China denies cyber spies are linked to Chinese military unit

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VADUZ, Liechtenstein – A Shanghai-based unit of the Chinese army is believed to be behind a series of cyber attacks on US companies. Chinese cyber attacks are now seen to be so aggressive and all-pervasive that US companies are demanding their government put China under strong political pressure, says World Review security expert Dr Frank Umbach.

A report by US cyber security firm Mandiant claims it has sufficient evidence to link Chinese hackers to a secretive Chinese military unit and that it had stolen ‘hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006’.

US investigators say they have traced the military unit alleged to be carrying out the hacking to a 12-storey office block in the Pudong area of Shanghai, estimated to have a staff of hundreds or even thousands.

China has rebuffed the Mandiant report.

‘The Chinese government officially denies all Chinese cyber attacks and claims that its own cyber warfare strategies are wholly defensive,” says Dr Umbach Senior Associate and Head of the Programme ‘International Energy Security’ at the Centre for European Security Strategies (CESS), Germany. ‘Chinese experts say that cyber crime is also rocketing in China and becoming increasingly professional and well-organised.’

Dr Umbach warns of the increasing cyber attack capabilities of ‘rogue states’ such as North Korea and Iran, and those of trans-national cyber crime organisations. He warns that the attacks are expected to increase significantly and present highly-industrialised countries like the US and the EU-27 member states with new security threats.