Feeds

US software firm hacked for years after suing China

Solid Oak nearly went under after three years of persistent attack

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A Californian software company which sued the Chinese government for pirating its flagship content filtering product has revealed how it was targeted by hackers from the People’s Republic for the three years of the resulting legal proceedings.

Santa Barbara-based Solid Oak Software filed the civil lawsuit against China after discovering thousands of lines of code from its parental filtering CYBERsitter had been lifted and used to develop the Green Dam Youth Escort – Chinese software which was originally intended to be rolled out nationally by the government.

Just 12 days after Solid Oak founder Brian Milburn went public with his intentions, the hackers began targeting his employees with a view to infiltrating the company, gleaning intelligence about the court case and disrupting sales as much as possible, Bloomberg reported.

“It felt like they had a plan,” Milburn told the newswire. “If they could just put the company out of business, the lawsuit goes away. They didn’t need guys with guns or someone to break my kneecaps.”

The attackers made initial incursions with spyware hidden in malicious email attachments and were soon able to remotely control PCs and switch on webcams to spy on individuals. They also apparently went after Solid Oak’s law firm in the hope of lifting documents which they believed may have helped in the upcoming court case.

Solid Oak’s web and email servers were also targeted, frequently crashing several times a day, and the small family-run business dived into the red as customers looking to buy the software online were not able to complete their transactions thanks to some tinkering with the script that controlled payment processing, Bloomberg said.

Forensic investigators told the newswire that the malware and attack toolkits they found on Solid Oak’s network and servers were unique to Chinese hackers known as the Comment group – a gang fingered for attacks on Coca Cola and others revealed earlier this month.

In the end Solid Oak survived by the skin of its teeth, with Milburn and his staff forced to share documents on webmail and Dropbox in an attempt to thwart their foes.

Within two months of a settlement in the case , the attacks reportedly stopped. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.