News / Asia

Chinese Cyber Hackers a Growing Threat

Chinese hackers have conducted a growing number of attacks against foreign companies and government institutions in recent years, leading a recent U.S. congressional report to call China the "most threatening actor in cyberspace."

Although the attacks are difficult to trace to a specific source, many suspect the hackers are targeting overseas business, media, political and security institutions at the direction of, or with the permission of, the Chinese government or military.

Chinese officials have denied the charge, saying Beijing also is a victim of computer attacks and security breaches. They argues that just because cyber attacks may originate from Chinese soil does not mean China is sponsoring the attackers.

New York Times hints at cyber attack by Chinese military

The latest accusation came Thursday from the New York Times, which said hackers employing methods known to be used by the Chinese military broke into its computers, in apparent retaliation for a scathing investigation into the wealth of Premier Wen Jiabao.

Related - Chinese Hackers Attack NY Times Website

The story fits the pattern of many China-based journalists and activist groups, who have long complained of computer-based attacks and other techniques allegedly aimed at intimidating them and their sources from covering topics that upset Beijing.

Although the Times was able to employ a large computer security firm to help protect it from cyber attacks, observers say many smaller organizations with modest IT budgets are more vulnerable because they are unable to provide the same level of protection.

US report: China 'most threatening actor in cyberspace'

Chinese hackers also are believed to have spied on U.S. government and military activities, as detailed in a November report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The report said state-sponsored hackers often have stolen sensitive information to help advance China's political, economic and security objectives. It also said China often chooses to look the other way when "hacktivists," or independent cyber criminals, conduct attacks against U.S. business or government interests.

The report said the issue is complicated by the widespread existence of state-owned or state-controlled companies in China, which often employ hackers to steal trade secrets in order to gain advantages on foreign competitors.

Because of these factors, the U.S. panel called China "the most threatening actor in cyberspace."

Evidence suggests growing Chinese involvement in hacking

Recent data suggests the problem is only getting worse. A quarterly report last week from Akamai Technologies found that global cyber attacks originating from China more than doubled in the third quarter of 2012, compared to the previous three months. The study suggests that one-third of all cyber attacks now come from China.

Even though a growing amount of evidence suggests Beijing's involvement in cyber hacking, security analysts say it is difficult to trace the attacks directly to the Chinese government, in part because hackers use sophisticated methods to hide their tracks.

Thursday's New York Times story said the hackers tried to conceal their activities by routing their attacks through overseas computers and continually switching IP addresses. It also said Beijing maintains plausible deniability for hacking attempts by outsourcing attacks to skilled hackers.

Washington facing 'Cyber Pearl Harbor?'

Washington officials in recent months have warned of the dire threat posed by foreign computer hackers, including those in China. This week, the Pentagon moved to address those threats, increasing the size of its cyber security force by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900.

The move comes just weeks after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that the U.S. faces the possibility of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" attack that could disrupt the country's power grid, transportation system and financial networks.

U.S. officials have repeatedly raised the issue with China, which continues to deny involvement in any cyber espionage. It argues that it has worked hard to crack down on Internet crimes, saying the Chinese government itself is the world's biggest victim of cyber attacks.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
February 01, 2013 12:13 PM
The PRC is the greatest threat to cyber security in the world. Tibetan, Uighur, and Chinese dissidents are hacked and attacked by the PRC constantly. The PRC also spies on pretty much everyone else. The PLA has a whole unit for cyber-warfare & recruits in colleges. The US and other nations must be prepared for cyber-war w/ the PRC.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More