- 1 What is Cyber Espionage?
- 2 What is the Difference Between Cybercrime, Cyber Espionage, Cyberwar, and Cyber Sabotage?
- 3 Exciting Hacking and Cyber Espionage Stories
- 4 How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Espionage
What is Cyber Espionage?
Cyber Espionage or simply, Cyber Spying is the new hacking. It is an act of engaging in an attack or series of attacks that let an unauthorized user or users view classical material. It is a form of cyberattack that steals classified, sensitive data or intellectual property to gain an advantage over a competitive company or government entity.
Cyber Espionage’s goal is characteristically to obtain intellectual property or government secrets. Attacks can be driven by greed or profit and can be used in aggregation with a military operation or as an act of terrorism. Consequences can range from loss of competitive advantage to loss of materials, data, infrastructure, or even loss of life.
Expert cybercriminals are recruited to shut down or even damage government or military infrastructures, or to gain unauthorized access to financial systems. They are highly capable of creating a situation of complete chaos on a global level, from changing the outcome of major political elections to creating turmoil at international events. The disturbing part of cyber espionage is that the cybercriminal follows the modus operandi of ensuring that their tracks remain untraceable for years on end.
What is the Difference Between Cybercrime, Cyber Espionage, Cyberwar, and Cyber Sabotage?
Cybercrime is a term for any illegal activity in which a computer is the object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming) or is used as a tool to commit an offense (child pornography, cyberbullying). Cybercriminals may use computer technology to access personal information, business trade secrets, or use the Internet for exploitative or malicious purposes. Criminals can also use computers for communication and document or data storage. Criminals who perform these illegal activities are often referred to as hackers.
Cyber espionage, on the other hand, is under a cybercrime. It represents the strategy of breaking into computer systems and networks to extract sensitive governmental or corporate information. As with other forms of espionage, the goal is to understand better rival countries’ capabilities and intentions or, in the case of industrial espionage, to gain access to proprietary corporate information to understand a competing company’s business strategy or to steal its intellectual property.
Cyberwarfare is the use or targeting in a battlespace or warfare context of computers, online control systems, and networks. It involves both offensive and defensive operations, the threat of cyber-attacks, espionage, and sabotage. There has been controversy over whether such activities can be called “war.”
Cyber Sabotage is the conscious effort to cause disruptions in critical infrastructure facilities or other locations that could result in the kind of damage that could threaten workers, not to mention, create millions of dollars in damage and disrupt the operations of power plants, dams, etc.
Exciting Hacking and Cyber Espionage Stories
I- Kevin Poulsen (Dark Dante)
Kevin Poulsen, also known as “Dark Dante,” gained his fifteen minutes of fame by utilizing his intricate knowledge of telephone systems. At one point, he hacked a radio station’s phone lines and fixed himself as the winning caller, earning him a brand new Porsche. According to media, he was called the “Hannibal Lecter of computer crime.”
He then earned his way onto the FBI’s wanted list when he hacked into federal systems and stole wiretap information. Funny enough, he was later captured in a supermarket and sentenced to 51 months in prison, as well as paying $56,000 in compensation.
Poulsen changed his life after being released from prison. He began working as a journalist and is now a senior editor for Wired News. At one point, he even helped law enforcement to identify 744 sex offenders on MySpace.
II – Gary McKinnon (Solo)
Gary McKinnon, also known as “Solo,” coordinated what would become the most extensive military computer hack of all time.
He was accused of illegally gaining access to 97 computers belonging to the U.S. Armed Forces and NASA for over 13 months from February 2001 to March 2002.
McKinnon claimed that he was only searching for information related to free energy suppression and UFO activity cover-ups. But according to U.S. authorities, he deleted several critical files, rendering over 300 computers inoperable and resulting in over $700,000 in damages.
Being of Scottish descent and operating out of the United Kingdom, McKinnon was able to dodge the American government for a time. As of today, he continues to fight against extradition to the United States.
III – Guccifer 2.0
No one knew who Guccifer 2.0 is. He could be a group or an individual. The name came from the Romanian Hacker, Guccifer who often targeted US government officials and others of political distinction.
The Democratic National Convention’s network was hacked. Thousands of documents were leaked on WikiLeaks and elsewhere during the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Many believe that Guccifer 2.0 is a cover for Russian intelligence, but in an interview with Vice, Guccifer 2.0 claimed he was Romanian and not Russian.
IV – Julian Assange (Mendax)
Julian Assange, known us “Mendax,” began hacking at the age of sixteen. Over four years, he hacked into various government, corporate, and educational networks—including the Pentagon, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Citibank, and Stanford University.
Assange went on to create WikiLeaks in 2006 as a platform for publishing news leaks and classified documents from anonymous sources.
The United States launched an investigation against Assange in 2010 to charge him under the Espionage Act of 1917.
How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Espionage
Protect your passwords.
Strengthen your password so you can protect your accounts from cybercriminals. Read this article: How To Create A Strong Password And Avoid Getting Your Passwords Hacked
Don’t fall for phishing.
Educate yourself on the perils of phishing attacks by reading this article: All About Phishing And What You Should Do If You’re A Victim Of It
Update Your Software.
Always perform regular software updates once available on all of the programs you use. Leaving programs outdated can leave holes that attackers can sneak malware through.
Check Your Social Media Privacy
Cybercriminals will research their targets. They will study their subject by searching for details about them online, looking for social media sites, blogs, or anything that will give an attacker insight into their victim’s interests. So, make sure your social media account’s privacy settings are in check. Don’t allow any personally distinguishable information to be viewable to the public, and be wary of people who contact you that you don’t know.
The continuing upsurge of state-backed hackers has been one of the most dramatic cybersecurity progresses in recent years. Cyberattacks won’t go away and they are going to remain very much part of cyber espionage.
Learn how to protect your business and yourself from them.