Cyber Espionage: Peeking Into Private Data
Kevin Coleman writes on DefenseTech.org:
Cyber espionage is a relatively new type of intelligence gathering capability with various strategies, tactics and tools.Cyber espionage is defined as the intentional use of computers or digital communications activities in an effort to gain access to sensitive information about an adversary or competitor for the purpose of gaining an advantage or selling the sensitive information for monetary reward. This widely accepted definition was originally crafted by Spy-Ops in their cyber warfare analysis program back in 2004.More here.
Cyber espionage blasted on the scene in the mid 90s and has grown at a steady pace along side the adoption and use of the internet by business, government and industry. Even though cyber espionage is relatively new, countries like China have already invested a lot into building large and well trained cyber-espionage forces. By the first of 2009, Spy-Ops estimates about 140 countries and over 50 terrorist and criminal/extremist groups will be developing cyber weapons and espionage capabilities.
In conventional espionage you rely on deep cover covert operatives to conduct espionage and gain intelligence. In cyber espionage you use computer systems and data coupled with conventional techniques to gain intelligence and sensitive information. Events like the ones at ClearanceJobs and the Oakridge National Labs seem to indicate that the U.S. science and engineering community is being targeted. Let's look at these two incidents a bit closer.