Zhoushan (China): The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday denied the reports of Chinese hackers breaking into the computers of the Indian Embassy in Beijing.
According to the Ministry, all computers storing sensitive information in India and abroad are standalone, with only select officers given access to them. It adds it has no dedicated network that hackers can target.
But sources tell CNN-IBN, a high-level team from the Intelligence Bureau comprising security auditors are heading to Beijing on April 24.
They will ascertain the extent of hacking and whether top-secret mission files have been compromised.
This would be part of a wider investigation to determine if the entire MEA computer network has been hacked by the Chinese intelligence.
John Vause of CNN met the cyber hackers — three young men in their early 20s — on Zhoushan island, a major port for China's Navy just south of Shanghai. The young hackers, who insist on not using their real names, operate a hackers’ website from the second floor of a residential building.
“No website is 100 per cent safe. There are websites with high level of security but there is always some weakness,” Xiao Chen, one of the website owners, explains.
They say their website has been operating for more than three years, and add it has 10,000 registered users and gets over 50,000 hits a day.
Independent checks of the website by US-based computer experts confirm the website offers useful advice and free software downloads for breaking into computer systems.
Xiao Chen claims two of his colleagues have hacked into the Pentagon and downloaded information. However, CNN has no way to verify if that is true.
“They wouldn't publicise it. They wouldn't make it public. It's very sensitive,” Chen defends.
The Pentagon says last year computer networks in the US, Germany, Britain and France, were hit by what they call multiple intrusions, many of which originated from China.
“If they have any evidence, I hope they would provide it, then we can cooperate on this issue,” Qin Gang from Chinese Foreign Ministry says.
“These hacker groups in my opinion are not agents of the Chinese state. They are sort of useful idiots for the Beijing regime. But clearly they represent the elite skills that are necessary to conduct these kinds of attacks,” cyber security expert James Mulvenon explains.
Experts say the biggest problem is actually proving where an attack came from and that they say allows hackers like Xiao Chen to operate in a virtual world of deniability.
And across China, there could be thousands just like him, all trying to prove themselves against some of the most secure web sites in the world.
(With John Vause from CNN)