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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs