Chinese cyber-attacks allegedly launched against British government departments
Having recently had to defend itself during the last couple of days for hacking into US military computer systems, the Chinese government is now accused of penetrating UK systems. British government agencies have also, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper, been targeted by Chinese hackers for years. Attacks which may have originated from Chinese army circles have been directed at targets including the network at the British Foreign Office. According to the newspaper, government sources have stated that other major government departments may also have been affected. The Ministry of Defence has refused to comment on whether it too has been affected.
One of the attacks, in 2006, shut down part of the House of Commons computer system. The newspaper, citing government sources, reports that the attacks originated from an "organised group of Chinese hackers." Attacks by "Chinese cyber-warriors" are being registered so frequently that experts have described them as a "constant ongoing problem". Although some experts have questioned the significance of some attacks, according to British officials the most recently discovered attack was the most serious to date.
Similar accusations of cyber attacks on government computers originating from China have already been voiced in Germany and the US. In June, the Pentagon was forced to isolate 150 computers and some mail systems from the internet following the discovery that a US defence department mail server had been penetrated. The Chinese military has demonstrated its ability to carry out attacks which disable US government systems, according to information provided by a former Pentagon employee on the results of investigations aimed at conclusively identifying the origin of the attacks. According to The Guardian, US security agencies have assigned the growing number of Chinese cyber attacks the codename "Titan Rain". The recent infection of German government computers with trojans can also allegedly be traced back to the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
The Chinese government has, however, strongly rejected such allegations, "We believe computer hacking is an international problem. China is also often the victim of hackers' attacks." Reacting to the US allegations, a Chinese government spokesperson stated that the Chinese government rejected all such illegal activities aimed at disrupting computer networks and was prepared to collaborate with other countries in the fight against internet criminality. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that China would "take decisive measures to prevent hacker attacks." Wen described the "fight against disruption caused by hackers on the internet" as a collective task. Comparable incidents have been occurring since as long ago as late 2005. The British NISCC warned of trojan attacks from Asia back in June 2005.
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