China is alleged to have launched a new cyber-weapon against the U.S. Defence Department’s common access cards, with the technology to get inside individual computers after users open a standard PDF email file. When an access card is used, the virus embeds itself in the user’s computer and logs personal identification numbers and codes associated with that card, enabling the creators to steal information from military networks while troops and civilians work at their desks.
Jaime Blasco, the Lab Manager for AlienVault, a Silicon Valley-based cyber-security firm, claims the attacks are a variant of the virus ‘Sykipot’ first used in March 2011. The new Sykipot strain specifically targets the technology used to support the Pentagon’s CAC system. The virus is spread through emails disguised as official military or government communications. Blasco also claims flaws buried in the code reveal Chinese language characters, suggesting Chinese origins. Air Force Lt. Col. April Cunningham, a Pentagon spokeswoman told reporters, “We are aware of reports regarding this matter and take these type of reports seriously. However, due to operational security, we are not able to provide further details.”
In an attempt of help build on preventative measures to defend against cyber-attacks the SDA’s cyber initiative will be debating “Improving global cyber-governance,” on Monday 30th January. At this event the SDA will be also be launching its latest cyber-study report entitled "The vexed question of global rules." To attend this event, please register here.