China rejects US hacking allegations

China’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday denounced as “groundless” the accusation by a US security firm that a secretive PLA unit is engaged in sophisticated cyber espionage around the world, saying the allegation lacked technical proof and legal basis.

“US cyber security firm Mandiant’s report is groundless both in facts and legal basis,” Geng Yansheng, spokesman with the Chinese Ministry of Defence, told reporters at a media briefing. China’s armed forces had never backed any hacking activities, he said.

Mandiant released a report on Monday in which it alleged that a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai was behind years of cyber attacks and has stolen data from 141 companies, 115 of which were in the US.

“Our research and observations indicate that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is tasking the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to commit systematic cyber espionage and data theft against organisations around the world,” alleged the report called ‘APT1: Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units’.

Geng said Mandiant’s report was groundless in fact because it came to the conclusion that the source of attack came from China simply because of the discovery that attacks were linked to IP addresses based in China.

As known to all, it is so common for hacking attacks on the Internet to take place by peculating IP addresses that “it happens almost everyday,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Geng as saying.

There has been no clear and consistent definition of cyber attacks around the world. The report lacks legal basis to assert cyber espionage only by cataloguing some routine cyber activities, he said.

This is not the first time China has been accused of orchestrating the cyber attacks on other countries. Beijing routinely denied such charges, saying that it too is a victim of cyber crimes from US and other countries. Geng said cyber attacks are transnational, anonymous and deceptive with their source often difficult to identify.

Releasing irresponsible information will not help solve problems, he said and reiterated that China is a major victim of cyber attacks. Statistics show that Chinese military end users connected to the Internet frequently come under cyber attack from abroad.

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