[ISN] Exclusive: Inside the FBI’s Fight Against Chinese Cyber-Espionage

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/05/27/exclusive_inside_the_fbi_s_fight_against_chinese_cyber_espionage By Shane Harris Foreign Policy May 27, 2014 SolarWorld was fighting a losing battle. The U.S. subsidiary of the German solar panel manufacturer knew that its Chinese competitors, backed by generous government subsidies, were flooding the American market with steeply discounted solar panels and equipment, making it practically impossible for U.S. firms to compete. What SolarWorld didn’t know, however, was that at the same time it was pleading its case with U.S. trade officials, Chinese military hackers were breaking into the company’s computers and stealing private information that would give Chinese solar firms an even bigger unfair advantage, including the company’s pricing and marketing strategies. SolarWorld learned about the hacking not from some sophisticated security software or an outside consultant, but from FBI agents. In early July 2012, they called the company and alerted executives to a “persistent threat, some kind of attack,” said Ben Santarris, SolarWorld’s spokesman, in an interview. Persistent threat is shorthand for hackers who burrow deeply into a computer system to steal information and spy on an organization from within. The FBI didn’t offer any specifics about the nature of the intrusion, Santarris said, but according to a federal indictment made public last week, the bureau determined that SolarWorld had been infiltrated by hackers working for China’s People’s Liberation Army, who were stealing private documents that would be valuable to Chinese state-backed solar companies