Hackers have attacked the Tibetan government-in-exile's Chinese-language website, installing an unidentified piece of malware which could have compromised the computers of users, a spokesman and a security expert said Tuesday. The attack targeted the Tibet.net website, which is the official site of the exiled government providing information about the parliament, cabinet, administrative departments and public offices. "We are a prominent target for attacks by Chinese hackers," Tashi Phuntsok, spokesman for the exiled government based in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala, told AFP. "I assume they do it to steal our documents, disable our communication systems or spy on people who visit our sites," he said. Later on Tuesday the website was functioning again and the virus had been removed. Kurt Baumgartner, a researcher at Kaspersky Lab, a global manufacturer of antivirus software based in Moscow, detected the attack late Monday and said the website had been "strategically compromised" as a result. The attack involved the installation of a type of malware called a "backdoor" on users' computers, Baumgartner wrote on a blog maintained by the cyber-security firm. A "backdoor" typically provides its creator with unauthorised remote access to a computer. It can be used to send spam or spy on users. Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, told AFP that the 78-year-old's official website www.dalailama.com continued to function normally. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. He later founded the government in exile in Dharamshala after being offered refuge by India. China vilifies the Dalai Lama as a "separatist" who incites violence in Tibet, while the Dalai Lama insists his sole focus is a peaceful campaign for greater autonomy for his homeland. Beijing's vast security services closely monitor the exiled Tibetan community while seeking to identify and thwart dissidents inside the heavily militarised region. Since 2009 China has been swept by a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans, with more than 100 setting themselves on fire and many dying in protests against Beijing.
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