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Intel target of 'sophisticated' attacks in January

Coincided with hacking attempts against Google

Intel was targeted by "sophisticated" attacks last month, about the same time that Google reported its network had been breached, allegedly by Chinese hackers.

In its annual report filed on Monday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Intel confirmed that it had been hit in January.

"We regularly face attempts by others to gain unauthorised access through the internet to our information technology systems by, for example, masquerading as authorised users or surreptitious introduction of software," read the report. "These attempts, which might be the result of industrial or other espionage, or actions by hackers seeking to harm the company, its products, or end users, are sometimes successful. One recent and sophisticated incident occurred in January 2010 around the same time as the recently publicised security incident reported by Google."

Intel did not reveal whether the attacks had accessed or stolen confidential company information, an admission that Google made last month when it broke the news that it, and other major Western corporations, had been struck by what it called "highly sophisticated and targeted" attacks.

According to online reports, including a story published by Reuters, Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy denied any connection between the attacks against Google and his own firm. "The only connection is timing," Mulloy told the news service.

Only a few companies have joined Google in admitting that they were hit by attacks that relied on an exploit of a then-unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) web browser. Adobe was one corporation that stepped forward, while Juniper Networks and Symantec said they were investigating suspicious activity on their networks; news reports at the time claimed that Yahoo, Dow Chemical and Northrop Grumman were also attacked.

Although Google has maintained that around 30 companies were hit by Chinese hackers, other researchers have countered, saying that their investigations have uncovered a much larger number of victims.

A report last week by The New York Times implicated computers at a pair of Chinese schools; those schools, however, have denied playing any part in the attacks.

Intel did not reply to a request for comment on the attacks.

See also:

Schools deny role in Google cyberattack

China rejects accusations on Google hack

Free whitepaper: Phishing for victims - Truth, myth and cybercrime


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