Google Inc. (GOOG) and Intel Corp. (INTC) were logical targets for China-based hackers, given the solid-gold intellectual property data stored in their computers. An attack by cyber spies on iBahn, a provider of Internet services to hotels, takes some explaining.
iBahn provides broadband business and entertainment access to guests of Marriott International Inc. and other hotel chains, including multinational companies that hold meetings on site. Breaking into iBahn's networks, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the matter, may have let hackers see millions of confidential e-mails, even encrypted ones, as executives from Dubai to New York reported back on everything from new product development to merger negotiations.
More worrisome, hackers might have used iBahn's system as a launching pad into corporate networks that are connected to it, using traveling employees to create a backdoor to company secrets, said Nick Percoco, head of Trustwave Corp.'s SpiderLabs, a security firm.
The hackers' interest in companies as small as Salt Lake City-based iBahn illustrates the breadth of China's spying against firms in the U.S. and elsewhere. The networks of at least 760 companies, research universities, Internet service providers and government agencies were hit over the last decade by the same elite group of China-based cyber spies. The companies, including firms such as Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) and Boston Scientific Corp., range from some of the largest corporations to niche innovators in sectors like aerospace, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, according to intelligence data obtained by Bloomberg News.
"They are stealing everything that isn't bolted down, and it's getting exponentially worse," said Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
David Fuller's view This is increasingly the way modern wars are fought. No one should be surprised; we saw it coming in Hollywood spy / sci-fi films. At least cyber hacking is more civilised than carpet bombing.Back to top