China’s main internal security and police university is training hackers for cyber attacks, according to new information obtained by the U.S. government.
The People’s Public Security University in Beijing, a part of the Ministry of Public Security that trains all of China’s police and internal security troops, has several units engaged in training and operations for cyber attacks.
One section of the school was identified last month as a key training center for police network attack operations: The Network Attack and Defense Laboratory. The lab uses Chinese software that was identified last year by officials as designed for training cyber warfare operators and spies.
Disclosure of the police training unit for Chinese hackers follows several U.S. reports made public last year that identified China’s primary military hacking force as Unit 61398, located near Shanghai.
Another Chinese school, Wuhan University, also has been linked by U.S. intelligence agencies to cyber attacks against the West.
Chinese cyber attacks against the United States have been carried out on a large scale since the early 2000s. The attacks have been detected against both government and private sector networks and have involved the loss of defense and commercial secrets as well as the potential for future sabotage in a crisis or conflict.
The police university is also training hackers at a Network Penetration Test Laboratory that conducts programs on both attacking and defending networks. The lab also conducts penetration testing, a key tool used to train hackers to break into foreign networks and to defend against foreign network intrusions.
China’s government routinely denies its engagement in any cyber attacks and has asserted that it is a major victim of foreign cyber attacks.
A former Chinese security official said the university is one of the top training institutes for police and part of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) that conducts some activities overseas but mainly focuses on controlling domestic dissident groups or groups in China suspected of having foreign ties.
“If the university trains hackers, it is most probably for this purpose,” the former official said. “I am sure MPS uses hackers inside China for political duties and criminal investigation.”
Richard Fisher, an expert on China’s security affairs, said the university, which is also associated with the People’s Armed Police that is known for its brutal military crackdowns on dissidents, has been involved in China’s computer network warfare preparations since shortly after the creation of the Internet.
“This university was preparing for ‘network security’ in 1978, likely when other Chinese intelligence and military services assessed the direction and potential for computer network communication and were preparing to exploit it,” Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said in an email.
“This is the computer network attack training institute of the People’s Armed Police, which began its work about a decade before the Internet took off in the late 1980s,” he said. “It is very likely that all other Chinese military and intelligence services have similar institutes.”
Fisher said that in 1998 during a visit to China then-President Bill Clinton urged China to harness the information age by embracing freedom. “Today China is a world leader in harnessing the Internet to surveil and suppress its own people and to wage war against the rest of the world,” Fisher said.
Michelle Van Cleave, former National Counterintelligence Executive, said China’s extensive intelligence apparatus is engaged in highly coordinated spying operations against U.S. information and computer systems.
“All U.S. national weapons laboratories, Pentagon computers and communications systems, and other sensitive government networks have been targeted by China-based cyber intruders,” Van Cleave said in an email.
“And Beijing has a national policy of using cyber espionage to acquire industrial and proprietary secrets.”
Full article: Chinese Police University Trains Beijing Hackers (Washington Free Beacon)