By Hojin Choi
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – China refuted the U.S. hacking charges alleged in a Senate report. The report said the Chinese government backed hackers who intruded into computer systems of U.S.-based private companies. The companies included U.S. airlines, technology companies, and some contractors for the U.S. military.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said during a daily briefing that the report was groundless and urged that the U.S. must stop “irresponsible assaults and accusations.” Lei went on to blame the U.S. for cyber-attacks on other countries. He said the U.S. government should “stop large scale and systematic cyber-attacks against other countries and do more to uphold peace and security of the cyberspace.”
Lei also pointed out that “[t]he Chinese law bans all the activities that sabotage internet security, including hacker attacks, and resolutely combats relevant criminal activities.”
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee made public of its report on May 17. The report was produced after a year long probe. The report says that hackers linked to China invaded the U.S. Transportation Command (Transcom) at least 20 times in one year. Transcom is a private company that moves troops and military goods across the globe.
The report emphasized the cyber weakness of private military contractors. The military itself has strong cyber security, but private companies do not. Cyber security expert Dmitri Alperovitch commented that “the military uses secret or top-secret networks that are not on the Internet, but private companies do not.” He added that China has recently showed a strong interest in the logistical patterns of the U.S. military.
The report also voiced concern about a lack of information sharing among U.S. government entities. According to the report, there had been about 50 intrusions or other cyber events into Transcom’s system, and at least 20 of them were successful. However, Transcom was aware of only 2. The committee’s top Republican, Senator Jim Inhofe, called for a “central clearinghouse” to help the contractors report suspicious cyber activities to the government and military.
“These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China’s aggressive actions in cyberspace,” said Senator Carl Levin, the chairperson of the committee. In May, the U.S. accused five Chinese military officials of hacking nuclear, metal, and solar companies. According to Community Health Systems, one of the largest U.S. hospital groups, Chinese hackers attacked and stole personal data of some 4.5 million patients just last month.
For more information, please see:
Reuters – Chinese hacked U.S. military contractors: Senate panel – 18 September 2014
The Wall Street Journal – Chinese Hacked U.S. Military Contractors, Senate Panel Says – 18 September 2014
PCWorld – China says US hacking accusations are ‘totally groundless’ – 18 September 2014
Global Post – China refutes U.S. hacking charges – 18 September 2014