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First POST: Worries

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 19 2013

The hapless new media

  • Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: "Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: 'This is the most transparent administration in history.' The people who cover him day to day see it very differently."

The new old media

  • The New York Times is beating the drum for accusations that the Chinese military is behind attacks on American corporations and government agencies. The paper of record cites a report by security firm Mandiant that it describes as "unusually detailed" — because, presumably, it includes information gleaned by tracking the movements of intruders from within networks that had been compromised — which says that many such attacks originate from the same city block as the headquarters of a Chinese military unit. The report, by chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger, China correspondent David Barboza, and technology reporter Nicole Perlroth, goes on to say that this link — between the Chinese military and so-called "cyberattacks" or even a new invention for the Times, "cyberwarriors," is entirely consistent with information from other sources inside the Beltway, such as reports from the intelligence community:

    As Mandiant mapped the Internet protocol addresses and other bits of digital evidence, it all led back to the edges of Pudong district of Shanghai, right around the Unit 61398 headquarters. The group’s report, along with 3,000 addresses and other indicators that can be used to identify the source of attacks, concludes “the totality of the evidence” leads to the conclusion that “A.P.T. 1 is Unit 61398.”

    Mandiant discovered that two sets of I.P. addresses used in the attacks were registered in the same neighborhood as Unit 61398’s building.

    “It’s where more than 90 percent of the attacks we followed come from,” said [Mandiant founder Kevin] Mandia.

    The only other possibility, the report concludes with a touch of sarcasm, is that “a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multiyear enterprise-scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates.”

    The story suggests that this engagement is "asymmetric" although it admits that the U.S., too, has "cyberwarriors."

    Crucially, the story concedes that these attacks generally begin thanks to carelessness or guilelessness — someone at a targeted organization opens the wrong email attachment or clicks the wrong link, triggering malicious code.

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