‘It’s just getting started’: Cyberattacks becoming increasingly sophisticated
RT:Would you say we are living in a state of a constant covert cyber war?
Chris Kitze: It is. That’s exactly what’s happening right now. It’s going on. There are a number of state actors. There are some of actors that aren’t state actors that are causing these things. It’s done primarily through malware as well as other direct attacks.
RT:How much have the US and China raised their cyber rivalry in 2014?
CK: Well, I’d say it’s at the boiling point right now. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. We’ve seen things, for example, in China where there’s a lot of information that’s trying to get into China. It’s in term of, for example, the prosecution of Falun Gong. There’s a lot of information that people are now starting to leak and have released inside of China. And a lot of that information is going out to the West where it’s freely available. And then some groups of people are trying to bring it back into China. The Chinese are trying to keep that out and the US is trying to get it in. The Chinese are trying to attack the US banks. You know, there are a number of other players, who are trying to attack different things. But banks seem to be juiciest targets – that’s where all the money is, of course. The studios and what not – it’s had to know if it was caused by a state actor or, in this case, it might very well be just somebody internal to Sony, who caused that attack.
RT:Is it really a ‘cyber war' or are they just testing the water?
CK: I think it’s just getting started. What’s happening now is the attacks, they started out going after things like firewalls and routers and what not on the internet. And now what’s happening is that they’re becoming much more sophisticated. They seem to be targeting individuals’ computers and turning an individual’s computer into a bot. This is something when your computer is taken over and it’s used for things like bitcoin mining to make money; it’s used for attacking people with denial service attacks and what not; and then they’re just going through and trying to key log all the information trying to get financial information. So, for example, your online banking information and passwords, those things are now being stolen actively. And it looks to me that the information is now being turned over to criminal gangs. In some cases, the state actors are now indistinguishable from criminal gangs.
RT:Geographically, which places are the hacking hotspots - where do most hacktivists hang out?
CK: There’s a map at map.ipviking.com and you can see in real time where the attacks are. Today it’s mostly going back and forth between China and the US. Everything else seems to be pretty quiet – there’s nothing coming out of Russia, there’s nothing coming out of Iceland, Europe seems pretty quiet. But that can change by the minute. So you have to take a look at that. A lot is going directly from China today.
Usually, what happens is that people get their computers taken over by malware and then the malware is instructed to go and attack something. And so what you’ll see is literally thousands or even millions of machines going and attacking a certain place and they’re distributed from all over the world. It’s very difficult to tell where that attack came from because have to know who wrote the malware and who distributed the malware. So it’s one or two steps removed from the actual event. But I’d say right now, things appear to be heating up behind the scenes and this has to do, in particular, the banking system, which I think has some serious security vulnerabilities because of the centralized way it’s been designed. And I think that in the future you’re going to start seeing a lot more distributed networks arise because they’re more secure.