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China Deflects Cyber Espionage Concern from Western Nations

April 2, 2009

Michael Barkoviak
Daily Tech
April 1, 2009 8:00 AM

China tries to deflect blame as evidence points
towards organized cyber espionage from within Chinese borders

Cyber security issues have morphed from an issue
of little importance to a major political issue
in western nations, especially as China and
several eastern European countries continue to
bolster their cyber weapon arsenals.

Western nations routinely blame China for both
government-operated hacking missions and
organized cyberterrorism rings that operate in
the country with very little legal recourse.

"This is purely another political issue that the
West is trying to exaggerate," Beijing-based
military analyst Song Xiaojun told a Chinese
newspaper.  "As China grows, some in the West are
trying every opportunity to manufacture fears over China's threat."

Many western security experts see China as one of
the leading cyber threats in the world, and the
country has been heavily criticized for alleged
organized cyber attacks on western nations.

"Cybersecurity has been a global issue, but this
time those who see China as an emerging threat
again have picked the subject as a new weapon,"
Peking University professor Zhu Feng said.

Despite Chinese officials showing outrage over
being considered a cyber security threat, a spy
network based in China reportedly hacked secure
networks and government-operated systems in 103
nations, compromising around 1,300 computers
total.  The Chinese computer espionage system,
called GhostNet, targeted banks, other financial
institutions, foreign embassies, media outlets, Tibet, and even the Dalai Lama.

"GhostNet is capable of taking full control of
infected computers, including searching and
downloading specific files, and covertly
operating attached devices, including microphones
and web cameras," according to the report.

Around 30 percent of PCs compromised are used by
government agencies, according to the Citizen Lab
at the University of Toronto and SecDev Group,
who discovered the Chinese-led hacking operation.

There is a call for improved cybersecurity
standards each time a western nation is targeted
by an organized infiltration, especially when it
originates from China.  Last month, President
Barack Obama ordered a government-wide cyber
security review, aimed at detecting possible
vulnerable points at risk by foreign cyber threats.
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