NIPC warns companies of Chinese hacker threat

According to the NIPC advisory, "Chinese hackers have publicly discussed increasing their activity" between April 30 and May 7. Those days coincide with several dates of historic significance in China, including May Day, Youth Day and the two-year anniversary of the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on May 7.

To date, pro-Chinese hackers have defaced dozens of U.S. Web sites, replacing existing content with pro-Chinese or anti-U.S. rhetoric, according to the FBI and security experts. In addition, NIPC analysis of an Internet worm named Lion that is infecting computers and installing distributed denial-of-service tools on various systems shows that the worm sends password files from the victim site to an e-mail address in China.

Security consulting firms have also uncovered what some experts are calling a potentially massive Internet reconnaissance and surveillance operation originating in China that is looking for vulnerable Domain Name System (DNS) servers in the U.S. Those operations have been under way for several weeks, they said.

While responding on April 7 to a reported intrusion at a law firm in New York, experts at Defendnet Solutions Inc., a managed security services firm in Providence, R.I., said they uncovered evidence of a large China-based reconnaissance operation potentially involving dozens of computers.

Ed Schernau, a product manager at Defendnet, said the law firm began receiving an influx of DNS scans that were "regular and consistent" and continued at a rate of one every six minutes. Although DNS exploits are common on the Internet, Schernau said Defendnet is confident that the attackers "were probably scanning higher blocks of networks to see what was out there and were probably scanning every network address owned by a particular ISP."

In addition, Schernau said a profile of the source machine was consistent with what he called "a giant firewall device" and that it is conceivable that there were many machines behind the attack.

Shafer Ramsey, a security engineer at Defendnet who responded to the incident, said the company's counter-reconnaissance operation on the attacker was unable to produce any solid leads on the attacker's identity. "In this case, the attacker was a black hole," said Ramsey. "They used a self-signed certification on their system, providing them total control over their Net presence."

The level of sophistication of the methods used in this incident is consistent with a "top-notch" hacker or even a government organization, said Ramsey.

Chris Rouland, director of the X-Force vulnerability research unit at Internet Security Systems Inc. in Atlanta, said his company has detected a significant increase in the number of scans and probes coming out of China. "[Remote procedure call] scanning has certainly increased dramatically over the last six weeks," said Rouland, adding, however, that the scans are originating in places other than China.

The only U.S. government site believed to have been defaced so far by Chinese hackers is the Navy's Executive Office for Acquisition Related Business Systems, according to an intelligence report issued this week by Vigilinx Inc., a New York-based security firm. The Chinese hacker threats are a direct response to a pro-American hacker campaign called "ChinaKiller," according to the Vigilinx report. Pro-U.S. hackers have defaced hundreds of Chinese sites since April 4, the report states.

Vigilinx urges all U.S. companies and government agencies to run vulnerability tools, such as SATAN, SARA, Nessus and SAINT, against their systems. In addition, Common Gateway Interface (CGI) vulnerability tools should also be run to detect vulnerable CGI scripts on Web servers, the Vigilinx report said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Verton

PC World
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?