Security company CrowdStrike said Shanghai-based unit 61486 of the
People's Liberation Army 12th bureau has attacked networks of
Western government agencies and defense contractors since 2007.
CrowdStrike said the hacking targeted the U.S. space, aerospace and
communications sectors. The cyberspying targeted "popular
productivity applications such as Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office
to deploy custom malware through targeted email attacks,"
Less than three weeks ago the U.S. Justice Department took the
unprecedented step of unsealing indictments against five members of
another People's Liberation Army unit that allege they stole trade
CrowdStrike said it was publicizing a report previously sent to
clients to show that the issue was broader than many realize.
"After the Chinese response, where they basically said this is all
fabricated, we said why don't we unleash something that's
undeniable," said CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch. He said
the company had briefed U.S. intelligence agencies before publishing
CrowdStrike said an individual named Chen Ping registered website
domain names used in some of the intrusions. Chen's personal blog
appears to put his age as 35, and he identified himself as a
soldier, the report said.
Chen's email is tied to profiles, blogs and forum postings,
CrowdStrike said. Among material on those sites was a photo album
titled "office" that includes a building CrowdStrike identified as
the Shanghai headquarters of the military unit in question.
Chen did not respond to requests for comment sent to the email
addresses provided by CrowdStrike.
But a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry poured scorn on the
report, saying she had a strong sense of "déjà vu" about the
allegations, adding it was ridiculous to suggest any hacker would
openly advertise what he did.
"I think this is both curious and puzzling. Have you ever seen a
thief in the street who advertises on his chest that he is a thief?
Honestly speaking, I think what the U.S. has done here cannot be
accepted as correct," spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news
briefing in Beijing.
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Revelations by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden
that the United States carried out widespread online surveillance
showed that the U.S. had no right to point fingers when it came to
hacking, she added.
"The United States cannot pretend that it is
the victim. They are a hacker empire. I think everyone in the world
knows this," Hua said.
CrowdStrike was founded by former senior executives at big antivirus
company McAfee, now part of Intel . It has contracts and other ties
to the U.S. government.
The new report is likely to add to the escalating tensions over
cybersecurity issues between the world's two largest economies.
Chinese officials have already responded sharply to last month's
indictments, pulling out of talks on hacking issues and accusing the
United States of plundering Chinese political and military secrets.
However, China on Monday confirmed that it will participate for the
first time in a major U.S.-hosted naval drill being held near the
Pacific island of Guam later this month. China is sending four ships
including a destroyer and frigate, regardless of deep mistrust on
(This refiled version of the story changes translation to "hacker
empire" from "hacker enemy state" in paragraph 13)
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Ben
Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Simon
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