The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of National Defense (MND) were both recently targeted by computer hackers believed to be based in China, Defense News reported last week.
The report cited anonymous AIT and defense ministry sources, who said the attackers were believed to have been China-based hackers looking to spread misinformation.
On June 5, a hacker sent an e-mail to the media with an attachment containing a fake press release from the military spokesman's office, the report said. The release described a meeting between People First Party mem-bers and ministry officials, and was riddled with distortions and lies, Defense News reported last Tuesday.
Shortly after the e-mail was sent out, officials scrambled to warn local media not to download any attachments purportedly sent from the ministry.
Some outlets had already reported the story, but others sought confirmation from officials and were told that that the e-mails were part of a smear campaign targeting the ministry, the Defense News report said.
"Our computer was [infected] by a virus. That virus sent a news release to the media. Some of the information [in the release] was incorrect," a ministry source reportedly told Defense News.
The report also stated that the account number and password of the ministry's Web mail system, operated by Chunghwa Telecom, were stolen by hackers.
So frequent and serious are cyber attacks against government agencies that the Straits Exchange Foundation, which handles cross-strait communications with China, issued a letter of complaint to China in 2003, the report said, adding that China did not respond to the complaint.
Private companies also routinely come under attack by China-based hackers, making Taiwan the most hacked country in the world, according to a Central News Agency report in April. The Defense News report cited local media claims that the nation suffered 250,000 cyber attacks between 1996 and 2000.
China's People's Liberation Army is widely believed to have a special unit devoted to information warfare and computer hacking.
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