Matt Morris, a cyber-security expert, has warned that Russia and China could take advantage of the escalating face-off between the U.S. and North Korea to launch sneak attacks against the U.S. while making it look like it was North Korea that launched the attacks. Morris's warning that Russia and China could use North Korea as a decoy to camouflage their attacks against the U.S. comes after three U.S. warships were involved in collisions this year. The suspicious circumstances of the collisions raised suspicions of cyber-attacks against U.S. military systems by the country's enemies.
For instance, last August, USS John McCain collided with a Libyan oil tanker resulting in the death of 10 U.S. soldiers. Also earlier in the year, USS Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with a Filipino ship in which seven sailors died.
Some experts believe that the collisions could have been caused by cyber-attacks against the GPS and navigation systems of the ships. This has led to speculation that the North Koreans were responsible for the attacks. There have also been claims that North Korean hackers are targeting British financial institutions and NHS hospitals.
However, Morris, vice president of NexDefense, warned that Russia and China could be using North Korea as a decoy to cloak their attacks against the West, according to Express. He argued that Russian and Chinese hackers could be faking North Korean digital signatures to deceive U.S. and European investigators to make them believe that the attacks came from North Korea.
"Hackers are really smart," Morris said. "They know what the signatures are of other countries. If I'm China I'm going to attack somebody [and make it look] like Russia, or like North Korea."
"They'll leave behind traces of other countries that makes it look like someone else. They are very, very good at what they do."Morris explained that Russian and Chinese hackers can fake the digital signatures of the North Koreans because they are familiar with the digital footprints of the North Koreans. Russian and Chinese knowledge of the calling cards and digital footprints of the North Koreans is due to the fact that the hermit nation depends on Russian and Chinese systems to carry out cyber operations. Thus, it is likely that Russia and China have the capability to launch attacks against the U.S. that are so well disguised that U.S. investigators would be unable to determine that the attacks did not come from North Korea.
Morris then warned that recent claims that North Korean hackers launched cyber-attacks against Western countries should be investigated more carefully because North Korea has limited cyber warfare capabilities. The real threat to the West comes from China and Russia whose cyber warriors could be posing as North Korean hackers to confuse U.S. investigators.
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