China hit by 480,000 Trojan horse attacks in 2010

China said it saw close to 480,000 Trojan horse attacks in 2010, with almost half originating from outside the country, according to a government security agency. 

China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team (CNCERT) released some of the figures on Tuesday from an upcoming annual report. Of the 221,000 attacks that originated outside of China, 14.7 per cent came from the U.S., while another 8.8 per cent came from India.

The figures have gained media attention after security vendor McAfee reported a massive cyber attack that stole sensitive information from 72 companies and organizations. While McAfee did not name the group behind the hacking attempts, analysts suspect China is behind the attack because of the targets involved.

The Chinese government, however, has previously denied being involved with hacking attempts and said the country is also a victim of such attacks. 

The nature of the 480,000 Trojan horse attacks is unclear as well as what kind of systems were targeted. CNCERT did not explain the methodology it used to calculate the figures, and an official at the agency said he could not answer more questions.

The official did point to a report the group released in April, which said that more than 10 million PCs in China had been controlled by Trojans in 2010. This represents a 274.9 per cent jump from the previous year. 

Trojans, which masquerade as applications, can be used to steal data from a PC. They can also be used to make a PC a part of a botnet, which is a network of infected computers that can be remotely controlled for denial-of-service attacks or to send spam. 

In previous annual reports, CNCERT has also said Trojans found on Chinese PCs have been traced to the U.S., Taiwan and India. 

In CNCERT’s latest figures, the government agency also found that 35,000 websites in China had been hacked during 2010. Some 4,635 sites were government sites.

CNCERT plans on making its 2010 annual report publicly available later this week.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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