News / Asia

Report: China-based Hackers Stole Indian Secrets, Compromised Networks Around Globe

A group of Canadian computer security researchers have released Tuesday a new report that shows how a China-based cyber spying ring used popular Web social networking services and email accounts to steal national security information from the Indian government and hack into business and computer networks in countries across the globe.

Researchers at University of Toronto's Citizens Lab say they monitored the activities of the cyber spy ring for eight months. During that time, researchers say they observed how the hacking operation, called the "Shadow Network," used popular Internet services such as Twitter, Google Groups and Yahoo Mail to break into computers and take information from Indian diplomatic offices in Moscow, Kabul, Abuja and Dubai.

The report says that the data stolen from computers in India included documents marked "secret" and "confidential." The data included information about missile systems, China-India relations as well as business, personal and financial information.

Confidential visa applications from citizens of more than a dozen countries were also among the documents stolen.

Researchers say they also recovered 1,500 e-mails sent from the Dalai Lama's office between January and November of last year.

According to the report, computers were compromised in every continent across the globe, except for Australia and Antartica.

Ronald Deibert, a member of the Tornoto team says that what Citizens Lab uncovered was only the result of partial observations of the "shadow network's operations". "Although India comes out looking obviously, quite compromised, quite bad here, the network itself could have compromised many, many other victims. We only had a little slice of what we were able to observe," he said.

Nart Villeneuve, another member of the team says that while the report traces the source of the attacks to computer servers in the central city of Chengdu, China,  there was no hard evidence linking the attacks to the Chinese government.

"In fact, we've actually had very healthy cooperation with the Chinese CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team, who are actively working to understand what we've uncovered. And have indicated, that they will work to deal with this BOTNET they way they deal with any other BOTNET to investigate it and shut it down," he said.

He says that the cooperation of China's CERT has been a very encouraging development.

The report notes, however, that an important question on the road ahead is whether or not the Chinese government takes action to shut the network down.

Villeneuve adds that finding out who was ultimately behind the attacks is not easy. He notes that targets of China's hacking community are wide and varied as is the makeup and factions within the Chinese government and its military. "I don't doubt that some of the sensitive information that was aquired, might eventually find its way to elements within the Chinese government that might find it useful. But I don't think there is any direct connection between the attackers and the government. At least at this time," he said.

He adds that the reasearch highlights a growing problem of abuse of computer infrastructure in China and the increasingly blurred lines between cyber crime and cyber espionage. "There is growing evidence that a lot of cyber criminal groups that used to operate in Russia and the Ukraine have moved a lot of their infrastructure to servers in China," he said.

Deibert says that as country's around the globe - the United States included - rush to militarize cyber space and adopt offensive military attack capabilities it is creating a new market for cyber criminals that needs to be addressed. "It's that climate, I think, that creates opportunities for cyber crime to find a market for political espionage," he said.

There was no immediate comment from India's government on the report, but China's Foreign Ministry responded by questioning the motives of those releasing the report.

Foreign Mininistry spokeswoman Jiang Yu was quoted by state media in China as noting that hacking is an international issue that should be dealt with by joint efforts from around the globe.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs