By Leo Lewis
March 8, 2010
Across one wall of a Thunderbirds-style command centre a huge map of the
world keeps a running log of global cyber-attacks. Bloodcurdling names
dart across the screen as thousands of computers are attacked in Houston
or Hiroshima or Hampstead. This is Tokyo's Cyber Emergency Centre.
Itsuro Nishimoto gives an order to one of his staff, who hacks a nearby
laptop. In less than a minute he can observe the person working at that
computer using the laptop.s webcam. The operating light has been
disabled; the user has no idea he can be seen.
"The cyber-attacker will tend to watch and wait until the user goes to
the bathroom or to get a cup of coffee," says Mr Nishimoto, "then the
real assault begins. People talk about cyberwar as if it hasn't already
begun. It has. It has all the characters of real wars: attackers,
defenders, innocent victims, fearsome weapons. Even mercenaries."
To gain access to the victim's laptop, Mr Nishimoto has used a piece of
Chinese software -- a ready-to-use package that is sold widely in
Chinese hacking circles and is simple enough for a small child to use.
But the real problem, explains the managing director of the Cyber
Emergency Centre, are not attacks such as these but the online raiders
his sensors are not detecting.
Cyber defence experts describe a rapidly changing theatre of war. One
startling trend, Mr Nishimoto says, is how closely the growth of
cybercriminality has matched the rise of the BRICs -- the acronym for
the emerging market potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
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