Intel Reveals Hack Attacks in January

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

In its annual report filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Intel confirmed that it had been hit in January.

"We regularly face attempts by others to gain unauthorized access through the Internet to our information technology systems by, for example, masquerading as authorized users or surreptiti

ous introduction of software," read the 10-K filing. "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 publicized security incident reported by Google."

Intel did not reveal whether the attacks had resulted in intruders accessing or stealing confidential company information. For its part, Google acknowledged that hackers had stolen data when it broke the news last month that it and other major Western corporations had been struck with what it called "highly sophisticated and targeted" attacks.

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

Only a few companies have joined Google in admitting that they were hit with attacks that relied on an exploit of a then-unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 6. Adobe Systems Inc. was one corporation that stepped forward, while Juniper Networks Inc. and Symantec Corp. said they were investigating suspicious activity on their networks. News accounts at the time reported 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 said that their investigations have uncovered a much larger number of victims.

A report last week in 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.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Read more about cybercrime and hacking in Computerworld's Cybercrime and Hacking Knowledge Center.

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