A US Internet security firm claims this 12-story building Shanghai is the headquarters of Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army. China’s defense ministry has denied involvement in initiating digital attacks.
A US-based Internet security firm is to publish a detailed report accusing Chinese military of sponsoring cyberattacks against numerous American government and corporate computer systems, threatening the US power grid among other critical infrastructure.
In its 60-page report, scheduled for release on Tuesday, Mandiant “tracks for the first time individual members of the most sophisticated of the Chinese hacking groups” to what it claims to be the People’s Liberation Army base for ‘PLA Unit 61398’ of “cyberwarriors,” The New York Times
The PLA base, described in the report as a 12-story white office building in Shanghai, houses some of the most sophisticated hackers that Mandiant claims have “stolen technology blueprints, manufacturing processes, clinical trial results, pricing documents, negotiation strategies and other proprietary information from more than 100 of its clients” in the US, including the The New York Times
The daily further quotes officials with knowledge of classified data as saying that a recent classified National Intelligence Estimate “issued as a consensus document for all 16 of the United States intelligence agencies” concludes that many of the Chinese “hacking groups” are run by the country’s army officers, raising alarms about the severity of their cyberattacks.
This is while the US government and corporate executives have also accused Russia and Iran as sources of some the most destructive cyberattacks on their computer systems.
The report, however, confirms that the US government “cyberwarriors” have collaborated with the Israeli regime to disrupt Iran’s nuclear energy program by attempting to infect its computer networks with malicious software called Stuxnet. Some European governments, including Germany, were reportedly also involved in the anti-Iran effort.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, meanwhile, has denied its government involvement computer hacking, insisting that China has also been a victim of cyberattacks and that there are many active hacking groups within the United States.
According to the report, the US government plans “to begin a more aggressive defense against Chinese hacking groups” and intends to tell China’s new leaders that the “volume and sophistication” of Chinese-based cyberattacks “have become so intense that they threaten the fundamental relationship between Washington and Beijing.”
“What most worries American investigators,” says the report, is that the latest set of attacks believed to originate from the Chinese unit “focus not just on stealing information, but obtaining the ability to manipulate American critical infrastructure: the power grids and other utilities.”