The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the latest organization to be hacked by Chinese cyber spies, as the group has experienced what experts are calling a “sophisticated, targeted attack”.
While China has not yet been confirmed to be the culprit, the country is by far the leading suspect. The country has been known for stealing secrets from the United States on multiple occasions. Chinese President Xi Jinping has previously promised not to use cyber technology to spy on the United States, but it is unknown if Jinping will follow through on this assurance.
WHOI is not a government agency or a company. However, the group does have close ties with the military of the United States and the National Science Foundation. The organization maintains valuable classified information that is utilized by America’s Navy and the Department of Defense.
The cyber-security unit of WHOI says that it noticed suspicious activity in June of this year, but it believes that the spying initiated in February of 2013. The attack shows signs of being a persistent hack coming from China. Reports show that the attacker focused on obtaining useful data rather than personal information.
There has been no proof that the hackers stole any data. Classified information that WHOI obtains for the Navy and the Department of Defense was stored on a different network than the one that was hacked. It is unknown what exactly the hackers were looking for with the security breach.
China has been working to strengthen its naval forces. The country has recently been conducting military activity on several disputed islands in the South China Sea.
China currently maintains the world’s largest fleet of high-seas fishing vessels. Additionally, the country is reliant upon sea routes for global shipping purposes. The country currently possesses the world’s largest conventionally powered icebreaker. Maintaining a presence in international waters is a major part of China’s economic development.