The Daily Mail's Distracting ChinaHack Theory

The Daily Mail is reporting that it might be, “Chinese hackers linked to ‘Warmergate’ climate change leaked emails controversy.”

The Mail’s revelation came about after they tracked a convoluted trail of IP (internet Protocols) addresses, through to a, ” Chinese environmental institute, the Research Institute of Forest Ecology and Environment Protection, based near Beijing.”

“‘Because this is an open relay mail server, the emails could have been sent through it from anywhere in the world. It is just as likely to be someone outside Malaysia as someone within the country.”

What the spokesperson is pointing out is that in the global network of online web services it is very difficult to trace someone’s activities. Especially if that person knows how to cover their footprints. A packet of online information can easily be made to bounce around the world before arriving at its final destination.

I can be sitting here in Vancouver and route my internet actions and email through open proxy servers around the world. And it really doesn’t take a master-hacker to do such things. For example, anyone can easily use an internet cloaking service to navigate anonymously around the internet, and upload files to a Russian FTP server like the one used to publicly release the stolen East Anglia University emails.

While it is definitely a useful line of investigation for the Daily Mail to trace the internet pathways behind the stolen emails, it has led to some pretty strange hypotheses by the newspaper, like: “The evidence passed to The Mail on Sunday now raises questions about whether Chinese hackers, backed by the communist regime, are the source of the emails.”


One thing you can say about the Chinese, they look out for number 1. In this case their industrial development policy. No way were they going to agree to a deal that in any way inhibited their move up the World pecking order, even if it means opening one coal-fired power station every week.

They called the liberal West’s bluff. If the “science” is “settled” then China faces ecological disaster. Funny they don’t seem to agree.

Actually, China is enacting new laws boosting renewable energy:

How low can a guy get to rely on China policy as basis for science? Why don’t you go poison some more children with lead and blame it on the Uighurs?

I used to be somewhat afraid of china assuming the role of the US as the worlds superpower. Although seeing them in action over the past decade they seem to be very pragmatic, non-interventionist and steer the globe towards rational and reasonable objectives and actions.

No big grandstanding, no unreasonable target like cutting emissions by 50% is 3 weeks. Just rational reasonable objectives. With all the carbon fever that has infected the western world, we should be glad at the new found clout that china has on the international stage.

I was wondering about the Daily Mail article.

What I would love to know, is how much the international “net police” are tracking down the hackers. They should be able to get a clue, particularly if records are kept of hack failures. I do not believe that just one climate research center was targeted, and even less so since hearing of the Victoria burglaries/attempted penetration.

I’m guessing that, unfortunately, most of the information from the cracks isn’t available to the public since they’re part of police investigations.

– bi

I agree with Kevin. There’s nothing concrete to demonstrate where the hacking took place from. Indeed, anyone smart enough to hack email, is smart enough to leave a false trail. There are widely available tools to hide in an IP cloud, and to spoof what IP you are.

Nothing’s ruled out or in because the evidence is unreliable. That’s the point behind the post.

Inside/outside job seems irrelevant to me. What damage there is has never been from the emails, but from the false defamation campaign constructed around them.

Seriously don’t you think competent people or the FBi for instance won’t know where those hackers are hiding? I really doubt a simple proxy can save you.

Isn’t it true that because of the gravity of what the science is suggesting, that sooner rather than later these emails were going to be open to examination anyway?

The principle of freedom of information demands it.

The climate scientists are recommending that we make vast changes to the world and how we live. It’s necessary to look under the hood before we buy this vehicle.

You state:

“Plots by the Russians in league with the Chinese makes for great headlines, but they do run the risk of drawing attention away from much more plausible theories about who is behind these criminal acts. ”

If as is most likely, the emails were released by a whistle blower then the act was not criminal but sanctioned by British law as a legal act. Therefore the if person who released the emails is internal to CRU he has NOT acted illegally or criminally.

There have been IT analyses of the CRU leak that indicate the leak originated from within the CRU.

Article by David Keith on scientists’ self-interest:

“…Don’t trust the climate science because of what institutions like the United Nations say in summary documents: trust it because of the individual self-interest of scientists working in a system that rewards them for finding flaws in the work of others.

While there is much healthy dispute about the details, I am not aware of a single scientist who gets his hands dirty doing real work in atmospheric science who thinks that the world will not warm this century if we keep pumping carbon into the atmosphere…”

Well, the Daily Mail’s leaps of logic aside, there are a few things we do know about the CRU crack:

(1) the time zones recorded in the .zip file are all -0400/-0500
(2) the e-mails were processed using a non-standard method to arrive in their current form
(3) there are 5 Microsoft Word files (.doc) which have 13 extra bytes added at the end

(More details at , a sub-blog which I created for discussion and analysis of the crack. Consider this to be a shameless plug. (-: )

– bi