Not involved in cyber attacks on Google: Chinese military

Last Updated: Saturday, February 20, 2010 - 11:54

Beijing: The Chinese military on Saturday dismissed as "irresponsible" reports which pointed to its involvement in cyber attacks on Internet search giant Google.
Major General Luo Yuan of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences said that allegations linking the attacks with the Chinese government and military were irresponsible.

"China has on many occasions reiterated that it opposes hackings of any form and such activities are strictly prohibited by law. Its military would not go against the rules," Luo said.

"People can easily take advantage of a location, they use it as their disguise and divert attention elsewhere, to a supposedly more apparent direction," he was quoted as saying by the `China Daily`.

A New York Times (NYT) report on Thursday linked two Chinese educational institutions - Lanxiang Vocational School based in Jinan in Shandong province and Shanghai Jiaotong University -- to the online attacks that also targeted American corporations.

It cited Lanxiang`s ties with the Chinese military and Baidu, the major Chinese online search engine and Google`s competitor.

Last month, Google alleged it had come under a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" in mid-December originating from inside China and threatened to pull out its operations from this country, causing deep strains in US-China ties.

Pan Zheng, a senior expert in US strategy at National Defence University, said attacks on Google "had nothing to do with the Chinese government and military".

The search engine`s accusation is inadequate. "Even if the hacking location was confirmed to be inside China, it is still different from saying the attacks are backed by China," Pan said

Lanxiang Vocational School`s spokeswoman, surnamed Zhou, refuted the allegations that her institution was involved with the Chinese military, calling them as "ridiculous".

"Such speculation is ridiculous," Zhou told `China Daily`. "Our school does not have any ties with the military at all. I have received so many calls today asking me about some Google attacks and I think it`s totally bizarre how we as a local institution training junior school-level students, can be linked to it."

She said the school only provides basic computer training such as picture design. "We do not have any contracts or agreement whatsoever with the military."

A Chinese Internet security expert said that even if the hacking took place, it does not necessarily mean the attackers were at the schools or in China.

"Technically speaking, a computer`s IP address doesn`t represent the attacker`s address," said Li Fei, an information security expert at China`s National Defence University.

"Even if the report is proved true, the real intruders could be anybody from anywhere in the world, because the IP address can be also hijacked," another Chinese newspaper `Global Times` reported.

The NYT report had said that a series of online attacks on Google and dozens of other American corporations have been traced to computers at two educational institutions in China, including one with close ties to the Chinese military.

Quoting "people involved in the investigation”, the report said the attacks aimed at stealing trade secrets and computer codes and capturing e-mail of Chinese human rights activists, may have begun as early as April last year, months earlier than previously believed. Google announced on January 12 that it and other companies had been subjected to sophisticated attacks that probably came from China.

"Tracing the attacks further back, to an elite Chinese university and a vocational school, is a breakthrough in a difficult task.

"Evidence acquired by a United States military contractor that faced the same attacks as Google has even led investigators to suspect a link to a specific computer science class, taught by a Ukrainian professor at the vocational school. The revelations were shared by the contractor at a meeting of computer security specialists," it said.

The NYT report said that "if supported by further investigation, the findings raise as many questions as they answer, including the possibility that some of the attacks came from China. It also pointed that the vocational school is being used as camouflage for government operations".

It is possible that "the schools were cover for false flag intelligence operation being run by a third country," the report said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 20, 2010 - 11:54

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