US accuses China of cyberattacks

Beijing, September 24 (AFP) – US officials accused China on Tuesday of a cyberattack against the US government, saying it had “intended to affect US government systems, which are owned and operated by the US Government”.

The official statement from the White House read in part: “The United States is aware of the recent report that the Chinese Government is attempting to penetrate our networks.

China is determined to continue its malicious activities.”

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the breach.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it would hold an emergency meeting to discuss the incident.

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the attack.

The US State Department said on Tuesday it had raised concerns to the Chinese government about the incident but the matter was not resolved.

The Pentagon said in a statement it was monitoring Chinese activities in cyberspace, adding that it “has raised concerns with the Chinese leadership about the recent intrusion”.US defence secretary Jim Mattis on Monday said the breach had shown that China had “great capabilities and capabilities that are difficult to defend”.

“We believe that this incident highlights the danger of using cyberwarfare to undermine our sovereign and democratic institutions and to undermine global economic stability,” he said.

“China is not only capable of engaging in cyber warfare, but also of engaging with cyber-activities of other countries and states,” Mattis said.

China has previously claimed to have conducted cyber-attacks against the Pentagon, including targeting the Pentagon’s computer systems in 2007 and 2009.

It said it had been working with the US to prevent the “unprecedented” intrusion and said it would “continue to work with the United States to take necessary measures”.

China’s defence ministry said on Sunday it had detected a cyber-attack by a group of hackers from China’s military.

The statement from China said it did not “specifically” seek to “influence” US military or military-related institutions, but added it was “proud of the efforts made by the American defence industry” to counter the malicious cyber attack.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Monday called the attack “a major incident” that showed “how gravely” the cyber-security of US military and national systems was being undermined.

“This incident is clearly a grave violation of international law and international norms, and we urge the US side to immediately take necessary steps to protect our national security,” Hong said in an official statement.

The White House statement did note that the United Nations was investigating the incident and was working with US officials to ensure “international security and stability”.

China on Tuesday also said it was taking “robust measures” to stop the “unauthorised access” of its networks to the US defence contractor Lockheed Martin, which it said had “serious technical problems”.

The Pentagon has said it believes it was the same group that attacked the Pentagon in 2007.

China’s state-run media has frequently blamed the US for attacks on foreign targets, including nuclear facilities, in recent years.

Last week, China said a hacker group, known as “Guccifer 2.0”, had breached the personal computer accounts of Chinese officials.

A Chinese military official told the Xinhua news agency that Guccifer 1.0 had used “high-tech hacking techniques to penetrate the systems of various state-owned enterprises” and said the attacks “targeted the defense ministry, military offices, and military headquarters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army”.

Guccfer 2.x is the name of the hacker group that has previously been linked to Russian intelligence.

China says it has targeted the Pentagon for the past five years.

“The U.S. and its allies are determined to maintain a stable global order by preventing countries that do not respect international law from developing hostile cyber capabilities and threatening the global economic security of the US and its friends and allies,” the statement said.