A Wall Street Journal report says an infected email might have come from UH’s Applied Research Laboratory which has an office just outside the Manoa campus. The report says that UH was one of 27 universities targeted in a spearphishing attack, sending emails that can spread malware when opened. An Asian studies expert with the East-West Center tells me armies of Chinese hackers are always trying to get sensitive information. And it’s no secret that the U.S. Navy has a research contract with UH’s Applied Rresearch Laboratory. 

“So the kind of research that we’re doing here at UH is really some of the cutting edge work that our own Navy uses and of course the Chinese military forces would also want to know exactly what we’re doing,” said Eric Harwit of the East-West Center,”It’s not that the Chinese necessarily want to pirate our technologies but they just want to know what we’re doing so that they can develop countermeasures against them.” 

“Active cyberattack exercises, spearphising exercises, so we’re not waiting to be attacked. We’re constantly testing our own system to find vulnerabilities and find weaknesses,” said Dan Meisenzahl, UH’s spokesman. 

Meisenzahl also says UH is constantly taking steps to make sure that cybersecurity is intact. And UH is cooperating with authorities on the federal investigation. It’s not clear if any relevant information was obtained by Chinese hackers.

Professor Harwit adds that Chinese hackers have been doing this for a long time. So all universities should develop more robust systems to guard against cyber attacks.