The story broke in The New York Times yesterday:There is more if you're interested.In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.
Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.
The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
The Chinese government denies involvement. It's probably true; these networks tend to be run by amateur hackers with the tacit approval of the government, not the government itself. I wrote this on the topic last year.
No doubt the loose association between the Chinese government and the "amateur" hackers is intentional. I always am a bit baffled by the use of amateur with the term hacker because it isn't something you can easily draw the line on who is an amateur and who is a professional. I've met some professional hackers and found them to be quite amateur. But I guess you can call yourself anything these days.