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[] Taiwan: "computers under attack from China",

Cabinet says computers under attack

By Ko Shu-ling
Thursday, Sep 04, 2003,

China has launched a systematic information warfare campaign against 
Taiwan, spreading Trojan-horse programs into private companies' 
computers as a means to break into government databases, the Cabinet 
said yesterday.

"National intelligence has indicated that an army of hackers based in 
China's Hubei and Fujian provinces has successfully spread 23 
different Trojan horse programs to the networks 10 private high-tech 
companies here to use them as a springboard to break into at least 30 
different government agencies and 50 private companies," Cabinet 
Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (ªL¨ÎÀs) said yesterday.

The government agencies invaded by the Trojan-horse programs include 
the National Police Administration, the Ministry of National Defense, 
the Central Election Commission and the Central Bank of China.

To minimize the damage, Premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday instructed all 
central government agencies to scrutinize their computer systems and 
report to the authorities within two days. Those failing or refusing 
to comply with the order may face punishment.

Yu made the remark yesterday morning during the weekly closed-door 
Cabinet meeting, in which Minister without Portfolio Tsai Ching-yen 
(½²²M«Û) briefed Yu on the matter.

"Trojan-horse attacks are one of the most serious threats to computer 
security," Tsai said. "A computer user may have not only been attacked 
but may also be attacking others unknowingly." 

Because of the vast popularity and many weaknesses of the Windows 
operating system, most of the damage is done to Windows users, Tsai 

Although the National Information Task Force has warned government 
agencies to be on alert, Tsai said, some agencies have failed to take 
the warning seriously.

"They either delayed reporting to authorities or tried to solve the 
problem themselves. It not only stalled our response efforts but also 
made the situation worse," Tsai said.

Since it appears no government information has been stolen, Tsai said, 
the deployment of the program is likely aimed at paralyzing the 
nation's computer systems.

"Of course there are other possibilities such as stealing sensitive 
government information in vast sums or preparing computers for future 
information warfare," he said.

To help government agencies invaded by the program clean up the mess, 
Tsai said the National Information Security Committee plans to 
complete the programming of the anti-Trojan-horse software today.

"We'll also post the solution manual on the Internet for the 
convenience of other countries facing the same problem," Tsai said, 
adding that Taiwan is the first country to have detected the program.

Lee Hsiang-chen (§õ¬Û¦Ú), captain of the National Police 
Administration's Criminal Investigation Bureau, said the situation has 
been monitored 24 hours a day over the past two months.

"We're glad that it has been detected before any damage was done," Lee 

"If there's any lesson from this experience, it is not to use software 
developed in China or hire Chinese computer programmers, because 
you're running the risk of having the software you use implanted with 
the Trojan-horse program," he said.

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