August 25, 2005

Chinese Web sites used to target U.S. systems-report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Web sites in China are being used as
a staging ground for attacks on computer networks in the U.S.
Defense Department and other agencies, the Washington Post
reported on Thursday.

The newspaper said no classified systems have been
compromised but officials were concerned that data pulled
together from different agencies could become useful
intelligence to an adversary.

The newspaper cited four government officials who spoke
separately about the intrusions, which were said to go back two
or three years. It said the FBI had launched an investigation.

"It's not just the Defense Department but a wide variety of
networks that have been hit," including the departments of
State, Energy, and Homeland Security as well as defense
contractors, one official was quoted as saying.

"This is an ongoing, organized attempt to siphon off
information from our unclassified systems." the official said.

All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitivity of the matter, the Post said.

The report said U.S. analysts were divided over whether the
attacks were a coordinated effort by the Chinese government to
penetrate U.S. government databanks or if it was the work of
other hackers using Chinese networks to hide the origin of the

Pentagon figures show that more attempts to scan Defense
Department systems come from China than any other country, the
Post said.

But a Pentagon official said that does not mean China is
where the probes start.

Lt. Col. Mike VanPutte, vice director of operations for a
new task force that manages the Pentagon's computer networks,
told the newspaper that China is a convenient "steppingstone"
for hackers because of the large number of computers there that
can be compromised.