Archive for the ‘cyber security’ Category

Cyber Security: World Bank “Invited” Attack; “Gave Away” Millions of Dollars Through IT Office

November 2, 2008

The World Bank’s information security officer, a native of Sri Lanka,  set up a no-interest, $53 million bank loan to Sri Lanka’s government to help wire up that nation’s communications infrastructure — bypassing the World Bank’s normal vetting officials.

Over the past year, as FOX News reported three weeks ago, the bank has suffered a series of Internet attacks that penetrated at least 18 and perhaps as many as 40 of the bank’s data servers. Moreover, spyware was apparently installed on computers inside the bank’s treasury unit in Washington.

By Richard Behar
Fox News

In 1997, Mohamed Vazir Muhsin, a Sri Lankan accountant, was chosen by then-World Bank President James Wolfensohn as the first chief information officer in the institution’s history. Eight years later, Muhsin was unceremoniously thrown out the door, and the bank’s information security headaches reached migraine stage.

Early on in his tenure, Muhsin selected Satyam Computer Services, one of India’s largest and fastest-growing technology firms, to create and maintain the software programs that would make the bank’s information infrastructure into one of the world’s most important data bases. Both sides found the deal highly beneficial.

World Bank building at Washington.jpg
Above: World Bank, Washington D.C.

By late 2005, when he was accused of improper ties with Satyam and ousted from the bank, “Mohamed was arguably the most powerful person in the bank,” one insider who worked closely with Muhsin told FOX News.

So powerful, in fact, that he was able to conceive and arrange a bank loan in 2003 to his native Sri Lanka — bypassing the department that would normally have approved it. The project, known as “e-Sri Lanka,” involved a no-interest, $53 million bank loan to Sri Lanka’s government to help wire up that nation’s communications infrastructure.

The loan was highly controversial. At one stage, bank officials suspended the project after complaints that the World Bank’s information technology department had no business arranging loans to any government — let alone to one of “the world’s most unstable countries,” as the World Bank labeled strife-torn Sri Lanka in 2004. But after a Muhsin protege took charge of the bank’s South Asia department, the project moved ahead that same year without any further delays.

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Part II: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — What China May Be Thinking

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 6, 2007

China will have the most trouble swallowing the American idea that “transparency” is in its own national interest.

But to lower tensions in the western Pacific, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia have all made strong statements indicating that China has to embrace a less secretive approach.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, standing alongside General Cao Gangchuan, China’s defense minister, also said he had raised “the uncertainty over China’s military modernization, and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns.”

On Tuesday Mr. Gates will meet with China’s President Hu Jintao.

Chinese experts say China will not be able to adopt a more “transparent” approach very soon.

“Revealing more about its budgets, intentions and weapons development programs would seem like giving away a key national advantage to China,” said M.K. Hsu, a military analyst in Beijing.  “The communist leaders will reveal what they want, when they want, just as they did with the anti-satellite system,” he told us by phone.

China’s surprise anti-satellite test early this year and the continued cyber attacks and probes from China are near the top of the U.S. agenda in the discussions with China.

“There has been significant discussion and activity to assess the impact of [the anti-satellite test] and other [Chinese] space developments, and how to protect our extraordinarily important space capability,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command told the Washington Times last week.

But the fact that China’s first ASAT test was conducted without prior announcement shows that China’s penchant for secrecy is deeply rooted and will not be easily neutralized.

As we at Peace and Freedom have assessed before, secrecy and surprise are considered valuable tools to a nation not yet on a par militarily with the United States.  Without causing too many alarms to go off, China wants to develop more advanced capabilities and  larger, better organized forces with the finest in command and control.  This will take time and an incredible investment. And, in China’s view, a slow and secrative approach.

China is a nation of distrust.  In our experience, one of the Chinese cultural traits is the steady goal to get the best of others in all business dealing and a tremendous distrust of everyone — especially outsiders.  This is often true on the personal and national level.  Therefore, secrecy has become a mainstay of Chinese life.  Communist China has magnified this cultural tendency.  In China, “Mind your own business” is an important cautionary red-flag.

If we could read the minds of the Chinese the U.S. Secretary of Defense met on Monday, we’d guess that the military men in the Chinese delegation were sending the “Mind your own business” warning.  The more enlightened communist party civilian leadership was probably somewhat more accomodating.

China’s rapidly expanding economy and the huge balance of trade with the U.S. is more than sufficient to turn China into a U.S. rival within a decade.  Maybe mush sooner — at least in sophisticated equipment.  It might take longer to train a more professional military.  In one sense, the United States is funding China’s military advancement and expansion by allowing so many dollars to flow toward Beijing and Shanghai.

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with his counterpart and other Chinese military leaders on Monday, he offered several ways that the two nations might lessen tensions and concerns; including those of Australia, South Korea and Japan.  But China only agreed to one critical tension reducing measure: the establishment of a “hot line” between the two nations.  And China was not shy in informing reporters that the Chinese military establishment did not want this new initiative adopted (the “none of your business” group).  The civilian leadership directed agreement (the more accomodating group).

The other agreements made Monday will make less news. 

China agreed to allow U.S. personnel to evaluate some of its Korean War documents and files to assist in accounting for U.S. personnel still unaccounted for from that war.  And Mr. Gates and his counterparts agreed to organize a new joint naval exercise larger and more complex than previously held exercises “at a proper time,”  and made a deal to plan to exchange military students at academies and war colleges in the future.

Gates acknowledged that he had made little headway in getting answers from the Chinese on the larger issues of his mission including space and cyber security measures.

But maybe the biggest issue is this: China and Russia have embraced each other.  They have teamed to oppose the U.S. on U.N. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.  And they conducted the largest combined military exercise ever between the two nations this year.

We do not yet know how Mr. Gates approached this issue but we do know this: China will listen with its “deaf ear.”

The level of cooperation initiated by Monday’s meetings has to be considered a reflection of a military relationship still in its infancy.

Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China —
U.S. Objectives

Gates to press China on Iran nukes

November 4, 2007

By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer
November 4, 2007

EN ROUTE TO BEIJING – Robert Gates, making his first visit to China as defense secretary, is expected to press the Chinese to do more to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities.

Before he left Saturday for the trip, Gates made it clear that he is pursuing a closer alliance with China, and said he doesn’t see the communist giant as a military threat.

But at the same time, senior defense officials said the Pentagon is still frustrated by China’s failure to be more open about its military ambitions. And Gates will probably push China to better explain its anti-satellite test early this year.

In January, a Chinese missile shattered a defunct Chinese weather satellite…..

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SecDef Gates Visits China This Week

November 3, 2007

By Andrew Gray
November 3, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits China next week at the start of an Asian tour, aiming to strengthen relations while also expressing concerns about China’s military buildup.

Robert Michael Gates
Robert Gates

Gates, a former CIA director who replaced Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon last December, will also visit South Korea and Japan during his trip.

Gates said this week he did not consider China a military threat to America “at this point” and relations between the two countries have warmed considerably since a 2001 low point when a Chinese fighter crashed into a U.S. spy plane.

[The author goes on to discuss the issues between the two nations, such as space security, cyber security and “transparency.”]

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