US report: China is expanding its corporate cyber espionage
China is expanding its cyber espionage in increasingly targeted and successful ways. That was the conclusion the US "China Economic and Security Review Commission" reached in its final report, writes the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, the Chinese government is increasingly succeeding at using the internet to penetrate high-tech companies and steal large amounts of valuable data.
The report says that while there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the Chinese government is involved, the level of professionalism required for the attacks indicates it is. The technical nature of the stolen information also supports the assumption that the Chinese government is behind these attacks. Apparently, the data is worthless to cyber criminals and rival companies, because it cannot easily be sold or used by these groups.
In one case, the spies reportedly penetrated a server of a US company to establish a permanent "communication channel" with a server in China. The channel was apparently available for weeks, spying on the network and, for instance, able to record the access information of dozens of employees. The Commission reports that the spies subsequently copied the files they had identified as valuable to the company's high speed email servers, renamed the files and then transferred them in compressed and encrypted form.
The US government estimates that the Chinese steal information worth $40 to 50 billion from American companies every year. The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has also found that German companies receive unwelcome visitors from China and other countries on a regular basis. The German authority suspects that the espionage attacks on German companies are masterminded by the secret services of China and Russia, countries in the Near, Middle, and Far East, and North Africa. In March 2009, a report by the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution identified corporate espionage over the internet as one of the major growing problem. In addition to China, it also described Russia, Vietnam and North Korea as being "very active".