China joins fight against hacking

Updated: 2013-06-05 11:41

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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China has been the target of serious cyberattacks from the United States, but Beijing has never blamed Washington or the Pentagon because such accusations would be "technically irresponsible", Chinese Internet insiders said.

The cyberattacks from the US have been as grave as the ones the US claims China has conducted, they said on Tuesday.

China's Internet emergency response agency has tried its best to handle all the US complaints made this year, they said.

However, the US never mentioned the alleged Chinese hacking theft of the designs of more than 20 kinds of top US weapons, but instead gave the unverified information directly to the media.

"We have mountains of data, if we wanted to accuse the US, but it's not helpful in solving the problem," said Huang Chengqing, director of the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China, also known as CNCERT.

"The importance of handling Internet security cases keeps rising, but the issue can only be settled through communication, not confrontation."

Huang's remarks came after a slew of reports accusing China of hacking were released in the US this year. High-ranking officials in Washington also pressed Beijing on the issue in recent weeks.

According to CNCERT, in the first five months of this year, 13,408 overseas trojan horses or bot control servers - two popular hacking tools - hijacked around 5.63 million mainframes in China. Of those, 4,062 US-based control servers hijacked 2.91 million mainframes in China.

The US ranked first in both the number of control servers and the number of mainframes controlled in China.

In the same period, websites of 249 important Chinese organizations including government departments, key information systems and research institutions were implanted with backdoor programs. Among them, 54 websites were hijacked by US-based IP addresses for stealing information.

"However, it's hard to judge whether the US government supported or got involved in the hacking. Besides, hackers can easily hide their real location and identities," Huang said.

"So technically it is irresponsible and unfounded for some people to talk about alleged hacking supported by the Chinese authorities."

As for the Washington Post report in late May about Chinese hacking on US weapons, Huang said design information of top-class weapons is usually listed as top national secrets. "Even following the general principle of secret-keeping, it should not have been linked to the Internet."

Huang said his agency has been fighting with hackers. Except for daily work of Internet security monitoring, prewarning and emergency response, CNCERT cut hackers' remote control on 39.37 million infected mainframes in 2012.

The agency has set up Internet security cooperative relations with 91 organizations in 51 countries and regions.

Huang said a case in March explains the importance of such cooperation.

At that time, South Korea suspected that Chinese hackers paralyzed the network of some local media and banks and required assistance from CNCERT. Through joint efforts, it was discovered that the IP address connected to the hacking was in the range of Chinese IP addresses but was actually used by a South Korean bank.

As for cooperation with the US, Huang said in the first four months of this year CNCERT received 32 Internet security cases from the US, among the 227 complaints from abroad.

They handled the US cases in time, except for attempted IP address attacks, which lacked sufficient proof. And they sent feedback to the US on all the cases.

(China Daily USA 06/05/2013 page2)