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February 28, 2013

China Claims U.S. Hackers Attacked Military Websites

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

The cyber warfare situation between the U.S. and China just keeps getting worse, if both parties are to be believed. This time, however, China is accusing the U.S. of repeatedly attacking two Chinese military websites, including the country's Defense Ministry page.

In all, the sites were hit by around 144,000 hacking attacks per month last year, the majority of which came from within the U.S., according to China's defense ministry. The U.S. has yet to respond to this allegation.

"The Defence Ministry and China Military Online websites have faced a serious threat from hacking attacks since they were established," said Chinese defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng in a statement. "We hope that the U.S. side can explain and clarify this."

Yansheng went on to add that an analysis of the IP addresses involved in the attacks found that the point of origin was the U.S. 62.9 percent of the time. What's significant about this information is that, despite leveling hacking allegations against a number of other nations, this is believed to be the first time that Chinese officials have provided details about the alleged attacks.

Earlier this month, the tables were turned as the U.S. government accused China of similar hacking measures. The Obama administration's claims, however, were backed up by a third party, Virginia-based cyber security firm Mandiant, which released details linking a secret Chinese military unit, the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398, to cyber attacks against U.S. companies stretching back over several years. Military experts believe this unit's actions were authorized by the highest levels of the Chinese military.

However, the Chinese government denied any involvement in the attacks, which affected over 140 organizations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government recently conducted a "secret legal review," which concluded that pre-emptive cyber attacks against a threatening nation are acceptable. As such, it's unlikely the cyber conflict between these two countries will settle down any time soon.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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