A secretive Chinese military unit may be behind a series of US hacking attacks, according to a US computer security company.
The accusations have prompted a strong denial from China, as well as a rebuttal, claiming the nation is the victim of US hacking.
“The nature of ‘Unit 61398’s’ work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful ‘Computer Network Operations.’ “
Mandiant believes that the unit, part of the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai-based units, is likely the driving force behind recent hackings.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the report, adding that it opposes hacking. It added that the evidence in the report is doubtful. Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Ministry, stated:
“Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. Determining their origins are extremely difficult. We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable.”
USA Today reports that Mandiant added Unit 61398 “is likely government-sponsored and one of the most persistent of China’s cyber threat actors.”
The report also alleges that the unit has stolen “hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations.” Mandiant is not the only group to label China as a threatening hacking group. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission concluded that the country is the “most threatening actor in cyberspace” last November.
The Mandiant report stated that data stolen by the Chinese military unit includes blueprints, pricing documents, details on mergers and acquisitions, emails, and contact lists. There was little discussion on the matter in China on Tuesday, because of the nation’s strong censorship.
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