Remotely taking control of someone’s computer is not an unheard of hacker exploit, but this claim about remotely controlling a Chinese hacker’s webcam is just crazy.
It starts with something called “attribution.”
Attribution — finding the identity of an attacker — is notoriously difficult, since there are several ways to mask the source of an attack.
During a BBC Radio interview published Monday, Jim Lewis, a former diplomat now at the centre for Strategic and International Studies, mentioned a shocking instance of attribution in which he claimed he actually saw a Chinese hacker through that hacker’s own webcam (emphasis ours):
Anonymity is going away, anonymity doesn’t have to exist. Now there’s other things you can do particular for a big intelligence agency that let you attribute.
You know you can turn the webcam on people’s computers and I’ve actually said to the Chinese at certain points, you know you gotta get your hackers to dress better, I saw this one guy, he was wearing a wife beater t-shirt, I mean, for godsakes I was looking for the pizza boxes in the background.
Lewis was talking about how the U.S. government’s ability to attribute an exploit to certain hackers.
What’s wild is the idea that they attributed to the individual hacker by turning on the webcam, ostensibly in China. Even more crazy is that Lewis himself actually talked to China about the particular uniforms, or lack thereof, their hackers wear while working.
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