Pacnet launches security probe after Edward Snowden Hong Kong hacking claims
Cable network giant launches investigation into whistle-blower Edward Snowden's allegation of a major breach at its Hong Kong headquarters
Pacnet, the operator of Asia's largest privately owned submarine cable network, is conducting a sweeping security audit across its operations after Edward Snowden's claim of a major security breach at the company.
Jim Fagan, president of Pacnet's managed services business, said the action was initiated after the Sunday Morning Post reported last month that computers at the company's Hong Kong headquarters were hacked by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in 2009.
"We started an investigation soon after seeing that report because the security of our network and our customers' data is paramount," Fagan said.
"When that security gets called into question, you want to go back and look at things."
He added: "We've never seen the documentation behind that report, so we really didn't have much to go on. From that perspective, I can't confirm or deny whether that [security breach] happened." Snowden, the fugitive former US intelligence contractor, alleged that hundreds of computers in the city and on the mainland were targeted by the NSA over a four-year period.
British newspaper The Guardian and The Washington Post also reported Snowden's claim that certain US mobile network operators helped the NSA collect the phone data of their customers.
Fagan said Pacnet, which changed senior management and reorganised its business last year, had "never been involved with any of that" [surveillance].
"We've engaged third-party security firms to do a forensic analysis of our network and our servers. This process will see if there is any evidence of a breach in 2009," Fagan said.
He declined to identify the firms, but expected the audit to be completed in a few months.
"Our security policies and protocols are also being reviewed, so we can get recommendations to improve it," he said. "When we finish this process, we will talk to our customers about what we've found and what we're doing."
Snowden said Pacnet's computers in Hong Kong were successfully hacked by the NSA, but the operation has since been shut down. His data on Pacnet was based on information including dates, domain names, internet protocol numbers and other operational details.
Pacnet owns and operates the EAC-C2C fibre-optic submarine cable network that spans Hong Kong, the mainland, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore.
It also runs the EAC Pacific submarine cable system, part of the Unity cable network, which connects Japan and the US.
Snowden is still in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after arriving there from Hong Kong on June 23.