Online Espionage Network, Based In China, Exposed

from the well,-there's-that... dept

For years, there have been claims of widespread "cyberspying" of various governments by other governments, but little evidence to back it up. Over the weekend, reports broke of a massive network, dubbed "GhostNet," that was based in China, and tapped into computers of multiple foreign nations, mainly via foreign embassies. The Chinese government denies that it has anything to do with the network -- though, the spying did include tapping into Tibetan computers. While it still seems like the threat of a damaging online attack may be overblown -- online espionage is only going to become a bigger and more important part of any government's arsenal in the coming years. That's why reports like this one probably shouldn't be much of a surprise.

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  1. identicon
    JP_Fife, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 1:30am

    The BBC were reporting this on Sunday, and had an interview with one of the guys in Cambridge where they were helping track the network. A chilling thing he commented on was along the lines of 'What the Chinese government are doing today the Russian mob will be doing 2010.' Expect online theft and identity fraud to go up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 2:18am

    Oh, as if any of this is a shock; perhaps I've been watching too much TV, but I would have been more surprised if they aren't operating a network such as this - and the same applies to just about every other developed nation, too!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 3:17am

    Can you spell National Security Agency boys and girls?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 4:04am


    You gave away the answer in your question.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    stueycaster, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 4:43am

    There is a Hardened Operating System.

    Why don't all governments have this. Why don't we all have something like this embedded in our operating systems world wide?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 5:34am


    "Why don't we all have something like this embedded in our operating systems world wide?"

    Something like what embedded in what!? You aren't making a whole of sense there.

    Anyways, the reason the US gov is using Windows is just politics. People don't do the right thing or make the right choices anymore, they just make the ones that are "politically convenient". Other governments are making the move to UNIX based operating systems for their day to day operations.

    Then for the really important secret stuff, it tends to be on a hardened proprietary OS anyways. But you don't put that kind of stuff in an Embassy. For one, you don't want to have to try to get it into the other country, for two you don't want them to get their hands on it should diplomatic relations end and your ambassador get kicked out. Lastly, you want to be able to pass along misinformation without them being suspicious. Kind of hard to do if they normally can't see what you're doing anyways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    usa, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    Why malware? Simpler to build the door during manufacture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Eric, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 7:27am


    This is why the government needs to employee the right set of people who can come up with some kind of strategy to defend against this because it is only going to get worse. With new technology coming out everyday and computers becoming more sophisticated this is going to happen more often. We need to be prepared for this because there is nothing worse than your (suspected enemy) knowing your every move.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    In China, there are many individual people and smaller groups that are militant in their views and willing to take actions without government direction. There are also any number of regional governors, leaders, mayors, and all sorts of others who would love nothing more than to have valuable information that they can trade for improvements in their positions in life.

    I would believe much more that these lower levels groups are the ones doing this sort of thing, not something specifically ordered by Beijing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 9:44am


    Then you are blind. All governments do this, and if you don't believe if you need to get the blinders off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    can we compare and contrast to echelon?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    brian, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 10:54am


    A few reasons... 1) it's new and not designed for desktops, 2) the security arrangements will disallow a lot of activity people do on the job, 3) if we were all using it, it would be a lot less secure.

    The fed has a lot of computers, and is making good faith efforts to increase security. Servers and systems with private data are better off than most of the desktops, but it takes time and lessons get learned. One good point? Only one federal computer appears to have been identified on the list of accessible systems these guys saw while on Ghostnet.

    Keep in mind that we've got competing interests at the federal level, and as people clammor for transparency, security often stands in the way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    My Opinion, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    If China can do it the US can do it as well!! Here is something I wrote while watching Anderson Cooper talk about the war next door on CNN.

    How Free Are We?

    Right now (3/25/2009) I am watching Anderson Cooper on CNN doing this report about the kids being assassins for the cartels and can not help but notice the date on the tape is from 7-28-2006; which of course means that this is old news which is true. Another point that I would like to state is that they talk about Garcia being killed with his wife pregnant wife in the car. Not only do they fail to state that this happened in 2005 they also fail to state that Garcia was a high ranking member in the Mexican Mafia and was involved in the drug trade ( (start watching at 6:45).The truth is that this has been going on for a long time! So what is the advantage of bringing it up now and making a big deal about something that has been going on for years? As did many other people in school I read the book 1984 by George Orwell and realized, like everyone else did, that I would not want to live in that kind of world; but when I look at where we are today it brings up some unsettling similarities. I see people setting up cameras in their homes in the form of computers and phones that allow you to see the person you’re talking to. Do you really think that the government could not access those cameras and see into your homes? There is GPS being put into cars and cell phones which makes it easy to follow your every movement should the government choose to. Even while driving around in my car I see random video cameras set up around the city and also there are now cameras set up on the side of the highway that takes your picture and sends you a ticket if you are speeding. On the news they are saying Mexico may become a failed state but do not go into detail of what that means. It is a term is very broad and does not include details. The term “terrorists” is also being used to strike fear into people. Now I may wrong but I do see something that can very possibly occur in the near future and that is using the Mexican drug war to strike fear in American citizens in order to slowly strip away our rights to privacy and our freedom. I hear of making national ID cards and RFID chips will hold all of your personal information including finger prints and DNA data. I see us heading in the direction of 1984 and I think we need to stand up and look at what is really going on here. We need to stand united and not allow this to happen. It is your everyday, average people who are the foundation of this nation and without a stable foundation everything will fall. This is just my opinion on our current situation and I am practicing my right to freedom of speech. If you agree I encourage you to repost this in as many blogs and places possible and talk to family and friends about it. I am not saying I am right or wrong but just take my opinion into consideration with an open mind.

    Educate Yourself!!:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 5:56pm


    Many people in China and Russia (thanks to President Moron) believe that we will eventually be at war with them. They strongly support anything that will level the playing field, and give them an even chance at winning (of course, there will be no winners; only massive nuclear fallout).
    Both Russia and China believe that a key part is controlling computers, and they feel they MUST develop that type of capability.
    It is hard to fault the logic, given the policies of Bush-Cheney.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Gareth, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    Chinese Espionage

    Most governments of developed countries have been using E-spying since long before the internet. The Net in the hands of Joe Average simply gives Them the power to make it more widespread.

    My point: nobody should be amazed that any govt spies electronically. Just be careful that you don't leave yourself or your computer open to hacking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    automatic gates, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:11am

    they should read the clancy books

    What a Suprise

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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