Chinese hackers and U.S. security are back in the news. This time it’s just on the eve of the two day summit between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
According to U.S. intelligence officials many confidential documents and e-mails concerning the President and then GOP presidential candidate John McCain, were hacked during the 2008 presidential campaign. U.S. officials blame the Chinese government for the theft. A report from NBC News says that officials noted the hacking incident in the summer of 2008 and traced the roots back to China.
Dennis Blair, President Obama's director of national intelligence in 2009 and 2010, told NBC News “Based on everything I know, this was a case of political cyber espionage by the Chinese government against the two American political parties.” The hackers might have been looking for information concerning China, he added.
As per NBC news, the hacked documents included internal files and a secret letter between and the president of Taiwan. One of the Chinese diplomats contacted one of McCain's foreign policy advisers to enquire about the letter, even before the letter was posted.
The hackers first infected the computers used in campaigns. They used phishing e-mails to corrupt the laptop of top staffers'. The malware then spread through the entire campaigns' computer systems.
Alan Brill, senior managing director of Kroll Advisory Solutions said that the technique used was as “sophisticated as anything we had seen." Alan was also in charge of cleaning the Obama campaign's infected computers.
Chinese Hackers Previous Accusations
Over the past few months, China has been accused widely for carrying the cyber attack against many countries and companies. In January, The New York Times accused the Chinese government of spying on its journalists. Organizations like Wall Street Journal, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and many others have also raised concerns over the matter.
Chinese Hackers Got Access To U.S. Weapons Systems
In February, a report by Mandiant linked China's People's Liberation Army to many cyber attacks. In March, the Obama administration issued a warning against China to stop the "unprecedented" campaign of cyber espionage. In May, a report from the Pentagon claimed that Chinese government and military are together responsible for a large number of cyber attacks on U.S. government and business computer networks. Also, a recent report by the Defense Science Board claimed that Chinese hackers got access to some of the most sensitive advanced U.S. weapons systems.
Despite all claims and accusations, the Chinese government has out rightly denied its involvement in cyber espionage. However, in the recent summit, President Obama is expected to discuss the issue with his Chinese Counterpart.