News / Asia

US Firm Links Chinese Army to Cyber Attacks

The building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai, February 19, 2013. The building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai, February 19, 2013.
x
The building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai, February 19, 2013.
The building housing “Unit 61398” of the People’s Liberation Army is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai, February 19, 2013.
A U.S.-based Internet security group is accusing the Chinese government of involvement in a sophisticated campaign of cyber attacks against American businesses, government and critical infrastructure.

A 60-page report released Tuesday by Mandiant details dozens of attacks by a prolific, China-based hacker group it says is using "direct government support" to wage a "long-running and extensive cyber espionage campaign."

Mandiant says the group, referred to as APT1, has stolen massive amounts of data from nearly 150 organizations, mostly located in the United States, since 2006. It does not name the targets, but says they span 20 major industries, ranging from IT to financial services.

It says it has traced the activities of the group to a Shanghai neighborhood surrounding the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army's secretive unit 61398, which Internet security analysts previously linked to cyber attacks.

Related video report by Carla Babb
US Security Company Accuses China of Cyber Spyingi
X
February 20, 2013 6:19 AM
A U.S. cyber security company says Chinese hackers, backed by the Beijing government, are trying to steal information -- in a sophisticated campaign of cyber attacks against American businesses and the government. VOA's Carla Babb has more from Washington.


Key findings of Mandiant's report:

  • Links hacker group APT1 to secretive unit of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)
  • Says group is responsible for stealing data from at least 141 global organizations since 2006
  • Tracks dozens of cyber attacks to neighborhood surrounding PLA building in Shanghai
  • Says attackers commonly used emails containing malicious attachments to inflitrate networks


Chinese Government Reacts

China's foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei strongly denied the accusations at a regular briefing Tuesday.

"Hacker attacks are an international problem and should be dealt with based on mutual trust and international cooperation," he said. "It is neither professional nor responsible to make groundless accusations without hard evidence. It is also not conducive to settling the relevant problem."

When asked about the building Mandiant says is likely responsible for the hacking attempts, Hong said he does not see how the evidence is credible, given the difficulty in tracing the origin of cyber attacks. He also returned the accusation, pointing to a Chinese study that claims the U.S. is the source of most cyber attacks in China.

China has long been viewed as a major source of global hacking attempts. But Mandiant, like many other IT firms, has been reluctant to directly accuse the Chinese government of overseeing cyber attacks. Now, the group says it has acquired evidence to change its mind, saying "It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China."

The Virginia-based company says its seven-year investigation revealed that more than 90 percent of APT1's cyber attacks originated from the neighborhood of the 12-story PLA building. Although it could not trace the attacks directly to the facility in Shanghai's Pudong district, it argued it is extremely unlikely the Chinese military would be unaware that hundreds of attackers were operating so closely to its grounds.

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.
Recent Hacking Attempts Revive Concerns

A series of recent China-based hacking attempts on high-profile U.S. media outlets, including the New York Times  and Wall Street Journal, have revived concerns about Chinese cyber espionage. U.S. officials have increasingly warned of the threat, but some say Washington has not done enough to discourage the attacks.

Asia security analyst Wendell Minnick tells VOA that he was not surprised by the report. He says there is little incentive for China to discourage computer espionage activity originating from inside its borders.

"There's no reason for (the Chinese) to behave themselves. They're a hungry nation and they want to win. And, they want to dominate," says Minnick.

The Tuesday report said Chinese hackers such as APT1 have traditionally focused on stealing information like technology blueprints, manufacturing processes and other information from foreign companies.

But Mandiant says APT1 recently has become more focused on attacking U.S. infrastructure, such as companies that control electrical power grids, gas lines and other utilities.

Washington this year increased the size of its own cyber security force by more than 4,000 people - up from the current 900. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently warned of the vulnerability of critical U.S. infrastructure, saying America faces the possibility of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" attack in the future.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
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 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 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.

AppleAndroid