Monday, February 22, 2010

US Gov Researcher Closes in on Google “Aurora” IE Exploit Author

Via CNN (FT) -

U.S. analysts believe they have identified the Chinese author of the critical programming code used in the alleged state-sponsored hacking attacks on Google and other western companies, making it far harder for the Chinese government to deny involvement.


A freelance security consultant in his 30s wrote the part of the program that used a previously unknown security hole in the Internet Explorer web browser to break into computers and insert the spyware, a researcher working for the U.S. government told the Financial Times. Chinese officials had special access to the work of the author, who posted pieces of the program to a hacking forum and described it as something he was "working on".


Beyond the immediate forensic inquiry, the work of U.S. researchers sheds light on how cyber-operations are conducted in China.

The man who wrote code to take advantage of the browser flaw is not a full-time government worker, did not launch the attack, and in fact would prefer not be used in such offensive efforts, according to the U.S. team that discovered his role.

"If he wants to do the research he's good at, he has to toe the line now and again," the U.S. analyst said. "He would rather not have uniformed guys looking over his shoulder, but there is no way anyone of his skill level can get away from that kind of thing. The state has privileged access to these researchers' work."

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