Chinese Cyber War operatives have,
over the last three months, hacked into the computer networks of several German
government ministries (Foreign, Economics and Research), as well as the office
of the Chancellor ( Angela Merkel, the head of the government). Some 160
gigabytes of data was moved to computers in northern China. This revelation was
leaked to the media while the Chancellor was in China, to discuss trade
matters, and demand that China do more to stop the theft of German intellectual
The Chinese attack was supposed to be done so that
it would not be detected. But it was, and as much as 200 additional gigabytes
of data did not make its way to China. Naturally, the Chinese deny everything,
but the Germans are apparently still building their case that this was a
Chinese government sponsored operation. The first major hack of government
computer networks took place back in the 1980s, when a gang of West German
hackers, hired by the Soviet secret police (KGB) were caught inside U.S.
Department of Defense networks, stealing classified data.
The U.S. is still the major target of organized
hacking. In the last few years, the hacker activity has accelerated. Currently,
Department of Defense networks get probed six million times a day. Since last
year there has been a 46 percent increase in attacks on Department of Defense
web sites. There has been 28 percent more email based attacks. These are
increasingly targeted at specific types of military users, or even individuals.
This year, there were more than twice as many attempts to insert viruses, worms
and Trojan horse software on military systems. The attackers are looking for
information, or secret control of, or at least access, to military systems.
Some of the attacks have been massive and well organized, and seem to come from
China. There have been several of these major attacks in the last year, hitting
targets like the National Defense University, the Naval War College, Fort Hood
and several defense contractors. Each of these cost $20-30 million to clean up
after. The Germans will probably spend at least as much, plus the diplomatic
fallout if the Chinese are pressed on the matter.