March 8, 2011: Network security experts throughout the West are calling the increasing number of attacks on corporate and government computer systems as operation "Night Dragon," and describe it as a major Chinese effort to grab as much valuable information as they can before Western defenses get stronger. China is the likely culprit because so many of the operations have been traced back to China, many of the hacking tools are known to be of Chinese origin, and so much of the information is particularly useful to Chinese companies, or the Chinese military. Moreover, China has refused to assist Western network security specialists and law enforcement efforts in getting access to the Chinese based servers that much of the information is being sent back to.
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More on "Operation Night Dragon":
Chinese hackers working regular business hours shifts stole sensitive intellectual property from energy companies for as long as four years using relatively unsophisticated intrusion methods in an operation dubbed "Night Dragon," according to a new report from security vendor McAfee.The oil, gas and petrochemical companies targeted were hit with technical attacks on their public-facing Web sites, said Greg Day , director of security strategy. The hackers also used persuasive social-engineering techniques to get key executives in Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Greece, and the U.S. to divulge information.
The attacks have been linked to China due to the use of Chinese hacking tools commonly seen on underground hacking forums. Further, the attacks appeared to originate from computers on IP addresses in Beijing, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time there, suggesting that the culprits were regular company employees rather than freelance or unprofessional hackers, McAfee said in its report.
Bloomberg recently reported that Exxon, Shell and BP are among the companies recently targeted by Chinese cyber attacks:
Computer hackers working through Internet servers in China broke into and stole proprietary information from the networks of six U.S. and European energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, according to one of the companies and investigators who declined to be identified.
According to a US Department of Defense report published last year, the Pentagon is increasingly worried about the Chinese cyber war activities: