Sunday, May 6, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Holy Hackcalypse Batman! What should we do?


           By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
  Beware of the coming Hackcalypse!
A worldwide reckoning among competing hackers is coming sooner than you think. Future generations will refer to this monumental Clash of the Nerds as the day we went back to the Stone Age.
 We know governments have hired hackers for years to steal state secrets, scientific advances, and to sabotage other country’s networks, causing internal chaos. Hackers prank the FBI and break into credit card networks to steal people’s personal information.
   Some hackers claim to be for the common man and attack corporations they don’t like for political reasons. Others have no problem going onto social websites and creating havoc there. ESingles has been relentlessly mocked, both by LulzSec Reborn and other hackers who have compared the stolen data with what's on the site.

  LulzSec Reborn broke into ESingle’s  database and stole passwords, email addresses, and other information from nearly 171,000 accounts, according to several security experts on the case.
   Hackers hack because they can. For every one that gets caught, ten more are laughing safely behind numerous firewalls and other people’s IP addresses. A hacker can be 12 years old or 89 years old. There are no age requirements.
   Hackers hang with con artists and scammers and often help them rip off unsuspecting victims by setting cyber traps.
   The US has a high powered cyber team fighting 24 hours a day against thousands of attacks from around the world seeking to break into sensitive government, military, and corporate websites. There’s never a time out.

  China, Russia, and the Ukraine currently have the worst reputation when it comes to using state sponsored hackers to attack American interests. A recent article in Data Protection - Ukraine seen as a growing 'haven for hackers' - by Taylor Armerding, talks about Ukraine's would-be major crackdown on cyber crime.
  The article suggests that the government’s efforts increasingly look futile.
In the view of analysts, including some Ukrainian security officials, the country is becoming a haven for hackers.
   Taras Kuzio, editor of Ukraine Analyst, quoted extensively from a 2011 book by former Guardian Moscow correspondent Luke Harding titled, "Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia." Harding says organized crime hackers have close ties to senior leaders of both countries.

   Most recently, Chinese hackers have been linked to a cyber-espionage campaign that planted data-gathering malware in a total of 233 computers of Tibetan activists and military and industrial entities in Japan and India.
   According to security vendor Trend Micro, the so-called "Luckycat" campaign has been active since at least June 2011 and has been linked to 90 attacks that use malware tailored for each victim.
   Here comes the scary part. You may want to sit down while you read this. There is not a thing we can do about hackers! That’s right. It’s virtually impossible to stop people from hacking. For every new security patch that comes up, a new malware attack, or virus, is created. Cyber security is a huge business, and so far there’s enough good Nerds to keep providing remedies to buy time. Still, our days are numbered.

   There’s no fix that will stop hackers from growing more sophisticated. We have a desperate race in cyberspace trying to hold off the growing power of very smart hackers. At some point, vital infrastructures worldwide (from power grids to water supplies) will be sabotaged.
  Governments everywhere will be crippled. Totally unable to function for the good of the people. Almost like right now, but they won’t be able to make the hackers pay taxes!

  With no power, automatic doors and vaults on timers won’t open. Gas pumps won’t work. Hot tubs won’t heat. The bright lights in cities and homes will dim and die. The ensuring panic will outdo any disaster movie ever made.
    Those who somehow survive this final hackcalypse will find themselves in a new Stone Age. Now, the good news: there will be no more hackers! Problem solved. Amid the smoking debris of crashed computers littering the planet, the survivors can start over.
    As It Stands, is my apocalypse scenario any stranger than some people’s concerns about an ancient Mayan calendar predicting the earth’s end in December?


Anonymous said...

As someone who played with the phone system way back when...and who works in INFOSEC now, the story you paint is juvenile, disingenuous and written from the perspective of someone who has never spent any time with these so called 'hackers.'

What everyone forgets is these same kids playing with the system, testing it, pushing boundaries and yes, questioning authority in some cases...grow up to be Kick-Ass security people, the same one's you aren't thanking for keeping your power on, your water running and ChiCom military units off your front door.

For every hacker that gets in trouble, I'd venture there's 5 more who literally save the day. Everyday. Of course you don't hear about these folks, 'cause they can't exactly advertise.

Be damn glad the US fosters the best 'hacker' on the planet. While I doubt you'll get it, the rest of the world seems to.

ImBlogCrazy said...

What an interesting perspective you have. So every kid who grows up "questioning authority" and hacking into others commuters for fun is someday going to save my ass because they ALL become kick ass security experts.
What world do you live in? Oh, that's right...cyber space!
I'd like to see where you got your stats about one bad hacker for every five.Really?
I'm glad you got to spend time with hackers and get their perspective, but how is the public supposed to know this? You know, about most hackers being cool..

Anonymous said...

So Dave...can you tell everyone how much time you have spent with 'hackers', security people or otherwise? In the past or now? Based on your writing, not much?

My world is probably the same as your world, albeit more remunerative. Kids, mortgage, nascent writing ability, humor and a dog. Dog collar locate signal is hacked/tweaked to reach two miles 'tho instead of 500 yards. That's a difference.

My stats are from personal experience and the kids I hire. Working for a major Fortune 50 corp. Sure, not all become security Pro's, some become consultants, professors, journalists, salesmen and thing for certain? They're all smart. They all find ways to make things better. They're curious as hell and don't take 'No" for an answer. U want them on your side.

I don't expect the public to know all this, but I'd think a journalist writing about 'em/the culture/the ethos might spend some time researching the subject before such a negative diatribe.

I'm a certified, make-the-news Ex-Hacker. I never went to jail. I was never indicted. I pushed the boundaries. Spammers worldwide recoiled hearing my name. I've caught more kiddy-p0rn jerks than you can count. Plus a myriad of other security efforts. All learned back in the day.

Given a choice between doing good and doing bad, most security types pick the 'good' pile. Human Nature 101. Most aren't malicious. It's unfortunate you can't see that. I wish I could show you.

ImBlogCrazy said...

You do sound like an interesting person. Actually I have interviewed many hackers back in the 90s for a series of stories for a daily newspaper in Southern California.
I talked with some who had been convicted, and others whose identity I had to conceal. I realize this doesn't compare to your experience, but I'm not clueless like you appear to think I am.
As for a negative diatribe, it is what it is: a possible scenerio. Certainly more likly that the Mayan calendar being our doom!
Thanks for your input - and being one of the "good hackers!"

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...