Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Chinese Hackers Target Research Universities

By Professor Doom

Admin: “Please be aware we had another phishing attempt on our servers, do not respond to e-mails in the following format…”

--I get phishing/hacking e-mails on my institution’s account about every week or so.

     Like most folks, I get many “phishing” attempts on my e-mail. Some are quite good, but many have a weakness which exposes them. English is a ridiculously complicated language, you see, and a non-native speaker, even one very fluent, often reveals himself as such with a phrase that no American would ever use. For example, you can buy “hot water cylinders” (legit site, but clearly not American despite the English language), but in America we just call them “water heaters,” even though, yeah, they’re usually cylindrical.

     Earlier I feel like I came off as an apologist for China, in addressing hysteria over that country’s establishing little fiefdoms on some of our campuses. To be more clear, those fiefdoms aren’t the real issue, so allow me to cover something far more sinister being done by China, though pretty much common to every country on the planet:

     Before moving on to the issues in the article, I want to point out that while most of our campuses are drowning in ideology and corruption we still have universities, particularly “research universities,” where we investigate far more relevant things than the number of possible human genders, where we invent things far more useful than new personal pronouns like “xhe” or “xhim.”

      This vastly more important research doesn’t make the news, because it’s not supposed to be common knowledge. It’s sad that this knowledge must be classified as “military secrets,” but the fact remains, other countries, including China, would like to have that knowledge as well.

Chinese hackers are ramping up their efforts to steal military research secrets from U.S. universities, new cybersecurity intelligence suggests.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Hawaii, Pennsylvania State University, Duke University and the University of Washington are among 27 institutions in the U.S., Canada and Southeast Asia to be targeted by Chinese hackers, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

     Hey, want to know where to go to get involved in real research that will matter? Well, you can bet if China is interested in it, it’s probably worth something, so the serious student should look carefully at the list helpfully supplied above, to get some ideas of real graduate schools (where the research is done) worth applying to. Do carefully note how few of those schools have time for race riots…

     The primary target, this time, was undersea technology. Our oceans represent a vast source of resources, and the country best able to control/explore/exploit the seas has been the dominant country on the planet for several centuries now, it’s reasonable to think the undersea will be the next big frontier.

     One school is absent from the list:

One wonders why Harvard wasn't on the list of targets. Maybe it has something to do with this?

"The fact that Bo Guagua was a couple months from his Harvard degree has sparked interest in the number of so-called princelings—the offspring of powerful Chinese Communist Party officials—attending elite U.S. universities... But there are people far more important than the children of Chinese party leaders attending Harvard and other elite U.S. universities: Chinese leaders themselves... Carefully vetted officials—a selection of some of the regime’s rising stars—were sent abroad to study in specially designed programs at some of the world’s finest universities. The first crop was sent to Harvard...

     It’s certainly an interesting theory, and I rather believe it to be true. We have an analogue here in the U.S. Most of our higher education system is corrupted or outright fraudulent, but each state still generally keeps one school, the “flagship university” mostly legitimate. Why? Because the political leaders need a place to send their kids. They can’t all go to Harvard, after all…

     Again, a hidden takeaway: if you’re looking for a legitimate university to send your kids, see where the political leaders of your state send their kids. It’s not a sure thing mind you, but it’ll increase the odds of getting an education.

China is not the first country to target U.S. universities with a coordinated cybercampaign. Last year nine Iranian hackers were charged for their role in a phishing scam that ran from 2013 to 2017 and attempted to steal the passwords of hundreds of thousands of professors.

     Yeah, no kidding. While I don’t want to underestimate the legitimacy of this kind of threat, there’s a slant to this article, expressed in two ways.

     The first way is from the above, the “nine Iranian hackers.” Yeah, sure, but that’s not Iran, those are hackers who happen to be from Iran. I get hit with phishing attempts from foreigners on a very regular basis, you don’t need a government to do that sort of thing. Why didn’t the article go ahead and mention the Nigerian scam as well? I mean, at least a dozen people have died there, leaving me tens of millions of dollars, after all.

     The second? What moron thinks the United States government doesn’t do much of the same, at least when we can’t get their Secretary of State to simply just sell the secrets off her private e-mail server (like many countries did with us)? I respect our government is going to do that sort of thing, and thus we should not be so quick to anger when other countries do unto us as we do to them. We should be quick to guard our secrets, of course.

It is "just inevitable" that research universities will be targets, Wheeler said. "The open culture of universities make us an enduring target."

      Jeez, these people. I’m sorry, criminals and thieves have always been a big part of society, and while universities are certainly targeted by them, so is every business, and I daresay every human being on the planet with anything worth taking.

      That said, yeah, we need to safeguard things we value…but no harm in letting them take all they can from our converged campuses.

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