US Official Calls On China To Reign In Hackers
March 12, 2013

US Official Points Finger At China For Cyberattacks

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

On Monday, the White House officially called China out for breaking into the networks of many American corporations to steal company information. Many have accused Chinese hackers of breaking into their networks — a phenomenon which has been happening with increasing regularity — but the White House has yet to officially point the finger at China. However, National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon called on China yesterday to recognize the issue, reign in their hackers, and work together with the United States to create a set of international guidelines concerning cyberattacks.

"Increasingly, US businesses are speaking out about their serious concerns about sophisticated, targeted theft of confidential business information and proprietary technologies through cyber intrusions emanating from China on an unprecedented scale," Mr. Donilon said as he addressed the Asia Society in New York yesterday.

"The international community cannot afford to tolerate such activity from any country," he said.

Although many companies from various English speaking countries have claimed to have been targeted by Chinese hackers from within in the People´s Liberation Army, China has repeatedly denied the involvement.

Now, the White House is ready to take action with China, saying they´ll continue their commitment to protect national networks.

“We seek three things from the Chinese side,” said Mr. Donilon in his speech. “First, we need a recognition of the urgency and scope of this problem and the risk it poses — to international trade, to the reputation of Chinese industry and to our overall relations. Second, Beijing should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities. Finally, we need China to engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace.”

A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington refused to comment on Donilon´s comments but referred only to past statements given by China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi wherein he claimed that China was also the victim of cyberattacks.

"Cyberspace needs not war, but rules and cooperation," said Mr. Yang during the People´s Conference of China, reported the Wall Street Journal.

"We oppose cyberspace becoming a new battlefield, and to using the Internet as a new tool to interfere in another country's internal affairs."

The relationship between the hackers and the official Chinese government remains unclear, however. Intelligence agencies have reportedly been able to pinpoint many of the attacks back to the People´s Liberation Army (PLA.) According to the New York Times, American officials have been working to start talks with the PLA about these attacks but have only just been able to do so. Another senior White House executive told the times that Donilon chose not to mention the PLA by name so as to avoid any too specific finger-pointing.

“What we are hoping to do is force the Chinese civilian leadership to realize that the PLA is interfering with their foreign policy,” explained the senior official.

Last month, amidst a cloud of accusations of cyberattacks by Chinese hackers, China´s Communist Party newspaper, The People´s Daily, published a front page article speaking out against the claims and claiming that Americans were jumping to conclusions.

“America keeps labeling China as hackers, simply playing up the rhetoric of the ℠China threat´ in cyberspace, providing new justification for America´s strategy of containing China,” reads the op-ed article.

“Even those with little understanding of the Internet know that hacking attacks are transnational and concealable. IP addresses simply do not constitute sufficient evidence to confirm the origins of hackers.”