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Several financial documents, bidding contracts and copied proprietary industrial processes were obtained by the hackers

McAfee Inc. announced that five multinational gas and oil companies and seven other unidentified companies have had their computer systems broken into by Chinese hackers, where sensitive information such as bidding plans have been stolen. 

Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee's vice president for threat research, named the attacks "Night Dragon" in McAfee's report. 

"It speaks to quite a sad state of our critical infrastructure security," said Alperovitch. "These were not sophisticated attacks, yet they were very successful in achieving their goals."  

The Night Dragon report did not release the names of the five energy firms, nor did it identify those responsible for the hacking. But the computer security company did report that the hack was traced to China through a server leasing company located in Shandong Province, which hosted the malware. It was also traced to Beijing IP addresses, which were being used between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The report notes that the hackers infiltrated the computer systems either through public websites or infected e-mails sent to executives within the companies. They have obtained financial documents, bidding contracts and copied proprietary industrial processes.  

"Starting in November 2009, coordinated covert and targeted cyberattacks have been conducted against global oil, energy and petrochemical companies," said McAfee in its report. "We have identified the tools, techniques and network activities used in these continuing attacks - which we have dubbed Night Dragon - as originating primarily in China."

The hackers not only broke into the computer systems, but also targeted executives and other individuals in Greece, Taiwan, Kazakhstan and the United States in order to obtain confidential information. 

"That information is tremendously sensitive and would be worth a huge amount of money to competitors," said Alperovitch. 

Alperovitch added that there is no evidence that the hack is "government sponsored in any way."

China has had quite a past linked to hacks like this, such as the hack on Google in December 2009. Chinese hackers broke into Google's network in an attempt to retrieve the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.  

"This is normal business practice in China," said Jim Lewis, a cyber expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "It's not always state sponsored. And they do it to each other."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu announced at a press briefing in Beijing today that he had no idea that the hack on the five energy companies had even occurred. 

"I really have no grasp of this situation, but we frequently hear about these types of reports," said Zhaoxu.

The hacks stemming from China has Western companies and governments concerned, but officials say are familiar with these attacks.

"We are aware of these types of threats, but we can't comment specifically about what's in the Night Dragon report," said FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer.

Lewis said that Beijing does not arrest hackers very often, but it is "not impossible."

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abused the privilidge
By karndog on 2/10/2011 9:45:21 PM , Rating: 2
Just remove China's access to the internet and be done with it. What are they gunna do? Enforce a trade embargo on the US?

RE: abused the privilidge
By FaaR on 2/11/2011 4:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
You think hacking into foreign servers is something solely committed by chinese individuals?

No, you're probably not that stupid. However you don't seem concerned by anyone other than chinese doing it.

Just as an aside, cutting china off from the internet - infeasible and unrealistic as it may be - would hurt the rest of the world just as much as china, thanks to the global nature of the economy these days. How would all the companies that have outsourced stuff there communicate with their subcontractors? Regular snail mail just don't cut it.

So it seems clear to me you're simply driven by racist hatemongering, fear and paranoia. Grow up, and educate yourself a bit about today's world and its realities.

RE: abused the privilidge
By karndog on 2/12/2011 3:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
Umm no it's pretty obvious these attacks are state sponsored. I know that it's not just the Chinese doing it, but they are the most blantant.

My post has absolutely nothing to do with racism fear or paranoia. I just hate thieves. Sure it would suck for the Chinese citizens but it would be collateral damage and a small price to pay to protect the information of the country that spends half of the total worlds expenditure on military R&D.
Alot of Chinese people would be PISSED, and with most of them already not having a too favorable view of the Government maybe a bit of civil unrest might lead to some better living conditions and rights for the Chinese people.

As for the company's that outsource to China..Oh no! How ever will these multi million/billion dollar company's cope?? Honestly the less outsourcing the world does to China, the better for their own country's economy.

You seem to do alot of assuming of me in your post so how about you get off your high horse gronk

RE: abused the privilidge
By morphologia on 2/14/2011 5:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
Do you think the U.S. owns the internet, that they can do something like that without worrying about consequences? Not likely.

Spellcheck, for Christ's's privilege .

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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