Torontonian super-nerds bust cyber-crime ring that stole NATO plans, Dalai Lama’s e-mail

Torontonian super-nerds bust cyber-crime ring that stole NATO plans, Dalai Lama’s e-mail

On the DL: We doubt the Dalai Lama was ROTFL

In what may be the least surprising news to make the front pages of newspapers this year, a team of University of Toronto–led computer security experts have concluded that people use the Internet to spy on other people. In this case, huge amounts of highly sensitive data has been hacked into, and the suspect in the case is China. Well, it might not be the Chinese government, but a series of elaborate cyber-attacks targeting sensitive government data from countries around the world have been emanating from within China. Well, maybe not even from China, as the researchers freely admit that it’s easy for hackers to mask the true origin of their attacks. At any rate, somebody, somewhere is using such Internet services as Twitter, Blogspot and Yahoo Mail to steal classified information and a year’s worth of the Dalai Lama’s personal e-mail (yes, the Dalai Lama has e-mail).

Renowned hacker busters from the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs say they’ve traced the hackers (who use pseudonyms like lost33) to China, including one Mr. Li from Chengdu province. Reached by the New York Times, Mr. Li denied being a hacker: “I’m a wine seller,” he said.

Whoever the hackers are, they are part of one of the largest on-line spy rings ever detected, and they have made a mockery of government security systems, obtaining confidential embassy documents, reports on Indian missile systems and even details related to NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Chinese government vehemently denies being complicit in the crimes, claiming that hacking is “a cancer to the whole society,” as one Chinese official told the Times.

Regardless of who is behind the attacks, the researchers say their findings highlight the need for countries to develop formal policies to deal with cyber-security. They also highlight the need for the Dalai Lama to converse with his associates the old fashioned way: by telepathy.

Researchers Trace Data Theft to Intruders in China [New York Times]
• U of T sleuths track internet espionage ring to China [Toronto Star]
China says it’s not behind global Internet spy ring [Globe and Mail]