Policy & Law
The location of the "overwhelming percentage" of Chinese cyberattacks on US corporations and government agencies is believed to have been found, and it’s a People’s Liberation Army base in Shanghai, reports The New York Times. According to a 60-page study from computer security agency Mandiant, the hacking group, referred to as "Comment Crew," could not be placed inside the 12-story office tower, the home of PLA Unit 61398, but there is no other explanation how so many of the attacks could have come from such a small geographical area. The alternative, says Mandiant, is that "a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multi-year, enterprise scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates, performing tasks similar to Unit 61398’s known mission."
The 'volume and sophistication' of the attacks threaten the relationship between the two countries
In the past weeks, major media outlets like The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times have been hacked. The latter reported that it believed the Chinese military was involved in the four-month-long attack on its systems; a charge that China staunchly denied. According to The Times, representatives of the Chinese embassy in Washington denied the charge again on Monday, insisting that the Chinese government does not engage in illegal computer hacking. Obama administration officials are quoted as saying that they plan to tell the Chinese leadership that the "volume and sophistication" of the attacks threaten the relationship between the two countries.
To counter the attacks, President Obama signed an executive order last week that allows the government to share more of its information on cybersecurity threats with private companies. The Pentagon also just approved a major multiyear expansion of its cybersecurity force aimed at protecting national infrastructure, an increasing focus of the attacks.
Update: The BBC now says that reporter John Sudworth was "stopped and briefly detained" while attempting to film outside the building. While he was able to capture some video, authorities apparently demanded that the camera crew turn over footage of the building and would not release them until they did so.