Earlier today, security company Mandiant claimed that some hacking activities aimed at Western targets can be linked to China’s military. China was swift to respond. Just a couple of hours later, China’s Foreign Ministry made clear that this isn’t their problem. And in response, a ministry spokesman said that China has been one of the biggest victims in the world that suffered from cyber attacks and online crimes.
The Chinese government has always firmly combated such activities and the Chinese military has never supported any form of hacking activity. Statements to the effect that the Chinese military takes part in Internet attacks are unprofessional and are not in accordance with the facts.
The spokesman, Hong Lei, was talking at a scheduled daily press conference. He added, “To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional.”
But Mandiant – the same company that investigated the New York Times hack attack which was said to have been a politically-motivated one from China – says that it has tracked down hacking activity to the area around one building in Shanghai that houses a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. A video that Mandiant released alongside its report shows a live screencast – as the snooper becomes snooped upon – of Chinese hackers at work, entering into digital backdoors in computer networks to access private information.
According to Akamai’s data in Q3 2012 provided to the Wall Street Journal, China leads the world as the top source of cyberattack traffic – at 33 percent of the world’s online attacks – which more than doubled from 16 percent in the second quarter. The U.S. was ranked second at 13 percent in Q3 2012. The Wall Street Journal also claimed that its own servers might have been “infiltrated by Chinese hackers believed to have government links.”
Previously, the National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center of China had stated that the U.S. was the top source of attacks directed at China.
Nowadays, it isn’t just about missiles or nuclear threats. Very soon, cyber threats could well be the fuse for major global conflicts. While that’s not fun at all, at least no one will be being bombed in pieces. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t speak too soon.