Several months ago, the cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army stopped attacks against US companies and government agencies after those attacks were discovered. Today it appears that the CPLA has once again started those attacks.
According to computer experts, the group is utilizing a different set of attacks in a failed attempt to hide their activities.
The New York Times notes that the Obama administration has taken a new approach to fighting back. Obama has begun “naming and shaming” discovered groups. The Pentagon has begun publishing reports of attacks by China’s government. That naming and shaming has allegedly led to China’s new leadership cracking down on attacks to avoid public humiliation when caught.
Private security firm Mandiant discovered the new attacks but has not announced which companies or government agencies have been affected. The company does admit that some of the targets were the same that were attacked in the past.
Over the prior five years China’s People’s Liberation Army attacked dozens, if not hundreds, of agencies. The group stole blueprints for manufacturing plans, clinical trial results, pricing documents, negotiation strategies, and various other pieces of proprietary software. In one of the most publicly known attacks, the group hacked the Coca-Cola Company ahead of its failed attempt to purchase China’s Huiyuan Juice Group. The group also attacked US security maker RSA. That particular technology developer provides security for government and defense contractors.
In what might be the scariest attack, the group has targeted national power grid systems including the Canadian arm of Telvent. That company keeps blueprints on more than half of the country’s oil and gas pipelines in North America.
Speaking about their surprise with the new attacks, the Obama administration notes:
“This is something we are going to have to come back at time and again with the Chinese leadership.”
The People’s Liberation Army after being discovered removed its spying tools from affected organizations that had been infiltrated. The group then waited a short period of time before re-installing tools on the affected machines.
It is believed that China’s attacks on US company’s and government organizations have now reached 60 to 70 percent of previous attack levels.
President Obama’s national security adviser Thomas Donilon is preparing to visit China and his talks with officials in the country are expected to play a central part in future economic ties the US chooses to take with China.
Could continued attacks by China’s government against US companies lead to diminished trade? All signs point to yes.
Do you think US companies who have been attacked by China’s government should stop trading with the country?