Reporters operating in Taiwan were among a number of journalists and rights activists whose e-mail accounts were compromised in what appears to have been a coordinated series of attacks uncovered this week.
The development comes on the heels of an announcement by Google that it was moving its Chinese-language search service out of China over censorship concerns.
The problems began last Thursday, when some journalists in Taiwan and China found they were unable to access their Yahoo e-mail accounts.
One Taiwan-based target of the apparent attack told the Taipei Times on Monday that his e-mail account had been “hacked” the previous Wednesday or Thursday, adding that his passwords were changed.
The Taipei Times has since learned that two of its former employees, who still work in the news industry, were among those targeted.
“When I first tried to log onto my account and was denied I got a message that said: ‘Important Message About Your Yahoo! Account. We have detected an issue with your account. To access your account, you must contact Yahoo! Customer Care,’” the journalist told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity for fear of being the target of renewed attacks.
“They then misspelled the US as ‘Unites States,’ which concerned me because I know that Chinese hackers sometimes send fake messages like this and often misspell words,” he said.
“It was Yahoo that decided to shut down accounts that were being targeted. They [hackers] were poking around Yahoo looking at our account information. Someone in Yahoo raised the red flag and they locked the accounts down,” the reporter said.
“Despite the fact that Yahoo is getting some criticism for not being secure enough ... I think it’s fair to say they were wise enough to protect their customers from an attack. But they should explain it further. There were too many of us who were hit to write it off as a coincidence,” he said.
“It is evident that whomever was behind the attacks, whether government or individuals, it originated most likely in China,” he said.
A current employee at the Taipei Times received a similar warning last Friday, informing her that there were signs of “unauthorized access” in her account, which could only be reactivated on Tuesday after a verification telephone call and change of passwords. Yahoo apologized to the user for the delay, saying it had received “unusually high volumes” of alerts.
Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times in Beijing said his Yahoo Plus account had been set without his knowledge to forward to another, unknown, account.
The compromised accounts include those of the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group that Beijing accuses of inciting “separatism” by Uighurs in Xinjiang.
“I suspect a lot of information in my Yahoo account was downloaded,” the group’s spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, told reporters yesterday. He said the e-mail account, which was set up in Sweden, has been inaccessible for a month.
In late 2009 and early this year, several human rights activists and journalists whose work related to China also discovered their Gmail accounts had been set to forward to unfamiliar addresses, without their knowledge.
Google cited the Gmail attacks in January, when it announced a hacking attack on it and more than 20 other firms. Google cited those attacks and censorship concerns in its decision to move its Chinese-language search services last week to Hong Kong.
Yahoo did not comment on the nature of the attacks, or whether they were coordinated or isolated incidents.
Also See: Vietnam cyber-attacks linked to mining
STRENGTHENING: The defense budget this year is to focus on replenishment of artillery and rocket stocks, and equipment for F-16 jets, the defense ministry said Defense spending this year is to focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a “total blockade” by China, including parts for F-16 jets and replenishing weapons, the military said in a report. China staged war games around the nation in August last year, firing missiles over Taipei and declaring no-fly and no-sail zones in a simulation of how it would seek to cut Taiwan off in a war. In a report seeking legislative budget approval, the Ministry of National Defense said it began reviewing its strategic fuel reserves and repair abilities last year, but did not give details. In “anticipation of a total
ANTI-SHIP CONFIGURATION: The Tuo Chiang-class vessels are to be built for NT$9.7 billion by Lung Teh, a shipyard that previously built four similar corvettes for the navy The Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday awarded Lung Teh Shipbuilding (龍德造船) a NT$9.7 billion Co (US$317.57 million) contract to build five Tuo Chiang-class corvettes with anti-ship capabilities, a defense official familiar with the matter said yesterday. The corvettes would carry vertical launchers for four Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) missiles, as well as eight Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, in contrast to ships configured for anti-air warfare, which carry eight HF-2 and four HF-3 missiles, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The anti-ship corvettes would be armed for improved standoff range against surface combatants and carry the latest
NINE TYPES: One of the devices can be carried by a single soldier and can destroy high-value, high-risk vehicles as well as target personnel, an official said Taiwan’s top military research body yesterday unveiled nine domestically developed drones in Taichung, including a loitering munition, or “suicide drone,” similar to the US-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300. The surveillance and attack drones shown to the media by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology included the Albatross medium-range uncrewed aerial vehicle Nos. 1 and 2, and the Teng Yun 2 and Cardinal 2 and 3 indigenous uncrewed combat aerial vehicles. The institute also unveiled a domestically made drone inspired by the AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which Ukrainian forces have employed in the country’s war with Russia. Aeronautical Systems Research Division head Chi Li-pin (齊立平)
PARTIAL SUPPORT: Morris Chang said he agrees with the US’ goal to slow advances of China’s chip sector, but US policies that might boost chip prices perplex him Washington’s efforts to on-shore semiconductor production might lead to surges in chip prices and supply bottlenecks, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) said yesterday. The 91-year-old industry veteran said he supports parts of Washington’s effort to slow China’s progress on advanced chip manufacturing. China is still six years behind Taiwan in making advanced chips, despite years-long efforts to catch up, Chang told a Commonwealth Magazine forum that he coheadlined with Tufts University assistant professor Chris Miller, an expert on the US-China rivalry’s effects on chip manufacturing. However, Chang said that other parts of the effort, particularly Washington’s on-shoring