China names cyberattack culprit

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A space research university is the latest target of US intelligence, Chinese authorities claim

Beijing has accused Washington of conducting “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on Chinese information networks in recent years, including hacking the Northwestern Polytechnical University in June.

In a statement on Monday, China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) revealed the results of its joint investigation with 360 Security Technology Inc. into repeated attacks on the information systems of the government-funded university, known for its aeronautic and space research.

“The overall overview, technical characteristics, attack weapons, attack paths and attack sources of the relevant attack events have been analyzed, and it is preliminarily determined that the relevant attack activities originated from the Office of Tailored Access Operation (TAO) of the National Security Agency (NSA),” CVERC said.

According to Chinese authorities, US intelligence used “more than 40 different NSA-specific cyberattack weapons” to steal the university’s “key network equipment configuration, network management data, operation and maintenance data and other core technologies data.”

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Hacking the Xi’an-based university represents just one incident in a long line of cyberattacks against Chinese information infrastructure, CVERC claimed. Its investigation revealed that TAO continues “to expand the scope” of its activities and “has carried out tens of thousands of malicious network attacks on network targets in China, and controlled tens of thousands of network devices (network servers, Internet terminals, network switches, telephone switches, routers, firewalls, etc.), stealing over 140GB of high-value data.”

Authorities in the US have not yet responded to the Chinese allegations.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have hit a new low in recent months over the issue of Taiwan. Both have long accused each other of cyber espionage. Last year, China’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the CIA of hacking aerospace research facilities, oil industry, internet companies and government agencies.

Earlier this year, FBI chief Christopher Wray said that China had stolen “staggering volumes” of information and had been the source of more cyberattacks than all other countries combined.



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