Chinese Cyber Spies Hit Dalai Lama, Foreign Offices

Some blame China for attacks on 1,300 computers
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2009 4:12 PM CDT
The Dalai Lama asked researchers to check his computers for traces of malware.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia/file)
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(Newser) – A  massive cyber spying effort launched from China has infiltrated the computers of hundreds of government agencies and private offices around the globe, including four connected to the Dalai Lama, the New York Times reports. Asked by the spiritual leader's office to investigate evidence of a breach, Canadian researchers discovered that malware swiped data from nearly 1,300 computers in 103 countries over the last 2 years, and it’s still going strong. The bug can even activate the camera and audio-recording functions of infected computers.

Researchers found no evidence that US government offices have been infiltrated, but a foreign embassy in Washington has been hit, and a dozen computers are being added a week. Despite the fact that the operation, dubbed GhostNet, has been controlled by computers in China, researchers cautioned against immediately blaming the government. It could be a for-profit ring or one run by "patriotic hackers," though the Times reports that information gleaned from the Dalai Lama's computers seems to have been used by Chinese officials.