A report submitted to Congress by the U.S. Department of Defense May 6, 2013, marked the first time the U.S. government has publicly accused the People's Republic of China and the Chinese military of launching computer-based attacks to steal information from U.S. companies and government agencies.
The DOD's report, titled Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China, stated, "Many of the organizations composing China's military-industrial complex have both military and civilian research and development functions." The report also noted that a network of government-affiliated companies and research centers allows China's People's Liberation Army access to sensitive U.S. technologies and expertise. And it cited a number of cases of Chinese-sponsored industrial espionage against the United States or U.S. companies.
David Halvey, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, said at a press conference introducing the report, "China's military continues to explore the role of military operations in cyberspace as a feature of modern warfare and continues to develop doctrine training and exercises, which emphasize information technology and operations. In addition, in 2012, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the United States government, continued to be targeted for intrusions, some of which appear to be attributable directly to the PRC government and military organizations."
Previously, Mandiant Corp. had released research analyzing intrusions in the systems of nearly 150 breach victims around the world over a span of seven years. That research, released in February 2013, concluded a secret section of China's PLA was behind those intrusions. Mandiant's report stated the secret branch of the Chinese military known as Unit 61398 has "systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations, and has demonstrated the capability and intent to steal from dozens of others simultaneously."
The Chinese government's Xinhua News Agency reported on May 7, 2013, that a senior Chinese military official denied the Chinese government has ever sanctioned hacking activities. Wang Xinjun, a PLA Academy of Military Sciences researcher, said the Pentagon assertion that the Chinese are hacking into the computers of American government agencies and private companies is "irresponsible." He called the Pentagon report, "an allegation based on supposition" reflecting the American government's distrust of China.
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