back to article Chinese hackers 'slurped 50 MB of US gov email'

The Chinese government may have used its access to Microsoft source code to develop attacks that exploited weaknesses in the Windows operating system, according to a US diplomatic memo recently published by Wikileaks. The June 29, 2009 diplomatic cable claims that a Chinese security firm with close ties to the People's Republic …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Spectre of Gates

    Well done China. It is the Americans' fault for storing sensitive information on systems where the source code is closed for the general public and open to a few "trusted" parties.

  2. Pirate Dave


    Wow, I never knew drywall was so important that the Chinese felt the need to hack United States Gypsum's network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      C'mon Dave...

      ...gimme a break.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      We know who the Chinese were really spying on

      Yes there's even* a facebook group "American & Chinese Defective Drywall"

      "Victims of Chinese Drywall (VCDW) are calling for action by our President to protect American citizens from toxic imports ...". The Chinese were probably spying on the VCDW ....

      *I know, there's a facebook group for everything so "even" is redundant...

    3. LaeMing

      It was meant to be spying on firewall technology,

      but something got mis-translated!

  3. Xelandre

    OH ! Shocking! What a surprise!

    As I heard years ago that Microsoft had provided the Chinese with the Windows source code, I really expected something of the sort, but I thought that the victims would have been nationals of the People's Republic. What the Peking people did is a lot more clever.

    I wonder whether the build that was disclosed included any backdoor code which may have been planted by US spooks...

    Could this be enough to throw in Windows in its final spin?

    1. Big-nosed Pengie
      Gates Horns

      Could this be enough to throw in Windows in its final spin?

      One can only hope.

  4. Big_Ted

    That much data..........

    "“During this time period, the actors exfiltrated at least 50 megabytes of e-mail messages and attached documents,"

    So that one email with maybe 50 photos of an office party..........

    Not much return for your effort or another case of someone not understanding what size file are....

    Thats less than half the bytes than Bill Gates is believed to have spent on his house.....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Western greed, western stupidity...

    ...and a big dose of naivity.

    1. Shakje


      Western greed, western stupidity...and a big dose of nativity.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Le Tit

    @Pirate Dave

    If you lived in a country that was mostly cold and/or wet you'd appreciate the benefits of dry walls

  7. kain preacher


    Um what version of Windows ?

    @AC 21:03 GMT

    So you think that if the US had been using Linux this would of never happened ?

    You would be surprised what people can do with the source code and the weight of a government behind it .

  8. nyelvmark
    Paris Hilton


    I thought that Windows source code was a myth - hasn't Mark Russinovich admitted that nobody really understands what's going on inside the the older bits of Windows?

    Now, if Wikileaks could get hold of THAT and make it public, it really would be a service to the world.

    Paris, because there's nothing else funny in this post.

  9. Flybert

    Windows should be banned for Gov work

    Really .. either open the source up or get it out of the Government sector

    Any business requiring a secure OS should dump Windows too .. unless you like your trade secrets stolen and fucking your shareholders

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      I dunno about the first bit...

      ...but the "fucking the shareholders bit" is rather a national pastime on left side of the pond these days. I think they teach in in B-schools....

      Given that, Windows must be here to stay.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      ...yes switch to MacOS / Linux / Unix because there has never, ever, in the enitre history of the OS's been any exploits. Nope, none what so la la laaaa, no not listening.

      Thanks god you don't run our business, we'd have sopftware that doesn't work with the real world and our staff would be twiddling there thumbs waiting for someone to write a decent bit of software to work with.

  10. Mark 65

    They needed the source code for that?

    See title

  11. mhoulden

    50 MB?

    If my work emails are anything to go by, that would be about 8 of them. Dilbert covered this kind of espionage ages ago at and unfortunately most internal documents really are that meaningless out of context.

  12. James Woods


    at least someone has the code necessary to make programs work with windows.

    for years legit developers struggled to understand the workings of m$ in order to make functional software.

    i'd say let's move towards an adroid style os however my android phone crashes more than any windows 95 box I had so what can one do.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hacking for 50MB? Can do...

    Alternatively, you could just wait a bit and get a lot more from wikileaks.

    Or in the UK, have someone follow a public servant and wait for a dropped/forgotten laptop/pen drive/CD (or nick it during their 8am to 5pm nap).

    Either of these solutions would take considerably less time, less resources, less skills, and overall cost a lot less.

  14. multipharious

    Average Email Size

    Based on my experience in the industry, the average email size is ca. 50-75KB depending heavily on the department. There is a common mistake of estimating averages much higher by taking the size of a database and dividing by the number of emails that are supposedly in there. The interesting thing is that even though email size was projected to increase (market research back at the turn of the century,) the average user is more aware of sending large attachments and doesn't. I'll stop rambling.

    Based on this, they siphoned less than 1000 emails. If this was targeted, then not bad, but if it was just random emails then it is not much more than a single light profile user might get in a couple of weeks complete with "What are you doing for lunch?" and all the distribution list FYI emails.

    For more reading:

  15. Anonymous Coward

    A WHOLE 50 mb?

    I suppore they'll be storing it on 35 floppy disks?

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