The Chinese government is stepping up efforts to steal valuable information from high-technology companies in other countries, according to a congressional advisory panel, which detailed one operation that siphoned "extremely large volumes" of sensitive data.
The 2007 attack against the unnamed high-technology company was just one of several successful operations the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission believes was sponsored by Beijing.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which reported the contents of a report the panel was expected to release Thursday, the Chinese government is suspected because of the "professional quality" of the attack and the technical natures of the stolen information.
According to the WSJ:
The hackers "operated at times using a communication channel between a host with an [Internet] address located in the People's Republic of China and a server on the company's internal network."
In the months leading up to the 2007 operation, cyberspies did extensive reconnaissance, identifying which employee computer accounts they wanted to hijack and which files they wanted to steal. They obtained credentials for dozens of employee accounts, which they accessed nearly 150 times.
The cyberspies then reached into the company's networks using the same type of program help-desk administrators use to remotely access computers.
The hackers copied and transferred files to seven servers hosting the company's email system, which were capable of processing large amounts of data quickly. Once they moved the data to the email servers, the intruders renamed the stolen files to blend in with the other files on the system and compressed and encrypted the files for export.
The attackers used at least eight US-based computers, some at universities, as drop boxes before sending it overseas. The company's security team managed to detect the theft while it was in progress, but not before significant amounts of data left the company network.
China is one of 100 countries believed to have the capability to conduct such operations, according to the report. ®