clear
Saturday May 28th, 2016 12:35AM

US security firm alleges massive Chinese hacking

By The Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) -- Cyberattacks that stole massive amounts of information from military contractors, energy companies and other key industries in the U.S. and elsewhere have been traced to the doorstep of a Chinese military unit, a U.S. security firm alleged Tuesday.

China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the report as "groundless," and the Defense Ministry denied any involvement in hacking attacks.

China has frequently been accused of hacking, but the report by Virginia-based Mandiant Corp. contains some of the most extensive and detailed accusations to date linking its military to a wave of cyberspying against U.S. and other foreign companies and government agencies.

Mandiant said it traced the hacking back to a neighborhood in the outskirts of Shanghai that includes a drab, white 12-story office building run by "Unit 61398" of the People's Liberation Army.

The unit "has systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations," Mandiant wrote. By comparison, the U.S. Library of Congress 2006-2010 Twitter archive of about 170 billion tweets totals 133.2 terabytes.

"From our observations, it is one of the most prolific cyberespionage groups in terms of the sheer quantity of information stolen," the company said. It added that the unit has been in operation since at least 2006.

Mandiant said it decided that revealing the results of its investigation was worth the risk of the hackers changing their tactics and becoming even more difficult to trace.

"It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively," it said.

In a statement faxed to The Associated Press, the Defense Ministry firmly rejected any involvement in hacking, saying Chinese law forbids all activities harming Internet security.

"The Chinese government has always firmly combated such activities and the Chinese military has never supported any form of hacking activity," the ministry said. "Statements to the effect that the Chinese military takes part in Internet attacks are unprofessional and are not in accordance with the facts."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not directly address the claims, but when questioned on the report Tuesday, he said he doubted the evidence would withstand scrutiny.

"To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional," Hong told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference.

Reiterating a standard China government response on hacking claims, Hong said China itself is a major victim of such crimes, including attacks originating in the United States.

"As of now, the cyberattacks and cybercrimes China has suffered are rising rapidly every year," Hong said.

Mandiant said its findings led it to alter the conclusion of a 2010 report it wrote on Chinese hacking, in which it said it was not possible to determine the extent of government knowledge of such activities.

"The details we have 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," the company said in a summary of its latest report.

It said the hacking was traced to the 2nd Bureau of the People's Liberation Army General Staff's 3rd Department, most commonly known as unit 61398, in the Shanghai suburbs.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the report, although it has in the past labeled such allegations as groundless and irresponsible, and has demanded that evidence be presented.

News of the report spread Tuesday on the Chinese Internet, with many commentators calling it an excuse for the U.S. to impose greater restrictions to contain China's growing technological prowess.

Graham Cluley, a British cybersecurity expert who was not involved in Mandiant's research, said people in the computer industry believe China's government is behind such attacks but have been unable to confirm the source.

"None of us would be very surprised or be uncomfortable saying we strongly suspect the Chinese authorities are involved in spying this way," said Cluley, a senior technology consultant for security firm Sophos in Britain.

"I think we are seeing a steady escalation" of sophistication in hacking, Cluley said. "This is really the new era of cybercrime. We've moved from kids in their bedroom and financially motivated crime to state-sponsored cybercrime, which is interested in stealing secrets and getting military or commercial advantage."
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 2 years ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 2 years ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 2 years ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 1 week ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 1 week ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 2 weeks ago )