New evidence emerges of Chinese hackers capable of cyber warfare and industrial espionage
China is protecting an ever-increasing web of home grown hackers capable of cyber warfare and industrial espionage, warned security consultants KCS.
“Chinese hackers – many of them young – are being offered large financial awards to infiltrate Western computer systems with military targets in particular being attacked,” said KCS in a recent statement.
“Some of the hackers are backed directly by government organisations while others are tolerated by the Chinese authorities who turn a blind eye.”
KCS claimed to have contact with “those most active in targeting critical European and US infrastructures” through its Asian offices and knowledge of attack methods.
”Our intelligence sources have disclosed that some of the hackers are being requested to specifically attack military targets in the West, which is a cause for alarm,” said Stuart Poole-Robb, CEO of KCS Group.
“We are also aware that hackers from the West are known to research ‘alongside’ Chinese hackers – they are exchanging very technical information about single bugs/exploits but they rarely confess or claim an intrusion on any target.”
“Industrial espionage in the Western world has become so common that there are tools already capable of infecting targeted companies to, for example, take ownership of data,” continued Poole-Robb.
Within the next 18 months Chinese hackers will be comfortable exploiting weaknesses in Western computer systems, warned KCS.
Specific targets for Chinese hackers are mainly naval, air and defence military command centres as well as key commercial targets such as phone producers, aerospace, health and nuclear related organisations, added the consultants. They are targeted for blackmailing or for system shutdown try-outs.
“Recent intrusions, we have learnt, have been performed through ‘botnets’ – a collection of software agents or robots - which run autonomously and automatically,” Poole-Robb explained.
In a recent example a US government medical database was stolen and US$10m was demanded for its safe return. “Other recent cases have involved hacking listed companies in order to obtain ‘inside’
information to use while trading on the stock exchange,” said Poole-Robb.
“Companies directly involved in research and distribution in specific advanced sectors – for example, pharmaceuticals, chemical, nuclear and photonics” are most at risk, he said.