China’s networks constantly targeted: cyberspace expert

By Guo Yuandan and Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/7 21:18:43

White-hat hackers work on attacking the Cyber Mimic Defense system on May 11. Photo: Courtesy to the Qiangwang International Elite Challenge

China is a victim of cyber attacks and is constantly being targeted by overseas intelligence departments, a cyberspace expert said recently.

Xiao Xinguang, the chief technical architect of Beijing-based Antiy Labs, told the Global Times that China faces cyber attacks mainly from advanced cyber threat agents, most of which are overseas intelligence departments.

The advanced cyber attacks on China mainly target political, military, technology research institutes and universities and other high-value fields. The attacks aim to acquire classified information. Even though there are only a few attacks from advanced cyber threat agents, their source is difficult to identify, Xiao noted.

The recent accusation reported by Reuters on Thursday, said the Chinese government intelligence department was behind a massive breach of Marriott International's confidential files.

Marriott said the hacks began four years ago and have accessed records of up to 500 million customers in its Starwood hotels reservation system, Reuters reported.

"We firmly object to making groundless accusations on the issue of cyber security," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press briefing on Thursday.  China firmly opposes all forms of cyber attack and cracks down on them in accordance with the law, Geng said. If evidence of an attack were provided the relevant Chinese departments will carry out an investigation, he said.

Meanwhile, China is still not able to cope with cyber attacks due to a lack of protection on its key information systems and infrastructure. China's network has been penetrated by low-level ransom ware many times, Xiao noted.

In May 2017, a ransom ware virus, called WannaCry, which is believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency, attacked internet users in hundreds of countries and East China's Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces were the most affected regions in China. Universities, train stations, post offices, hospitals and government terminals were impacted by the virus.

In a bid to safeguard its cyberspace sovereignty, China passed a cyber security law in 2016 allowing police and other law enforcement agencies to take necessary measures, against overseas individuals or organizations that "attack, intrude, interfere with or sabotage the nation's key information infrastructure." Penalties can include freezing hackers' assets.

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