More Victims Of Chinese Hacking Attacks Come Forward

Law firm that filed suit against China for intellectual property theft and a Web hosting service report attacks; news site hit by a DDoS out of China

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

January 15, 2010

4 Min Read

The names of the other 20-plus or so companies and organizations hit by the recent wave of attacks out of China are gradually trickling out, but with most companies still remaining tight-lipped about whether they were hit. Among the victims coming forward is a law firm that filed suit against the Chinese government over its censor software and Web hosting firm Rackspace.

Aside from Google and Adobe, which went public late Tuesday about the attacks, published reports have named Dow Chemical, Northrop Grumman, Symantec, and Yahoo as also being attacked. And U.S.-based news site VerticalNews China says it was hit with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that originated from China.

A Northrop Grumman spokesman says the company does not comment on specific attacks, and Symantec neither confirmed nor denied it was hit, either. "Northrop Grumman, like most industries and government organizations, is at risk of cyber attacks ranging from the most complex to the simple hacker," the spokesman said in a statement. "Northrop Grumman has in place an extremely robust, leading-edge network defense system to mitigate attacks, secure our data, and help protect our business against disruption. As a principal member of the Defense Industrial Base, we share our knowledge of attacks with colleagues to increase awareness and prevent the spread of malicious activity."

Symantec, meanwhile, said: "As the world's largest security provider, we are the target of cyber attacks on a regular basis. As we do with all threats, we are thoroughly investigating this one to ensure we are providing appropriate protection to our customers."

Rackspace, which hosts tens of thousands of different Websites for its clients, says one of its servers was hacked. "A server at Rackspace was compromised, disabled, and we actively assisted in the investigation of the cyber attack, fully cooperating with all affected parties," the company said in a posting on its Website. "No customer data at Rackspace was compromised or altered [in the attack]."

Meanwhile, a small law firm that represents U.S.-based CyberSitter, the software developer that filed a $2.2 billion software piracy suit against the People's Republic of China last week as well as seven other computer manufacturers, was also targeted. Gipson Hoffman & Pancione was hit Monday evening in what could be retaliation for its filing what it says is an historic intellectual property suit against China on behalf of CyberSitter. CyberSitter alleges that China's Green Dam developers illegally copied more than 3,000 lines of code from CyberSitter's own Internet content-filtering software, and that it worked with the Chinese government and other computer makers to distribute more than 56 million copies of that software across China and elsewhere.

Elliot Gipson, an attorney with the Los Angeles-based firm, says it's impossible to know for sure if this is the same attacks Google unearthed, but that it employed a similar spear-phishing technique. "Members of the firm got emails from what looked as if they were from other members of the firm, asking them to click on an attachment or a link," Gipson says. Now the FBI is investigating, he says.

The firm had already put its employees on high alert in the wake of the lawsuit it filed against China last week. "We had warned our employees to be on guard for suspicious email," Gipson says. He says it appears that no one fell for the spear-phishing attack because there's no sign that anyone clicked on any of the links.

Gipson says some of the messages contained pure links, while others came with attachments, but he he doesn't think any of them were PDF documents.

VerticalNews China, a U.S.-based news site operated by the NewsRX publishing firm that covers news from China, was hit by a DDoS attack yesterday. "I do know that the large-scale attack originated in China, and now that we know it can happen, we've taken steps to hopefully prevent future disruptions," said Susan Hasty, publisher at NewsRx, the parent company of VerticalNews, in a statement. "We have every intention to continue coverage of vital news about China."

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Dark Reading Staff

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