging the gap between the government and the hacker community,” said Zatko, who goes by the handle “Mudge.”
Microsoft is also joining in on hacker hirings as they have just launched a contest BlueHat Prize offers a grand prize of $200,000, a runner-up purse of $50,000, and a third-place award of a one-year subscription to MSDN Universal–a developer’s platform for Microsoft products–worth $10,000–to security researchers who design the most effective ways to prevent the use of memory safety vulnerabilities. Simply put, they will pay anyone who can come up with the most secured platform that can block cyber-attacks.
“As the risk of criminal attacks on private and government computer systems continues to increase, Microsoft recognizes the need to stimulate research in the area of defensive computer security technology,” Matt Thomlinson, Microsoft’s General Manager of Trustworthy Computing Group, said.
As reported in an article in SA this week, cyber threats have been the worst in history as discovered and made public by Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, especially when you see innovations like those launched in Black Hat and Def Con conferences. One really alarming hacking development is having the ability to hack insulin pumps of diabetic patients remotely. Jay Radcliffe, a security researcher, the engineer of this hack, explained that this hack works by reverse-engineering the propriety’s wireless communications between the glucose meter and the pump, rendering the capabilities to manipulate the insulin injections, which could result in death.
Another is the drone plane that has been pimped to become a hacking platform to breach firewalls erected by corporates and countries alike. This invention can work in or against one’s favor, as it can fend off cyber-attacks or be the one that does the attacking. The drone, which has been named Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform (WASP), contains a hacking toolkit with an IMSI catcher and antenna that can impersonate a cellphone base station, and works by routing outbound calls through the WASP instead of through legit, commercial cell towers. It can be used to intercept encrypted calls, tricking cellphones into disabling encryption and then either redirects call or records them using VoIP before they’re routed to the intended receiver; And can also use jamming signals to conduct DOS attacks on data providers, sniff out nearby wireless networks, and includes in its manifest a dictionary of 340 million words for brute-forcing network passwords.
And to show that hackers are really relentless, even food manufacturing has fallen to the hand of these malicious hackers as they hacked Hershey’s, yes the chocolate factory, and changed their recipes. It is still unsure if that was the only thing that the hacker did or if he took personal or sensitive information.
“Consumers rely on us for this information, and we take the quality of our baking and cooking recipes very seriously. We have corrected the issue and taken steps to enhance the security of this information. We have thoroughly investigated the situation and reviewed the recipes on this site to ensure their quality.”
This may be laughed at by some people, but it actually is serious. Imagine that you are deathly allergic to peanuts, you’re eating a dark chocolate Hershey’s bar, then suddenly you just can’t breathe, why? Because the recipe was changed, peanuts were added to your dark chocolate bar. Not so funny now, is it?
To contextualize how hacking has affected our social culture, the Pwnie Awards held at Caesars Palace, which was held in conjunction to the Black Hat Convention, gave awards to hackers that have made real impact in the cyber world. Hackers like Stuxnet, who was given the “Pwnie for Epic Ownage,” and Comex for “Best Client-Side Bug,” while Sony received the “Pwnie for Most Epic Fail” for their hack vulnerability earlier this year. Yeah, this may seem funny but this is just encouraging hackers to do better and telling the public that no one is safe. Next thing you’ll hear is “a war started because of hacking.” Oh wait, there’s already a movie about that, remember ‘WarGames’? Let’s just brace ourselves for the future; with technology everywhere around us, it’s hard to tell what will happen next.
image by altermark