China Fights Back Over Hacking Allegations On US Companies

China’s state media has come out fighting after over allegations of cyberattacks on US companies, and declared the accusations a “commercial stunt.”

Earlier this week, Alexandria based Internet security firm Mandiant, said Chinese military cyberspy unit had been targeting US and other foreign firms and organisations in hacking attacks.

But China Daily have hit back, writing: “One cannot help but ask the real purpose of such a hullabaloo.”

The paper added:

“With the US economic recovery dragging its feet, it is reasonable to think that some in Washington may want to make China a scapegoat so that public attention is diverted away from the country’s economic woes.”

China Daily also quoted defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as saying the People’s Liberation Army had also been targeted in a “significant number” of cyberattacks.

“A considerable number” of them originated in the United States, judging from the IP addresses involved,” he said, but added that he did not “accuse” the US government of being involved.

According to Agence France-Presse, Mandiant’s report alleges that the hacking group “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT1), was part of the Chinese military’s Unit 61398. Mandiant also said APT1 have stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 across 20 industries, some of whom are involved with US domestic infrastructure.

But official state news agency Xinhua said the Mandiant report “reeks of a commercial stunt”.

“Next time,” wrote Xinhua in a stinging commentary, “the CEO could simply say: ‘See the Chinese hackers? Hurry up, come and buy our cyber security services.’ ”

The state news agency added that the US had a “matchless superiority and an ability to stage cyberattacks across the globe”, and that the US military had “established a significant cyber force, including the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is a regular military unit tasked with carrying out cyber missions”.

In a further missive, Xinhua said Washington had a “habit of accusing other nations based on phony evidence,” adding:

“Facts will eventually prove that the cyberattacks accusations are groundless and will only tarnish the image and reputation of the company making them, as well as that of the United States.”

The comments in China’s media comes after President Obama’s administration executive order on February 12 which promised to aggressively combat the increase in cyberattacks pursuing trade secrets that could threaten domestic economic and national security, Mondaq reports.

In a report titled the Cyberspace Policy Review, the White House did not explicitly name China as a threat, but the inference was clear.

The step-up on US cyber-security follows well publicized claims of hacking attacks from Chinese sources at The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday, “We have repeatedly raised our concerns at the highest levels about cybertheft with senior Chinese officials, including in the military, and will continue to do so. This is a very important challenge.”

At a subsequent press briefing on Wednesday, Carney added there could be possible trade restrictions imposed on China.

But some experts say most the documented cyberattacks have been linked to Eastern Europe, with the remainder linked to the U.S. and only a handful to China.

“There are too many people right now saying, ‘the sky is falling,’ without proposing cost-effective solutions, which is causing a lot of confusion,” said James Hendler, professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, IB Times reports.

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