Information Warfare: June 24, 2004

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For the second time in a year, Chinese cyberwarriors have attacked Taiwanese government targets. The computer system of the ruling party in Taiwan (the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP) were penetrated and secret files taken. The stolen material  included Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian's itinerary. The government is still working to shore up their network defenses, after a more extensive attack last September. In that operation, hackers traced back to China, first broke into the networks of ten companies involved in high-tech research, and then used information found there to break into at least ten government agencies and more than fifty other companies. The hackers were installing Trojan Horse programs, which are hacker tools that sit in a penetrated system until the hackers later have need of them. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry saw this as an attempt to prepare for a future cyberwar attack. While government and corporate network security was increased as a result, the DPP apparently did not increase theirs. Taiwanese Internet experts have noted a steady increase in probes from Chinese based hackers. China has made no secret of its efforts to create a world class cyberwar capability. There are several thousand professional cyberwarriors on the Chinese government payroll, and tens of thousands of civilian volunteers who hack for themselves, and, often, under government direction. In the past, when the Chinese hackers were less skilled, attacks and probes were traced right back to Chinese government ministries. The Chinese cyberwarriors have become more skilled at covering their tracks. But it's still possible to confirm where the attacks are coming from. China continues to deny everything.

 


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