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Massive global cyberattack hits US hard: Who could have done it?

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China at 'top of the list'

“China rises to the top of the list of nations that could do this," says James Lewis, a senior fellow and director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "This fits precedent with other attacks we've seen. It's not conclusive, but who else cares this much about Taiwan?"

The McAfee report also cited but did not name a news organization whose New York and Hong Kong bureaus were targeted in 2009. The Associated Press, which was earlier reported to be the target of similar information grabbing attacks in the past, would not confirm the reports or comment on them, spokesman Jack Stokes told the Monitor.

Yet the vast loss of information to this particular cyberthief represents just a fraction of the total stolen each year from networks worldwide in what has become an enormous drain on the competitive edge that has long undergirded US and other developed nations' economies.

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