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The Night Dragons: Chinese hackers steal oil and gas info

The whereabouts of the world’s oil and gas reserves is the type of information that competing oil and gas firms like to keep to themselves. But at this day-in-age, with the world’s information networks linked via wireless internet connections, securing sensitive info can be a challenge, even for some of the most powerful energy companies in the world.

McAfee security firm—a name ubiquitous with PC database and web security—has announced that for the last two years a group they have titled, the “Night Dragons,” have been hacking into the web servers and databases of at least a dozen international oil, gas and energy companies. Five of these attacks have been confirmed, and McAfee says that the information stolen details the locations of various international oil and gas wells, and is “tremendously sensitive and would be worth a huge amount of money to competitors.”

McAfee notes, however, that the attackers’ hacking techniques are not sophisticated in nature, and the tools they have been using are widely available throughout the Internet’s underground. While corporations are constantly barraged by potential digital security threats, McAfee Director of Security, Greg Day, notes that, "what makes this different is the very specific ongoing targeting of specific organizations with a very distinct purpose to what they were trying to achieve. The attackers did not seem to be at all careful in covering their trail. Was that just they were not that skilled, or were they trying to leave a bread crumb trail to paint a false picture?"

The Night Dragons are presumed to be a Chinese hacker group, and questions remain as to whether or not they are state-sponsored. Evidence suggests that the attacks took place during the Chinese business working day and McAfee has identified a Chinese-based individual who provided aid and computer resources to the attackers. However, this alone is not conclusive that the Night Dragons are Chinese, but the evidence is mounting.

McAfee notes that with computer processing power increasing at neck-breaking speed, companies need to be aware of the risks posed by more sophisticated hacker networks.

Source: Energy Digital

02/22/2011

 

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