US is to launch unprecedented counter-attack on Chinese hackers accused of stealing state secrets

 

The US Government is to launch an unprecedented counter-attack on the individual Chinese hackers who are accused of stealing the country’s state and industrial secrets.

A series of personal attacks on Chinese hackers is to be launched, with the US naming perpetrators and bringing lawsuits and fines.

The move follows on from the announcement yesterday by the computer security company Mandiant that it had discovered a unit of the Chinese Army based in Shanghai that it claims has stolen hundreds of terrabytes of information from 140 US firms.

The American action marks a growing exasperation with Beijing, following 10 years of officials warnings from Western governments that the wholesale theft of defence secrets, and valuable business information was being carried out by Chinese hackers.

The US exasperation has been felt in the UK, where the Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that Western powers are suffering unprecedented levels of cyber theft due to espionage. He fell shy of naming the Chinese but officials behind the scenes left journalists in no doubt that the Chinese were to blame.

News of the stiffening of attitude has come at the same time as a significant diplomatic escalation over the issue, with President Obama flagging up the cyber threat in his State of the Union address and particularly focusing in on the threat to the computerised systems that control the critical national infrastructure, systems such as electricity, gas and telecommunications, all it has been claimed the target of Chinese hackers.

The US announcement also signals one other important change, that the cyber security industry is now confident that it can identify those who are carrying out the attacks.

Up until now attribution has been a difficulty and many times over the past 10 years countries identified as being responsible for cyber crime have claimed that the attacks are simply being routed through their countries but are not actually originating from there.

According to Howard Schmidt, who was President Obama’s cyber security tsar until last Summer, the US response means that a line has been drawn in the sand.

“Since 2010 there has been report after report after report, effectively saying the same thing… but it doesn’t seem to dissuade those responsible and I am pretty sure a lot of this is coming from the Chinese Government, though some will also be coming from other groups. But it doesn’t seem to convince them that they should stop.

“The reason for that seems to be that they have so much more to gain from doing this than they have to lose.”

News of the US loss of patience has coincided with a series of signs that indicate that an international consensus on cyber crime is beginning to emerge, with Russia’s President Putin recently announcing that Russia would start moves to crack down on cyber crime.

According to sources in the intelligence and cyber worlds the release of the Mandiant report has been deliberately time to coincide with the US Government announcement of a crackdown on those attacking it.

Rumours of the US response have been circulating in the UK, well in advance of David Cameron’s announcement that the UK would be seeking to co-operate with India to build cyber centres of excellence and indicate an attempt to generate a united front against the Chinese in the light of the hacking activity claimed by Mandiant.

“It’s been going on for a while and it’s a massive response,” said one source, who declined to be named.

The Chinese have denied the Mandiant claims.

In a statement, the Chinese Defence Ministry said the report lacked “technical proof” when it used IP addresses to link hacking to a military unit, adding that many hacking attacks were carried out using hijacked IP addresses.

American exasperation was signalled by Senator Mike Rogers at the opening of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing on cyber threats two years ago.

“China’s economic espionage has reached an intolerable level and I believe that the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia have an obligation to confront Beijing and demand that they put a stop to this piracy.

“Beijing is waging a massive trade war on us all, and we should band together to pressure them to stop. Combined, the United States and our allies in Europe and Asia have significant diplomatic and economic leverage over China, and we should use this to our advantage to put an end to this scourge.”

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuery, jQuery UI)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuer...

DT Technician

£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor