[ISN] Chinese hackers raid U.S. computers

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Mon May 17 1999 - 12:19:34 PDT

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    Forwarded From: William Knowles <erehwonat_private>
    May 16, 1999
    Chinese hackers raid U.S. computers
    Chinese hackers have attacked U.S. government information systems,
    including the White House network, in response to the errant bombing of
    the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, according to an FBI report.
    An e-mail copy of the report, "China Cyber Activity," was obtained by The
    Washington Times. The report said Chinese-origin attacks on White House,
    State Department and other government computer systems could be copied by
    sympathizers in the United States.
    "Much of this activity traces back to Chinese addresses, and much of the
    reporting of this activity comes from official Chinese news sources," the
    report said. 
    The cyber attacks followed the May 7 bombing of China's embassy in
    Belgrade and could be one of the first government-sponsored
    information-warfare attacks on the United States. The Pentagon and CIA
    have warned of such incidents. 
    China is one of several nations working on the capability to knock out
    vital computer, information and electronic systems.
    According to Chinese military writings, the People's Liberation Army is
    developing information-warfare capabilities designed to cripple
    high-technology weapons and support systems.
    The FBI's e-mail alert was sent last week to corporate security managers
    from the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NPIC), a joint
    FBI-Justice Department office in charge of protecting critical
    infrastructures and dealing with computer attacks.
    "NIPC has received multiple reports of recent hacking and cyber activity
    directed at U.S. government computer networks, in response to the
    accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade," the report said. 
    "Targets include Departments of Interior, Energy and State, the U.S. 
    Embassy in China, and The White House."
    An FBI spokeswoman familiar with the report, Anita Dickens, declined to
    According to the report, the cyber attacks included replacing official Web
    pages with protest material and offensive language, posting similar
    language in Internet chat rooms and news groups, and "denial of service
    e-mail attacks." E-mail attacks, also called "spamming,"  are orchestrated
    electronic activities designed to disrupt or shut down computer networks.
    Pentagon computer systems were disrupted last week by mass e-mailing that
    is believed to have originated in China, according to one source.
    On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the official White House Web site was
    shut down after an attempt was made to break into the system operating the
    page. A White House spokesman told the network the hackers were not
    identified. The incident was reported on China's official Xinhua news
    According to the official China Daily newspaper, hackers also broke into
    the official Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last week and
    inserted the slogan "Down with the barbarians" on the main page. On
    another page, they replaced a photograph of Ambassador James Sasser with
    the same slogan in Chinese characters.
    The NIPC recommended that government and private sector organizations take
    steps to increase the protection of computer networks and systems from
    unauthorized intruders.
    The center said hacker attacks might come from, or pass through, "dial-up
    connections belonging to foreign Internet service providers,"  or come in
    the form of "unauthorized system access, unusual or disruptive e-mail
    traffic or Web-site activity."
    The e-mail alert urged computer system administrators to report suspicious
    activity to the FBI or NIPC.
    The report did not say whether the Chinese government was behind the
    activities. However, Stephen Bryen, a former Pentagon export control
    official, said the Chinese maintain tight control over Internet service
    providers and it is unlikely the cyber attacks could be launched by
    individuals without the approval of the government.
    "This might well be an information-warfare attack, something the Chinese
    have said they will do," Mr. Bryen said. "I think we're very vulnerable.
    "I think it's inevitable that this would happen. We're not the only
    targets, but we're one of the prime targets," he said. 
    Mr. Bryen said he is troubled by the lack of controls over American
    companies that have been selling the Chinese information and know-how that
    can be applied to information warfare.
    Mr. Bryen said he believed that recent incidents of Chinese electronic
    warfare indicate "the Chinese are just practicing"  because the origin was
    not disguised. In more sophisticated attacks, it is difficult to detect
    the source, he said.
    Mr. Bryen said the Chinese can be expected to respond to public disclosure
    of the information-warfare attacks by claiming they are the work of
    individuals and not sanctioned by the government. "But the reality is
    nobody can do anything on the Internet in China without government
    approval," he said.
    Chinese officials have learned how to filter out news and information on
    the Internet and to maintain other controls over its use, he said.
    U.S. warplanes dropped satellite-guided bombs during the raid over
    Belgrade May 7, mistakenly destroying the Chinese Embassy and killing
    three journalists inside. The bombing set off demonstrations in China and
    caused the Beijing government to cut all military ties to the United
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