Cyberwarfare by China
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China is the world's second-largest economy, and a nuclear weapons state with the world's second-largest defence budget. Chinese Information Operations and Information Warfare includes the concept of “network warfare”, roughly analogous to the United States concept of cyberwarfare. Foreign Policy magazine puts the size of China's "hacker army" at anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 individuals.
Western countries have long accused China of aggressive espionage, but although officials and organisations have traced various attacks on corporate and infrastructure computer systems in their countries to computers in China "It is nearly impossible to know whether or not an attack is government-sponsored because of the difficulty in tracking true identities in cyberspace" and China has denied accusations of cyberwarfare, and has accused the United States of engaging in cyberwarfare against it - which the US government in turn denies.
While some details remain unconfirmed, it is understood that China organises its resources as follows:
- “Specialized military network warfare forces” (Chinese: 军队专业网络战力量) - military units for carrying out network attack and defense
- "PLA-authorized forces” (授权力量) - network warfare specialists in the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
- “Non-governmental forces” (民间力量) - civilian and semi-civilian[definition needed] groups that spontaneously engage in network attack and defense.
Chinese universities, businesses and politicians have been subjected to cyber espionage by the United States National Security Agency since 2009 according to Edward Snowden and to defend their own networks, the PLA announced a cyber security squad in May 2011.
Accusations of espionage
Organisations, companies and governments in a number of countries have alleged incidents of "hacking" or espionage by China.
Officials in the Canadian government claim that Chinese hackers have compromised several departments within the federal government in early 2011, though the Chinese government has refused involvement.
Officials in the Indian government have alleged that attacks on Indian government networks, such as that of the Indian National Security Council, have originated in China. According to the government, Chinese hackers are experts in operating botnets. Several instances have been reported about Chinese cyber attack against India.
The United States has accused China of cyberespionage against American interests, accessing the networks of important military, commercial, research, and industrial organisations. A Congress advisory group has declared China "the single greatest risk to the security of American technologies" and that "there has been a marked increase in cyber intrusions originating in China and targeting U.S. government and defense-related computer systems".
In January 2010, Google reported on targeted attacks on its corporate infrastructure originating from China "that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google". Apparently, the Gmail accounts of two human rights activists were compromised in the raid on Google's password system. American security experts connected the Google attack to various other political and corporate espionage efforts originating from China, including espionage against military, commercial, research, and industrial corporations. Obama administration officials called the cyberattacks "an increasingly serious cyber threat to US critical industries".
In addition to Google, at least 34 companies have been attacked. Reported cases include Northrop Grumman, Symantec, Yahoo, Dow Chemical, and Adobe Systems. Cyberespionage has been aimed at both commercial and military interests
China has denied accusations of cyberwarfare, and has accused the United States of engaging in cyberwarfare against it, accusations which the United States denies. Wang Baodong of the Chinese Embassy in the United States responded that the accusations are a result of sinophobic paranoia. He states that, "China would never do anything to harm sovereignty or security of other countries. In conformity with such national policies, the Chinese government has never employed, nor will it employ so-called civilian hackers in collecting information or intelligence of other countries. Allegations against China in this respect are totally unwarranted, which only reflect the dark mentality of certain people who always regard China as a threat."
As of March 2013, high level discussions continued.
In May 2014 a Federal Grand Jury in the United States indicted five PLA Unit 61398 officers on charges of theft of confidential business information from U.S. commercial firms and planting malware on their computers.
In September 2014, a Senate Armed Services Committee probe found hackers associated with the Chinese government had repeatedly infiltrated the computer systems of U.S. airlines, technology companies and other contractors involved in the movement of U.S. troops and military equipment, and in October 2014, The FBI said that hackers it believes to be backed by the Chinese government have recently launched attacks on U.S. companies.
In 2015, the U.S Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it had been the target of a data breach targeting the records of as many as 21.5 million people. The Washington Post reported that the attack originated in China, citing unnamed government officials. FBI director James Comey explained that "it is a very big deal from a national security perspective and from a counterintelligence perspective. It's a treasure trove of information about everybody who has worked for, tried to work for, or works for the United States government."
During an 18-minute stretch on April 8th, 2010, state-owned China Telecom advertised erroneous network routes that instructed "massive volumes" of U.S. and other foreign Internet traffic to go through Chinese servers. A US Defense Department spokesman, told reporters that he did not know if "we've determined whether that particular incident ... was done with some malicious intent or not" and China Telecom denied the charge that it "hijacked" U.S. Internet traffic.
- 2011 Canadian government hackings
- Beijing–Washington cyber hotline
- Chinese intelligence activity abroad
- Cyberwarfare by Russia
- Death of Shane Todd
- Google China
- Honker Union
- Operation Aurora
- Operation Shady RAT
- Titan Rain
- People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force
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