Cyber spy campaign targets chemical industry: Symantec

Oct 31, 2011

US Internet security firm Symantec on Monday exposed a cyber spying campaign targeting trade secrets at top chemical firms and linked the industrial espionage to a man in China.

At least 48 companies, including some that make advanced materials for , were targeted in a campaign Symantec dubbed "Nitro" given the type of information at risk.

"Attacks on the chemical industry are merely their latest attack wave," Symantec security response team members Eric Chien and Gavin O'Gorman said in a report released on Monday.

The attacks targeted NGOs supporting human rights from late April to early May before switching to the motor industry, according to the report.

Major chemical firms, mainly in the United States, Britain, and Bangladesh, came under fire by cyber from late July to mid September, Symantec said.

Nitro was aimed at stealing intellectual property for competitive advantage, according to Chien and O'Gorman.

Attackers researched firms, sending selected workers booby-trapped emails that, once opened, secretly infected computers with malicious "Poison Ivy" software designed to steal information.

While various ruses were used to trick workers into opening email attachments to unleash in machines, a typical pretext was to fake a meeting invitation from an established business partner.

Another tactic used by cyber spies was to send employees email purporting to be a security software update that needed to be installed in computers, according to Symantec.

Poison Ivy code was written by a Chinese speaker and Nitro attacks were traced to a server located in the United States but owned by a "20-something male" in the Hebei region of China, the report said.

Symantec referred to the man internally as "Covert Grove" based on a literal translation of his name from Chinese to English.

China has repeatedly denied state involvement in cyber espionage against Western governments and companies, including well-publicized attacks on Internet giant Google that sparked a row between Washington and Beijing.

Explore further: Online piracy thrives in Internet cloud: study

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China hit by 500,000 cyberattacks in 2010

Aug 09, 2011

China said Tuesday it was hit by nearly 500,000 cyberattacks last year, about half of which originated from foreign countries including the United States and India.

Recommended for you

Facebook dressed down over 'real names' policy

Sep 17, 2014

Facebook says it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted profiles of self-described drag queens and others, but declined to change a policy requiring account holders to use their real names rather than drag names such as ...

Yelp to pay US fine for child privacy violation

Sep 17, 2014

Online ratings operator Yelp agreed to pay $450,000 to settle US charges that it illegally collected data on children, in violation of privacy laws, officials said Wednesday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nerdyguy
not rated yet Oct 31, 2011
"...linked the industrial espionage to a man in China."

One more reason that we need to get our financial house in order in the U.S. We wouldn't sound quite so ridiculous when making demands on the Chinese that they stop their massive espionage campaign against the U.S.