NPR logo Report: Spies Crack Computers Worldwide


Report: Spies Crack Computers Worldwide

Canadian researchers say they've cracked a cyberspy network that has tapped into classified documents from government and private organizations in more than 100 countries.

Researchers from the group Information Warfare Monitor say the operation, based mainly in China, has wormed its way into about 1,300 computers over the past two years. Some of those computers are in government offices, others in private businesses.

The monitoring group, made up of experts from an Ottawa think tank and the University of Toronto, add that the Dalai Lama's private office has been hacked into, as well as several South and Southeast Asian governments.

Initially, the group focused on allegations of Chinese cyber-espionage against Tibetans in exile, but say their work uncovered a much wider network of computers that have been compromised.

They call it Ghostnet, and say it continues to infiltrate and spy on about 12 new computers each week. A compromised computer allows an unfriendly outsider to control functions such as video and audio recording — potentially letting the invader see and hear what's happening in a private room or office.