Global investment bank Morgan Stanley was hacked by the same Chinese cyber criminals whose attacks on Google prompted that company to pull out of the country, according to emails leaked from a US security consultancy.
The emails, obtained from HBGary by "hacktivists" Anonymous, reportedly reveal that Morgan Stanley was "hit hard" by the attack, although it did not want the attack to be known.
In January 2010, Google revealed that it had suffered "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on its corporate infrastructure, along with at least 20 other large businesses.
"We have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists," it said at the time. The company later began redirecting visitors to the Chinese version of its search engine to the uncensored, Hong Kong-based version.
US diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks alleged that a division of the Chinese government had been involved in the attacks, dubbed ‘Operation Aurora’. Chinese authorities dismissed this accusation as "groundless".
The HBGary emails came to light after "hacktivist" group Anonymous attacked the company, after CEO Aaron Barr claimed he could identify many of its members by analysing social networks.
Anonymous subsequently posted thousands of HBGary’s emails online, saying "it would appear that security experts are not expertly secured". Barr resigned yesterday.