China accuses US of hacking its space and aeronautics research university

On September 5, the Chinese government claimed to have been the victim of cyberattacks perpetrated by the United States against the Polytechnic University located in northwest China. The latter demanded an explanation and urges the United States to immediately stop these illegal actions.

Technological data allegedly stolen from polytechnic university servers

China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) and cybersecurity firm 360, respectively, on Monday (September 5th) released reports investigating hundreds of thousands of malicious cyberattacks targeting Chinese targets.

According to the Global Times, American hackers stole “basic technology data, including key network equipment configuration, network management data and basic operational data”, and other files. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning told a daily press briefing that reports show that “the United States used 41 specialized cyber weapons to launch cyber theft operations more than 1,000 times against Northwestern Polytechnical University,” and stole critical technical data including key network equipment configuration, network management data and basic operational data, and other files.

China says NSA used phishing to access data

The United States, via the National Security Agency (NSA), is said to have used the phishing (a hacking technique of including a malicious link in an email) to gain access to the Chinese government-funded Northwestern Polytechnical University. By infiltrating Chinese telecommunications operators, the United States could have controlled the country’s infrastructure, the Global Times said, according to an anonymous source.

What measures to protect this data?

In response to a question about what measures China will take to better protect its cybersecurity, the government spokesperson said that this cyberattack case once again shows that safeguarding national cybersecurity is extremely important. In recent years, China has accelerated the design of a legal system and cybersecurity planning strategy, and continuously strengthened its capacity for cybersecurity protection and cyberspace law enforcement. A week dedicated to cybersecurity awareness aims to inform all Chinese citizens of the dangers and means of prevention to counter computer attacks.

A rise in tensions between China and the United States in the cybersphere

The United States also accuses China of carrying out massive hacking operations. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said in February that China’s cyberattacks had become “more brazen, more damaging than ever before”. Last July, at a joint press conference in London, Wray and the director general of MI5 (the intelligence service responsible for UK internal security), Ken McCallum, spoke about cyber espionage operations carried out by the Chinese government against their countries.

Dialogue and cooperation against computer attacks

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said peaceful use of cyberspace is necessary, and China would be willing to work with the international community to intensify dialogue and cooperation, while opposing US hegemony in cyberspace. According to China, the United States has the most powerful computer technologies and capabilities, and the country should immediately stop using this hegemony as an advantage to commit robberies and attacks against other countries. On the contrary, China calls on the United States to participate responsibly in global cyberspace governance, and play a constructive role in defending cybersecurity.

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