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Unit 61398  (Source: graphics8.nytimes.com)
It has stolen "hundreds" of terabytes of data from 141 organizations since about 2006

A U.S. security group believes that a "secret" Chinese military unit is behind a recent series of hacks.

U.S. computer security company Mandiant said that the Shanghai-based People's Liberation Army (Unit 61398) is a strong suspect behind the computer hacks occurring against a wide array of industries in the U.S.

"The nature of 'Unit 61398's' work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful 'Computer Network Operations'," said Mandiant. "It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively."

According to Mandiant, Unit 61398 -- which is considered a secretive military unit in Shanghai's Pudong district -- has stolen "hundreds" of terabytes of data from 141 organizations since about 2006. It has also stolen data from Canada and Britain, but mainly the U.S.

China's Defense Ministry denied having any part of the hacks, and even said that China is a victim of hacking as well.

"Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. Determining their origins are extremely difficult. We don't know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. "Arbitrary criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible, unprofessional and not helpful in resolving the issue."

In fact, Lei went as far as accusing the U.S. of being behind most hacks in China. He quoted a recent Chinese study, which says the U.S. "ranks first" when it comes to computer hacks against China.

Mandiant, among other experts in the U.S., doubt China's claims.

The U.S. seems to be discussing cyber security efforts more and more these days as attacks from foreign countries and governments continue to be a problem. Last month, the Pentagon said it would boost its cyber security unit five-fold from 900 troops to 4,900 troops over the next several years.

Just this week, the U.S. Department of Defense said it worried that not enough cyber experts were prepared for DOD cyber defense. DOD wants to go on a hiring spree of capable cyber experts, but current certifications/qualifications necessary to work for DOD may not be enough to prepare these experts for the job ahead of them. Hence, it's currently rewriting its cyber workforce policy.

Source: Reuters





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