China is again at the center of allegations of cyber crime, with French authorities probing one of the country’s largest online attacks reportedly tracing IP addresses back to the People’s Republic.
French security agency ANSSI confirmed networks used by the country’s economic and financial departments had been hit by an “espionage scale” attack that is the largest experienced by the country.
The attack centered on France’s presidency of the G20 – a grouping of the top 20 global economies – and likely started late November, ANSSI chief Patrick Pailloux told journalists late Monday.
A Trojan-infected e-mail likely kick-started the prolonged attack, which was only closed out yesterday morning when affected networks were re-secured.
Pailloux noted the hackers were “professional, determined and organized,” but declined to speculate as to who was behind the infiltration.
However, a separate ANSSI source told Paris Match magazine the ‘paper’ trail leads to China with much of the information stolen directed to or via the country.
US investigators last year claimed the Chinese government sanctioned a series of cyber attacks on Google’s Gmail service, while later attacks targeted the Yahoo e-mail accounts of journalists and human rights activists in the country.
Ovum principal analyst Graham Titterington told Telecoms Europe.net cyber espionage is a growing threat that is as relevant to businesses “as it is to national security organizations.”