Chinese waging online spy war

Chinese waging online spy war
Chinese waging online spy war 

By Jason Koutsoukis
The Age
February 10, 2008

CHINESE computer hackers have launched several targeted attacks on 
highly classified Federal Government computer networks, prompting an 
internal review of IT security.

The cyber attacks are believed to be part of a co-ordinated 
international espionage operation to glean intelligence from Western 

Senior Australian intelligence figures are also believed to be concerned 
at an increasing level of industrial espionage directed at local 

The targeted cyber attacks are believed to have occurred late last year 
but are not believed to have succeeded in stealing any sensitive 

Chinese authorities are believed to be using sophisticated hacking 
technology to glean information on a range of subjects including 
sensitive military secrets and the prices Australian companies will seek 
for resources such as coal, iron ore and natural gas.

"I wouldn't characterise the attempts as necessarily malicious, just 
routine espionage aimed at getting an advantage," a Canberra-based 
intelligence source told The Sunday Age.

"It's important to recognise that this is not a direct threat aimed at 
destabilising our government, nor is this a wilful effort to hinder or 
discredit government activity.

"But, do we have secrets that other governments would like to know? Yes. 
Are they trying? Yes. Espionage over the internet is a major 
battleground of the future."

So concerned are senior intelligence figures that the Federal Government 
will this year spend $70 million to improve IT security, a figure that 
could be increased after the recent spate of cyber attacks.

A spokesman for the Department of Defence refused to confirm or deny the 
recent cyber attacks on key government agencies.

A Chinese government spokesman denied that Beijing had authorised any 
cyber espionage against any Australian agencies.

A December 2007 report on virtual criminology by the international 
antivirus software and computer security company McAfee Inc confirmed 
that government computer systems in Australia, New Zealand, the United 
States, Germany and India had been attacked.

It predicted that growth in virtual espionage would be among the main 
online threats in 2008.

"The Chinese have publicly stated that they are pursuing activities in 
cyber-espionage," the McAfee report stated.

The report estimated that about 120 countries around the world were 
working on cyber attack plans.

What they want

* Australian military secrets.

* Intelligence provided to Australia by other Western nations, 
  particularly the United States.

* Corporate secrets, such as the prices Australian companies will ask 
  for resources such as coal, iron ore and natural gas.

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