On Thursday the Chinese government, long considered the aggressor in highly publicized U.S. cyberattacks, publicly spoke about being the victim. Two of its military Web sites were attacked an average of 144,000 per month and two-thirds of those strikes came from the United States, according to a ministry spokesman.
“The Defense Ministry and China Military Online Web sites have faced a serious threat from hacking attacks since they were established, and the number of hacks has risen steadily in recent years,” said ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng, according to a Reuters report. “According to the IP addresses, the Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites were, in 2012, hacked on average from overseas 144,000 times a month, of which attacks from the U.S. accounted for 62.9 percent,” he said.
The Chinese response, said during a closed meeting and later reported on a ministry Web site, comes after U.S. security company Mandiant fingered a Shanghai-based elite military unit of the People’s Liberation Army as the most likely source behind a number of advanced persistent threats against U.S. government and industries.
On China’s Defense Ministry Web site Thursday, Geng strongly hinted the United States was boosting its cyberwar policy based on nebulous “U.S. media reports.”
“These practices are not conducive to the joint efforts of the international community to enhance Internet security. We hope the United States will explain and clarify,” he said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Geng’s comments Thursday echo those made last week by another Chinese ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, at a news conference. “In 2012, about 73,000 overseas IP addresses controlled more than 14 million computers in China and 32,000 IP addresses remotely controlled 38,000 Chinese websites.” He hinted that the bulk of those attacks originated from the United States.
The Journal noted that Web traffic monitor Akamai Technologies has reported China was the world’s No. 1 source of observed attack traffic in Q3 2012, accounting for 33 percent of such traffic. The U.S. was second at 13 percent.