Fri, Nov 13, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Cyberwar division behind Tsai Web site blitz: analysts

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Defense analysts yesterday said that the Chinese army’s top electronic warfare division, “Unit 61398” was behind Wednesday’s onslaught of messages posted by Chinese netizens targeting the Facebook fan page of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

The event was an attack on Tsai under directives given by Unit 61398 to test its cyberwarfare operations, when China’s strict Internet security was eased temporarily to allow access to Facebook on Wednesday, Chinese-language magazine Asia Pacific Defense editor-in-chief Cheng Chi-wen (鄭繼文) said.

Cheng said that during Wednesday’s test period, Chinese netizens could access Facebook through university networks with registered campus accounts, while the Internet firewall remained.

He said that Beijing’s main Internet security wall was the “Golden Shield Program,” which is administered by Unit 61398, based in Pudong, Shanghai.

Under the “Golden Shield Program,” the cyberarmy at Unit 61398 work around the clock to block “unfriendly” Web sites and social media sites, Cheng said.

Unit 61398, operated by the Peoples Liberation Army, has its own “hacker army” allegedly penetrating foreign network sites.

Normally Facebook cannot be accessed from China. However, Unit 61398 was testing the “Golden Shield Program” on Wednesday for a limited period giving access to Facebook via computer networks at a number of major Chinese universities.

It is alleged that coordinated efforts by Chinese netizens to blitz Tsai’s fan page, which amounted to 80,000 critical postings within a short period of time, were a result of this test.

Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) said that the police would not investigate the matter, as “it was not a cyberattack and did not involve a breach of Internet security.”

Some media outlets reported that the Facebook breach on Wednesday was due to a glitch in China’s “Great Firewall,” because of the high volume of traffic on many networks on Wednesday Nov. 11, is promoted as “Singles’ Day” in China when discounts are offered to shoppers.

Analysts said that China’s Internet security measures were overwhelmed by online traffic and netizens accessed Facebook and took advantage of the situation to blitz the DPP presidential candidate’s fan page.

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