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NSA Says It Foiled Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the big-brother-says-he's-got-your-back dept.

China 698

mrspoonsi writes "Business Insider Reports: The National Security Agency described for the first time a cataclysmic cyber threat it claims to have stopped On Sunday's '60 Minutes.' Called a BIOS attack, the exploit would have ruined, or 'bricked,' computers across the country, causing untold damage to the national and even global economy. Even more shocking, CBS goes as far as to point a finger directly at China for the plot — 'While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China.' The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers. Debora Plunkett, director of cyber defense for the NSA: One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver — to actually use this capability — to destroy computers."

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698 comments

NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (5, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | about 4 months ago | (#45713471)

...and subprime lending really DID destroy the U.S. economy.

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713705)

And Iraq had WMDs. And the NSA never lied to congress or the people... how stupid do they think we are?

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45713795)

Lies! Iraq had WMDs! Didn't you see the 3D renderings of the mobile port-potties that Saddam had?!?

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (2, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about 4 months ago | (#45713715)

The attack being described probably would have been worse. And if the NSA stopped it, that's great—they should get credit and appreciation for that. This is exactly what the NSA _should_ be doing. It's too bad that they have spent so much focus on stuff _other_ than this. People forget that the NSA has actually done a _lot_ over the past century that has been of extreme benefit, because they have done so many inappropriate things recently. It would be really great if we could get back to the old NSA.

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (5, Insightful)

afxgrin (208686) | about 4 months ago | (#45713893)

It's a fucking propaganda piece. It's quite easy to see right through the bullshit.

If a BIOS exploiting malware was a real threat where's the CVE for it? Where's the advisory?? A BIOS crippling virus released into the wild has no need for secrecy unless the NSA themselves released it. It's quite convenient they mention they thwarted a "major cyber attack" without releasing the name of the virus nor when this supposedly happened.

What a fucking joke that entire interview was....

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (5, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about 4 months ago | (#45713897)

This is exactly what the NSA _should_ be doing. It's too bad that they have spent so much focus on stuff _other_ than this.

Which begs the question, how come this was not among the first things touted as their reason for being? How come this was not mentioned before Congress? Or to the media? How come this whole thing sounds utterly made up?

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713853)

I never received a BIOS firmware update to patch the alleged vulnerability. I apply every patch or update reported via the Ubuntu Linux repository on my notebook computer and by Debian GNU/Linux repository on my servers. Even the virtual instance of Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium did not provide a BIOS firmware update.

Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713915)

Well, firmware updates are generally not distributed through the OS update systems.

We have all the evidence! (3, Interesting)

NIK282000 (737852) | about 4 months ago | (#45713477)

But we cant show it to you, its a privet.

Re:We have all the evidence! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713525)

But please ignore how we failed to stop the Boston Marathon bomber!

Re:We have all the evidence! (2)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45713579)

They will just simply claim that happened because they didn't have enough spying powers.

Re:We have all the evidence! (5, Informative)

phrostie (121428) | about 4 months ago | (#45713631)

and this lame vague shit is the best they can do.

100% of the NSA budget needs to be given to NASA.

Re:We have all the evidence! (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 4 months ago | (#45713651)

But ninnies like cold fjord will eat it up. They need Big Brother to tuck them in at night or they'll wet their bed.

Re:We have all the evidence! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713891)

Speaking of being tucked in at night, the Wired article shows a picture of mostly young and attractive employees (jokingly stating that, see, some of them had not yet fled to Russia with the secrets).

I work for a subsidary of high-technology corporation and I have heard through the grapevine that the most of the NSA workforce are extremely young, and reportedly because they have not yet been corrupted by ideology or had the chance to go into debt or get married and have affairs --

-- But, on the other hand, younger people have not yet had the chance to learn their limitations, they are too immature to wield such power, especially if they grew up in religious households and always have in the back of their mind that it is God's will for them to be doing such work, and that they have the moral upper-hand in doing such work.

The evil menace must be stopped so that liberty may prevail.

Re:We have all the evidence! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713733)

How much do you want to bet that a Snowdon leak shows that the NSA creates these fantasy plots to justify their existence?

Re:We have all the evidence! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713823)

The evidence is hiding in the bushes? (Yes, I saw what you did and it was indeed humorous. Those who hear a woosh, look up "privet". NIK obviously did that on purpose, probably hoping someone would bash him for spelling).

funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713487)

they are trying to justify their unlawful behavior.

Is this why we have UEFI all of a sudden? (2)

danudwary (201586) | about 4 months ago | (#45713491)

I don't know the history of this, and the linked article is vague on timelines, but it always did seem like UEFI came out of nowhere...

Re:Is this why we have UEFI all of a sudden? (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 4 months ago | (#45713603)

UEFI is the attack capable of not allowing you to boot anything they do not ordain as acceptable.

Re:Is this why we have UEFI all of a sudden? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713615)

I'd say that UEFI is the actual bios that got malwared.
You should be asking yourself: "Is UEFI the reason we now have this malware?"

Re:Is this why we have UEFI all of a sudden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713683)

Servers had been using EFI for years, I first used it in 2003 on an HP Itanium. Apple have been using it for a while too. It does offer some real advantages over the traditional BIOS that's essentially a series of hacks on an architecture designed with 1980s PCs in mind where nobody would ever need more than 500 mb of disk space or want to have more than 4 primary partitions.

Guys seriously please dont hate us! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713493)

A bios attack? Really? You mean the best cripling attack they can come up with is updating my bios to a copy of doom? NSA attempts to not be seen as the axis of evil yet fails once again

Re:Guys seriously please dont hate us! (2)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 4 months ago | (#45713663)

I found this part of that odd: The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers.

Did they work with a time machine to take care of machines built with this vulnerability? Includes those that are set not to automatically upgrade BIOS, of course.

Re:Guys seriously please dont hate us! (5, Interesting)

danceswithtrees (968154) | about 4 months ago | (#45713859)

Includes those that are set not to automatically upgrade BIOS, of course

Two words: BIOS backdoor!

More importantly, they need to show that the massive dragnet of surveillance of all Americans was essential to find out about this.

Another thing, ironic that the US worries about other people doing things that it has already done. For example, the US created Stuxnet and is worried someone else will follow our lead. The US dropped a nuclear bomb on civilians and we are worried someone else will follow our lead.

Re:Guys seriously please dont hate us! (5, Informative)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | about 4 months ago | (#45713885)

I thought it was odd too untli I read the article and realised they were not talking about a real threat, they were talking about an analysts scenario. To quote:

"One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver — to actually use this capability — to destroy computers."

So basically this is a fear-mongering story since if the country in question had had the intention and capability to deploy such an attack, it would have been SUCCESSFUL. Only a small proportion on PCs would have been "fixed" if they had "worked with computer manufacturers".

They really do think everyone is stupid don't they?

Sheesh. (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 4 months ago | (#45713499)

They call themselves the 'intelligence' community, but even that is a lie.

Re:Sheesh. (1)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about 4 months ago | (#45713649)

They call themselves the 'intelligence' community, but even that is a lie.

No, no... the NSA is always on the lookout for intelligence. One of their analysts at one point had some intelligent material in their possession. But given the choice of spit or swallow, it was swallowed, flushed and lost.

Expect these claims to be walked back (5, Insightful)

the_scoots (1595597) | about 4 months ago | (#45713501)

Once those pesky real journalists that insist on facts and sources start digging into this, I'd expect the cataclysmic claims will be slowly walked back to something much less sinister, like almost all other claims of thwarted plots.

Re:Expect these claims to be walked back (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#45713707)

It doesn't matter. You have the resounding shout into the ears of the masses, followed by the trickling in of facts. The big emotional movement comes from the resounding shout; unless you're torn down in a huge uproar from an angered populous, the facts will be ignored and shrugged at.

Re:Expect these claims to be walked back (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713723)

those pesky real journalists that insist on facts and sources

Well, good luck finding them. They haven't been seen in decades. Just slap "allegedly" on something, put it prominently out there, and in the end if you look like a total ass for getting it wrong, issue a 2-second retraction at the end of the newscast while the credits are rolling (or in a little errata box buried on the bottom of page A36).

the 'plot' has been revealed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713511)

so that's a step

Fudupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713513)

Dupe, full of FUD and propoganda. All in one handy to go sized container.

Translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713515)

"Spy agency claims world saved by spy agency during week of intense scrutiny of standard operating procedures."

Not buying this (5, Insightful)

Akratist (1080775) | about 4 months ago | (#45713519)

China holds a huge amount of our debt. They want us to buy their stuff and to borrow money from them. Why cripple our economy? Or, even worse, why do something like this that will point a finger back to them and stir up the pot against them? (and possibly lad to embargos, and so on)

Re:Not buying this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713587)

The attack probably originated within the borders of China, but wasn't an act of the government. If the Chinese government instigated it and if it would have succeeded, it would basically amount to a declaration of war. I don't think that's what they want.

Re:Not buying this (5, Informative)

WankersRevenge (452399) | about 4 months ago | (#45713699)

China holds a huge amount of our debt.

Our debt is around 17 trillion dollars. Of that 17 trillion, China owns around 1.2 trillion. A large number for sure, but not something I'd say is a rather small percentage of the total debt. The debt owned by the public equates to 12 trillion which is something I'd call huge.

National debt of the United States [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not buying this (5, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 months ago | (#45713861)

China holds a huge amount of our debt. They want us to buy their stuff and to borrow money from them. Why cripple our economy? Or, even worse, why do something like this that will point a finger back to them and stir up the pot against them? (and possibly lad to embargos, and so on)

Ya, it makes no sense. Like if I pulled up to the Starbucks drive-thru to order a venti double-skinny mocha latteachio with no foam and instead they went all Goldfinger on my car. You don't try to kill your best customer.

Likewise if this was some freelance/rogue/criminal/terrorist operation inside China, I'd think they (the Chinese) would be motivated to foil it themselves for the same reasons.

The NSA should have cooked up a more plausible bogus plot to foil, but instead they don't even respect us enough to make up a believable lie.

in other news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713521)

NSA wrote the malware and implicated China, because "everyone" "knows" not to trust China.

Re:in other news (2)

multisync (218450) | about 4 months ago | (#45713855)

NSA wrote the malware and implicated China

That was my thought. The only countries who have attempted something on the scale of what the NSA is alleging are (allegedely) the United States and Isreal, who (allegedely) unleashed Stuxnet on the world.

And I agree with the poster above - why would China wish to cripple the economy of one of the largest customers of its goods.

This isn't passing the smell test.

I'm so scared (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713523)

Please, won't the NSA protect me? It's become clear to me now that the only way to save our cherished freedoms is carpet bombing them.

What a load of bollocks (5, Insightful)

dido (9125) | about 4 months ago | (#45713533)

If these attackers the NSA supposedly thwarted (the Chinese it is speculated), managed to gain control over large numbers of computers with access enough to damage their firmware, it would make far better sense to keep those machines alive and working for them instead. You could cause far more damage to the US economy by keeping those machines alive and pwn3d than if you simply bricked them. A bricked machine will cost a few hundred dollars to fix. A pwn3d machine is a gift that keeps on giving!

house of cards? (5, Interesting)

AntEater (16627) | about 4 months ago | (#45713537)

Does this strike anyone else as being utterly ridiculous? "Cataclysmic"?? I mean, if a bunch of bricked computers could bring down our economy (and possibly the global economy) then isn't the whole thing in need of some serious attention? Maybe we've built an unreasonable amount of dependence on something that is entirely too frail to warrant such trust? - both the computer systems and our current economic system.

We DO need global surveillance. (1, Insightful)

mha (1305) | about 4 months ago | (#45713551)

I would really like to have a global database accessible to anyone where everyone who actually believes this and other utter nonsense and obvious BS stories is registered. Forum owners and people interacting with such people are then automatically informed by their software whenever they read information from one of those people, and they will have to wear a t-shirt that says "I'm really gullible".

Basically, I don't mind Facebook, Google or the NSA - I *do* mind that they keep the data to themselves and that they exempt themselves. Put everything in the open - and I mean *every thing*. Ooops, that 2nd sentence went off on a tangent...

Also: The NSA Never Lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713555)

There's stuxnet, too. Who made that one again?

And therefore... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713557)

we need the phone metadata and complete internet activity history and future of every american.

Prove it (5, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 4 months ago | (#45713559)

Right, sure they did. A BIOS attack of the sort hinted at in this interview is difficult to believe.

If they worked with computer manufacturers to close some such massive security hole, then they can easily point to the historical vulnerability. The technical community can verify their claims. Failing that, no, I do not believe such an attack ever existed outside the overheated imagination of some technically illiterate NSA bureaucrat.

In other news, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Re:Prove it (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#45713737)

Another TLA that seems appropriate at this juncture is FUD. It's not tough to believe the security game might be painted as another necessary sacrifice of freedoms in exchange for security. Will citizens pick necessary evil we know >malevolent threat from abroad?

Re:Prove it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713765)

If they worked with computer manufacturers, it was not to close a hole.

Re:Prove it (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 4 months ago | (#45713863)

If they worked with computer manufacturers to close some such massive security hole, then they can easily point to the historical vulnerability.

Except, there is none. The BIOS is not connected to the internet; the computer's operating system is. Any vulnerability that would allow remote updating of the BIOS is a vulnerability in Windows/MacOS/Linux/etc., and not in the BIOS or hardware; so working with computer manufacturers is pointless.

Many BIOSes have a setting to allow/prevent the updating of the BIOS from the OS; if your machine has that, and it is set to block updates, then there IS no vulnerabilty at all. If your machine does not have that, then the fix would be to update your BIOS.... over the internet....

Re:Prove it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713901)

Right, sure they did. A BIOS attack of the sort hinted at in this interview is difficult to believe.

If they worked with computer manufacturers to close some such massive security hole, then they can easily point to the historical vulnerability. The technical community can verify their claims. Failing that, no, I do not believe such an attack ever existed outside the overheated imagination of some technically illiterate NSA bureaucrat.

In other news, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Next up......Unicorn Lair!!!

NSA: A Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713561)

FTFY

And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713565)

Here comes Bullshit man to save the day!

http://youtu.be/1lRIQGU2RRk?t=15s

It's obviously false. (5, Funny)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 4 months ago | (#45713569)

the exploit would have ruined, or 'bricked,' computers across the country, causing untold damage to the national and even global economy

Sorry, I'm not buying it. Despite the NSA's best efforts, Microsoft did release Vista.

Re:It's obviously false. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713703)

Oh, come on! You can do better than that!

Sorry, I'm not buying it. Despite the NSA's best efforts, Microsoft did release Windows 8, and Windows is bricked without a Start Menu.

BIOS Attacks (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#45713573)

Have been known for years. The problem is you have to gain admin access to the machine first, so basically you are bricking your own botnet.

LOL.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 4 months ago | (#45713577)

So we have to become like China in order to prevent us being destroyed by China.

Disbeliever here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713581)

(1) What would China gain by this?

(2) How would China prevent this from spreading and destroying their own computers?

Really? They got the DMCA repealed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713583)

Finally!

BIOS attack eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713591)

What about the EFI attack?

Piss-poor reporting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713593)

Here is what the Guardian has to say about the report http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/16/nsa-surveillance-60-minutes-cbs-facts

make believe (2)

Korruptionen (2647747) | about 4 months ago | (#45713607)

The NSA is keeping us about as safe as the Mars rovers do from martian attacks.... which really is the reason we all know they are there. amiright?

Re:make believe (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 months ago | (#45713659)

The NSA is keeping us about as safe as the Mars rovers do from martian attacks...

But that was supposed to be secret ... I saw it on Moonbase Alpha

Yeah.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713613)

and Catholic priest hate little boys.

What would be to motivation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713627)

Why would China want to destroy US economy? China has a big pile of USD on its hands. It does not make sense!

Which is really irrelevant to the debate (5, Interesting)

davidannis (939047) | about 4 months ago | (#45713633)

because I can't imagine the scenario in which they uncovered that plot by looking at the metadata from American cellphones.

They did their job is a news story? (2)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 4 months ago | (#45713637)

NSA needs to stop back pedaling and trying to prove they are a legitimate organization. It's their job to protect us from all types of stuff the general public has never heard of. Maybe they should watch some more Hollywood action films because those actors in the movie are more concerned about OPSEC then the NSA.

The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 months ago | (#45713641)

The NSA says it closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers.

Ah the Chinese are so helpful ... oh wait!

vulnerability is closed? (2)

wkk2 (808881) | about 4 months ago | (#45713645)

I'm sure, due to their hard work, all new computer have hardware jumpers to write protect the BIOS....

A bricked computer isn't the biggest threat (4, Informative)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 4 months ago | (#45713653)

A more dangerous cyber threat would be malware that collects all the users personal information and stores it until the malware writer is ready to use it against the victim.

Oops!

Trust (1)

Jimpqfly (790794) | about 4 months ago | (#45713655)

People don't trust NSA anymore. After all the spying (National and International), declared non-constitutional, they're trying to have better communication? Too late guys ...

Do they mean their own STUXNET? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713673)

Oh my...!

Another Lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713687)

People need to remember when seeing a story like this that the US Intelligence Agencies along with NATO have been implicated in human trafficking, money laundering, extrajudicial murder and we know now domestic espionage with permanent data retention. This story is just a legend they're feeding to the public in relation to the judge's ruling upholding the fourth amendment to the American constitution. We don't need the NSA for any purpose, FISA or the National Security Act. They are labeling nationalists who don't want world government as extremists and these are the people they are tracking for extrajudicial killings in their case management systems.

Stated more accurately (3, Insightful)

xednieht (1117791) | about 4 months ago | (#45713695)

China has discovered NSA's backdoor into computers, and worked with computer manufacturers to build a much more better and newer back door for NSA.

As so much of the electronics are "made" outside (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713697)

If the concern is "national security" - why are the Nations Leaders(TM) allowing the importation of electronics from China then?

Why "attack" the BIOS - why not just pre-load it with a "phone home" like LG TVs?

I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713725)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and there is not one shred of evidence referenced in this article.

Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713727)

So, "China" planned to brick America's computers with a BIOS updating virus. But, the NSA was able to foil the attack by working with computer manufactures? So, they were able to prevent "China" from attacking all the BIOSes that come from... China?

I'm going to give the NSA the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to assume that it was the individual interviewee that was a clueless asshat and that the Agency as a whole is neither that stupid nor stupid enough to think that the public would fall for that lame-brained and fallacious attempt at currying favor.

And the company the created the vulnerabilities??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713731)

Microsoft should get the blame for the entire thing.

And should pay for fixing it.

Bios threat not the worst (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#45713745)

If we really cared about viruses destroying the US economy, we wouldn't be still running XP in the business world.

Yeah, right, NSA, we believe you soooo much (not) (5, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#45713751)

Please. I saw this on 60 Minutes and that entire pandering two-parter on Sunday night was a such a load of bullshit, I could smell it through the TV.

And this segment of it was the worst, because it made no sense. I mean, they dumbed the story down for Ma and Pa in Pigsknuckle Arkansas, but for anyone with even a hint of technical acumen, it came off as complete tripe.

Why *exactly* would China want to destroy the global economy? Such a move would hurt them more than us, because they are in a period of crazy growth, and their entire stability *depends* upon that growth or they'd have rioting.

Secondly, if a nation wanted to destroy us, why use "malware"? A better way would be to use lobbyists to force more deregulation and let us cut our own throats as we've already seen. Our own greedy bastards will happily destroy the global economy if it means 6 more dollars in *their* pockets.

The whole thing is fishy and smells of NSA desperation to look good to the average american, and paint the Chinese and Edward Snowden as bad guys we need to be afraid of so that the NSA can "protect" us, by of course, stripping us of all our rights.

And they "stopped" it, how, exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713783)

Suppose it's true. So they stopped this "cataclysmic" event from occurring. Bully for them. But I want to know: how and when? If you're going to stop an attack, you either destroy the "enemy" or fix the problem. If they destroyed the enemy, I'm pretty sure the enemy would be shouting it from the rooftops that the USA was attacking them. Oh, right, it was "covert". Maybe they fixed the problem, then. Did anyone see the NSA come over to their place recently to change the BIOS on their computer? Perhaps the NSA called and scheduled it for a future date? Yah, didn't think so.

This is PR 101. Don't like the narrative about you? Give them something else to talk about instead.

Prove it (3, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#45713799)

This doesn't pass the sniff test. What would China gain by *destroying* our economy?

Sure, China planting surveillance software on every computer, I can believe that. But bricking all the computers in the US doesn't make sense as an espionage move, it doesn't make sense as an economic move (do you think anyone would trust Chinese-made computers when rebuilding?), it doesn't make sense as a propaganda move. It might make sense as a military move as a prelude to invasion, but a) China doesn't want that, b) China probably couldn't do it if they wanted to, and c) even if not fired, the risks of such a weapon being uncovered outweighs any benefit.

So it doesn't seem like something China would do. So who could it be? Even the NSA is explicitly calling it a nation-state, so it's not a terrorist group like al-Qaeda. If it's a nation-state, it has to be one that thinks (correctly or not) that they can beat the US when it is inevitably discovered (either before or after the attack). Russia's on that list, but I don't see how they would benefit except, again, as a pre-invasion attack, and our relations aren't that bad yet. North Korea might be dumb enough to think they can get away with it, but for the same reasons they probably don't have the capabilities of developing an attack like this. Iran is probably smart enough not to provoke the US with a direct attack, but maybe I'm wrong, or maybe they thought framing China would work.

Honestly, if someone in the Chinese government got on TV and said "yeah, we made that as a training exercise for defense drills, how the hell did you guys find it in the wild?", I'd believe them more than I'm believing CBS/NSA right now, because that at least makes sense with all the other information.

Especially since it's REAL FUCKING CONVENIENT for the NSA to suddenly have a major "victory" when they're being revealed as basically a bunch of puppy-kicking freedom-hating fascists.

I'm glad to see everybody's calling bullshit (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 4 months ago | (#45713803)

Honestly, the Chinese have more than a trillion dollars of our debt and the fact that we prop up their entire economy by buying stuff from them. The Chinese government wants our country to succeed, otherwise their economy goes in the toilet. And, frankly, we would survive that far easier than they would. They wouldn't even be able to pull a pyrrhic victory out of that one.

This is just like when the FBI catches a "terrorist" who turns out to be some loser who was goaded into trading his stereo speakers for a couple of grenades that he could throw into a mall.

It's really time for congress to set up in the budget that every single time these people come up with some total bullshit they lose 10% of their funding. It's pretty clear at this point that these agencies are more interested in concocting reasons for them to stay in business.

I think they have that backwards. (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about 4 months ago | (#45713805)

The NSA is a cataclysmic cyber threat destroying the economy. (And the country too.)

Bravo, NSA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713813)

You are working hard to destroy the few bits of credibility left.

This is a criminal organization. It should be disbanded.

Unlikey! China would lose as much as the USA (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 4 months ago | (#45713817)

If the american economy bombs, who will repay all the debt the chinese hold? If there was such a "cataclysmic" financial crash and the USA defaulted on its loans, then the trillions and trillions of dollars owed by the USA becomes junk. How would that help China?

Further, with their biggest customer deep in the mire, who would they sell their goods to? The same goods they depend on for revenue to keep their own growth moving forward?

This has got to be the dumbest scare story, no: xenophobic, boogy-man, fiction to come out this year (and it has lots of competition). Although the american debt is a big drag on its economy, it's also so large that it's a problem for the debt holders, too. They are in just as much trouble if the value of that debt drops and therefore have an interest in making sure the USA does not crash and burn - despite what some scared, bigoted and ill-informed media commentators might think.

And if you believe any of this (2)

calarndt (812628) | about 4 months ago | (#45713851)

And if you believe any of this I've got a bridge over troubled waters I'll sell you! But the real problem is there are way too many Americans out there who will fall for this lame tactic.

You can't prove I didn't! (4, Funny)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 4 months ago | (#45713869)

I routinely stop alien invasions. Their lazors are no match for my hands (and let's not mention my other weapon... in my pants).

Your move NSA - what have you done lately?

The White House/NSA PR campaign is in full swing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45713873)

The White House/NSA PR campaign is in full swing with all these feel-good NSA stories coming out in a period of only a few days. We should recognize this for what it is -- PR.

Bullshit! (3, Informative)

Sven-Erik (177541) | about 4 months ago | (#45713889)

This is just bullshit! If they stopped this attack by "closed this vulnerability by working with computer manufacturers", this would only fix the vulnerability on new computers built after the fix was created, but not on machines already produced and sold.

This sounds more like a PR campaign to garner positive support after all the negative impact of the releases of the documents Edward Snowden leaked.

CBS 60 Minutes Credibility (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 4 months ago | (#45713905)

In other news yesterday, CBS 60 Minutes Pelley Award for reporting on the electronics industry, "2008 "The Wasteland", was discredited by the 5th major exhaustive study of "e-waste" exports (this one done by MIT) which shows CBS report that 80% of all "e-waste" exports are not recycled but dumped overseas. From the report, "Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics 12/2013":

""The results show that approximately 258.2 million units of used electronic were generated and 171.4 million units were collected in the US in 2010. Export flows were estimated to be 14.4 million units, which is 8.5% of the collected estimate on average. On a weight basis, 1.6 million tons of used electronics were generated in the US in 2010 and 0.9 million tons were collected. Of the amount collected, 26.5 thousand tons were exported, which is 3.1% of the weight collected."

It is not that CBS 60 Minutes gets the story wrong that bothers me so much as the organization's stonewalling of these studies, after 41 export traders were arrested just in the past year, and after the source organization in Seattle who told them "80% of all e-waste is exported" not only abandoned the "statistic" but claimed never to have said it. http://tinyurl.com/lr7z5n3 [tinyurl.com] What relates this to TFA is that both the ability by the manufacturing country to "brick" PCs they have made and sold, and the original hype about export for reuse, is PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE. If the PCs were bricked, would the economy really collapse? Or would there be a bunch of PCs ready to sell which had a different bios chip? Want to know about OEMs bricking the secondary market, and where "waste" comes from? Read Vance Packard's 1960 book "The Waste Makers", available both in print and on Kindle.

yeah, and... (1)

smash (1351) | about 4 months ago | (#45713917)

... i foiled a global internet attack that would have caused routers the world over to explode. just prove i didn't, right?
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