China Pulls Cyberwar Video

Footage appears to contradict official denials of involvement in hacker attacks.
2011-08-26
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Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers undergo a drill at a military base in Hefei, in eastern China's Anhui province, July 26, 2011.
Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers undergo a drill at a military base in Hefei, in eastern China's Anhui province, July 26, 2011.
AFP

China's censors have apparently deleted a video on the state-run CCTV website which showed footage of software designed to launch cyberattacks.

The feature, which first aired on CCTV's "Military and Technology" show in July, highlighted China's efforts in developing its cyberwarfare capabilities.

The video, which included shots of software including a drop-down menu of attack targets for selection, the former I.P. address of a U.S. university website, and a large button labeled "attack," was available for playback on the official station website for weeks after broadcast.

The CCTV video that has been deleted

But on Friday, the URL returned only the message: "Error Page - This page does not exist anymore."

China has rejected suggestions that it was behind a massive cyberspying initiative reported earlier this month by security firm McAfee.

Global reach of attacks

McAfee said in a report titled "Operation Shady RAT" that hackers compromised computer security at more than 70 global organizations, including the U.N. and U.S. government bodies, sparking speculation that China was behind the attacks.

McAfee did not identify any country behind the hacking campaign, but its security experts said in February that hackers working from China had targeted the computers of oil and gas companies in the U.S., Greece, Taiwan, and Kazakhstan.

The “coordinated, covert, and targeted” attacks began in November 2009, and the hackers succeeded in stealing sensitive information, it said.

The Chinese government has denied any involvement in hacker activities, saying it is opposed to them.

The cyberwarfare video report, which was still available on YouTube, featured shots of a military computer program on which an unseen user selects a “target” — in this case, a Falun Gong Web site based in Alabama — and hits a button labeled “attack.”

The footage, which was first highlighted in English by the Falun Gong-backed Epoch Times newspaper, also featured an interview with military researcher Col. Du Wenlong, who says that China's is able both to defend its own networks and to attack those of others.

"To keep up with the pace of virtual technology, we must increase our fighting ability," Du says.

Pentagon, White House shown

The 22-minute documentary uses footage of the Pentagon, the White House, and U.S. jets bombing targets alongside narrator descriptions of China catching up with its "adversaries."

The shots apparently showing the cyberattack software last for just six seconds, around halfway through the documentary.

The software was apparently written by the Electrical Engineering University of China's People's Liberation Army, and includes the words "Falun Gong website list."

According to the Epoch Times reports, a drop-down list of dozens of Falun Gong websites then appears, before the website of Falun Gong group Minghui.org is selected.

The footage also shows the IP address 138.26.72.17, which belonged to a now-defunct website of the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB).

UAB said later it was unaware of any attacks on its computer networks, the paper added.


A Pentagon report to Congress this week warned that China's cyber activities would help Beijing gather military information and slow down an adversary's response time by crippling networks.

It said that several big intrusions in 2010 that targeted U.S. and other computer systems appeared to originate in China and to have been aimed at pilfering information. Those same hacking skills are similar to those needed to conduct cyber attacks, the report added.

Reported by Luisetta Mudie.

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