Police remove school server in hacking inquiry

University of Science and Technology computer connected to cyberattacks against United States

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 3:58am

A University of Science and Technology computer server, identified as a source of cyberattacks against the US, has been removed by police for investigation, the college president says.

The server, in a computer at the university's business school in Clear Water Bay, had been accessed by many people under one employee's log-in name, Professor Tony Chan Fan-cheong said yesterday.

It was difficult for the university to track down the computer's users, since it could easily be accessed by staff, students and even outsiders, he said.

"It is still unknown whether the attack was committed within the campus, or [whether outsiders] hacked our system," Chan said, adding the college had set up a team of experts to strengthen network security.

The university was named in a report two weeks ago by American internet security firm Mandiant, which claimed that a Chinese military cyberspy unit had targeted the US and the college's network was involved.

Beijing has denied its army's involvement in the activities.

"HKUST has been named as one of the sources among some 600 IP addresses disclosed in the report," Chan said.

"The police have taken away the hardware … and are conducting an investigation."

The university is known for its business programmes and is popular with mainland students

HKUST said last week that the university was very concerned its network has been attacked and used by hackers.

It is serious about network safety and lodged a report with the police.

The police's Cyber Security Centre met university's officials to discuss the claims by Mandiant, which have been criticised in mainland media.

A strongly worded commentary by Xinhua branded the Mandiant report as a "commercial stunt" and accused Washington of ulterior motives. "Next time, the firm's chief executive can simply say, 'See the Chinese hackers? Hurry up, come and buy our cybersecurity services'," Xinhua said.

It reported that the US had "matchless superiority and ability to stage cyberattacks across the globe" and that the US military had "a significant cyberforce, including the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade".