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Large scale hack likely based in China, experts say

by Kelly MacNeil on August 3, 2011

An extensive hacking operation that targeted some of the biggest institutions in the United States is believed to have originated in China. Dubbed Operation Shady RAT by online security firm McAfee, The Washington Post reports that groups from the Associated Press to the International Olympic Committee to U.S. defense firms have been targeted in the cyber-spying scandal.

Though there's no confirmation of whether or not the attacks came from China, all signs seem to indicate that's the case. Experts say that many of the hacks were directed toward Taiwan in the run up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and hacking has been a serious problem from China since 1998.

What the hackers were after is especially troubling as well. According to the news source, over the course of five years they were looking to obtain data on U.S. military systems and satellite communications. Additionally, 49 of the 72 organizations targeted were within the United States.

"This is a problem of massive scale that affects nearly every industry and sector of the economies of numerous countries, and the only organizations that are exempt from this threat are those that don't have anything valuable or interesting worth stealing," Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee's vice president, wrote in a report about the incident.

PCMag reports that McAfee has likely pinpointed how the hackers managed to infiltarte the system. Experts say that they likely targeted a group of employees to grant them access by having them unwittingly open up malware that would infect the computer and allow them to move throughout the network.

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