A major cyber spying operation has been unearthed. The operation involves about 1295 computers in 103 countries. These computers belong to government embassies, agencies and individuals. The most scary part of this story is that the people who had taken over the computers were able to control even the video and audio recording equipment on these computers.
Researchers at the Information Warfare Monitor have uncovered evidence of this network of compromised computers that may be controlled from China. While three of the four main control servers were in China, one was located in a web-hosting facility in Southern California. The researchers have taken pains to underscore the fact that it may not be the Chinese government that is behind this network. The list of possibilities includes everyone from the Chinese government to “patriotic” Chinese to even the United States government agencies.
The whole thing apparently started after the office of the Dalai Lama had a couple of computer experts check its systems to see if any compromise had occurred. They suspected that they had been compromised after some incidents in which immediately after emails were sent from their computers, the recipients were contacted by Chinese government officials. The security experts found that the systems had indeed been compromised. And they just followed the trail to the main control computers.
The compromised systems had malware (malicious software) installed on them. Unlike a lot of malware that serve up advertisements and such, this software sent back records of keystrokes and computer searches. Hackers are able to install malware by getting a computer user to open a document that has malicious scripts or by getting the user to visit a malicious site and exploiting a browser vulnerability.
There are a couple of articles on Phishing and Spyware on this site if you want to learn more about them. These types of malware can be used to steal identities and other private information. It is important that everyone understands how to protect their computers and their information.
Link to original story: Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries