Intel: We were hit with cyberattack

While the Intel attack was "around the same time" as Google's incident, which turned into an international showdown with China, it's unclear if they are related.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Intel said in a regulatory filing that it was hit with a "sophisticated" cyberattack in January.

While the attack was "around the same time" as Google's incident, which turned into an international showdown with China, it's unclear if they are related. There were 30 companies such as Adobe, Juniper Networks and Yahoo that saw the same cyberattack that Google did.

Here's the full text of Intel's account (Techmeme) from the Securities and Exchange Commission filing:

We regularly face attempts by others to gain unauthorized access through the Internet to our information technology systems by, for example, masquerading as authorized users or surreptitious introduction of software. These attempts, which might be the result of industrial or other espionage, or actions by hackers seeking to harm the company, its products, or end users, are sometimes successful. One recent and sophisticated incident occurred in January 2010 around the same time as the recently publicized security incident reported by Google. We seek to detect and investigate these security incidents and to prevent their recurrence, but in some cases we might be unaware of an incident or its magnitude and effects. The theft and/or unauthorized use or publication of our trade secrets and other confidential business information as a result of such an incident could adversely affect our competitive position and reduce marketplace acceptance of our products; the value of our investment in R&D, product development, and marketing could be reduced; and third parties might assert against us or our customers claims related to resulting losses of confidential or proprietary information or end-user data and/or system reliability.

In other words, cyberattacks are a risk to Intel's business.

The news comes as experts are warning that the U.S. is unprepared for a cyberwar. That's not exactly a news flash for anyone following security. Here's the warning from Michael McConnell, executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton's national security business and a former director of national security and national intelligence.

McConnell said in Congressional testimony:

The reach and impact of cyberspace will accelerate over the next 10 years, as another billion users in China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and Middle East gain access to the internet. As a consequence, cyberspace will be much more diverse, distributed, and complex. As cyberspace becomes more critical to the day-to-day functioning of business, society and government, the potential damage .from cyber attacks, system failures and data breaches will be more severe.

In the early stages of cyberspace, the threat largely originated from "hackers" who wanted to their test skills and demonstrate their technical prowess. Criminal elements followed, resulting in attacks against financial institutions, credit card accounts, ATMs for personal gain. More sophisticated actors emerged as state-based intelligence and security organizations developed robust exploitation and attack capabilities as part of a larger national security strategy. Recently, "hactivists" - non-state actors mobilized in support of a particular issue or motivated by patriotic reasons - have entered the fray. Generally speaking, we know and understand these threats - their capabilities and intentions. However, of particular concern is the rise of non-state actors who are motivated not by greed or a cause, but by those with a different world view who wish to destroy the information infrastructure which powers much of the modern world - the electric grid, the global financial system, the electronic health care records, the transportation networks.

Of increasing concern is that the sophistication of cyber attack tools continues to increase at cyber speed, while the barriers to entry continues to fall as attack tools proliferate in chat rooms, homepages, and websites. The challenges we face are significant and will only grow; our response must equally bold and decisive.

Related: China calls Google's claims of a cyber attack "groundless"

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