BBC World Service

The biggest series of cyber attacks in history

Theo Leggett Aug 3, 2011
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BBC World Service

The biggest series of cyber attacks in history

Theo Leggett Aug 3, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The computer security firm McAfee claims that more than 70 organizations, including the U.S. government and the International Olympic committee have had confidential data stolen. That’s during a five year campaign of cyber attacks by a single organization, likely a government of some sort.

The BBC’s Theo Leggett reports.

THEO LEGGETT: The past year has seen a number of high profile hacking attacks, with the personal details of millions of customers being stolen from firms such as Sony and Citigroup. But most of those attacks targeted individual companies.

This campaign was different. It involved the systematic theft of information from a wide range of organizations, including the US government and the United Nations. And behind it all was a government agency.

McAfee has refused to identify which government it suspects. But Darien Graham-Smith who’s technology editor at Pc Pro magazine says China is an obvious suspect.

DARIEN GRAHAM-SMITH: These attacks hit a peak around the time of the Beijing Olympics, which is suggestive. Earlier this year Google announced that the Chinese government had interfered with its services. And in the past I’ve heard of malware which is designed to only target certain political groups in China which disagree with the government.

The hackers used sophisticated computer programs to steal information from defense contractors, electronics firms and financial institutions.

In London, I’m the BBC’s Theo Leggett for Marketplace.

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