US says Chinese government is behind cyber spying campaign

US says Chinese government is behind cyber spying campaign

Summary: A U.S. report claims that China's government and military have targeted U.S. government networks as part of a cyber espionage campaign.

pentagon report china cybersecurity accusation spying

The Chinese government and military have engaged in widespread cyber espionage campaigns against the United States, an annual report claimed today.

The 83-page U.S. Department of Defense report, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" (PDF), says that intrusions originating from China have been designed to steal confidential information around the nation's "diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support national defense programs."

The annual report, submitted to Congress, states that China maintained a steady intelligence-gathering campaign last year. "Numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military," the report says. The Pentagon research continues:

"The information targeted could potentially be used to benefit China’s defense industry, high technology industries, policymaker interest in U.S. leadership thinking on key China issues, and military planners building a picture of U.S. network defense networks, logistics, and related military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis."

In February, U.S. security firm Mandiant alleged that China was responsible for an "overwhelming number" of cyberattacks, releasing a report that traced cyber espionage campaigns back to a military building in Shanghai. Mandiant said that "the detals analyzed during hundreds of investigations convince us that the groups conducting these activities are based primarily in China and that the Chinese government is aware of them." In response, Chinese officials dismissed the report as "groundless," questioning the validity of the security firm's evidence to suggest a link between China and cyberspying.

The U.S. Department of Defense report is the first of its kind which directly and strongly links cyber espionage with the Chinese government. In response, state-owned news agency Xinhua cited Wang Xinjun, a researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, who has called the accusations "irresponsible and harmful to the mutual trust between the two countries."

The researcher says that the "groundless" accusations reflect distrust between the U.S. and China. In addition, Xinjun says that it is irresponsible for the Pentagon to make such claims, as the Chinese government and military have never sanctioned cyberattacks. Calling the report an "allegation based on presupposition," the researcher suggests that instead of accusing each other the nations should collaborate to build mutual trust, or "more hostile actions will be expected in the future."

Both the United States and China have been victims of cyberspying campaigns. Research from Akamai Technologies recently suggested that while 41 percent of worldwide malicious traffic originates from China, the U.S. comes in second place, allegedly responsible for 13 percent of global attack-traffic.

Topics: Security, Government US, Malware, China

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  • Not exactly convincing

    That PDF report is just an unclassified overview of trends in China's policies, from its military operations to its humanitarian efforts. The cyber stuff mentioned above is only in one section of one page in a 83 page report, and, if anything, is much more toned down from U.S. government accusations from even earlier in the year (the Taiwan situation got far more coverage.) The report overall shows China still in the transition stage from developing country to active world power. The report highlighted how China put its first aircraft carrier into production, the Liaoning, but completely glossed over how it was a Ukrainian-made remnant from the fading days of the Soviet Union that was simply refitted. Even the jet it uses, the J-15, is just a version of the old Soviet-era Russian Su-33.

    My take is that the best evidence still indicates that China is mostly being used as a proxy, probably via botnets, in its supposed cyber attacks on the U.S. government: they have a lot of computers with apparently a not exactly sophisticated infrastructure to protect them.
  • The Chinese are coming

    I could imagine the reaction of US citizen similar to the Martian has landed story in USA. Just three weeks ago US media reported that South Korea's were attack by China hackers. Later South Korea an ally of USA announced that 70% of that attack came from USA while only 0.5% came from China. That is a feat only Google can manage. So the Chinese has higher cyber technology than Google. I thought you people think the Chinese are stupid. They only know how to 'knock off'. This is another of those 'WMD' accusation
    Kay Li