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Congressmen say Chinese hacked their PCs

Dissident locations, other sensitive data intercepted

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Lawmakes are urging everyone on Capitol Hill to have their computers checked for malware after discovering that people working from inside China hacked into multiple congressional machines and accessed locations of Chinese dissidents and other sensitive data.

Virginia Representative Frank Wolf said four of his PCs were compromised, beginning in August 2006. New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, said two of his machines were hacked in December 2006 and March 2007. Both congressmen, who are long-time critics of China's record on human rights, said the PCs of other lawmakers had also been breached but declined to give names.

Following the attacks on Wolf's computers, a car with license plates belonging to Chinese officials went to the home of a dissident near Washington and photographed it. The congressman said FBI investigators who looked into the breach traced the attacks to machines located in China. He said he's known about the attacks for a long time but that he had been discouraged from discussing them by people in the US government he declined to identify.

"The problem has been that no one wants to talk about this issue," he said. "Every time I've started to do something I've been told 'You can't do this.' A lot of people have made it very, very difficult."

Wolf suggested members of the Senate have also been victims of computer intrusion. He called for better education for members of Congress about the dangers of cyber attacks and urged members to have their machines checked. He said he was introducing a resolution that would tighten security of House computers and information systems. In the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois asked the sergeant at arms to investigate whether Senate computers have been breached.

Smith said the attacks on his machines were "were very much an orchestrated effort." His office no longer stores the names of Chinese dissidents on computers, he said. ®

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