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Morgan Stanley Leak Shows Attack by China-Based Hackers Who Took On Google

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March 1, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via Bloomberg

Morgan Stanley experienced a “very sensitive” break-in to its network by the same China-based hackers who attacked Google Inc.’s computers more than a year ago, according to e-mails stolen from a cyber-security company working for the bank.

The e-mails from the Sacramento, California-based computer security firm HBGary Inc., which identify the first financial institution targeted in the series of attacks, said the bank considered details of the intrusion a closely guarded secret.

“They were hit hard by the real Aurora attacks (not the crap in the news),” wrote Phil Wallisch, a senior security engineer at HBGary, who said he read an internal Morgan Stanley report detailing the so-called Operation Aurora attacks.

The nickname came from McAfee Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based cyber-security firm, which said the attacks occurred for about six months starting in June 2009 and marked “a watershed moment in cyber security.” The number of companies known to be hit in the attacks was initially estimated at 20 to 30 and now exceeds 200, said Christopher Day, senior vice president for Terremark Worldwide Inc., which provides information-technology security services.