China accuses Washington of cyberespionage of universities

 China accuses Washington of cyberespionage of universities


China accuses Washington of cyberespionage of universities

BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday accused Washington of hacking into the computers of a university that U.S. officials say is engaged in military research, intensifying complaints from both governments about rampant cyber espionage.

The National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center announced that Northwestern Polytechnical University reported a computer intrusion in June. It said the center worked with commercial security provider Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd to trace the attack back to the National Security Agency, but did not say how.
China and the United States, along with Russia, are seen as global leaders in cyber warfare research.

China has accused the United States of spying on universities, energy and internet companies and other targets. Washington has accused Beijing of stealing trade secrets and announced criminal charges against Chinese officers.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said the U.S. actions “seriously endanger China’s national security.” She also accused Washington of wiretapping Chinese cellphones and stealing text messages.

“China strongly condemns it,” Mao said. “The United States should immediately stop using its advantages to steal secrets and attack other countries.”

The U.S. embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The military arm of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security also support hackers outside the government, security experts said.

Northwestern Polytechnical University, in the western city of Xi’an, is on the U.S. government’s “entity list,” which limits its access to U.S. technology. Washington said the university helps the PLA develop aerial and underwater drone and missile technology.

Monday’s announcement accused the United States of obtaining information about the university’s network management and other “core technologies.” It said Chinese analysts had discovered 41 “cyber attack” tools that it said could be traced back to the NSA.

Last year, a Chinese named Qin Shuren was sentenced to two years in prison in Boston federal court after pleading guilty to exporting underwater and marine technology to Northwestern Polytechnical University without a license.

The NSA is part of the Department of Defense and is responsible for “signals intelligence,” or the acquisition of communications and other data.

The Computer Virus Emergency Response Center, established by the Public Security Bureau of the eastern city of Tianjin in 1996, claims to be the agency responsible for the inspection and testing of computer virus products in China.

A 2020 report by Qihoo 360 said it traced back to the CIA by comparing the hacking tools used to attack Chinese companies and government agencies in 2008-19 with code from CIA tools disclosed by the WikiLeaks group.

The virus center blamed the NSA for other “malicious cyberattacks” in China, without providing details. It said 13 people involved in the attack had been identified.

The statement said the hackers targeted “zero-day” vulnerabilities in school security, or previously unreported vulnerabilities. It said the intrusions were carried out from servers in 17 countries including Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Poland, Ukraine and Colombia.

The statement described what it said was an NSA software tool with names such as “Second Date” and “Drink Tea,” but did not say which ones may have been used at universities.

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