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Risk

2/22/2010
02:54 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
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Researchers Believe They've Identified Aurora Exploit Code Author

According to one news report, more information has surfaced surrounding the attacks against Google and dozens of other U.S.-based companies.

According to one news report, more information has surfaced surrounding the attacks against Google and dozens of other U.S.-based companies.An unnamed U.S. security researcher is quoted by The Financial Times, in a story that ran today, as saying that the man who wrote the code isn't a "full-time" government worker and did not take part in the attack, but published the attack code to a forum and that the Chinese government had "special access" to the exploit software.

It's very difficult to judge the significance of this report. It's quite possible that after the author of the Aurora exploit code posted it to the forum, another attacker took the code and incorporated it into their attack. And it's also still possible that the Chinese government had nothing to do with these attacks, as the systems used in the attacks could had of themselves been infiltrated and used a mere gateways for the attack attackers originating from anywhere.

This news comes just a few days after reports surfaced that researchers claimed to have identified two schools from where the attacks were launched. From InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn story that ran last week:

Computers at Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School in China reportedly played a role in the attacks, according to unnamed sources cited in The New York Times.

Lanxiang Vocational School, The New York Times says, was created with funding from the Chinese military and trains computer scientists for the Chinese military. Its network is operated by a company with ties to Baidu, Google's most significant rival in China.

Evidence of the role of the two schools' computers was reportedly presented by a U.S. military contractor at a meeting of security professionals.

That raises an important question. If the Aurora attacks were indeed sponsored by the Chinese government: why would they choose to launch the attacks from schools the government holds close ties?

That just does not add up. The last thing the attacker would want is for the attack to be traced back to them, especially if it's a professional and well-funded operation.

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