Hackers in China Hit Western Oil Companies

Source:

"McAfee report said attackers stole information on operations, bidding for oil fields and financing."

Hackers operating from China stole sensitive information from Western oil companies, a U.S. security firm reported Thursday, adding to complaints about pervasive Internet crime traced to the country.

The report by McAfee Inc. did not identify the companies but said the "coordinated, covert and targeted" attacks began in November 2009 and targeted computers of oil and gas companies in the United States, Taiwan, Greece and Kazakhstan. It said the attackers stole information on operations, bidding for oil fields and financing.

Security consultants say China is a leading center for Internet crime including industrial spying aimed at major companies.

Officials in the United States, Germany and Britain say hackers linked to China's military have broken into government and defense systems. Attacks on commercial systems receive less attention because companies rarely come forward, possibly for fear it might erode trust in their businesses.

McAfee said it identified an individual in the eastern Chinese city of Heze in Shandong province who provided servers that hosted an application that controlled computers at the victim companies. The report did not identify the person and said he was not believed to be the scheme's mastermind.

McAfee said extraction of information occurred from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beijing time on weekdays. It said that suggested the attackers were "company men" on a regular job, rather than freelance or amateur hackers.

Google announced last January that cyberattacks from China hit it and at least 20 other companies. Google says it has "conclusive evidence" the attacks came from China but declined to say whether the government was involved.

Google cited those attacks and attempts to snoop on dissidents in announcing it wanted to stop censoring search results in China, which the communist government requires. The company closed its China–based search engine last March.

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