If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Cyber-Attack Alert

Chemical companies have been under siege by a hacker in China, security software firm says.

by Rick Mullin
November 7, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 45

A cyber-attack campaign emanating from China targeted private companies involved in the research, development, and manufacture of chemicals and advanced materials between July and September of this year, according to a report from the computer security company Symantec. The firm claims the campaign, which it has dubbed the “Nitro” attacks, targeted intellectual property and followed similar attacks on nongovernmental organizations and the auto industry.

Twenty-nine companies in the chemical sector were confirmed targets in the attack, according to the report, along with 19 firms in other industries including defense. Symantec says the hackers operated by sending e-mails purporting to be meeting invitations from established business partners. Opening the e-mails could have triggered a program called Poison Ivy that passed through networks and computers—primarily to obtain administrator credentials and access codes.

Symantec says the attacks have been traced to a “20-something male” in China’s Hebei region. The firm called the man Covert Grove after the English translation of his Chinese name.

The report prompted a response from the American Chemistry Council, a major U.S. industry trade association, stating that its members have spent nearly $10 billion to enhance facility, transportation, and cyber security since 2001. ACC also hosts a member networking group, the Chemical Information Technology Center, to address cyber-security related issues.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.