Watch the global hacking war in real time with a weirdly hypnotic map

June 23, 2014
June 23, 2014

Well-organized hackers from China have been blamed for everything from crippling pro-democracy websites in Hong Kong to stealing corporate secrets from US companies in recent months. The US and China are locked in an escalating war about online spying that threatens to devastate business for companies in both countries.

But the scope and scale of hacking attacks between the two countries, and in fact between attackers and targets around the world, can be hard to imagine—until you check out this oddly mesmerizing real-time map that shows cyber-attacks ricocheting across the globe. The map was created by Norse, a US-based company that monitors malware and spyware. It explains that “attacks shown are based on a small subset of live flows against the Norse honeypot infrastructure, representing actual worldwide cyber attacks by bad actors,” but the end result looks more like the vintage video game Missile Command.

At any given time during business hours on Monday in Hong Kong, China led the list of countries where attacks originated, and the US was China’s top target. But the US was a steady number two on “attack origins” list, though the targets varied. The attack types include internet protocols like ssh and telnet, as well as the well-known Windows hacking tool called Crazzynet.

You can easily see when massive, targeted and well-organized strikes from China occur, like this one aimed at Seattle, Washington, at about 1:30 pm on Monday in Hong Kong:

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Or this huge attack headed for St. Louis just after 4pm, Hong Kong time.

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Norse was founded by a former intelligence expert with the US’s Department of Homeland Security and a technology consultant. The company is based in St. Louis, which maybe explains that last targeted attack.

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