02/14/2012 11:30 EST | Updated 04/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Nortel Hacking: Company Hit By Suspected Chinese Cyberattacks For A Decade


OTTAWA -- International hackers had "widespread access'' to the corporate computer operations of former technology giant Nortel Networks for nearly a decade, according to a report.

The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday that seven passwords used by executives of the company -- including its CEO -- wound up in the hands of cyberspies that were likely based in China.

The report was linked to an interview with 19-year Nortel veteran Brian Shields, who was behind a six-month investigation into the security breach that is believed to have started in 2000.

Shields told the Journal that hackers had "plenty of time'' and ``access to everything,'' including research and development reports, as well as the company's future plans for the business.

"All they had to do was figure out what they wanted,'' he said.

Nortel did not disclose the security breach to its potential buyers, nor did the company address the problem until its assets were already for sale, according to the Journal report.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and sold off its assets in pieces to various international competitors of the technology industry.

China's Washington embassy said there is no evidence presented with the allegations, which means it shouldn't be assumed they came from within the country.

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