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India, US, UN face BIGGEST cyber attack

Last updated on: August 4, 2011 08:44 IST

India, US, UN face BIGGEST cyber attack

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In the biggest ever series of cyber attacks uncovered to date, hackers were found to have broken into the networks of the Indian government, the United Nations and United States defence companies.

Targets for the intrusions in a five-year campaign covered 72 major organisations around the world, including the governments of India, US, South Korea, Vietnam, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the International Olympic Committee and the world anti-doping agency, The Washington Post reported quoting a McAfee report.



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'Cyber snooping going on for years'

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The networks breached included the UN secretariat in Geneva, a US energy department laboratory and 12 major US defence firms engaged in top secret futuristic weapons system, the report said.

"The cyber snooping appears to have been going on for several years," the report said, tracing the hacking to at least one "state actor" behind the attack. The report declined to name the "state actor", though security experts said the evidence pointed to China.


Image: The United Nations headquarter in New York

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What is happening to all this data?

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"We were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators," McAfee vice president Dmitri Alperovitch said in a 14-page sensational report released on Wednesday.

"What is happening to all this data is still largely an open question. If even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat competitors at key negotiations, the loss will represent a massive economic threat," he said.


Image: The ASEAN website was also hacked

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'Biggest transfer of intellectual property'

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Alperovitch said McAfee had notified all the 72 victims of the cyber attacks, which were now under investigation by law enforcement agencies around the world.

He declined to give the names of the departments of the governments hacked or more details of the companies infiltrated.

"This is the biggest transfer of intellectual property in history and the scale at which this is occurring is really frightening," the McAfee official said.



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Operation Shady RAT

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McAfee said that it had come across the extent of hacking in May and had dubbed the uncovering of the plot as 'Operation Shady RAT'.

The company said its researchers discovered logs of the attack while reviewing the content of a "command and control server" as part of its investigations into security breaches of defence companies.

Intruders, according to the McAfee report, sought data on the US military system and satellite communication, among other prizes.



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