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New report shows sweeping cyber-spying

A new report reveals that over 70 corporations and government organizations, including the Associated Press, United Nations secretariat, and International Olympic Committee, were hacked over the course of many months, the Washington Post reports.

The hacking probably originated in China, according to experts familiar with the analysis carried out by the computer security firm McAfee. McAfee dubbed the intrusions "Operation Shady RAT," an acronym for "remote access tool."

Forty-nine of the 72 compromised organizations were located in the United States, including a lab at the Department of Energy and a dozen defense firms. The intruders were looking for data on sensitive U.S. military systems, and material from satellite communications, electronics, and natural gas companies, among other information, the Post reports.

The emphasis of the target list on Taiwan and Olympic organizations around the time of the 2008 Beijing Games points to China, as has the country's history of hacking, cybersecurity expert James A. Lewis told the Post. He was backed up by another computer expert who wished to remain anonymous out of reluctance to publicly blame the country.

McAfee recently discovered that the hackers made an error in configuring the "command and control" server that controlled malware deployed on their targets' computers. The intruders had accidentally set the server to generate logs of every Internet protocol address the server controlled since 2006, according to The Post.

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