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Chinese Hackers Strike Energy Companies 124

Posted by timothy
from the plz-send-me-yer-planz-kthxbai dept.
angry tapir writes "Chinese hackers working regular business hours shifts stole sensitive intellectual property from energy companies for as long as four years using relatively unsophisticated intrusion methods in an operation dubbed 'Night Dragon,' according to a new report from security vendor McAfee." Reader IT.luddite links this informative PDF from CERT.
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Chinese Hackers Strike Energy Companies

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  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:50PM (#35168094) Homepage
    More power to the people, eh?
    • They already own 'em.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2011 @05:54PM (#35168140)

    All your BTU are belong to US.

    Yours In Odessa,
    K. Trout

  • by cappp (1822388) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:01PM (#35168246)
    So the article detailing unsophisticated intrusion methods itself requires you to allow cookies before it's readable? Firefox, Opera, and IE all open a blank page if you refuse to accept their little offerings. So English majors...it is ironic?

    Oh and bonus points for throwing a pdf in there too.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone that cares about cookies for "security" or whatever is a moron that has been duped by FUD.

      Disabling Javascript, sure, but cookies? Lolidiot

  • Pylons (Score:5, Funny)

    by xMrFishx (1956084) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:02PM (#35168256)
    ...and all that was found were the words: "You must construct additional pylons".
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nice? They were Chinese hackers, not Korean.

    • Aldaris, why don't you construct another pylon out of those pieces lodged up your ass?
      Yeah, I've been playing a lot of the original StarCraft lately.

      * Aldaris was killed (by Infested Kerrigan) towards the end of the Brood War campaign, and for storyline purposes his image in that slot was replaced with Dragoon Fenix before the shit it the fan.

      And psi has nothing to do with spellcasting energy anyway. :P

  • the secrets stolen improved Chinese efficiency (sorry IP holders!). Terrible (for everyone else) if it allows China to consume more fuel. TFA doesn't provide much detail on the nature of the secrets.

  • by The O Rly Factor (1977536) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:19PM (#35168388)
    Sounds more like the name of a McAfee marketing campaign.
  • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:25PM (#35168454) Homepage Journal

    The "sensitive intellectual property" turns out to be 18,384 files that employees had ripped from CD and DVD. The MPAA and RIAA estimate it's collectively worth $835,682,912, but I think they're exaggerating.

  • by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:25PM (#35168456)

    From TFA:

    Further, the attacks appeared to originate from computers on IP (Internet protocol) addresses in Beijing, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time there, suggesting that the culprits were regular company employees rather than freelance or unprofessional hackers, McAfee said in its report.

    Or maybe those responsible has pwned some computers at a business, which were only turned on between 9 and 5. While McAfee's conclusion is possible, I wouldn't consider it likely without some other evidence supporting it.

    • by KhabaLox (1906148)

      Or maybe those responsible has pwned some computers at a business, which were only turned on between 9 and 5. While McAfee's conclusion is possible, I wouldn't consider it likely without some other evidence supporting it.

      You deserve your mod points for insightful. However, I would point out Occam's Razor. Who would desire to steal sensitive information from energy companies? If you controlled a botnet made up of business/government PCs in Beijing, would you point it at energy companies, or something else? And if these attacks were coming from compromised computers, wouldn't they be more geographically and chronologically widespread? Most businesses leave PCs on overnight (I think), though perhaps China is more energy cons

    • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @08:05PM (#35169366)
      Since when did the Chinese have such lax work hours...?
  • Stay classy, China (Score:4, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:26PM (#35168474)

    The mainland Chinese really will do anything to win. I've seen it repeatedly with my own eyes. I think it's got something to do with having to deal with the cognitive dissonace of thinking you're the master race, while nursing a massive inferiority complex viz-a-viz the West.

    What I find amusing, is their apparently thin skins -- although when it comes to doing all these totally immoral things and losing tons of face, they don't show any shame at all.

    Maybe the only way to deal with this kind of moral squalor we see so often from the mainlanders, is to trumpet their misdeeads from the hilltops as loudly as possible; red Chinee have no morals, but they DO have a honour/shame culture, and will avoid doing the wrong thing if they will be called out on it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      a nation of hypocrites

    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:40PM (#35168634) Homepage

      It's called the Cultural Revolution and it officially started in 1966. While it was mainly toward purging capitalism, it was in fact much much more damaging. Essentially, 3000+ years of Chinese culture was WIPED OUT. In effect, all modern Chinese are suffering from cultural amnesia. An entire civilization "rebooted" back to the very beginning except for language and minor customs. From a Western POV, China post-revolution is a new nation formed in the year 1966. Quite young.

      If you're like me, you get the feeling that you're walking among a nation ran like the Lord of the Flies mentality when walking the streets of any major city. No manners, no trust, no honor, and lots of back stabbing politics from friends and co-workers. At best, family is all you can rely on in that nation. Quite sad!

      • Is there a will to find their roots again? Can they relearn their customs from Taiwan? Should they?

        • It's all up to the Chinese people. But first Beijing needs to stop being so imperialistic over the other provinces. The vanity and news propaganda that comes from the CCP is so obvious, it's insulting to most Chinese that can afford to watch TV. My guess is that they'll either find their roots again, or create a more enlightened culture that mimics other neighboring nations...including Japan if you can believe it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I have heard, not infrequently, from both Chinese and Taiwanese friends that the "true" Chinese culture lies in Taiwan, and if it exists at all on a large scale in the mainland then it is in the south(east). I guess the south, like in so many other countries (USA included), is a little bit more traditional and respect so much the government as the North(east -- where Beijing is).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sdguero (1112795)
        It can definitely make it difficult to do business. 75% of my engineering team is in Beijing. Lucky for us engineers, your reputation, salary, and job rely on the ability to produce accurate, repeatable, results. It has nothing to do with politics, cultural stammering, or hurt feelings. If they tried to move technical support or anything other than engineering over there, we'd be in deep shit. Similarly, if it wasn't for the US team working closely with them, we'd be in deep shit.

        It has gotten to the poi
        • by shawb (16347)
          The best description I've heard is: China is what you get when government is run by engineers. The United States is what you get when government is run by lawyers.

          But seriously, the Chinese government tends to have scientists and engineers overrepresented in their officials, while the United States has virtually none save for a handfull of MDs.
          • While what you say is true now, that is changing rapidly. The People's Republic of China is a relatively new country, and almost all of the people that made up the government were military officers, economists, engineers, geologists, etc. The next generation of leaders that are both up-and-coming and already in office, however, are not only simply career politicians, but they have nothing at all to do with the military.

      • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @09:33PM (#35169960) Homepage Journal

        I think you overestimate the effectiveness of the Cultural Revolution. True, many priceless artifacts were lost, and worse many irreplaceable intellectuals.. But you simply can't wipe out a nation's cultural memory in ten years.

        Look at it this way: Deng Xiao Peng was 62 when the Cultural Revolution started, and during it he was purged not once, but twice. After Mao died, the party turned to Deng because of his experience in dealing with the economic chaos from the Great Leap Forward. They turned to 72 year old Deng because of his experience *before* the Cultural Revolution. Deng was *hated* by the supporters of the Cultural Revolution.The Red Guards even threw his son off the roof of a four story building.

        So that should be enough to show that the Cultural Revolution did not succeed in destroying everything that came before. It would be true to say that it transformed China, and not necessarily for the better, but it would be a mistake to depict it as successful on its own terms. One of its ironic effects it had was to inculcate a strong distaste for "Mao Zedong Thought".

      • Sounds kinda feudal to me...
    • by wan9xu (1829310)
      i'm a chinese mainlander, and i endorse this message.
    • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:53PM (#35168778) Homepage

      It is not immoral to the Chinese. The only shame is in getting caught red-handed. If it can't be conclusively proven, then it is not relevant. Winning is winning.

      • Ya, that's what my wife says too (Shanghainese). But after living in the US for sometime, her long suspicions of "right and wrong" became vindicated. No longer does she have this nagging feeling that wronging someone is still wrong even if everyone else does it to her. And that's the silver lining in the cloud here. Eventually, the Chinese will come to realize that cultural relativism is all BS and that there really *is* a baseline of morals and ethics to adhere to.

        I suspect with a growing eccomomy and the

      • Courage Wolf says "It's not cheating, it's winning."
    • shame vs. guilt (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The mainland Chinese really will do anything to win. I've seen it repeatedly with my own eyes. I think it's got something to do with having to deal with the cognitive dissonace of thinking you're the master race, while nursing a massive inferiority complex viz-a-viz the West.

      What I find amusing, is their apparently thin skins -- although when it comes to doing all these totally immoral things and losing tons of face, they don't show any shame at all.

      As a general stereotype:

      The West generally works on the concept of guilt: you feel bad internally via your own conscience. Other societies on this planet work on the concept of shame: it doesn't matter if you feel internally that the action was okay, but rather you feel bad from external voices.

      Of course the West has the concept of social/peer pressure, and the East (?) does have the concept of a conscience, but it's a matter of degree. In the West the rebel is often accepted, but in the East not so much.

      (A

    • by quenda (644621)

      the cognitive dissonace of thinking you're the master race, while nursing a massive inferiority complex viz-a-viz the West.

      Not a classy post. Remember the Chinese have fresh unpleasant memories of a neighboring nation that really did consider themselves the master race, at least in the region, killing millions of "inferior" Chinese civilians. That other nation has since learned both pride and humility, and taken its place in the developed world community.

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      Just wanted to share a personal story that totally goes with your statements.

      5 years ago I worked for a small company with around 20 engineers that hired a married couple that moved to the USA from mainland China. They both had PhDs from Beijing's premier university (it's name escapes me) and were very smart. They were hired to perform the job that 2 lab techs (one was me) and 1 intern had been doing for the previous 2-3 years. Namely to collect electrical and thermal efficiency data on computer systems.
      • by swb (14022)

        What I hear in this are echoes of the paranoid and totalitarian political culture.

        I work for a Russian who is a naturalized American, but was raised in Russia and went to Russian university. His father was fairly high ranking officer in the Red Army (a rank roughly equivalent to Colonel).

        While personally he's a very nice guy, professionally you can just see the the totalitarian/paranoia culture that was ingrained in him from an early age. The lack of communication & sharing of information, withholdin

    • by Renraku (518261)
      That's what doesn't make sense with all the overseas contracting of things. These companies, if they took a little time to read up on it, would find that EVERYTHING that gets sent to Chinese factories ends up competing against their own products. Same or very similar designs for half the price. But wait, there's more. They'll often end up paying like $5 for a component that costs $4.98 and is vastly inferior to the $5 one the paid for, leading to horrible product quality. And if that wasn't enough, the
    • by Solandri (704621)

      The mainland Chinese really will do anything to win. I've seen it repeatedly with my own eyes. I think it's got something to do with having to deal with the cognitive dissonace of thinking you're the master race, while nursing a massive inferiority complex viz-a-viz the West.

      What I find amusing, is their apparently thin skins -- although when it comes to doing all these totally immoral things and losing tons of face, they don't show any shame at all.

      It's cultural, and it has nothing to do with thinking

      • by victorhooi (830021) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:44PM (#35170302)

        heya,

        Hmm, as a Chinese person (admittedly overseas born), I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea that culturally we're somehow immoral.

        However, while a bit of a generalisation, I do see your logic. *sigh*. And from experience with dealing with other Chinese, particularly mainlanders, you do see the effects at least, that anything seems to go, as long as you win.

        Another thing you might want to bear in mind is the idea in Confucianism of there being a hierachy of loyalties. One thing that I was taught before was that if you had to lie to the police to protect say, your father, or your boss, that was allowed under our culture, and in fact actively encouraged. It was never suggested that it was a moral quandary, or that it was anything but black and white.

        I don't know what the Slashdot groupthink on this is, but in my mind, the rule of law, and what's "right" should usually take precedence over some weird network of loyalties.

        However, the above might give a little more context to your idea that eschewing morals to get ahead, or help your company get ahead is considered acceptable under Chinese culture.

        Cheers,
        Victor

        • I appreciate any bit of opinion from a Chinese person that helps me better understand China; it's very hard, from my experience, to learn what anyone from the People's Republic actually thinks about any given sensitive subject unless you're really, really good friends with them. I imagine that's probably because they spend their whole lives in an environment where you're not supposed to ever say out loud that the authority is wrong, nor are you ever supposed to step out of line.

          But again, I think that the m

      • It's cultural, and it has nothing to do with thinking they're the master race. It actually applies to nearly all of Asia, not just China, which makes me suspect it's rooted in Confucianism.

        Chinese xenophobia and attitude of cultural/racial superiority predates Master Kong. Even during the Hundred Schools of Thought era that held sway with the scholarly class in pre-Qin Dynasty China there was not one movement historically (that I know of) that challenged any of the superiority of the Chinese self-identity compared to other races/cultures. The very fact that, as you say yourself, the attitude is not unique to China among Asian cultures indicates that it likely not a result of Confucianism give

    • by tsj5j (1159013)

      Morality is a very subjective topic, what's moral to me (e.g. euthanasia) may not be moral to you.

      If you see it from a mainland-China perspective, their "stealing" may be deemed justified considered how much of US's crap China has to put up with.

      • I don't know what planet YOU'RE from, but it seems that of all people on Earth, only mainland Chinese think it's okay to lie, cheat and steal.

        Criminals all over the world, from time immemorial ALWAYS try to make up reasons to justify why they should be allowed to lie, cheat, steal, rape, etc.

        And what crap, precisely does mainland China take off the US? Excluding lame ass crap like "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people" (oh, cry me a fucking river!). But then if you want to start a pissing match about

  • So the news is always, China "steals" from the US. Is this really the rule, and the US never "steals" from China? Is it really that black-and-white?
    • by LowG1974 (1021485)

      So the news is always, China "steals" from the US. Is this really the rule, and the US never "steals" from China?

      The US can't steal from China, Chinese hax0rs are too 1337!

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      Just their women. And cheap labor. Oh, and their food. I love me some dim sum. :)
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday February 10, 2011 @06:43PM (#35168668) Homepage Journal

    "Operation Night Dragon"?

    Wait a minute, you mean the Chinese hackers are now naming their operations? These guys were probably harvesting gold in WoW a few months ago, and now they're rock stars.

    The Internet is amazing.

    • by Pontiac (135778)

      I find it funny that "Operation Night Dragon" was conducted during daytime business house..

      • by Anonymous Coward

        timezones are tricky

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      I believe "Operation Night Dragon" is the name McAfee assigned, obviously before they figured out that they were daytime attacks.
  • CERT [wikipedia.org] is putting this out there at the same time the government is trying to get permission to institute an internet kill switch [slashdot.org]? Sounds like they're trying to scare everyone so that there is less resistance to this...
  • Ok, it tool McAfee 4 years to discover this was happening. Does that really make you feel good about using them for your internet security?

  • "Chinese hackers working regular business hours shifts stole sensitive intellectual property from energy companies for as long as four years...

    Bbbuuuut as it turns out, most of the information energy companies have been working with o'er the past decade is about how to avoid expensive pollution fines, dealing with inhereted lawsuits, and technology geared toward making energy production cleaner and greener... so chances are the information is completely worthless to the Chinese for another hundred years or so.

    • I don't see how the gov of china (we always blame the gov for anything happening in/from china) could benefit from this. This isn't banking data or military or trade secrets, it's power use/distribution stuff. Has anyone any idea on what you could use this for?
      • by KhabaLox (1906148)

        If you knew how to damage, disrupt, or otherwise cause havoc with the American energy grid (say, by using something like Stuxnet), and you were an enemy of America, don't you think that would be valuable?

        Counter-argument: Attacking the US power grid is an economic attack, and the trade relationship between the US and China is such that we mostly sink or swim together.

        Counter to the counter: Is that true? China's GDP kept growing [tradingeconomics.com] through the Great Recession, albeit at a slower pace.

        Disclaimer: I did not r

      • by plopez (54068)

        Suppose you have a rapidly growing economy and know you will need to rapidly expand your power grid. How do you engineer a robust modern power grid? How do you finance it? What support industries are required? How do you train personnel who will design and maintain it? How do you bring together management teams who can manage not only the expansion of the grid but the day-to-day operations? What new technologies are available to help you create a more efficient grid? What sort of automation is there to help

    • by plopez (54068)

      see my reply to currently_awake. It may have more uses than that.

  • lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @07:31PM (#35169136)
    If McAfee discovers your companies being hacked, you know your own security must be absolutely horrible. It's like Snooki uncovering a major terrorist plot.
  • Lets presume that article tells the facts. How useful would this information be to the Chinese? Are they capable of digesting this? Are they gathering this data for the sake of gathering this data? There is no deliberation about the possible or actual damages done.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:29PM (#35170238) Homepage
    security company McAfee has just discovered evil [insert nation here] hackers are attempting to [steal |destroy | shut down] valuable [information | infrastructure | systems ] in [insert high profile industry segment here] with [simple | sophisticated] hacking methods this [today | week | year]. to protect yourselves you must act immediately and purchase our products and services in a timely, recurring, and unending fashion.
  • No wonder wow gold prices have been so high for the past few years. All the farmers have been preoccupied with less profitable information farming.

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