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China's Cyber-Warriors
by James Dunnigan
December 27, 2013

Earlier this year it was revealed by Western Internet security researchers that a specific Chinese military organization, Unit 61398, has been responsible for over a thousand attacks on foreign government organizations and commercial firms since 2006. China denied this and some Unit 61398 attacks ceased and others became more discreet for a month or so. But since then Unit 61398 has apparently returned to business as usual. The Chinese found that, as usual, even when one of their Cyber War organizations was identified by name and described in detail there was little anyone would or could do about it. There was obviously a Chinese reaction when the initial news became headlines, but after a month or so it was realized that it didn’t make any difference and the Chinese hackers went back to making war on the rest of the world with their usual reckless abandon. Unit 61398 is believed to consist of several thousand full time military and civilian personnel as well as part-time civilians (often contractors brought in for a specific project).

China's Cyber War hackers have become easier to identify because they have been getting cocky and careless. Internet security researchers have found identical bits of code (the human readable text that programmers create and then turn into smaller binary code for computers to use) and techniques for using it in some of the hacking software used and commercial software sold by some firms in China and known to work for the Chinese military. Similar patterns have been found in hacker code left behind during attacks on American military and corporate networks. The best hackers hide their tracks better than this. The Chinese hackers have found that it doesn’t matter. Their government will protect them. Chinese Information War operations are increasingly being tracked down and examined in detail in the West, but apparently Chinese leaders decided to keep going with these operations and not make a major effort to conceal them.



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