US, China Trade Cyberattack Charges

We know that China has a notorious reputation when it comes to cyberattacks. And in the similar vein, the United States has a reputation itself for conducting some serious cyberwarfare experiments. Clubbing together these countries, it makes a serious issue of cyberattacks, and a recent outcome of the war is the exchange of charges by both. Recently, both US and China traded charges over cyberattacks after the US security firm Mandiant alleged that Beijing controlled hackers who penetrated the US government, companies, and media.

Mandiant issues a 74-page report on the issue, stating that the hacking group “APT1″ (Advanced Persistent Threat) was believed to be a branch of what is known as Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army.

“Cyberattacks had been traced back to a non-descript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai, where China’s army was believed to be in charge of hundreds if not thousands of hackers. We believe that APT1 is able to wage such a long-running and extensive cyber espionage campaign in large part because it receives direct government support,” said Mandiant.

While US officials are quite concerned about the matter, they are cautious to voice the concerns, perhaps diplomatic ones.

“Cybertheft is a serious concern that comes up in virtually every meeting we have with Chinese officials, and has been raised at the highest levels. We consider this kind of activity a threat not only to our national security but also to our economic interests and (we are) laying out our concerns specifically so that we can see if there’s a path forward,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

On the other hand, Chinese defense officials completely deny the allegations and said that the army had never supported any kind of hacking activity. In fact, Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing was itself a major victim, with most overseas cyberattacks against it originating in the United States. Undoubtedly, they are referring to the renowned Stuxnet and Flame virus incidents carried out by the United States.

Not too many days have passed when hackers backed by Chinese military (supposedly) carried out repeated attacks on the New York Time’s cyber infrastructure. The New York Times said that the hackers stole the corporate passwords of every single one of its employees, while the personal devices of 53 of its employees were also hacked. To discover who was behind the attacks, the New York Times sought the services of Mandiant, a specialist computer security firm. Mandiant’s investigators quickly detected the attacker’s presence, blocking them from accessing the paper’s most important files, whilst attempting to trace their origin.

And just recently, Mandiant identified a 12-storey white building as the possible nerve center of a global hacking operation conducted by a secret cyberwarfare unit in China’s military. As one of the top computer security firms in the US, Mandiant has carried out numerous investigations on behalf of multinational corporations that have fallen victim to professional hackers over the last three years. Using the evidence its gained from those probes, the firm has carried out a series of reverse-engineering processes to identify IP addresses and decipher codes used by the hackers.

About Isha Suri

Isha Suri is a staff writer for SiliconANGLE covering social news and security trends. If you have a story idea or news tip, send it to @SiliconAngle on Twitter.