China’s army controls hundreds if not thousands of virulent and cutting-edge hackers, according to a report issued yesterday by a US Internet security firm that traced a host of cyberattacks to an anonymous building in Shanghai.
Mandiant said its hundreds of investigations showed that groups hacking into US newspapers, government agencies, and companies “are based primarily in China and that the Chinese government is aware of them.”
The 74-page report focused on one group, which it called “APT1” from the initials “Advanced Persistent Threat.” The New York Times, citing experts, said the group was targeting crucial infrastructure such as the US energy grid.
“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,” Mandiant said.
The group, it said, was believed to be a branch of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) called Unit 61398, and digital signatures from its cyberattacks were traced back to the direct vicinity of a nondescript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai.
“We believe the totality of the evidence we provide in this document bolsters the claim that APT1 is Unit 61398,” Mandiant said, estimating it is “staffed by hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people.”
China’s Ministry of Defense said its army had never supported any kind of hacking activity, adding: “Not only are reports that China’s army has been involved in hacking unprofessional, they do not fit with the facts.”
“Hacking attacks are a global problem. Like other countries, China also faces the threat of hacking attacks, and is one of the main countries falling victim to hacking attacks,” the ministry said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also rejected “groundless accusations” of Chinese involvement in hacking.
In its report, Mandiant said that APT1 — known also as “Comment Crew” for its practice of planting viruses on the comment sections of Web sites — has stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations spanning 20 industries.
The Times, which was given early access to the report, said the researchers had found that the Comment Crew was increasingly focused on companies involved in US infrastructure, including in its electrical power grid, gas lines and water works. It said one target was a company with remote access to more than 60 percent of oil and gas pipelines in North America.
The Comment Crew was also among those that attacked the computer security firm RSA, whose computer codes protect confidential corporate and government databases, the Times said.
The building pinpointed as the hacking headquarters sits in the Shanghai suburb of Gaoqiao, near a petrochemical complex and surrounded by small shops. There is no name plate outside, but framed posters showing soldiers are displayed on a high wall surrounding the complex, while the PLA’s symbol of a red star is mounted over the main door of the building.
One soldier in camouflage uniform stood at the main gate yesterday. Another wearing a PLA overcoat was stationed in the guardhouse.
Additional reporting by NY Times News Service
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus