Tech Report: The Hacker Wars

By Lyons, Dan | Newsweek, June 20, 2011 | Go to article overview

Tech Report: The Hacker Wars


Lyons, Dan, Newsweek


Byline: Dan Lyons

The computer nerds who defend us from cyberattack are the new Navy SEALs.

Last week Google said its Gmail system had been breached, for the second time, by attackers who appear to be in China. Meanwhile, defense contractors Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications both admitted they too had been hit by serious cyberattacks. Worse yet, the hackers who infiltrated these companies appear to be the same ones who in March broke into systems at RSA, a world leader in computer security.

Breaking into these places is like breaking into Fort Knox. These jobs aren't being pulled off by kids fooling around, or even by the criminals who steal credit-card numbers. "You're looking at nation-state capability actors," says Herbert Thompson, a computer-security consultant and professor of computer science at Columbia University.

With digital attacks becoming rampant, the computer nerds who work for the good guys to thwart such incursions have become the new Navy SEALs--elite commandos who can carry out sophisticated operations on the battlefield of cyberspace. The enemies they're battling slip into computer systems to steal information or wreak havoc and then slip out without being detected. The services of these commandos, both to attack and defend, are becoming increasingly vital to top militaries around the world. …

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