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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

China denies Pentagon cyber-attack claims

China is behind a campaign of cyber-espionage aimed at extracting America’s top military secrets, a Pentagon report has said, publicly accusing Beijing for the first time of being behind a well-documented Chinese hacking threat.
As China seeks to rapidly upgrade and expands military — including a new aircraft carrier and stealth fighter — the 92-page Pentagon report raised “serious concerns” over China’s on-going efforts to steal the technologies it needs.

“In 2012 the US government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military. These intrusions were focused on exfiltrating Information,” the report said.

“China is using its computer network exploitation (CNE) capability to support intelligence collection against the US diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs,” it added.

China reacted angrily to the accusation yesterday, repeating its long-standing denials that the hacking emanating from the Chinese mainland is government-sponsored, and accusing the US of making reckless accusations that could damage Sino-US relations.

A Foreign-ministry spokesman said that Beijing had made “representations” to the US government over the report, which it described as “not conducive to mutual trust or cooperation.” Senior Col. Wang Xinjun, a People’s Liberation Army researcher, was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying the accusations were “irresponsible and harmful to the mutual trust between the sides.” “The Chinese government and armed forces have never sanctioned hacking activities,” added Col. Wang, who is based at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, one of the PLA’s main think tanks. The military frequently uses such academics as proxy spokesmen.
The decision to turn up the diplomatic heat on Beijing over its use of cyber-espionage represents a change of tactics in Washington this year where diplomats say that for years they have made behind-the-scenes diplomatic representations to the China over the hacking issue.

“We either get flat denials or they shrug, as if to say all governments are involved in this kind of thing, so live with it,” was how one senior diplomatic characterised the usual Chinese response, adding there was a new determination to confront Beijing over the issue.

As well increasing public pressure, the Obama administration has signaled its determination to bolster the US’s own defences against cyber-spying and cyber-attack, asking Congress for a 21pc increase in Pentagon cyber security budgets this year.

The threat — and not just from China — was highlighted this week as a band of hackers, grouped under the hastag #OpUsa, promised widespread attacks yesterday on US government websites, in reprisal it said, for US foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While China talks of “mutual trust”, the Pentagon report highlighted the US’s own long-standing concerns about China’s lack of transparency as it builds a military commensurate with its newfound status as an emerging superpower.

In March China announced a 10.7 percent increase in official military spending to $114 billion, although actual defending spending for 2012 is estimated to range between $135 billion and $215 billion — though still less than half the US defense spending of more than $500 billion.

“What concerns me is the extent to which China’s military modernization occurs in the absence of the type of openness and transparency that others are certainly asking of China,” said David Helvey, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, at a Pentagon briefing on the report.

Earlier this year Bloomberg reported that hackers linked to China’s military had compromised “most if not all” of the computers belonging to QinetiQ North America, which produces spy satellites.

That report followed the publication of research by Mandiant, an US cybersecurity contractor, which said it had traced attacks against 140 mostly American companies to a Chinese military unit in Shanghai.

The problem is not confined to the US, with another report this year alleging that the European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. EADS and Germany’s largest steelmaker, ThyssenKrupp, had also been hacked by China.

1 comment:

  1. Are we sure this is not another 'Pollard', i.e. Israel selling top US military secrets to China?

    ReplyDelete