I Spy

Hackers Spy on 103 Governments

International espionage has gone digital. New reports from two independent research centers find that a massive network of Chinese computers infiltrated and stole documents from 103 world governments, embassies, and foreign ministries. The New York Times says that the espionage ring—known as GhostNet—cannot conclusively be linked to the Chinese government, but the network's interest in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan exile centers suggest a tie to Beijing or some "patriotic hackers." GhostNet focused on Asian governments, but also infiltrated a NATO computer and the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. The malware it used was powerful: GhostNet had the ability to manipulate cameras and recording devices on affected computers, which means the spy network could listen to and watch activities occurring in the same rooms as infiltrated PCs. Researchers say they found real-world implications from GhostNet's stolen data, including intervention by the Chinese government following an email correspondence between the Dalai Lama and a foreign dignitary. GhostNet is believed to be the biggest computer espionage system to date; however, it also represents the first time an outside group successfully uncovered the inner-workings of one. The Chinese government denies involvement.