"Operation Shady RAT," an effort by a single hacker or group of hackers reported to be from China, penetrated multiple U.S. government agencies, the United Nations, foreign governments, and many technology companies and defense contractors, a McAfee report disclosed Wednesday.
The operation uncovered several cyber attacks occurring to date, where hackers were found to have broken into networks of the Indian government, United Nations and US defense companies, security experts say.
The networks breached included U.N. secretariat in Geneva, a U.S. Energy Department lab and 12 major U.S. Defence firms engaged in top secret futuristic weapons system, the report said.
“The cyber snooping appears to have been going on for several years,” the report said, tracing the hacking to at least one “state actor” behind the attack, but declined to name it. “We were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators,” McAfee vice president Dmitri Alperovitch remarked in a 14-page sensational report released today.
"The interest in the information held at the Asian and Western national Olympic Committees, as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency in the lead-up and immediate follow-up to the 2008 Olympics was particularly intriguing and potentially pointed a finger at a state actor behind the intrusions, because there is likely no commercial benefit to be earned from such hacks," Alperovitch wrote in the report.
“What is happening to all this data...is still largely an open question. However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat competitors at key negotiations, the loss will represent a massive economic threat,” he added.