A spokesman for the Chinese government has poured scorn on the New York Times‘ allegations that its military is behind the recent cyber attempts on U.S. agencies and institutions. “To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible or professional,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei. Mr Hong was responding to a report in the New York Times which claims that 141 cyber attacks have emanated from either within, or in the close environs of, the same building off Shanghai’s Datong Road, owned by the People’s Liberation Army, and where its Unit 61398 is based.
“Either they [the attacks] are coming from inside Unit 61398,” said Kevin Mandia, the owner and founder of the Internet security firm which undertook the original report, “or the people who run the most-controlled, most-monitored Internet networks in the world are clueless about thousands of people generating attacks from this one neighborhood.”
Mandiant also released this video, which claims to show an attack in progress.
The firm behind the 60-page report is Mandiant, the security firm charged by the New York Times with looking into the sustained cyber-attack in 2012 on the newspaper’s computer system. The findings focus on APT1, or Advanced Persistent Threat 1, a cyber espionage group which has been active since 2006, and is, says Mandiant, responsible for attacks on “a broad range” of victims. Other claims made by the report include:
- The group is state-sponsored and, like many similar groups, are run by army officers or contractors working for commands like Unit 61398.
- As well as “draining terabytes of data” from firms such as Coca-Cola, as well as other major U.S. corporations, the hackers are now targeting U.S. infrastructure, such as the power grid, gas and water supplies. Both the State Department and the Defense Department were targeted.
The Obama administration is expected to tell Chinese officials that the hacking is throwing a spanner in the Sino-American relationship. “In the Cold War, we were focused every day on the nuclear command centers around Moscow,” one unnamed Defense official said recently. “Today it’s fair to say that we worry as much about the computer servers in Shanghai.”
[Image by Flickr user sfthq]