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28 March 2012, 14:48

NSA director: China was behind RSA hack

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NSA logo China was responsible for the attack on the servers of IT Security company RSA, according to the testimony of the US National Security Agency director, General Keith Alexander, at a Senate Hearing yesterday. Information Week reports that he also accused China of stealing large amounts of military-related intellectual property.

According to Alexander's estimates, the risk of hacking other companies is high, reasoning that if China has the ability to do it against a company like RSA, then that is such a high order capability that it makes other companies vulnerable. The NSA director believes the US Government needs more real-time capabilities to work with the private sector to stop attacks. He explained how in one attack, the attackers were attempting to get 3GBs of data from a foreign defence contractor but the Department of Defence processes for communicating with that company were predominantly manual. He did not present any evidence for the China allegations and it is yet to be seen if there is any diplomatic fallout from his disclosures.

The attack on RSA's servers in March 2011 was a targeted phishing attack which allowed hackers to gain access to the enterprise's servers and take sensitive data. The attackers manage to obtain data on SecurID, RSA's popular two factor authentication system. It is believed that a later intrusion into Lockheed Martin may have been enabled by the earlier breach. The RSA has only said, to date, that it was hacked by a "nation state" but had not indicated any particular country.


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