Tags: Chinese | Hackers | Elusive

Chinese Hackers Elusive

Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM

Chinese and American hackers continued assaults against Web sites in both countries. The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that the level of attacks could escalate.

The official said system administrators throughout the U.S. government have been advised of the attacks and are taking steps to counter them.

"These threats and these attacks don't appear to be part of an organized campaign, and we don't see any links to the Chinese government," the official told United Press International on behalf of the administration.

Though the number is difficult to determine, one digital security firm, Vigilinx, said hackers apparently from China have hit about 82 U.S. sites since the weekend. According to attrition.org, a Web site on hackers, U.S. hackers have hit about 60 Chinese sites.

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency said hackers had hit sites belonging to the provincial governments of Beijing, Yichun, Xiajun, a police force and two universities.

The official cautioned against jumping to conclusions. "The original source of the attacks and threats [against U.S. Web sites] is really undetermined," he said.

Some private sector experts, however, have a different opinion.

"What's surprising is the level of organization we're seeing. This is not just a casual attack done on a whim. We believe that the [Chinese] government is tolerating this action," said Jerry Freese, director of intelligence for Vigilinx.

"Right now the Chinese government has more than enough tools to censor the Internet and monitor it, including police in Internet cafes trying to suppress any open dissent," said Mike Jendrzejczyk of Human Rights Watch in Washington, echoing Freese's theory. "The government will continue to censor messages it finds threatening and will open floodgates to the messages they support, as happened after the NATO bombing" of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

Experts said the damage to Web sites was not severe in any case.

"I equate what's happening to overpass tagging by teen-agers," said Chuck Adams, formerly of the Air Force Information War Center in San Antonio, Texas. "It is a nuisance and it could effect the reputation and trust of the company hit, but it has no financial bearing other than recovery costs."

NIPC issued a "soft" advisory on the attacks Thursday saying "malicious hackers" in chat rooms have cited recent tensions between the United States and China, and "have escalated Web page defacements over the Internet."

NIPC said the target period appeared to extend to next Monday.

"Chinese hackers have publicly discussed increasing their activity during this period, which coincides with dates of historic significance in the [People's Republic of China]: May 1 is May Day; May 4 is Youth Day, and May 7 will be the anniversary of the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade."

Hackers have defaced a number of U.S. Web sites, replacing "content with pro-Chinese or anti-U.S. rhetoric."

One of the victims was UPI.com, which was defaced early Monday but quickly repaired.

Thursday's NIPC advisory contained a warning of possibly more serious action than defacement.

"NIPC previously reported on an Internet worm named 'Lion' that is infecting computers and installing Distributed Denial Of Service tools on various systems," it said. "Analysis of the Lion worm's source code reveals that when illegally exploited, it sends password files from the victim site to an e-mail address located in China."

NIPC backed up that warning with a more ominous advisory Monday, though it did not relate the latest message to China.

The center said it has "reliable information indicating a very significant increase in attempts to exploit known weaknesses in ... Unix-based operating systems. These probes and attempted exploitations currently number in the millions and the activity is ongoing."

The advisory said the exploitation of those vulnerabilities has been linked in the past with the use of DDOS tools.

DDOS attacks last February crippled many of the biggest e-commerce sites on the Internet.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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Chinese and American hackers continued assaults against Web sites in both countries. The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that the level of attacks could escalate. The official said system administrators throughout the U.S. government have been...
Chinese,Hackers,Elusive
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2001-00-01
Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM
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