A lot of people don't take protecting their computer all that seriously. Many don't even have anti-virus programs installed, and of those that do, it's not uncommon that they haven't been updated properly. The assumption is that they won't have their systems violated in any way.
Not to draw any sort of direct connection, but the Washington Post has a story about a report made for the Defense Department that was put together by the Defense Science Board. The study said that they believed Chinese hackers had gotten the blueprints to two dozen military weapons systems, including those for the advanced Patriot missile system, and the Navy's Aegis ballistic missile defense systems. (The problem isn't just finding out information about existing weapons, but given technology to upgrade one's own systems.) Similarly, there is a related news report out of Australia that hackers also believed connected to China stole blueprints of the not-yet completed A$630 million headquarters for the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation, which is basically their version of the CIA.
Clearly, hackers are more likely to go after the U.S. Defense Department and Australia's spy headquarters than, say, your desktop. But if hackers can break into these places, no one should even begin to think that they can't get into yours. And that at some point you won't be breached.
For the record, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hong Lei insisted that his country wasn't involved, when asked about the hacking in Australia. "China pays high attention to the cyber security issue and is firmly opposed to all forms of hacker attacks," he said at a daily briefing. He also added that "Since it is very difficult to find out the origin of hacker attacks, it is very difficult to find out who carried out such attacks. I don't know what the evidence is for media to make such kinds of reports."
I don't know what the evidence in Australia is either, for the media to report such stories. In the U.S., though, the evidence comes from the Defense Science Board...
What's unclear so far is whether the hacks in all this occurred at the primary locations, or though contractors or sub-contractors. Wherever the problem, it's officially categorized as Not a Good Thing.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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