Indian data hacked from China, report says

Associated Press / April 7, 2010

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BEIJING — China-based hackers stole Indian national security information, 1,500 e-mails from the Dalai Lama’s office, and other sensitive documents, a report said yesterday.

Researchers at the University of Toronto said they were able to observe the hacking and trace it to core servers located in China and to people based in the southwestern city of Chengdu. The researchers said they had been monitoring the hacking for the past eight months.

The report said it has no evidence of involvement by the Chinese government, but it again put Beijing on the defensive. Separate reports earlier this year said security investigators had traced attacks on Google and other companies to China-based computers.

“I don’t know the purpose of stirring up these issues,’’ Jiang Yu, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a news conference in response to questions about the report.

“We are firmly opposed to various kinds of hacking activities through the Internet,’’ Jiang said. She said China will fight cybercrime according to the law.

The researchers have not formally contacted China, she added.

The report describes a hacking operation called the “Shadow network’’ that researchers were able to observe as it broke into computers and took information, including from computers at Indian diplomatic offices in Kabul, Moscow, and elsewhere.

The report said the researchers were able to recover Indian national security documents marked “secret’’ and “confidential,’’ including ones referring to security in India’s far northeast, which borders China. Others related to India’s relationships in the Middle East, Africa, and Russia.

Researchers also recovered 1,500 e-mails sent from the Dalai Lama’s office between January and November 2009, the report said.