China Denies Internet Espionage

Canadian researchers are reporting that a spy network, known as GhostNet and based mainly in China, has infiltrated computers from government offices of several countries. Reports say India, Pakistan, Portugal and Germany are among those affected.

The report, penned by researchers at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, is based on a 10-month long investigation into alleged Chinese cyber-spying against Tibetan Institutions.

The Munk Center says that nearly 1,300 computers had been hacked using the malware (opens in new tab) which gives hackers the ability to extract top secret information from the compromised machines. Aside from the aforementioned nations, Iran, Indonesia, Brunei, as well as non-government organizations and the media were among the targets with a total of 103 countries affected. The report claims that up to 30 percent of the infected hosts are considered high-value targets.

GhostNet presents itself as an email attachment. Once opened, it directs infected computers to download a Trojan called gh0st RAT, which in turn gives hackers to “complete, real-time” control of the computer including searching and downloading specific files and operating attached peripherals such as webcams and mics. Once a machine is infected, files can then be “mined” for contact information, which is then used to spread the malware even further via email.

According to the report the researchers the GhostNet network had penetrated several machines containing sensitive and secret information at the private offices of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan targets. Their investigations led them to a group of servers on Hainan Island, off China. Guardian UK reports that other servers they tracked were based in China's Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, where intelligence units dealing with Tibetan independence groups are based.

China denies allegations that it is behind the espionage. According to Sky News, the Chinese government said in a written statement that there is “no evidence” to back up the report’s claims and dubbed it a propaganda campaign against the country. The Chinese Government was also quick to point out that the report was commissioned by the government of the the Dalai Lama.

  • LOL, you don't expect them to admit it do you? I guess what is more alarming then Chinese hacking is the fact that they can hit "high-value" targets with an e-mail attachment. Sheesh... idiot baby boomers are undoubtedly manning the helms of those systems. ;)
  • rigaudio
    People are still opening suspicious attachments?
  • oicw
    Riiiiiight, and Western governments have never, ever, sent out any spies to foreign countries, nor were there any spy planes and spy satellites ever built. All those FBI, CIA, and other government defense and security sectors have never hacked a foreign country's computer system...

    So, the Chinese are doing it too, big surprise. Just another case of a country trying to gather / control foreign intelligence, and another story of hyping things up to grab people's attention. Surely if the Cdn government hacks/trojans a China server, it'll be in the name of world peace-keeping, right?
  • vherub
    remove admin level powers from computer terminals that can open email attachments
  • grieve
    I agree with oicw...

    If you consider there are over 1 Billion computers on the earth.. This type of activity from government agencies should almost be expected. Our Governments have done much worse things!
  • kamkal
    lol the old email trick...

    "you must respond now or your (something important goes here) will be affected"

  • baov
    China accusing others of propaganda is worth a good laugh. But in china's defense, they don't just deny their crimes all the time, they also boast about it most of the time too.
  • DeadlyPredator
    Lol, and what? China is a democraty? There is no violence done to monks by chinesse army? I think it's time to cut those damn communists from internet or at least to filter them. They only want to prepare a mass disruption of western communications for an invasion.
  • We should put a firewall around China and deny them any access to the outside world. Dont give em any trade or research. The world can still function without a China.
  • thepinkpanther
    i love it when countries deny to espionage (yay i sounded out tat word correctly), why would u admit to espionage? thats why u do it, u want no 1 to find out!