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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora