By Mark Clayton
The Christian Science Monitor
January 25, 2010
Houston -- At least three US oil companies were the target of a series
of previously undisclosed cyberattacks that may have originated in China
and that experts say highlight a new level of sophistication in the
growing global war of Internet espionage.
The oil and gas industry breaches, the mere existence of which has been
a closely guarded secret of oil companies and federal authorities, were
focused on one of the crown jewels of the industry: valuable "bid data"
detailing the quantity, value, and location of oil discoveries
worldwide, sources familiar with the attacks say and documents obtained
by the Monitor show.
The companies - Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips - didn't
realize the full extent of the attacks, which occurred in 2008, until
the FBI alerted them that year and in early 2009. Federal officials told
the companies proprietary information had been flowing out, including to
computers overseas, a source familiar with the attacks says and
The data included e-mail passwords, messages, and other information tied
to executives with access to proprietary exploration and discovery
information, the source says.
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