Political, economic hacking needs attention

Political, economic hacking needs attention

Summary: Hacking for political and economic purposes isn't getting the attention it deserves, says McAfee's vice president of threat research Dmitri Alperovitch, who uncovered the Operation Shady RAT hacks.

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TOPICS: Security
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Hacking for political and economic purposes isn't getting the attention it deserves, says McAfee's vice president of threat research, Dmitri Alperovitch, who uncovered the Operation Shady RAT hacks.

McAfee's report on Operation Shady RAT (PDF) revealed a single hacking operation that had infiltrated more than 70 organisations, in some cases remaining undetected for more than five years. The attacks weren't necessarily sophisticated in a technical sense, but they were well planned and persistent.

The targets included think tanks and sporting organisations, as well as more obvious government and business targets, which is a clear indication that at least part of the motive was political.

However, political attacks haven't been high on the agenda for policy makers. More traditional cybercrime matters have dominated, such as credit card fraud and identity theft.

"Economic espionage and political espionage that we've been seeing for the last five or six years is much more insidious, much more serious, and may perhaps be an existential threat to our economies," Alperovitch said in an interview recorded for the Patch Monday podcast.

Alperovitch also explains how Operation Shady RAT was discovered, and the implications of their findings.

Patch Monday also includes my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 28 minutes, 15 seconds

Topic: Security

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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