Chinese Official Accuses US of Hacking Websites

Dennis Faas's picture

The war of words between China and the United States over alleged cyber-espionage continues. A Chinese government official has revealed data that he says shows US sources are behind more than a million annual attacks on two Chinese websites.

An American security firm recently published a report indicating that a Chinese hacking group has carried out at least 140 security breaches of US websites in an attempt to steal sensitive information.

US Firm Tracks Hacks Back to China

The report said the group's attacks could be traced back to a specific building in Shanghai known to be operated by a unit of the Chinese military. That indicated that the hackers and the military unit were one and the same.

The report came shortly after revelations that the New York Times and other news sources had come under attack by a separate group of Chinese hackers, thought to be disgruntled by investigative reporting into alleged corruption among senior Chinese politicians.

At the time of the report's release, the Chinese government denied any wrongdoing and noted China itself came under attack by hackers on a frequent basis.

Chinese Official: US Attacking Us Frequently

Now, a spokesman for the Chinese defense ministry has announced that Chinese military websites suffer a combined 144,000 attacks each month, on average. He also noted that 62.9 per cent of these attacks can be traced back to US sources. (Source:

The spokesman told a press conference, "We hope that the U.S. ... can explain and clarify this." (Source:

Although China is trying to present the impression that both sides are equally guilty, the two sets of statistics are not directly comparable. The figure of 140 attacks in the US covers known breaches in which data was compromised.

It's likely the vast majority of the 144,000 monthly attacks in China are either unsuccessful attempts to access data, or are attempts to disrupt the site's availability.

It's also notable that China's references to 62.9 per cent of US sources simply means the attacking computers are known to be based in the US (or at least using a US connection).

In comparison, the Chinese attacks have been traced to a specific building.

This certainly isn't to say American attacks on Chinese websites are out of the question, however.

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