A soon-to-be released McAfee report says that Chinese hackers have been conducting a "coordinated, covert and targeted" campaign of cyber espionage against major Western energy firms.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the attacks, which McAfee has dubbed "Night Dragon," have been going on at least since late 2009, but may have started as early as 2007. The attacks targeted five unnamed multinational firms. The article says
the cyberattacks successfully took gigabytes of highly sensitive internal documents, including proprietary information about oil- and gas-field operations, project financing and bidding documents.
Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, says the company has been able to trace the stolen data back to Chinese Internet addresses in Beijing. It's unclear if the attacks were officially sanctioned. Says Alperovitch:
The facts point to Chinese hacker activity that is organized, so [it is] potentially directed either by the private sector or the public sector. But it's impossible for me to know for sure which one.