“Why Are Global Cyberspies So Desperate to Get Inside This Algae Farm?”
The Washington Post, July 13, 2014, p.G1
“About 16 months ago, a Florida-based biofuel company called Algenol noticed that its Internet service was slowing down. In checking that out, Jack Voth, Algenol’s information technology chief, stumbled on something odd: a telnet connection to its videoconference camera from an Internet Protocol address in China, a country where Algenol has never sought to do business. That was only the beginning. … [T]he company estimates that hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year, triple the level of a year earlier. The most serious of these were more than 63,000 attempts that came directly from China, including 6,653 attempts over 15 months from IP addresses and servers that Algenol says are the same as the Peoples’ Liberation Army addresses identified in a public report by Mandiant, a leading computer security firm. … It’s not usually the stuff of trade secrets, but Algenol, a company with about 125 employees, is developing technology that converts algae biomass into transportation fuels, including biodiesel and gasoline — all while consuming the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide rather than producing it. … The company pumps carbon dioxide and some brackish water into the bags and produces four transportation fuels — ethanol, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. [Algenol CEO Paul] Woods says it can do this for about $1.27 a gallon thanks to proprietary techniques.”
Quickie Analysis: Shortcuts to clean $1.27 per gallon fuel would appeal to many. Although the article focuses on China, Algenol has also been attacked by hackers from the US, Russia, Germany, North Korea, and Taiwan.