Hackers from China targeting US agencies, officials say

Hackers operating through Chinese Internet servers have launched a debilitating attack on the computer system of the US Commerce Department bureau, forcing it to replace hundreds of workstations and block employees from regular use of the Internet for more than a month, officials, quoted by a Newsbytes report said.


The attack targeted the computers of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is responsible for controlling exports of commodities, software and technology having both commercial and military uses, the report said.


The bureau has stepped up its activity in regulating trade with China in recent years as the US increased its exports of such dual-use items to the growing Chinese market, the report said.


This marked the second time in recent months that US officials confirmed that a major attack traced to China had succeeded in penetrating government computers, the reort further said.


A source familiar with the security breach said the hackers had penetrated the computers with a 'rootkit' program, a stealthy form of software that allows attackers to mask their presence.


The attacks were traced to Web sites registered on Chinese Internet service providers, officials said.