For the past five years, hackers have been infiltrating the networks of some of the world's largest and most influential organizations, and security consultants just noticed. Revealed by software security firm McAfee at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this week, the scale of "Operation Shady RAT"--a code name referring to a remote access tool used to break into networks--makes it somewhat shocking that a government agency didn't spot the attack sooner. Hackers targeted the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency as well as several governments and American corporations. In fact, out of the total 72 organizations targeted, 49 are based in the United States. McAfee suspects that it's another government that's been doing the hacking, and experts say signs point to China.
So why didn't we spot this sooner? The quick answer is that we did, but it was kept a secret. With the Pentagon hurriedly expanding operations online and declaring the internet a war zone, the government is not unaware of the dangers of cyber attacks. In fact, the NSA, Defense Department and a number of other governmental bodies are attempting to recruit hackers at the Black Hat conference and its sister convention DefCon. But the escalation of attention paid to cyber security has only really picked up in the past year while the attacks started in 2006. There are some competing but overlapping theories on why we missed the series of attacks since then.