China responds to hacking claims

News 28 Feb, 2013

Beijing says its military websites get attacked by the US.

The Chinese government has revealed details about the number of hacking attempts on its websites and claimed that hackers in the US is responsible for around two-thirds of these.

According to a report by Chinese-government-backed newspaper, The China Daily, military websites in the country were attacked 144,000 times a month in 2012 by foreign hackers, with 62.9 percent from the US, a military spokesman told the publication.

The spokesman said that the websites of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and China Military Online, sponsored by PLA Daily of the Chinese People's Liberation Army were regularly attacked since they came online.

"There has also been an increase in attacks in recent years," Geng Yansheng, MND spokesman, told Chinese media.

Geng said that the US government should "explain and clarify" what it meant after media reports said that Washington would be involved in carrying out "pre-emptive" cyber attacks and expanding its online warfare capabilities. Geng said that the Chinese military had "no cyber warfare units".

According to research carried out by IT security firm Mandiant, a hacking group with links to the Chinese army had stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations, mostly in the US. The firm identified a  Shanghai-based Unit 61398 of the Chinese army as the most likely culprits. It said the unit had carried out "sustained" attacks against its targets.

In a blog post, the firm said it had further evidence that the Chinese military was linked to another hacking group APT1 and pointed to a phone number that links the two.

However, the Chinese Defence Ministry said that this report had "no factual basis".

The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets in the US have come under attack in the last month. Most organisations have pinpointed the blame on attacks originating in China. Beijing has vehemently denied any involvement.