NSA pinpoints China’s cyberattacks

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A secret National Security Agency document has revealed the massive nature of China’s cyberattacks against the United States, with nearly 700 intrusions in private-sector and government networks.

The cyberattacks were outlined on a map that pinpoints what are described by the electronic spy agency as “victims of Chinese cyber espionage over the past five years.” The map was first disclosed by NBC News.

The locations include Washington and the entire Eastern Seaboard, as well as key areas such as Silicon Valley in California, the locations of U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, and nuclear missile and military bases. NSA detected the most attacks in California, with numerous strikes.

According to NBC, the map was used in a briefing by the NSA Threat Operations Center in February 2014 that sought to highlight China’s focus on penetrating networks operated by search engine firm Google and defense contractor Lockheed Martin, as well as U.S. air traffic control systems, a key infrastructure target that could be used by China’s military in a future cyberwar.

China successfully used the attacks to steal massive amounts of proprietary and government data. The map indicates that the NSA is developing better “attribution” capabilities — the ability to trace the origins of the attacks back to China.

Another NSA document provided a diagram of various Chinese military and intelligence organizations involved in the cyberattacks.

The main unit was identified in a briefing slide as “Technical Department 3PLA,” formally known as the 3rd Department of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff Department, which is considered to be a counterpart to the NSA.

The slide indicates that the NSA has identified more than 19 3PLA cyberunits involved in U.S. attacks, the most among all Chinese government agencies. Nine other units are suspected of being part of 3PLA.

Additionally, the report identified six cyberespionage units under the Ministry of State Security, China’s civilian intelligence service, and another 22 MSS units suspected of involvement in U.S. cyberattacks.

Full article: NSA pinpoints China’s cyberattacks (Washington Times)

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