WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- The FBI is probing into possible Chinese military involvement in a data breach of Register.com, a network that manages more than 1.4 million website addresses.
The Financial Times reported the cyber attack on the U.S. company included theft of employee passwords and unauthorized access to Register's network during a yearlong breach that did not cause disruptions or theft of client data.
Law enforcement officials said they believe the hack could be a step toward undermining large parts of Internet infrastructure. The move could give hackers the ability to reroute traffic to other websites, steal data and access email associated with the sites.
The hack on Register.com is another sign state-sponsored cyber attacks are on the rise. The Financial Times reported in 2014 the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military personnel for hacking into several U.S. companies to steal trade secrets -- an unprecedented ruling.
Publicly traded Web.com, the parent company of Register.com, issued a statement in its February filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that said cyber security risks run high and cannot be remedied in a timely manner, even when detected.
However, a company spokesman said to The Financial Times the firm is building security protocols and tools to monitor and curb hacking threats. There are currently no federal standards for reporting hacks and state laws stand differently on violations that go beyond the stealing of personal information such as healthcare records and social security numbers.
In February The Washington Post reported the Chinese government was linked to a hack of health insurance company Anthem.
In that breach, a U.S. cyber security firm concluded the malware used was identical to the code used against a small U.S. defense contractor. The malware originated from China, according to the FBI.
The hack on the health insurance giant involved the stealing of personal data, including Social Security numbers of 80 million Anthem members and employees.