30 March, 2009

1,295 systems hacked

Cyber Spies
Sensitive official data from 103 countries compromised; Dalai Lama among victims

TORONTO — A cyber spy network based mainly in China hacked into classified documents from government and private organisations in 103 countries, including the computers of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles, Canadian researchers said on Saturday.

The Information Warfare Monitor initially focused their work on allegations of Chinese cyber espionage against the Tibetan community in exile, but eventually included a much wider network of compromised machines.

“We uncovered real-time evidence of malware that had penetrated Tibetan computer systems, extracting sensitive documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama,’’ said investigator Greg Walton.

The research group said that it has not been able to detect the identity or motivation of the hackers.

The researchers detected a cyber espionage network involving over 1,295 compromised computers from the ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan.

They also found hacked systems in the embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Thailand, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan.

Once the hackers infiltrated the systems, they gained control using malware and sent and received data from them.

Two researchers at Cambridge University who worked on a part of the investigation related to the Tibetans wrote in a separate report that the attacks should be noted for their ability to collect “actionable intelligence for use by the police and security services of a repressive state, with potentially fatal consequences for those exposed”. AP

From TODAY, World
Monday, 30-March-2009