Chinese hackers are so widespread nowadays that they have stolen data from nearly every major government institution, business, and media company—as evidenced by attacks against Apple, Google, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and even the White House in recent times.
The hackers are attempting to map out the U.S. government’s power structure by way of sourcing data from human rights groups, congressional offices, foreign embassies, contractors, law firms, and think tanks.
The U.S. government widely believes that the Chinese regime is behind the hacks, while security firm Mandiant, in a report two days ago stated that it traced back a massive cyber-espionage and cybertheft operation against American interests to a likely single source: the Chinese army.
“I’ve yet to come across a network that hasn’t been breached,” Shawn Henry, the president of security company CrowdStrike Services, told The Washington Post this week. “It’s like having an invisible man in your room, going through your filing cabinets.”
In 2011, The Epoch Times reported some of the very first direct evidence that the Chinese army was carrying out cyber-attacks against American interests. The evidence came from a slip-up in a Chinese military television show showing software to launch an attack on the website of the Falun Gong meditation practice, using a compromised IP address at a university in the United States.
Such institutions are the hackers’ targets likely on the presumption that like the Chinese regime, these groups, businesses, and think tanks are secretly being used to design policies for the U.S. government as a whole, experts told The Washington Post this week. Meanwhile, journalists, lawyers, and human rights workers have unparalleled access to government officials.
“They’re trying to make connections between prominent people who work at think tanks, prominent donors that they’ve heard of and how the government makes decisions,” Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, was quoted as saying. “It’s a sophisticated intelligence-gathering effort at trying to make human-network linkages of people in power, whether they be in Congress or the executive branch.”
However, some of the experts said that there is so much data for hackers to steal that it would be nigh-impossible to analyze it all.
“Most of us aren’t very interesting most of the time,” said Thomas Fingar, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council and expert on China. “You can waste an enormous amount of time and effort puzzling over something that is totally meaningless.”
During his State of the Union Address last week, President Barack Obama pushed the issue of U.S. cybersecurity to the forefront but did not specifically name the Chinese regime—or any other government—as a belligerent.
“We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private email. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, [and] our air traffic control systems,” Obama said.
The Chinese foreign ministry has frequently denied that the Chinese regime employs hackers to go after American interests.
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