Jenna Milburn-DiPasquale, OC Cybersitter Marketer, Sees Red Thanks to China's Hackers

Categories: Court, OC Media
Jenna Milburn-DiPasquale was working on the computer in her Orange County home office in June 2009 when she received an email from her father. There's nothing strange about that since she does all the marketing for her Santa Barbara-based dad's eight-person company, Solid Oak Software, best known for producing what we labeled in 1999 "the notoriously right-wing filtering-software program Cybersitter." What 39-year-old Milburn-DiPasquale did not know was the email was not from her father but the Chinese government.

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In "Chinese Mafia-Style Hack Attack Drives California Firm to Brink," Bloomberg News' Michael Riley gives a fresh new look to the disturbing case several others previously covered. Brian Milburn, Milburn-DiPasquale's father, wound up filing a civil lawsuit against the People's Republic of China, yet in court he saw no Chinese lawyers and no court documents were filed by the Chinese government.

Riley writes:

The voluminous case record at the U.S. District courthouse in Santa Ana contains a single communication from China: a curt letter to the U.S. State Department, urging that the suit be dismissed.

Milburn did get something, however: his computers hacked. That email mentioned at the top arrived in his daughter's inbox 12 days after he declared his intentions to sue China. She dutifully opened an attachment thinking it concerned a business matter. Actually, it contained hidden spyware. It was only later that Milburn-DiPasquale realized that original email address was off a couple letters and security experts traced it back to a team of Shanghai- based hackers that for years had been involved in sensitive national security-related breaches.

Once they were in, the hackers waged a three-year cyberwar against Solid Oak, whose crime in the eyes of Beijing was accusing the Chinese government of misappropriating Cybersitter software for a national Internet censoring project. Solid Oak's website randomly went down, email went undelivered, an employee was spied on through her webcam and company revenues sunk to the point of near-collapse.

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