Officials of Tibet's government-in-exile say that information from computers of
the office of the Dalai Lama appeared to end up in the hands of the Chinese
government. Computer analysts called to Dharamsala, India, to investigate the
cyber intrusion led to the exposure of what is being termed a sophisticated
China-based on-line spying network that penetrated more than 100 countries.
Cyber-security analysts say computer trouble
in the main Tibetan exile community in India led to the uncovering of a vast
global internet espionage network, apparently originating in China.
Researchers from academic institutions in the United Kingdom, the United
States and Canada say the virtual spy network, dubbed "GhostNet," remotely
penetrated more than 1,000 computers of numerous governments and their
embassies, at NATO and in some news media and international organizations.
The cyber-snooping was first detected, last year, in the northern Indian
hill town, Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
Thubten Samphel is a spokesman for the Tibetan government in exile.
"We have been experiencing this injection of viruses into our computer
system. Our experience is that these viruses sent out information, both
confidential and non-confidential," Samphel said. "And, because of the load of
viruses, our computers somehow malfunctioned."
Investigators say the
link to China emerged when the Tibetans learned that a foreign diplomat who had
received an invitation from the Dalai Lama's office was contacted by the Chinese
government and warned not to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Tibetan exile government spokesman Samphel tells VOA News there is no
proof China runs "GhostNet," but whoever is responsible has succeeded in
overwhelming and compromising the Dalai Lama's office computer system.
"This misuse of knowledge, that's of concern. And the other concern:
this kind of thing is unethical," Samphel said.
Canadian investigators at
the Munk Center for International Studies in Toronto say GhostNet not only
searches a computer's data content and reads e-mails, but can activate web
cameras and microphones to monitor conversations in the same room as the hacked
A separate report from Cambridge University agrees with the
Canadians that nearly all of the network's cyber attacks, which began two years
ago, originate in China.
Chinese media reports quote analysts there
refuting such allegations, saying it is a political attempt by the West to
invent fears about China as a threat.