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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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China Hacks Big Oil

February 10, 2011 - 1:12 PM | by: David Lee Miller

According to a U.S. cyber security firm computers belonging to at least five global oil companies have been broken into by hackers believed to be based in China.

A 19 page report released by McAfee Inc, dubs the attacks operation ?Night Dragon.?? The company did not disclose the names of companies targeted. BP PLC and Exxon Mobil Inc. refused to comment on the report. Chevron Corporation said it had no knowledge of any hacking. The FBI said it ?is aware of the general threat but can?t comment on specifics.?

The report said the China based hackers obtained ?proprietary and highly confidential information.? Much of the focus was on field operations as well as ?financial documents? concerning exploration and bidding. Targets included not only companies but ?individuals and executives in Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Greece and the United States.?? McAfee said the actual attacks began in November of 2009 but the attempted hacking could have been underway as long as four years ago.

The report said it is likely a number of hackers are involved in the attacks but said so far only one individual has been identified. The individual, who is not named, reportedly runs a company in China?s eastern Shandong Province that provides web services hosted in the US and advertises that ?no records are kept.? The report said it is unlikely the person identified is the ?mastermind? of the hacking operation adding that ?this person is aware of or has information that can help identify? others who are involved.

According to the report ?miscreants continue to infiltrate? computer networks daily. McAfee said it released it released its findings to protect ?those not yet impacted,? adding that security vendors have an ?obligation? to share information.

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