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China’s military “hacking” base assisted by top-level university

Diplomatic tension between the US and China worsened last month when an IT security firm identified an official military base in Shanghai as the origin of most Chinese cyber attacks on the US (opens in new tab), and a new report now claims one of the nation’s top universities has been collaborating with the alleged hackers.

AFP has accessed academic papers published online that show Shanghai Jiatong University has conducted security research with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398, the group responsible for an “overwhelming percentage” of US-targeted hacks, according to the Virginia-based firm Mandiant.

The papers reportedly show that several researchers at the university’s School of Information Security Engineering have published studies in conjunction with members of Unit 61938, with projects dating back to 2007.

The joint research covers subjects including the design of an “intrusion monitoring system” for IT networks, and ways of analysing “attack graphs” which illustrate how foes can break into a computer system.

But the evidence may not quite have sufficient juice to whip suspicious Washington officials into another frenzy, as none of the papers described plans to carry out cyber attacks on foreign targets.

For its part, China denied the original accusations (opens in new tab) from Mandiant that the PLA unit was involved in covert cyber operations, with the Ministry of National Defense declaring in February that, "The Chinese army has never supported any hackings," and "always strongly fights" against such behaviour.

(Via Security Week (opens in new tab))

Will began working life as a technology journalist at ITProPortal as Senior Staff Writer. He's worked as a Copywriter, then Creative Lead across video, social, email, web and print. He is currently a Senior Content Strategist at Zone.