Chinese Military Linked to Recent US Security Hacks

Dennis Faas's picture

A security firm claims a Chinese military unit is responsible for mass-scale hacking targeting the United States and other Western powers. Mandiant says the Chinese government is not only aware of the hacking but may even be funding it.

Virginia-based Mandiant says the hacking group is known online as both the "Comment Crew" and the "Shanghai Group". Mandiant says that this group is a unit within the People's Liberation Army of China.

Mandiant suggests that a 12-story building in Shanghai is the hacking unit's headquarters. (Source:

Secret Document Points to Military Hackers

Mandiant cites a secret US government document in which all 16 American intelligence agencies agree the hacking is likely the work of a military group.

It's believed Comment Crew / Shanghai Group may be responsible for at least 140 attacks on US sites and servers in the past seven years. These attacks targeted big-name firms like Coca-Cola in addition to major power and infrastructure companies.

The nature and target of the attacks suggests the hackers aren't trying to make cash or cause disruption, two popular motivations for breaching computer security.

Espionage Most Likely Explanation For Hacking

Instead, it appears the Chinese group is trying to get information that could give the country a security and military advantage over its main Western rival.

The hacking appears to involve hundreds (if not thousands) of Chinese staff who not only have excellent hacking skills, but also speak English proficiently, making them particularly suited to attacking the United States.

An estimated 87 per cent of the companies the group has attacked were in English-speaking countries.

The hackers' skills are demonstrated by the fact that, once they breach security on any specific network, they retain access for an average of just under one year before being blocked.

A spokesman for the Chinese government said that China's leaders are vehemently opposed to hacking of all kinds and added that "criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible, unprofessional and not helpful in resolving the issue." (Source:

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