We regularly face attempts by others to gain unauthorized access through the Internet to our information technology systems by, for example, masquerading as authorized users or surreptitious introduction of software. These attempts, which might be the result of industrial or other espionage, or actions by hackers seeking to harm the company, its products, or end users, are sometimes successful. One recent and sophisticated incident occurred in January 2010 around the same time as the recently publicized security incident reported by Google.
Intel said it did not think that the hackers were successful in accessing any of its data.
Thirty-three companies now say they were targeted by hackers at about the same time Google (GOOG) was. The source of the attacks has not been identified, although it is widely believed that the cyberattacks originated in China, perhaps from two elite schools in the People's Republic. But the investigations into the matter may never yield the name or names of the people directly involved.
Of course, if hackers can strike once, they can attack again, and there is no reason to believe that the sensitive data stored in corporate and government computers are entirely safe. That includes information held by firms that are contractors to the government.
There has been a great deal of speculation that the next "war" waged on the US will be an electronic one. Countries or rogue groups that would like to access government secrets or cripple the Internet will use an ever-increasingly complex series of hacks to accomplish their goals. This is part of a cat-and-mouse game with American online security experts that will likely go on indefinitely.