News / Asia

Chinese Army Rejects US Report on Cyber Hacking

x
William GalloVictor Beattie
China is adamantly denying a report by a U.S.-based Internet security group that accuses Beijing's army of carrying out a "long-running and extensive cyber espionage campaign" against American government and business targets.

Beijing's Defense Ministry on Wednesday released a statement saying the Chinese army has never supported cyber attacks. It said the Tuesday report by Mandiant "is not based on facts" and "lacks technical proof."

Mandiant says its investigation revealed that a secretive division of the People's Liberation Army, Unit 61398, was behind a group that carried out nearly 150 attacks on a wide range of mostly U.S. targets since 2006.

The White House would not directly comment on the report, but promised that it is taking all necessary steps to protect U.S. networks from cyber crimes and said it has raised the issue with Chinese leaders.

The Chinese government had already denied it was behind the attacks. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said Beijing was the victim, not perpetrator, of computer hacking, saying such activity is against Chinese law.

Map of the APT1 hacking headquarters in Shanghai, China.Map of the APT1 hacking headquarters in Shanghai, China.
x
Map of the APT1 hacking headquarters in Shanghai, China.
Map of the APT1 hacking headquarters in Shanghai, China.
The Defense Ministry repeated that insistence on Wednesday, saying its own data suggested that a "considerable" number of hacking attempts against it originate from the United States.

It also questions Mandiant's methodology of using IP addresses, or computer identification codes, to trace dozens of the China-based attacks to a neighborhood surrounding a PLA building in Shanghai. It argues the codes could be re-routed to appear as if they came from a different location.

China has long been considered the source of many of the world's cyber attacks, and many suspect the involvement of China's government and military. But most computer scientists and foreign governments have refrained from making direct accusations against Beijing, since specific attacks are difficult to pinpoint.

  • People walk past Unit 61398 in Shanghai February 19, 2013, the unit believed to be behind a series of hacking attacks.
  • A Chinese People's Liberation Army soldier stands guard in front of Unit 61398 in Shanghai. The Mandiant report says Chinese hackers have focused on stealing information like technology blueprints, manufacturing processes and other information from foreign companies.
  • Richard Bejtlich, Mandiant's Chief Security Officer: "The name of the game for this group is theft. From what we have seen they are there to take it and bring it back to China," he said of the group behind the cyber attacks.
  • Map of the APT1 hacking headquarters in Shanghai, China.
  • Part of the building of Unit 61398 in Shanghai.

Mounting evidence suggests Beijing's involvement

Internet security groups like Mandiant rely on several techniques that can trace the origin of malicious software back to China with with reasonable certainty, according to Brad Glosserman with the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum.

"They have particular signatures on them that we can identify and tell who has written similar software. That's number one. Number two, we look at the type of information being taken. Certain people want certain types of information ... and number three, we look at where it's going. And, while we can't be sure that this is ultimately the final end destination, when IP addresses are used consistently, we get a pretty strong conclusion that's where the attacks are coming from," Glosserman says.

Faced with mounting public evidence that it is involved in or does not take steps to halt cyber attacks, the Chinese government has responded by insisting it cannot control everything that occurs within its borders. But Beijing has a lot of incentive to claim it cannot do anything about the hacking, says Gabe Collins of the analysis group China SignPost.

"It makes a lot of economic sense for them," says Collins. "(Even) if there's not state support, there's literally probably billions of dollars in savings that accrue to the different Chinese laboratories and state-owned enterprises that can reap the fruits of this industrial espionage."

Collins points out that Beijing's state-controlled companies stand to profit from recent attacks that have stolen information on U.S. oil and gas companies, the Department of Defense and even information on one of America's most advanced aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Problem intensifying; could threaten ties?

Even though the U.S. and China consistently raise the issue and pledge cooperation on cyber security at regular dialogue sessions, the problem still seems to be getting worse, and some say it could threaten U.S.-China relations.

The prospect of being hacked by the Chinese government is something that U.S. companies will take under consideration when contemplating operations in China, says Patrick Chovanec, a professor at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

"On the one hand they're being regulated by the Chinese government, and on the other hand they may find themselves on the receiving end of attacks coming from other parts of the Chinese government," says Chovanec.

Obama considering tougher stance?

The Obama administration is considering taking a more aggressive stance on Chinese hackers, according to recent U.S. media reports, which have quoted government officials as saying trade sanctions or fines are possible against those found guilty of cyber crimes.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama did not mention China by name, but said America must face the "rapidly growing threat from cyber attacks" from foreign countries.

"We know hackers steal people's identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy," the president said.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Professor_H from: USA
February 22, 2013 12:51 PM
As a retired federal prosecutor, I think the solution is simple: With the IP addresses fully disclosed by the claimant Mandiant, the burden shifts to the Chinese government to present full disclosure of how the IP addresses were spoofed or otherwise misaddressed. This is not rocket science! It is simple investigatory protocol.


by: Igor from: Russia
February 20, 2013 10:49 PM
If you believe in Chinese People's Liberation Army, you are a stupid fool, no more, no less. China is the main copyrights infringer in the world. They buy Russian weapons, imitate them and then sell them to other nations. They also do countless dirty things without concerning any moral regulation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid