[ISN] Chinese Spies May Have Tried to Impersonate Journalist Bruce Stokes

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2011 05:13:13 -0600 (CST)

By Shane Harris
Capital Comment Blog

While the candid characterizations of foreign leaders by diplomats 
(“thin-skinned” Nicolas Sarkozy,“corrupt” Vladimir Putin) have received 
much of the attention from the recent WikiLeaks document dump, hidden in 
the flood of cables are behind-the-scenes dramas involving Washington 
power players.

National Journal’s Bruce Stokes learned in the documents that, while he 
was the magazine’s international-economics correspondent, he was 
unknowingly the central character in an apparent Chinese espionage plot.

In 2009, five State Department employees who were negotiating with China 
on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions evidently received e-mails bearing 
Stokes’s name and contact information. The subject line of his purported 
messages -- “China and Climate Change” -- was germane and innocuous 
enough to pass as a journalist’s query. For good measure, Stokes’s 
cyber-imitator included comments in the e-mails related to the 
recipients’ jobs, according to a State Department cable documenting the 
incident. The e-mails, though, weren’t from the offices of National 
Journal. Instead they were a ruse known as “spear phishing,” in which 
the sender imitates someone the recipients may know, luring them to open 
the message and any attach-mints, which usually contain a computer 

Stokes was a well-thought-out target: He has connections to the 
diplomatic corps -- including his wife, Wendy Sherman, the Clinton 
administration’s policy coordinator on North Korea and now a principal 
at the Albright Stonebridge Group -- and he has known the US 
climate-change envoy, Todd Stern, for years.


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Received on Wed Feb 02 2011 - 03:13:13 PST

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