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[] Cyberwar in Ostasien,
Und noch ein älterer aus der FEER, den ich gerade erst bekommen habe. RB

Far Eastern Economic Review, 16.8.2001
                          Combat on The Web
                  Bloodless, but deadly. That's the new look of war.
                 Asia's armies can't compete with the West's military
                 might. Instead they are preparing to fight wars via
                  the Web, training crack teams of code-breakers
                         with the skills to cripple nations

                              By Charles Bickers/TOKYO
                           Issue cover-dated August 16, 2001

                 IMAGINE THE CHAOS: A highly skilled team of
                 hackers and programmers breaches a national
                 electricity provider's computers, shutting down the
                 power supply. The team then spoofs emergency
                 services to send vehicles to the wrong addresses. Next,
                 a mass e-mail to the nation's mobile-phone users
                 informs them that their government has ordered them to
                 remain at home until further notice. 

                 Such threats won't emanate from young computer
                 wizards honing their hacking skills. Instead, the
                 governments are funding their militaries to develop
                 teams specializing in gathering the necessary
                 to make such scenarios a reality. Silently, they are
                 seeking ways to cripple adversary nations by
                 their computer networks--and to defend themselves
                 from the same threat. Cyberwarriors are on the new
                 front line. And Asia is emerging as their early proving
                 ground, because you don't have to be rich or
                 well-armed to be a superpower in cyberspace.

                 China is the region's leading threat. It lacks the
funds to
                 match the military might of the West, but is rapidly
                 developing its cyberwarfare capabilities. Taiwan and
                 North and South Korea are also increasing their
                 capabilities. "Cyberwarfare is very buoyant in Asia
                 now, much more than other parts of the world, perhaps
                 because of the generally high levels of defence
                 says Desmond Ball, a specialist in electronic warfare
                 and intelligence and head of the Strategic and Defence
                 Studies Centre, at the Australian National University

                 "Intelligence budgets around the region have more than
                 doubled in the last few years, and much of that is
                 electronic activity," adds Ball. But don't expect the
                 cyberwarriors to be showing the strength of their hand
                 just yet. "If you're serious about cyberwarfare, you're
                 not spending time putting out worms and viruses," says
                 Ball. "No one that's serious in this business will be
                 anything in peacetime other than gathering intelligence
                 and practising on their own internal systems, so that
                 when they do press the button, it works."

                 The cyberwar strategy relies on hacking, virus writing,
                 electronic snooping and plenty of good old-fashioned
                 human spying. Much disruption can be unleashed over
                 the Internet, but attackers first need to pry open
                 electronic gates to private and secure networks with
                 well-placed insiders, or at least inside knowledge,
                 before they can be effective.

                 Cyberwar is taxing many military minds. "Cyber attacks
                 will provide both state and nonstate adversaries with
                 new options against countries beyond mere words but
                 short of actual physical attack," said Adm. Chris
                 Australia's chief of defence forces at an international
                 security conference in Sydney in July. Barrie said
                 policymakers and soldiers needed to start taking
                 government-backed information warfare as seriously as
                 a missile threat. "It's a very cheap and effective way
                 attack successfully valuable defence and nondefence
                 assets," he said.

                 Ironically, the most technologically advanced nations
                 are the most vulnerable to the threat of cyberwar.
                 Where there are connections to the Internet, there is
                 potential for disruption. That's worrying: Governments,
                 private companies, critical utilities and other
                 are increasingly relying on public data-communications
                 networks and the Internet to run their operations.
                 Recent events in Malaysia highlight the risks as
                 becomes more computerized. In July a known and
                 preventable virus called w32sircam infected large
                 numbers of Malaysian government computers, releasing
                 sensitive files onto the Web through e-mail.

                 The United States has taken the threat most seriously.
                 The issue has figured highly in its policy since 1997,
                 the country has inaugurated a National Infrastructure
                 Protection Centre under the Federal Bureau of

                 The U.S. military also has dedicated
                 information-warfare units in each of its forces and
                 cyberwarfare is seen as a clear threat to developed
                 nations: Smaller, less powerful nations can leverage a
                 stronger country's reliance on data networks and the
                 Internet to cause large-scale economic and social
                 damage. "If you want to do something harmful to your
                 neighbours, and you don't want anyone to interfere with
                 you, then obviously what you would look for is
                 something other than competing with armies, navies and
                 air forces," said Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. secretary of
                 defence, at the security conference in Sydney in July.
                 "We can live with it, but we just need to know what
                 kind of threats there are."

                 The U.S. got a chilling illustration of the possible
                 vulnerability of its national infrastructure in
February this
                 year. California was going through a difficult power
                 crisis with rolling blackouts because of botched market
                 reforms. For 11 days, a computer server under
                 development at the California Independent System
                 Operator electricity exchange was left connected to the
                 Internet and was being quietly hacked. The hacker
                 clearly tried to see how far into the system he or she
                 could get. Luckily for an already embattled California
                 power grid, the hacker failed to get close to any
                 operations. Cal-ISO shrugged off the incident, but the
                 attack was deemed serious enough to warrant an FBI

                 Some U.S. observers believe states like China, Russia
                 and North Korea are quietly and systematically probing
                 the country to find weaknesses similar to the Cal-ISO
                 breach that can be exploited later.

                 And here in Asia, the increasing penetration of digital
                 life leaves us vulnerable to cyber threats. Japan's NTT
                 DoCoMo is struggling to protect over 25 million users
                 of Internet-enabled phones from constant
                 bombardment with unwanted and often offensive
                 e-mail. The latest phone models are also equipped to
                 run downloadable programs that industry experts fear
                 will be ripe for hackers' attacks and viruses once they
                 are established.

                 So how does a nation defend itself? The U.S. is
                 monitoring its military networks in Asia. Maj. Sean
                 Gibson, spokesman for Pacific Command, Honolulu,
                 Hawaii, acknowledges "evidence of increased cyber
                 activity," but he declines to comment on the source of
                 these probes. "We're countering it quite well right
                 he says.

                 The Department of Defence's strategy is vigilance and
                 good housekeeping: watching its computers for
                 suspicious activity, restricting access to its most
                 sensitive networks and training its people not to be
                 with passwords and procedures.

                 For example, to counter the threat of the Internet's
                 recent viral menace, the Code Red computer worm, the
                 Pentagon shut down public access to a number of U.S.
                 military networks. U.S. Pacific Command Web sites
                 and e-mail were unavailable to the public on August 2.

                 If Asia is the cyberwarrior's proving ground, then the
                 key battleground is the Taiwan Strait. Observers say
                 the struggle between China and Taiwan over Taiwanese
                 sovereignty is the source of large-scale growth in
                 cyberwar activities.

                 Exercises by China's People's Liberation Army in July,
                 simulating war on Taiwan, included cyberwar tactics,
                 according to official Chinese media reports. "China's
                 really at the forefront in the region, and Taiwan would
                 be second," says Herman Finley, information-warfare
                 specialist and associate professor at the U.S.
                 Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu.
                 "It's not easy to get detail on China. However, they
                 have created a number of schools including four
                 universities within the PLA" specializing in

                 So what are China's cyberwarfare intentions? It could
                 be shifting its sights beyond the Taiwan Strait.
                 According to U.S. reports, in 1999 two PLA colonels,
                 Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui published a book called
                 Unrestricted Warfare which advocated the tactic of
                 "not fighting," and of manipulating the fact that the
                 was "enslaved to technology."

                 "They spelled out very clearly why China could never
                 win a conventional war against the U.S.," says James
                 Adams, an adviser to the U.S. National Security
                 Agency and chairman of iDefense, a U.S.
                 computer-security consultancy. "They pointed to the
                 arms race between the U.S. and Russia, which Russia
                 lost, and the Gulf War where mass forces lost to
                 hi-tech. As China has always relied on mass forces,
                 was a salutary lesson."

                 Now says Adams, every branch of the PLA has a
                 rapidly developing information-warfare capability, and
                 the politburo has established a special
                 information-warfare unit that reports directly to the

                 VULNERABLE NETWORKS
                 It's not just the military. "The Chinese put a lot of
                 emphasis on people's information warfare," says Finley.
                 That is, encouraging individuals who use their own
                 technology to annoy and attack others--a dangerous
                 tactic if those individuals were to turn against their

                 In Taiwan, cyberwar has a very public face. On July 1,
                 Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence inaugurated its
                 first dedicated cyberforce, the Group Tiger Information
                 Warfare unit, according to the country's Liberty Times
                 newspaper. Taiwan, says Ball, is the best-equipped
                 nation in the region to defend itself. Ball visited a
                 Taiwanese air force information-warfare unit earlier
                 year and says he was impressed. "It may be the most
                 advanced defensive capability in the region," says

                 Singapore's Defence Ministry acknowledges the
                 strategic value of cyberwar with its publication last
                 of DS21, a book outlining policy for the next decade.
                 The book underlines a policy of "Total Defence" in
                 which the increasingly wired city is protected by
                 improved security between ministries and agencies.

                 If connectedness breeds vulnerability, South Korea is
                 looking shaky. The country has the highest penetration
                 of high-speed broadband Internet connections in the
                 world. South Korea's Information Security Agency has
                 quickly awoken to the new threat emanating from its
                 neighbour to the north. Pyongyang's fighting technology
                 may be outdated, but U.S. military reports suggest it
                 has quickly grasped the value of cyberwar. So far
                 damage has been limited but is increasing fast, says
                 agency, noting 200 major hacker attacks--some
                 presumed to come from Pyongyang or its
                 sympathisers--against companies and government
                 facilities last year.

                 Japan is also a laggard in acknowledging the threat.
                 Hiroo Hieda, defence specialist and director of the
                 government and private-sector-funded think-tank, the
                 Institute for Future Technology in Tokyo, feels the
                 government is blind to the risks of a
                 computer-dependent economy. "Infrastructure in Japan
                 is in a dangerously vulnerable condition," says Hieda.

                 The government has set up an integrated cabinet-level
                 authority to deal with potential threats to its
                 infrastructure. Recent defence-agency budget requests
                 and force restructuring also acknowledge the
                 information-war threat. "But it's certainly not a
                 says Hieda. So far, the good health of Japan's
                 economic and industrial computer networks has been
                 ensured only by a lack of concerted attacks, and by
                 private-sector vigilance.

                 Indeed, much of the world has good corporate citizens
                 to thank for keeping the shields up and defending the
                 Internet. The Code Red worm, for example, worked
                 by scanning for computers that had specific
                 weaknesses. Having replicated onto each vulnerable
                 computer, the worm was then designed to amass the
                 combined power of the compromised computers to
                 simultaneously attack a single point--initially the
                 House Web site.

                 Fortunately, most companies had fixed Code
                 Red-vulnerable or infected software, averting a
                 potentially crippling amount of data from being
                 onto the Internet and clogging it.

                 Eva Chen, U.S.-based chief technology officer at
                 Taiwan's Trend Micro, one of the world's major
                 information-technology security and anti-virus
                 companies, says Code Red highlights growing risks for
                 Internet-based economies.

                 "We're tending to see more organized attacks," says
                 Chen. "The Code Red worm is much more complex
                 than earlier viruses. It mixes virus writers and
                 They never used to work together, but now they are."
                 Certainly more organized information-warfare units
                 would be able to spring highly coordinated attacks,
                 using virus writers, hackers, and perhaps most
                 importantly, human insiders. The ability to compromise
                 computer systems from the inside still accounts for the
                 vast majority of computer-security breaches around the
                 world today, be it a dedicated agent inside, or
                 lackadaisical security practices by employees.

                 "If you have someone on the inside to open the gates or
                 plant software that allows outsiders access, then you
                 have real power," says Chen. How important could this
                 be? Finley cites reports in Taiwan that senior retirees
                 from Taiwan's military have been taking up residence
                 on the mainland, with obvious security implications for
                 all of the island's defence networks.

                 Taiwan's vulnerabilities are an immediate problem. The
                 rest of the world must prepare its defences now for the
                 long-term threat posed by an increasing reliance on
                 digital infrastructure. "For the first time, a truly
                 advanced weapon--the laptop computer--is
                 simultaneously available all over the world," says
                 iDefense's Adams.

                 The scale of disruption that can be caused by a
                 well-aimed information strike is growing with every new
                 Internet connection. "We need to do more than just
                 keep an eye on this," says Finley. "This will become a
                 major area of competition between nations and
                 non-nations over the next decade and beyond."

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