Nortel Networks Hacked Hard
For over a hundred years, Nortel Networks has been a leading manufacturer and provider of telecommunications technology. Several businesses and individuals rely on their equipment to keep their communications up and running smoothly. However, in what very could be the opening to a novel about spying, the story has come to light that hackers have had access to Nortel Networks’ internal network for almost 10 years. According to the official report put out by the investigation, the hack seems to have originated from China, and was and was enabled by the theft of passwords from seven of Nortel’s top executives.
A story in Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal noted that the hacking appears to have gone back as far as the year 2000. The hackers had managed to acquire technical papers, R&D reports, business plans and internal e-mails, as well as other documents. In addition to that theft, spying software had also been imbedded into the computers of a few select employees for many years.
According to The Journal, Brian Shields, a former longtime employee of Nortel, was the leader of a company investigation. The internal investigation report said that very little was done to stop or prevent the hacking, with changing the stolen passwords being the only countermeasures taken.
The breach in security was first noticed in 2004, four years after the initial hack was supposed to have started. It appeared that several documents had been downloaded by an executive; however, when questioned about the download, the executive claimed not to know of any such download.
Over the following few years, there were more signs that information was being sent to various internet addresses in Shanghai, but Nortel decided not to conduct any kind of effective countermeasures. By 2008, the company was in dire straits financially, and by the time Shields finally received permission to conduct an internal investigation into the company computers, he was laid off. At about the time of his layoff, Shields discovered that root kit spy software had been planed onto a few employee computers, but Nortel still choose not to act.
Nortel is a designer of telecommunications equipment, with their software being used by many leading phone and phone service providers. The Canadian company is currently in the process of being sold as part of a bankruptcy the company filed two years ago.
In addition to not investigating internally, Nortel has also not investigated the possibility of the hackers being able to hack any of their telecommunications products, which would affect consumers as well as the company itself. Nor have they checked to see if any of their employees’ computers, which went with the workers to new companies, were infected. The six-month internal investigation and its results were not disclosed to the companies that have purchased Nortel’s assets. Buyers of Nortel’s assets have included Ericsson, Avaya, Genband and Ciena.
International corporate espionage, especially computer -based infiltration and other attacks, is becoming a major concern for corporations. A report by American intelligence, released in the fall, found that China-based hackers are among the most active. China-based computer attacks have been reported against Google, energy companies and others. If you have any reason to believe that you or your company is the target of a bug or wiretap, or that your computer has been compromised, act now.