A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including the Indian embassy in Washington and those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.
Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centres in India, Brussels, London and New York.
The Information Warfare Monitor (IWM), which carried out an extensive 10-month research on cyber spy activities emanating from China, said the hacked systems include the computers of Indian embassies and offices of the Dalai Lama.
Without identifying Indian embassies, the group said all evidence points to China as the source of this spy espionage.
The group said it has evidence that the hackers managed to install a software called malware on the compromised computers to steal sensitive documents, including those from the Dalai Lama's offices.
The group began its research after Tibetan exiles made allegations of cyber spying by the Chinese.
After initial investigations when the group widened it research it found that the China-based cyber espionage had hacked computer systems of embassies of India, Pakistan, Germany, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea and many other countries.
In all, the hackers had gained access to 1,295 computer systems of foreign ministries of many countries, including Bhutan, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Iran, and the Philippines, the researchers said.
After gaining access to foreign government and private computer systems, the hackers installed malware to exercise control over these computer systems to access any documents.
"We have been told by the researchers that the Chinese hackers have gained access to our computers systems all over the world, and taken sensitive documents from the office of His Holiness (the Dalai Lama)," Toronto-based Tibetan student leader Bhutila Karpoche told IANS.
She said, "Our website (studentsforafreetibet.org) has been repeated hacked, and we keep getting all kinds of viruses in our emails. This trend has increased in recent months, and we have become very wary about opening our emails."
The findings of the 10-month investigation titled 'Tracking GhostNet:
Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network,' will be released on Monday.