Hackers from China and Taiwan have accessed the e-mail accounts of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and senior staff at the party’s presidential campaign office, stealing confidential campaign information, the DPP said yesterday.
“The e-mail accounts were accessed by IP [Internet Protocol] addresses in China and Taiwan, with an IP address from the Beijing Bureau of China’s state-controlled Xinhua news agency making an attack via Australia and Xinhua’s Malaysian bureau,” DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
The DPP said the “confidential campaign information” that was compromised includes the minutes of internal meetings and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign itinerary.
Chen said that while attacks from China were not surprising, an attack was traced to a domestic IP address belonging to the Executive Yuan’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.
There was no evidence to prove that the commission was involved in the attack, since the commission’s IP could have been used by others as a “springboard,” but the government should investigate to see if any individuals at the commission, which is in charge of government information security, were involved in the attack, Chen said.
Research, Development and Evaluation Commission Minister Sung Yu-hsieh (宋餘俠) yesterday denied the commission was involved in the hack into the DPP’s system.
However, he said he could not rule out the possibility that the Government Service Network (GSN), a backbone of infrastructure that connects government agencies, had been attacked and used by hackers to break into the DPP’s system.
“There have been cases of the GSN being hacked before,” Sung said. “We will look into it.”
Meanwhile, telephone calls to Xinhua’s press office in Beijing went unanswered.
Chen said cyber attacks from Chinese hackers were “nothing new” as Western government and international corporations’ Web sites and networks have all been attacked by organized Chinese hacker groups.
“These attacks [on Western governments and international corporations] by Chinese hackers were well-organized and planned with support from the Chinese government,” he said. “We suspect the attack on the DPP was supported by the Chinese government as well.”
Earlier this month, computer security company McAfee said an unnamed country was likely behind a wide-ranging series of hacking attacks during the past five years aimed at stealing data from governments, nonprofit groups and corporations worldwide. McAfee said Taiwan was among the targets.
McAfee did not name any suspects in the hacking attacks, but analysts suggested it was China — a charge Beijing has denied.
To improve information security at the party’s campaign office, Wu Nai-ren (吳乃仁), Tsai’s chief campaign manager, has banned staff from discussing the campaign on social Web sites, such as Facebook and Plurk. The office also discourages its staff from sending confidential information in electronic files.
Tsai’s campaign spokesperson Hsu Chia-ching’s (徐佳青) Google Gmail account had been accessed by an anonymous hacker from Australia and documents pertaining to Tsai’s campaign meetings and daily schedule had been accessed, Hsu said.
The campaign office reported the case to the National Police Agency on Monday, but received a lukewarm response, Hsu said, adding that a police official told the office not to “make a stink over nothing.”