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04 September 2007, 15:06

Chinese hackers are apparently behind the cyber attacks on the Pentagon

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Chinese attackers were apparently behind the cyber attacks on the US Defense Department's mail servers in June. The Financial Times has reported that the Pentagon's investigators are "very confident" that the trail leads back to the Chinese military. The paper quotes a former Pentagon staff member, who claims that the Chinese military has already demonstrated its ability to carry out attacks that take down US government systems. He adds that China might be able to take down large US systems in decisive situations.

According to the Times, China and the US are probably both very busy spying on each other in cyberspace. However, the attack in June may have reached a new level of quality. Apparently, attackers in various locations in China spent months investigating the Pentagon's computer systems in order to detect vulnerabilities. But the paper says it is not certain that the Chinese military actually executed the attacks. A former staff member from the Defense Department said that cyber-criminals could also disguise themselves as representatives of a foreign government.

After the attack in mid-June, the Pentagon took 1500 computers offline for more than a week. Now, the Pentagon says that "most" of the data stolen from the mail servers was probably unclassified. On the other hand, investigations into how much data was stolen are still ongoing. To make matters worse, there have recently also been reports that Chinese attackers infected the German government's computers with Trojans. On her trip to Asia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Wen Jiabao about the problem. Jiabao promised to work with her to combat cyber-crime. The US wants to set up a cyber command to retain its superiority in cyberspace.

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