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Security expert: Chinese authorities supported cyber attacks

January 19, 2010

January 15, 2010

The malware used in the cyber attacks against Google and other companies was
so sophisticated that the security and forensics expert called in by Google
to examine it believes that it was designed and launched with the support of
Chinese authorities.

Carlos Carrillo, a principal consultant for Mandiant, a Washington-based
security incident response and forensics firm that was called in by Google
to examine the malware after the attacks, spoke with Computerworld and said
that the malware had "unique characteristics." From the ComputerWorld post:

Carrillo is convinced that, given the sophistication of the code, it was
produced with support from Chinese authorities. "This wasn't on the level of
Metasploit," Carrillo said, referring to the open-source penetration testing
framework whose exploits are often used by hackers to craft malware. "This
wasn't something that a 16-year-old came up in his spare time."

When asked if the code quality pointed toward Chinese state support,
Carrillo answered, "I would say so." He declined to elaborate.

McAfee, which yesterday pointed to the a hole in Microsoft's Internet
Explorer browser as being one avenue for the attack, also referred to the
attack code as being "very sophisticated."

Carrillo didn't offer specifics about what led him to draw such conclusions.
But he did offer say that the vulnerability in the IE browser was not the
only vector used in the attack and that the number of companies hit by the
attacks could be as high as 34, or as low as 20, the number that Google

He also said that the techniques of the attackers allowed them to masquerade
as legitimate users "so traditional means of, for example, intrusion
detection or antivirus security are for the most part ineffective."
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