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January 05, 2008

Chinese Hackers Step Up Activity

Pennsylvania's government website had to be shut down Friday, as it was being hacked from a domain in China.

It is not unusual for the state's computer system to be the target of hackers, but having problems at four separate branches of state government prompted the decision to take down nearly the entire system, she said.

DeVane said Pennsylvania's information technology officers learned during a conference call held by the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center that four other states and one state university had been attacked in a similar manner.

Chinese hackers have been attacking US and other nations' government agencies and large corporations, this is nothing new. But it looks like they're becoming more prolific and obvious about it.

Recent TIME article on government-sponsored Chinese hackers.

That article is pretty cool because TIME actually met and sat down with some of these guys who won Chinese government-sponsored hacking competitions.

Though the evidence remains mostly circumstantial, a picture is emerging of a coordinated effort by Chinese-military authorities to recruit hackers such as Tan and his group to winkle out information from computer systems outside China and launch cyberattacks in future conflicts.
In June U.S. military officials said an attack from China had penetrated a computer system at the Pentagon--though nonclassified, it included a server used by the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Beijing denies that it is behind hacker attacks. Jiang Yu, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, described such reports as "wild accusations" and said they reflected a "cold war mentality."

Another interesting snippet.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer for Finjan, a web security group with headquarters in San Jose, California, says his company is in the middle of a study into new hacking techniques that has found "a centralised group of activity based from China". "In the last three months, the attacks [from China] have almost tripled," he said.

The attacks use infected websites that download Trojans and then install them on users' computers. These then feed data to other websites, which monitor the attack and can refine it to secure desired information. Some use new and sophisticated techniques, including malware for which there is no security patch.

Yang Jiechi, China's foreign minister, denied his government supported computer hackers targeting UK companies. He said hacking was prohibited by Chinese law and that government websites also suffered attacks from hackers.

This is what it looks like when a developing nation is hellbent on supplanting us as the major world power. Too bad most of our hackers are busy attacking us, too.

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posted by Laura. at 11:06 PM

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