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Beijing hits back at US hacker claims

2013-02-05 08:59 Global Times     Web Editor: Liu Xian comment

The People's Daily denounced Monday recent accusations from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that they had been the victims of cyber attacks originating from China, calling it a strategy for the US to suppress China's development using cyber forces.

The flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC) stated that China has been accused of cyber attacks for years by US organizations based on insufficient evidence such as IP addresses traced to China.

Hong Lei, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded Thursday that "the conclusion that China participated in related cyber attacks based on unverified evidence is irresponsible," adding that China was also a victim and Chinese law strictly forbids Internet attacks.

Ryan Sherstobitoff, a researcher with McAfee, a major Internet security company, was quoted by the AFP as saying that computer traffic can be routed via various locations and "it's hard to pinpoint the origin" of these attacks.

The New York Times published a story Wednesday claiming that Chinese hackers have been infiltrating its computer systems for the last four months and obtained employees' passwords.

Following the accusation was Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. The company said Thursday that the newspaper's computer systems had been attacked by Chinese hackers aiming to identify the sources of its China coverage and upcoming pitches.

The newspaper also quoted extracts from The New Digital Age, a soon-to-be published book by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, who criticized China as the world's "most sophisticated and prolific hacker."

The Washington Post also reported Saturday that it experienced similar attacks in 2011 but did not provide further details.

The US Department of Defense is to expand the size of its cyber security force by more than fivefold over several years, reported The Washington Post, and the Associated Press reported that the US is preparing a new National Intelligence Estimate, which will include the economic impacts brought by cyber attacks from China.

Zhu Feng, an international security expert and professor at Peking University, told the Global Times Monday that these moves and accusations suggest that cyber security is a new strategic focus for the US against China, and the Chinese government should pay serious attention to it in order to secure stable bilateral cooperation and protect its national image.

"Cyber security is an intensive but invisible form of combat related to global public interests, and China should respond actively and not only make denials. The cyber world also has boundaries and rules that every country needs to follow," said Zhu.

Tang Lan, an information security scholar, told the Global Times that a "cyber war," if escalates, could sabotage military and civil infrastructure. so countries should follow the rules with discretion.

The People's Daily also noted that fighting cyber attacks needs international cooperation, rather than accusing others or applying double standards in Internet management.

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