Chinese Hackers Had Years of Access to Nortel Computers, Journal Reports

Nortel Networks Corp. (NRTLQ) lost data for years to hackers based in China who penetrated the company’s network by stealing executives’ passwords, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a former employee.

The unauthorized access took place from at least 2000, according to the report. The data loss included the downloading of technical papers, research-and-development reports, business plans and employee e-mails, the newspaper said, citing Brian Shields, a former Nortel employee who led an internal investigation. Nortel did not disclose the unauthorized access to prospective buyers of the company’s businesses, or bring it to an end after discovering it in 2004, according to the report.

Nortel didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent to its media relations department outside regular work hours. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment.

The Chinese embassy in Washington, when asked about the Nortel hacking case, issued a statement saying in part that cyber attacks are transnational and anonymous, and shouldn’t be assumed to originate in China, according to the report.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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