China denies playing a role in 'GhostNet' cyberspy ring

Chinese officials last week denied suggestions that China's government is involved in a cyberespionage ring that has attacked foreign government computers from servers mostly based in that country.

"Some people are keen to make up rumors about so-called Chinese Internet spies," said foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang. "Their statements are entirely fabricated."

Qin was responding to a report on an investigation into a spy ring, dubbed GhostNet. The report found that servers in China were collecting data from 1,295 hacked computers in more than 100 countries.

The report by the SecDev Group, a consulting firm, and the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto said that GhostNet attackers gained full access to computers installed in foreign ministries and other sites around the world. The attackers stole documents and gained control of microphones and webcams.

The researchers cautioned that while servers in China collected the data, there is no proof that the Chinese government was involved.

However, the report did note that since the 1990s, China has tried to use cyberspace as part of its military strategy.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition. An expanded version also has been posted on our Web site.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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