For years now the US has been bleating about how it is a poor victim to Chinese cyber attacks, however, it turns out that the US has an aggressive attack plan of its own.
According to papers obtained by the Washington Post, US spooks carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011. This seems to indicate that it has been running a clandestine war across the web.
The disclosure was part of a classified intelligence budget provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The programme costs the US $652 million a year and is code-named GENIE. This requires US computer specialists to break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious US control.
So far the project has placed “covert implants” in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year. The US wanted to expand those numbers into the millions.
The documents provided by Snowden indicate that the US campaign of computer intrusions is far broader and more aggressive than previously understood. The reason for this is that the government treats all such cyber-operations as clandestine and declines to acknowledge them.
Nearly three-quarters of the US attacks were against top-priority targets, which former officials say includes adversaries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea and activities such as nuclear proliferation.
The report says that there have been few cases of actual sabotage. Most attacks have been actual snooping and the user would only have seen a slight slowing down of their computer.