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Chinese Hackers Seen as Increasingly Professional

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While China denies official involvement in cyberattacks against foreign targets, at least one element cited by Internet experts points to professional cyberspies: Chinas hackers take the weekend off.

Credit: Associated Press

China's government denies involvement in a wave of recent cyberattacks against international targets, but the hackers appear to be professionals who keep regular work hours. The fact that the hackers appear not to work on weekends has added to suspicion of state-sanctioned cyberattacks.

Mandiant on Tuesday added to an earlier report that suggested China's military is targeting U.S. defense secrets, punishing dissidents, and stealing valuable corporate secrets, by saying it has tracked the activities back to the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398. Mandiant says the group has carried out cyberattacks against 141 foreign entities in countries including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The group's headquarters are in a military compound in Shanghai, and hackers ordinarily start in the morning and work a standard day, Mandiant says. However, at times the hacking continues until midnight and activity sometimes halts for two weeks at a time, Mandiant notes.

Unit 61398 is likely part of the General Staff's Third Department that gathers and analyzes electronic signals such as emails, according to Mandiant and other security firms. Accessing and manipulating computer networks are tasks believed to fall in the domain of the PLA's Third Department and Fourth Department.

From Associated Press
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