Top China uni linked to army's cyberspying unit

Shanghai Jiaotong University co-authored research papers on network security with a People's Liberation Army unit, accused of being involved in cyberwar against Western commercial targets.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

A top Chinese university collaborated on technical research papers with a People's Liberation Army unit (PLA), allegedly responsible for cyberattacks on Western commercial targets.

Shanghai Jiaotong's School of Information Security Engineering and the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398 collaborated on three network security research papers for years.

According to a report Sunday, Reuters found at least three papers--easily accessible online--on computer network security and intrusion detection, co-authored by faculty members of Shanghai Jiaotong University and the PLA Unit 61398. The army unit was identified as an operational unit actively engaged in cyberespionage by U.S.-based security firm Mandiant last month.

The papers, on network security and attack detection, state on their title pages they were written by Unit 61398 researchers and professors at Shanghai Jiaotong's School of Information Security Engineering (SISE).

In a 2007 paper on how to improve security by designing a collaborative network monitoring system, PLA researcher Chen Yi-qun worked with Xue Zhi, the vice president of SISE and the school's Communist Party branch secretary. In his biography on the school's Web site, Xue Zhi is credited with developing China's leading infiltrative cyberattack platform.

Still, there was no evidence which suggested any Shanghai Jiao Tong academics who co-authored the papers with Unit 61398 worked with anyone directly engaged in cyberespionage operations.

When contacted by Reuters, Shanghai Jiaotong University declined to comment. The newswire was unable to reach Xue, Chen and the PLA.

Fan Lei, an associate professor at the university whose main research areas are network security management and cryptography also co-authored a paper with Chen. However, Fan told Reuters he had no links with the PLA unit and his work with Chen in 2010 was because Chen was a SISE graduate student, and that he was unaware Chen was with the PLA when they worked together.

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