Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Night Dragon: Exxon, Shell Said to Have Been Hacked Via Chinese Servers

Via Bloomberg (Feb 23, 2011) -

Computer hackers working through Internet servers in China broke into and stole proprietary information from the networks of six U.S. and European energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, according to one of the companies and investigators who declined to be identified.

McAfee Inc., a cyber-security firm, reported Feb. 10 that such attacks had resulted in the loss of “project-financing information with regard to oil and gas field bids and operations.” In its report, Sacramento-based McAfee, assisted by other cyber-security firms, didn’t identify the energy companies targeted. The attacks, which it dubbed “Night Dragon,” originated “primarily in China” and occurred during the past three years.

The list of companies hit, none of which disclosed the attacks in filings with regulators, also includes Marathon Oil Corp., ConocoPhillips and Baker Hughes Inc., according to the people who worked on or are familiar with the companies’ investigations and asked not to be identified because of the confidential nature of the matter.

Chinese hackers broke into the computer network of Baker Hughes, said Gary Flaharty, spokesman for the Houston-based provider of advanced drilling technology. Baker Hughes concluded the incident didn’t need to be disclosed because it wasn’t material to investors, he said, declining to comment further.

In some of the cases, hackers had undetected access to company networks for more than a year, said Greg Hoglund, chief executive officer of Sacramento-based HBGary Inc., a cyber- security company that investigated some of the security breaches at oil companies. Hoglund, who was cited by McAfee as a contributor to its report, declined to identify his clients.

“Legal information, information on deals and financial information are all things that appear to be getting targeted,” Hoglund said, summing up conclusions his firm made from the types of documents and persons targeted by the hackers. “This is straight up industrial espionage.”

Hackers targeted computerized topographical maps worth “millions of dollars” that show locations of potential oil reserves, said Ed Skoudis, whose company, Washington-based InGuardians Inc., investigated two recent breaches of U.S. oil companies’ networks. He declined to name his clients or the origin of the hackers.


'Night Dragon' sound very similar to a case highlighted in January 2010 by Christian Science Monitor.....
At least three US oil companies were the target of a series of previously undisclosed cyberattacks that may have originated in China and that experts say highlight a new level of sophistication in the growing global war of Internet espionage.

The oil and gas industry breaches, the mere existence of which has been a closely guarded secret of oil companies and federal authorities, were focused on one of the crown jewels of the industry: valuable “bid data” detailing the quantity, value, and location of oil discoveries worldwide, sources familiar with the attacks say and documents obtained by the Monitor show.

The companies – Marathon Oil, ExxonMobil, and ConocoPhillips – didn’t realize the full extent of the attacks, which occurred in 2008, until the FBI alerted them that year and in early 2009. Federal officials told the companies proprietary information had been flowing out, including to computers overseas, a source familiar with the attacks says and documents show.

The data included e-mail passwords, messages, and other information tied to executives with access to proprietary exploration and discovery information, the source says.

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