believed to be based mainly in China, have been trying with 70,000 attempts a day to break into the New York City Police Department's computers.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly says they haven't made it through yet, but the fact that their activities are relentless is prompting the force to raise its guard against high-tech crime. Kelly said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations:
"It's a threat that we must continue to pay close attention to every day,"
Kelly said this threat is similar to a cyber espionage plot recently uncovered at the Pentagon. In that case, China-based hackers successfully cracked the Pentagon's computers and were able to get details of the design features of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program being developed by Lockheed Martin.
In a CBS "60 Minutes" due to air Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned the U.S. is
"Under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day."
"We're going to more than quadruple the number of experts that we have in this area. We're devoting a lot more money to it,"
There are reports that the Internet Protocol addresses of computers attempting to breach the NYPD's files have been tracked to China, the Netherlands and the Ukraine.
Word is that the hackers have devised a automated system in which computers around the world make up to 5,000 attempts a day at pinpointing unsecured portals into the NYPD's files.
Kelly said he suspects his department is being targeted by foreign hackers because it's beefed up operations in the international arena since the 9/11 attacks. Kelly says since those attacks, the NYPD now has officers in Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Great Britain, France, Spain, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.
Kelly say so far, all efforts to get into the NYPD's computer system have been stopped by a :
"a robust protective system that we constructed over the last seven years."
The commissioner also said senior police brass have also sat for lectures by foreign affairs and terrorism experts from around the world.
"You might say that the NYPD has aspired to become a Council on Foreign Relations with guns,"
Kelly's startling revelations follow a Canadian report exposing a China-based electronic spy network that has invaded at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries. Dubbed "GhostNet,"
the cadre of hackers have targeted embassies, foreign ministries and the Dalai Lama's offices in India, Brussels, London and New York. The 10-month Toronto University study suggested that the GhostNet is linked to Chinese government espionage agencies.
The researchers said the hackers are so skilled they can remotely plant audio and video surveillance bugs into computers they invade.
Chinese government officials deny their involvement in computer espionage. China's foreign ministry spokesman said last month,
"Some people outside of China are bent on fabricating lies of so-called Chinese computer spies,"