China-based hackers stole Indian national security information, 1,500 e-mails from the Dalai Lama's office and other sensitive documents, a new report said Tuesday.
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 monitored 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.
"We have from time to time heard this kind of news. I don't know the purpose of stirring up these issues," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press 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 law.
She added that the researchers have not formally contacted China.
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 computers at Indian diplomatic offices in Kabul, Moscow and elsewhere. The identity and motivation of the hackers remain unknown, the report said.
"We have no evidence in this report of the involvement of the People's Republic of China," it added. "But an important question to be entertained is whether the PRC will take action to shut the Shadow network down."
There was no immediate comment Tuesday from the government in India, China's massive neighbor to the south with which it has a growing military rivalry and lingering territorial disputes. Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna is visiting China this week to take part in celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries.
The office of the Dalai Lama was aware of new hacking report.
"These things are not new," said Tenzin Takhlha, a spokesman for the office of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader accused by China of supporting independence for Tibet. He said the office is working closely with the researchers to secure its computer systems.
A Canadian research group involved in Tuesday's report, the Information Warfare Monitor, released a similar report a year ago that said a cyberspy network, based mainly in China, hacked into classified documents from government and private organizations in 103 countries, including the computers of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exiles.
Tibet's government-in-exile quickly denounced that network at the time.
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