Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vast (Chinese) CyberSpy System

The NYTimes reports on a vast cyberspying system that appears to be based in China and connected to the Chinese government:
A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.
Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after you.....

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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

They're doing it for peaceful purposes.

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen myself and from what others have told me, Taiwan's government offices use systems that are so leaky and lack the most basic security protocols that any idiot hacker can break in. Imagine a system of Windows XP machines that are online all day without security enabled.

Anonymous said...

On a related matter of the extremely disturbing level of paranoia, foreign tourists in China are now being targeted as spys if they're seen spending too much time on their cell phones:

http://guanyu9.blogspot.com/2009/03/foreign-gps-users-risk-arrest.html

James said...

One of the games which I used to play, "Command & Conquer: Generals" pitted the US v. China v. Mid-East terrorists. The Chinese had a hacker unit which could take buildings, raise money, and disable vehicles. You could make a building to put them which improved the money making.

Games imitating life, it appears.

Anonymous said...

"From what I have seen myself and from what others have told me, Taiwan's government offices use systems that are so leaky and lack the most basic security protocols that any idiot hacker can break in."

Agreed.

Taiwan bloggers, watch out. Taiwanfeed.com has been attacked in the past and appears to be in a compromised state at the moment. It could be some random script kiddy, or it could be someone with some ideological or political agenda.

Nowadays, viruses can attack your computer by merely VISITING a compromised website. This is huge. This means if you can't trust the website and/or you don't have the latest antivirus, you need to avoid any links to websites you can't completely trust...

Marc said...

Since we're on this subject of China's cyber-terrorism, I found this Harvard study on the extent of China's Internet censorship to be eye-opening. No wonder the CHinese are paranoid--they don't know anything!
http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china/

Anonymous said...

A lot of spies are "reporters" from Hong Kong.

reeb said...

Re-post this PRC Cyberhacker tracking website link from last May:
www.thedarkvisitor.com

I noticed a link on that site to a Feb09 Wendell Minnick PRC cyberhacker article, looks interesting and will read later.

Also, here is the pdf link to the
China_Military_Power_Report_2009

Thoth Harris said...

I concur with Anonymous 9:02 AM's sentiments Despite Taiwan being a hub for electronic technology (science parks and all), the computer literacy of the majority of Taiwanese is abysmal. Every time I see the people's plodding use of computers here, I am appalled. Not to mention, so many of the computers people use are still on Windows NT!

James said...

With this news, I wonder if corps like Google will continue to be so cozy with China.

kaiserkuo said...

Do an in-depth security sweep of ANY large enough institution's computers and you'll find there are many zombies that appear to be controlled by China-based computers. That's because there's such poor security practice among Chinese netizens, 98% of whom are using pirated versions of Windows they're afraid to upgrade for fear that they'll freeze up, and the people running these rings are as often in North America and Eastern Europe as anywhere else. If I read this story correctly, there's no evidence that the compromised PCs belonging to the Dharamsala folks were the specifically targeted; the zombie masters ping practically every IP address the world over. I wouldn't read too much into this.

claudiajean said...

I clicked on the link to Taiwanfeed.com the other day and got into huge trouble with malware. It took me hours to clear and I'm still not sure whether I've done it right!

Anonymous said...

claudiajean:

Okay, then it's confirmed. I thought there was a small chance my antivirus was being overzealous. I tried to warn the blog owner, but he ignored me. He should at least have the decency to shut the site down until he has time to fix it.

Thomas said...

"With this news, I wonder if corps like Google will continue to be so cozy with China."

Probably not. The fact that China is behind a lot of cyber-spying is hardly a secret. It is just not politically or economically prudent to complain too loudly about. Just as corporations put up with the pilfering of intellectual property by Chinese partners to tap into the often-ephemeral promise of access to the Chinese market, so do they put up with spying.