GhostNet is the name given to a recently-discovered, large-scale hacking or possible electronic spying operation, based mainly in the People's Republic of China, which has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries. Computer systems which would normally be expected to have high levels of security protection have been compromised, including many belonging to banks, embassies, foreign ministries, and other government offices around the world, as well as the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London, and New York City....
The system disseminates malware to selected recipients via computer code attached to stolen emails and addresses, thereby expanding the network by allowing more computers to be infected. Once infected, a computer can be controlled or inspected by its hackers. The malware even has the ability to turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of an infected computer, enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room.
Researchers also believe they have found evidence of real world actions taken by government officials from the People's Republic of China, as a result of information obtained via the 'GhostNet'; including Beijing officials making a call to a diplomat discouraging a visit with the Dalai Lama, after that person had received an email invitation (from the Dalai Lama's representatives) to do so, and a woman on her way to Tibet being stopped by Chinese intelligence officers and shown transcripts of her online conversations
While a report from researchers at Cambridge University says they believe that the Chinese government is behind the attacks, the researchers from the University of Toronto stated they could not conclude that the Chinese government was responsible for the spy network, and noted alternative possibilities such as an operation run by private citizens in China for profit or for patriotic reasons, or intelligence agencies from other countries such as Russia or the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States. The Chinese government has denied any involvement, stating that China "strictly forbids any cyber crime".
Yikes! Makes Storm Botnet seem like a pile of puke.
(1) 11:03 CDT 3/30/09 edition