In a "concerted effort," Chinese hackers broke into State Department computers in Washington and overseas and stole sensitive U.S. government information and passwords - and implanted secret re-entry programs in unsecured computers, the department revealed yesterday. The bureau said that the bureau that deals with China and North Korea was particularly hard-hit, the Washington Post reported.
"The department did detect anomalies in network traffic, and we feel it prudent to take measures to ensure our system's integrity," said deputy spokesman Tom Casey. "I can confirm this is not a virus. The department is continuing an investigation into the incident."
According to AP, State officials are asserting that no sensitive information had been compromised. A spokeswoman, Nancy Beck, spun the story as a victory for the department's cyber-cops: ""This case is a textbook example of our ability to detect and defeat threats before they can do any damage."
But another spokesman, Kurtis Cooper admitted: ""Because the investigation is continuing, I don't think we even know" what information was stolen.
[T]he intruders appeared to have targeted computers at headquarters and at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, which coordinates diplomacy in such countries as China, the Koreas and Japan. In the weeks preceding North Korea's missile tests, that bureau lost its Internet connectivity for several days.
The Post reports that the break-in occurred in late June. "State Department information security staff members detected strange activity and took immediate steps to prevent the system from being further compromised, he said. Internet access throughout the department and some of its foreign bureaus was limited for at least two days, officials added."
China is the leading suspect in break-ins of Defense Dept. computers last summer<, and the Pentagon warned last year that the Chinese Army is emphasizing attacks on computer networks in military exercises.
So, now the question is, were the hacked State Dept. computers made by Lenovo? ;-)