Somebody Hacked the Dalai Lama


Let’s say you’re part of a gang of infamous, powerful Chinese hackers with a really cool name, say, “the Shadow Network.” You’ve busted through the fortified security systems of sensitive targets “including foreign ministries, embassies, and even a computer at NATO headquarters.” All in all, you’ve stolen confidential, privileged information from 103 countries and almost 1,300 computers.

But what do you really want?

Ah yes, the personal e-mails of the man behind the following Yoda-like nuggets of wisdom:

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.”

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Because that dude has to be hiding something, right?

Hacking researchers at the University of Toronto (awesome gig, guys) have recovered 1,500 hacked e-mails that were sent from the Dalai Lama’s office between January and November 2009 and traced the hacking to core servers located in China and to people based in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

It’s suspected that the Chinese government may be behind the act, and given the Dalai Lama’s ceaseless nagging about “democracy, human rights, and the need to preserve Tibet’s religious identity and culture” — and then going ahead and meeting President Obama after they expressly told him no (he has been a thorn in their side, hasn’t he?) — would make more sense perhaps than its being perpetrated by random civilians or “number one fans.”

India got hacked as well, leading to further speculation as to a Chinese involvement. Among various confidential documents, researchers recovered information referring to security in India’s far northeast, which borders China.

And, as it would happen, relations between India and China have been strained recently, largely due to “India’s willingness to host the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, a city in northern India.”

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign ministry, however, said that China condemns hacking:

My personal view is that this is an attempt by the foreign media to spin the issue of hacking for political purposes, especially since this report is related to Tibet. The report appears groundless and comes from an institute that is not credible.

Yet according to Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs (the hacking researchers!):

“There is a massive cybercrime ecosystem of cyberspace that most users are completely unaware of, and this is the second time we have unearthed this ecology and linked it to political espionage.”

If China didn’t do it, who did, and why? Don’t worry, Mr. Lama, there are a bunch of tough-looking Canadians on the case!

Note to aspiring TV-writers everywhere: America needs this show.