The Chinese government is fighting back against accusations it was involved in any way in the recent cyber-attacks that struck more than 30 enterprises, calling such talk “groundless.”
“Accusation that the Chinese government participated in cyber-attack, either in an explicit or inexplicit way, is groundless and aims to denigrate China,” a spokesman of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology told Chinese newspaper Xinhua Sunday. “We [are] firmly opposed to that.”
The interview is part of an international back-and-forth between China and the United States. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned China specifically as she denounced Internet censorship. She stopped short, however, of accusing the Chinese government of direct involvement in the attacks on Google and other companies, instead stating, “Countries or individuals that engage in cyber-attacks should face consequences and international condemnation.”
She also requested China investigate the Google attacks and for the investigation and its results to be “transparent.”
The controversy was touched off when Google threatened to pull out of China Jan. 12 in light of a cyber-attack in December the company claimed originated from China. Google also said it uncovered repeated attempts to break into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, and pledged to stop censoring search results.
Evidence tying the Chinese government to the attacks on Google and the other companies-dubbed “Operation Aurora”-has been the subject of debate. Researchers at McAfee, for example, have identified systems in Taiwan and the United States involved in the attacks. On the other hand, a cyclic redundancy check in the code for Hydraq, the main backdoor Trojan used in the attacks, has been linked to China.
However, China counters that it is the victim of cyber-attacks as well. According to the Xinhua story, official data showed more than 1 million Chinese IP addresses were under the control of “overseas sources,” and the number of Websites hit by hackers stood at more than 42,000 last year.
In her remarks last week, Clinton said addressing cyber-security issues requires cooperation across international borders.
“Governments and citizens must have confidence that the networks at the core of their national security and economic prosperity are safe and resilient. … Disruptions in these systems demand a coordinated response by all governments, the private sector and the international community,” she said.