Chinese Hackers Target Western Oil Companies

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A group of Chinese computer hackers allegedly stole sensitive information from several major Western oil companies, according to McAfee, the maker of computer security software. The news is the latest in a round of rogue Internet actions tied to China.

California-based McAfee (MFE) did not name the companies that were hit in the cyber attacks, but the company did say the attacks started in late 2009 and were focused on computers of oil and gas companies in the U.S., Taiwan, Greece and Kazakhstan.

The company said the attackers stole information on operations, bidding for oil fields and financing, according to the Associated Press. While McAfee noted that the attacks were somewhat crude and amateurish, the company also said the hackers could have been inside the networks of the companies for several years.

Security consultants say China is a leading center for Internet crime including industrial spying aimed at major companies, the AP reported. Along those lines, it appears corporate secrets and money were the primary motives for the attacks on the oil companies.