The Pentagon directly accused China of hacking US computer systems to gain access to its military technology. The accusations were part of an 83 page report to Congress on China’s military activity. It is the first time the US military has directly accused the Chinese government of cyber espionage activities into its computer systems. It is the most direct statement alleging cyber espionage to be made by the US government.
The report specifically states that the Chinese government has hacked US databases in order to improve the technology of China’s military. The report also outlined Chinese military developments, including new Navy ships, advanced fighter planes and so-called anti-access military systems. The report also stated that China conducted the hacks in order to gain insight into US policy makers attitudes towards China, the Wall St. Journal reported.
“China is using its computer network exploitation capability to support intelligence collection against the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors that support U.S. national defense programs,” said the report. “The US government continued to be targeted for (cyber) intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the Chinese government and military.”
The report states that the hacking is evidence of a larger threat because the “skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attacks.”
Last February, the security company Mandiant identified the Comment Crew, a group of Chinese hackers who have hacked innumerable US businesses, and linked the group to the Chinese military. Last week, it was revealed that the Comment Crew extensively hacked QinetiQ, gaining access to a massive amount of US military secrets, including drone and robotic technology.
China denied any hacking of US military information.
“China is carrying out necessary and moderate defense building, which is completely for the purpose of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it is the legitimate right of any sovereign state,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “China has also made clear its position on cyberattacks and is firmly against any forms of cyberattacks.”
Earlier this week, China attempted to turn the tables, calling Washington “the real hacking empire,” and accused the US of sowing discord between China and its neighbors, Reuters reported.
“Promoting the ‘China military threat theory’ can sow discord between China and other countries, especially its relationship with its neighboring countries, to contain China and profit from it,” the newspaper said in a commentary that was carried on China’s Defense Ministry’s website.
The United States is “trumpeting China’s military threat to promote its domestic interests groups and arms dealers”, the newspaper said, adding that it expects “U.S. arms manufacturers are gearing up to start counting their money.”