Silent War

On the hidden battlefields of history’s first known cyber-war, the casualties are piling up. In the U.S., many banks have been hit, and the telecommunications industry seriously damaged, likely in retaliation for several major attacks on Iran.

Disaster Movie

When struggling actor Tim Dax was hired to star in a swords-and-sandals movie titled Desert Warrior, he was just happy to have the job. One year later, Dax and the rest of the film’s cast and crew would look on in horror as The Innocence of Muslims—a crudely dubbed version of the movie they thought they were making—ignited protests across the Arab world and controversy at home.

Enter the Cyber-dragon

The RSA and defense-contractor hacks are among the latest battles in a decade-long spy war. Hackers from many countries have been exfiltrating—that is, stealing—intellectual property from American corporations and the U.S. government on a massive scale, and Chinese hackers are among the main culprits. Because virtual attacks can be routed through computer servers anywhere in the world, it is almost impossible to attribute any hack with total certainty. Dozens of nations have highly developed industrial cyber-espionage programs, including American allies such as France and Israel. And because the People’s Republic of China is such a massive entity, it is impossible to know how much Chinese hacking is done on explicit orders from the government. In some cases, the evidence suggests that government and military groups are executing the attacks themselves. In others, Chinese authorities are merely turning a blind eye to illegal activities that are good for China’s economy and bad for America’s. Last year Google became the first major company to blow the whistle on Chinese hacking when it admitted to a penetration known as Operation Aurora, which also hit Intel, Morgan Stanley, and several dozen other corporations. (The attack was given that name because the word “aurora” appears in the malware that victims downloaded.) Earlier this year, details concerning the most sweeping intrusion since Operation Aurora were discovered by the cyber-security firm McAfee. Dubbed “Operation Shady rat,” the attacks (of which more later) are being reported here for the first time.

A Declaration of Cyber-War

Last summer, the world’s top software-security experts were panicked by the discovery of a drone-like computer virus, radically different from and far more sophisticated than any they’d seen. The race was on to figure out its payload, its purpose, and who was behind it. As the world now knows, the Stuxnet worm appears to have attacked Iran’s nuclear program. And, as Michael Joseph Gross reports, while its source remains something of a mystery, Stuxnet is the new face of 21st-century warfare: invisible, anonymous, and devastating.

Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury

Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits—a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family—and the sadness she has left in her wake.

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