Feeds

US software firm hacked for years after suing China

Solid Oak nearly went under after three years of persistent attack

Seven Steps to Software Security

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. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.