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Notions that most Chinese hackers are simplistic and amateurish may be correct for the moment, but it is irrelevant, says a senior U.S. official who has been involved in classified airborne electronic and cyber-warfare since the Vietnam War.“There are some really good [Chinese hackers] that fall into the category of advanced persistent threats,” says the veteran electronic warrior. “The others in that category are the Israelis and the Russians and I’m not talking just about Russian Mafia which is good in the financial arena.”The information comes from background conversations with experts gathered for the Air Force Association’s 2nd Annual Cyber Conference in Washington, D.C.U.S. analysts have based their judgement on the forensic analysis of APT such as skills at getting through firewalls. They contend that in the upper category, the order of sophistication is Russia, Israel and then some of the Chinese. The number of penetrations by the Chinese overwhelm all the others, but the Russians put more focus on sophisticated exploitation schemes.“If you look at the educational background of the Russian [cyber-]mafia, most of them came out of the Russian Academy of Sciences,” the specialist says. “They’ve had a strong focus for a number of years.”Russia also flooded Israel with scientists when the Soviet government lifted its restriction on the immigration of Jews. They flocked to Israel and added new engineering and scientific life to Jerusalem’s technology base.The reason that Russia is rated higher than Israel in its cyber-expertise is the size of Moscow’s resources and its well-educated population.“Now China is putting a lot of resources into cyber,” the EW specialist says. “A lot of those [Chinese] amateurs that get caught and identified are probably all students that will one day move up into the APT category.”
ar99, cyber, Russia, China, Israel
Copyright © 2013, Aviation Week, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.