Chinese military hacked into Pentagon

Chinese military hacked into Pentagon
Chinese military hacked into Pentagon 

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and 
Richard McGregor in Beijing
September 3 2007

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in 
the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say 
American officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system 
serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to 
say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal 
investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the Peoples 
Liberation Army.

One senior US official said the Pentagon had pinpointed the exact 
origins of the attack. Another person familiar with the event said there 
was a very high level of confidence...trending towards total certainty 
that the PLA was responsible. The defence ministry in Beijing declined 
to comment on Monday.

Angela Merkel, Germanys chancellor, raised reports of Chinese 
infiltration of German government computers with Wen Jiabao, Chinas 
premier, in a visit to Beijing, after which the Chinese foreign ministry 
said the government opposed and forbade any criminal acts undermining 
computer systems, including hacking.

We have explicit laws and regulations in this regard, said Jiang Yu, 
from the ministry. Hacking is a global issue and China is frequently a 

George W. Bush, US president, is due to meet Hu Jintao, Chinas 
president, on Thursday in Australia prior to the Apec summit.

The PLA regularly probes US military networks  and the Pentagon is 
widely assumed to scan Chinese networks  but US officials said the 
penetration in June raised concerns to a new level because of fears that 
China had shown it could disrupt  systems at critical times.

The PLA has demonstrated the ability to conduct attacks that disable our 
system...and the ability in a conflict situation to re-enter and disrupt 
on a very large scale, said a former official, who said the PLA had 
penetrated?the?networks?of US defence companies and think-tanks.

Hackers from numerous locations in China spent several months probing 
the Pentagon system before overcoming its defences, according to people 
familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon took down the network for more than a week while the 
attacks continued, and is to conduct a comprehensive diagnosis. These 
are multiple wake-up calls stirring us to levels of more aggressive 
vigilance, said Richard Lawless, the Pentagons top Asia official at the 
time of the attacks.

The Pentagon is still investigating how much data was downloaded, but 
one person with knowledge of the attack said most of the information was 
probably unclassified. He said the event had forced officials to 
reconsider the kind of information they send over unsecured e-mail 

John Hamre, a Clinton-era deputy defence secretary involved with cyber 
security, said that while he had no knowledge of the June attack, 
criminal groups sometimes masked cyber attacks to make it appear they 
came from government computers in a particular country.

The National Security Council said the White House had created a team of 
experts to consider whether the administration needed to restrict the 
use of BlackBerries because of concerns about cyber espionage.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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