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Pentagon acknowledges Chinese cyberthreat

 

China is a clear cyberthreat to the United States, acknowledged Pentagon spokesman George Little, in the wake of a new report linking the Chinese military to massive amounts of stolen data from over 100 different targets, most of which are based in the U.S.

"Cyberthreats do emanate from China," Little said when pressed about the hacking report by security firm Mandiant Technologies, but declined to elaborate further, citing department policy.

"We are the victims of cyberattacks from various places around the world, and it's important that we continue to shore up our cyberdefense--which this department is doing," Little added.

Internet security company Mandiant says in a new report it traced 141 major hacking attempts to a People's Liberation Army building in Shanghai, 115 of which targeted U.S. companies or organizations.

Click here to read the report.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday he doubted the evidence would withstand scrutiny. 

"To make groundless accusations based on some rough material is neither responsible nor professional," he said according to the Associated Press.

Mandiant didn't name specific targets of the attacks but said they included information technology firms and telecommunications to aerospace and energy companies.

The stolen information allegedly includes blueprints, details on proprietary processes, pricing documents and contact lists.

The report also cites a memo from a Chinese telecommunications provider supplying communications links to the building where the hacking allegedly occurs, saying it would "smoothly accomplish this task for the military based on the principle that national defense construction is important."

China has frequently been accused of hacking, but says it strictly outlaws the practice and says it is itself a victim of such crimes

The Mandiant report comes a week after President Obama issued a long-awaited executive order aimed at getting the private owners of power plants and other critical infrastructure to share data on attacks with officials and to begin to follow consensus best practices on security.

Both Democrats and Republicans have said more powerful legislation is needed, citing Chinese penetration not just of the largest companies but of operations essential to a functioning country, including those comprising the electric grid.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.