Mystery Deepens With Chinese Schools Linked To Cyber Attacks
February 19, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The recent announcement by Google that the search engine giant, along with other American companies were victims of online attacks originating from China, set off a dispute with the Chinese government and the United States over cyber warfare. And now the origin of the cyber attacks has been traced not to the Chinese government, but to two universities in China. Computer security experts from the National Security Agency, have raised a number of possibilities for using Chinese students to wage online attacks, including a camouflage military or government espionage operation, student volunteer “patriotic hackers,” or the hijacking of the schools’ I.P. addresses. Whatever the real scenario, this is the first link to China found by computer experts investigating the online breaches, which targeted trade secrets and the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
The two schools are Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School. Lanxiang is a vocational school created by the Chinese military to train computer scientists for military work. And an investigation by a U.S. military contractor that was also hacked, believes a computer science class, taught by a Ukrainian professor at Lanxiang may be involved in the cyber attacks. Jiaotong University has an elite computer science program, whose students just won I.B.M. the “Battle of the Brains” competition.
According to a report in The New York Times, investigators may never solve the mystery of the attacks, because China is experienced in masking its cyber espionage operations:
“Independent researchers who monitor Chinese information warfare caution that the Chinese have adopted a highly distributed approach to online espionage, making it almost impossible to prove where an attack originated. We have to understand that they have a different model for computer network exploit operations,” said James C. Mulvenon, a Chinese military specialist and a director at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis in Washington. Rather than tightly compartmentalizing online espionage within agencies as the United States does, he said, the Chinese government often involves volunteer “patriotic hackers” to support its policies.”
Google declined to comment regarding the links to the Chinese schools.
See The New York Times for more.