China · Computer Security

How to Stop China from Stealing Intellectual Property, Part II

Cover of "E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (W...
Cover via Amazon

Yesterday’s blog resulted in a flurry of activity, mostly offline.  For a Sunday a surprising number of people responded to me directly.

One phone call reminded me of another option, one that I am now told is in effect.  In addition to efforts that make data and intellectual property disappear when copied illegally, I am now told that some people are attaching separate payloads to data they believe will be copied illegally, in other words stolen.

If you have worked in the military you are familiar with the term payload. In the space and aeronautical world, it often means a sensor package, it could be infrared, ultraviolet or multi-spectral imagery.  But it also can mean a weapon.  It can also mean a package that, the words of ET, ‘phones home’.  What the payload does before it ‘phones home’ is up to the designer.  It can gather information such as the user’s name, IP address, geolocation, the MAC address, create a network map of all the peripheral equipment and other users on that network, or so on.  It can install keystroke loggers, collect passwords, user IDs, install root kits or just make a zombie out of the machine.

I was told this is being implemented on an ever increasing scale.

I asked if there was any talk about zeroing out the machines, like the Shamoon worm discovered on oil company computers in 2012.  I could almost hear my source grinning on the phone.  “Not yet”.

We live in interesting times, my friends.