I have been in data processing for over 50+ years, and it is a reality of life that most computer system incursions are not the result of sophisticated hacks using state-of-the-art technology or zero-day-defects only available to government agencies, they are the result of employees with the keys to the kingdom. Or as famed television detective, Colombo would say, they have the motive, means, and opportunity. How can you explain criminals working on our docks and airports? Or better yet, why are the progressive socialist democrat unions given a pass for past, present, and future criminal acts.
While there are state-sponsored or criminal gangs of Chinese, Russians, Koreans, Chechens, or others … I would not be surprised to find that even secure government facilities have given the keys to improperly vetted employees who are willing or coerced into providing inside access to some of our critical infrastructure and information repositories. I am also not surprised because most organizations, both in the private and public sectors just will not spend the money to secure their operations.
Corrupt vendors …
Cisco admits its partners sold counterfeit Cisco products to the US military, posing a serious threat to military and critical national infrastructure, according to the FBI.
The counterfeit products could open a hardware backdoor into those systems, warned the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), enabling an attacker, potentially undetected by security software, to gain control of the systems. Counterfeit parts also have a much higher failure rate: one is known to have caught fire in a government network, due to a faulty power supply, warned the FBI.
The FBI does not know whether the fake goods are made for private profit or are state-sponsored, nor the scope of counterfeit-equipment use in the US government. The FBI did warn, however, that there is a threat of IT subversion and supply-chain attack which could cause vital systems to fail, allow access to otherwise secure systems and weaken cryptographic safeguards on government data.
An FBI PowerPoint presentation leaked in April to abovetopsecret.com gave details of an FBI investigation into Cisco routers: "Operation Cisco Router." In the presentation, the FBI detailed how counterfeit Cisco goods from China had made their way into the US military supply chain.
Manufactured in the Shenzhen province of China, the fake Cisco equipment was then supplied directly to the US government through several routes: either directly through US distributors or through those who had bought the counterfeit kit off eBay; through distributors in other countries, including the UK; and through US government employees buying through non-General Services Administration (GSA) approved sources. The GSA is the US federal acquisition agency. <Source>
Social engineering …
Just drop a few thumb drives filled will malicious software near a target company and, most likely, someone will be overcome with curiosity and plug the drive into their computer. Or use social engineering to ask questions which may reveal systems, procedures, and vulnerabilities.
They don’t really want you to know …
Whatever happened to the official investigation of the Korean hacking of Sony Pictures – thought by some to be an inside job? Or more recently, the alleged computer hack of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) computers – where the FBI was denied access to forensically examine the computer, an outside contractor with party ties provided a widely-suspect report, and many signs point to an inside job. Possibly a link to the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. And, then there were the Pakistani nationals given free reign of critical congressional servers through the office of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
How is it come to be that the primary accuser of Russian hacking is a company owned by a Ukrainian billionaire with ties to Hilary Clinton?
"Something Stinks Here" - CrowdStrike Revises, Retracts Parts Of Explosive Russian Hacking Report
U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.
CrowdStrike was first to link hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors last year, but some cybersecurity experts have questioned its evidence. The company has come under fire from some Republicans who say charges of Kremlin meddling in the election are overblown.
After CrowdStrike released its Ukraine report, company co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch claimed it provided added evidence of Russian election interference. In both hacks, he said, the company found malware used by “Fancy Bear,” a group with ties to Russian intelligence agencies. On Thursday, CrowdStrike walked back key parts of its Ukraine report. <Source>
Unfortunately, you can not even trust the FBI to adequately or properly investigate cybercrime or ask the DOJ prosecute if there is any association with the Clintons or the DNC.
Bottom line …
A trip around the so-called “dark web” would shock you with the array of illicit hacking goods and services available – most so simple it is merely like following a recipe once a vulnerable network node is identified. How simple, most networks can be queried to provide the name of the software and the version being used. An evildoer simply looks up the known vulnerabilities of that software stack and tries known hacks and cracks.
Therefore, when I hear about infrastructure vulnerabilities, it usually involves someone covering their ass if a future adverse event should occur or a plea for more funding. I also think of network builders and administrators who have few ways to certify the hardware and software they are using in critical applications. Or a false-flag distraction/disinformation campaign.
Yes, there are state-sponsored terrorists and hackers. But it is unlikely they would attack the United States unless they were declaring war.
We are so screwed when we cannot trust our government to tell the truth, and key officials refuse to do their sworn duty.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius