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


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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid