Chinese Hackers use NSA PRISM Monitoring for Malware Campaign

The interwebs were set afire with the news of the NSA monitoring program when whistle blower Edward Snowden released information on Prism. Well, never missing a good opportunity to exploit people, it seems Chinese hackers have jumped into the fray using the NSA monitoring scare as a source for a malicious e-mail campaign dubbed “CIA Prism Watchlist”.

When former NSA employee Edward Snowden exposed the US government’s large electronic monitoring program called “Prism“, some called him a hero, and others a traitor and a spy.

To me the jury is still out on him, yes what the government was doing was very wrong and violates constitutional rights. But Snowden turning to the Chinese for help has left many scratching their heads. If someone was looking for a country that supports and defends free speech, I don’t think China would be on the top ten of any list.

And again, though I don’t support what the government was doing, many people simply hand over personal and very intimate details about their lives to perfect strangers on a daily basis to feed our social media addiction.

Well, never one to miss an opportunity, it seems Chinese hackers are taking advantage of the government monitoring scare that has swept across the nation. According to The Register, the Chinese hacker group behind the NetTraveler attacks is using the opportunity to spread malicious e-mails titled “CIA’s Prism Watchlist”.

Attached to the badly worded e-mail is a Word Document named ‘Monitored List 1.doc’, “containing malware designed to exploit the same vulnerability (CVE-2012-0158).”

For more information, check out the 9bplus blog that originally discovered the e-mail in an VirusTotal upload.

Most Powerful Laser Blast Ever

Last week the most powerful laser blast ever was unleashed at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California. On July 5th the combined power of 192 lasers delivered a 1.85-megajoule blast that generated approximately 500 Trillion (with a “T!”) watts of power.

According to the NIF website, the pressure and heat felt by the hydrogen target is unbelievable:

“When all that energy slams into millimeter-sized targets, it can generate unprecedented temperatures and pressures in the target materials—temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth’s atmosphere.”

What is amazing too is the amount of precision needed to get the 192 laser beams to strike the target nearly at the same time:

“The 192 separate beams must have optical pathlengths equal to within nine millimeters so that the pulses can arrive within 30 picoseconds (trillionths of a second) of each other at the center of the target chamber. Then they must strike within 50 micrometers of their assigned spot on a target the size of a pencil eraser. NIF’s pointing accuracy can be compared to standing on the pitcher’s mound at AT&T Park in San Francisco and throwing a strike at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, some 350 miles away.”

Cool stuff! When do we get the weaponized version??   🙂

Chinese Hackers Took over NASA’s JPL Systems in November

Hackers with Chinese based IP addresses took over NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory back in November, according to a report Wednesday night from Paul K. Martin, NASA’s Inspector General:

Some of these intrusions have affected thousands of NASA computers, caused significant disruption to mission operations, and resulted in the theft of export-controlled and otherwise sensitive data, with an estimated cost to NASA of more than $7 million.”

According to Foxnews, the attack “could have allowed them (to) delete sensitive files, add user accounts to mission-critical systems, upload hacking tools, and more — all at a central repository of U.S. space technology.”

Since the late 1990’s China has targeted US Military and Space systems, all in an attempt to infiltrate DoD systems, exfiltrate scientific and defense data and attempt to control America’s cyber space.

NASA’s IT is working on locking down their systems to prevent further intrusions. Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for NASA reports, “NASA has made significant progress to better protect the agency’s IT systems and is in the process of implementing the recommendations made by the NASA Inspector General in this area.”

Though IP addresses can be spoofed and attacks proxied through numerous machines, maybe the Chinese IP range should be blocked from sensitive US government systems?