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Papers link top China university to army 'hacking' unit
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 24, 2013

S. Korea rows back on China link to cyber attack
Seoul (AFP) March 22, 2013 - South Korea said Friday that an IP address identified as a source of a major cyber attack this week was not based in China as originally believed.

On Thursday, the regulatory Korea Communications Commission said it had traced the attack on South Korean banks and broadcasters to a Chinese IP address, firming suspicions that North Korea may have been responsible.

But further analysis by investigators from the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) showed that it came from a computer in one of the targeted banks, and "coincidentally matched" a public address in China.

"We're still tracking some dubious IP addresses which are suspected of being based abroad," KISA vice president Lee Jae-Il told reporters.

"Keeping all kinds of possibilities open, we're making efforts to track down the hackers," he added.

The China connection announced on Thursday had fuelled speculation that North Korean hackers were involved.

Previous online attacks blamed on North Korea -- including one last year on the computer network of the conservative JoongAng newspaper in Seoul -- were tracked back to Chinese sources.

Security analysts in South Korea believe the North sends hackers to China to hone their skills and operate from there.

Wednesday's attack completely shut down the networks of TV broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN, and halted financial services and crippled operations at three banks -- Shinhan, NongHyup and Jeju.

The attack employed malware that can wipe the contents of a computer's hard disk as well as drives connected to the infected computer.

Researchers at one of China's top universities collaborated with a Chinese army unit accused of carrying out hacking attacks on the United States, academic papers published online show.

The elite Shanghai Jiaotong University conducted network security research with People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398, the co-authored papers accessed by AFP Sunday reveal.

A US security company said last month that the army unit, also based in China's commercial hub Shanghai, was behind serial hacking attacks on US firms, sparking a war of words between the two powers.

Last week US President Barack Obama raised cybersecurity with China's new President Xi Jinping. China has denied that it engages in hacking and claims its military is a victim of cyberattacks mostly originating in the US.

Several researchers at Shanghai Jiaotong's School of Information Security Engineering (SISE) published research with members of Unit 61938, with projects dating back to 2007, the papers easily accessed online show.

Subjects of the joint research include the design of an "intrusion monitoring system" for computer networks and ways to evaluate "attack graphs", which show how an adversary can break into a computer system.

None of the papers described plans to carry out cyberattacks on foreign targets.

The university was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

Xue Zhi, a co-author of one of the papers and SISE's vice-president, is the developer of China's leading "cyber-penetration attack platform", according to the university's website.

Shanghai Jiaotong University is one of China's flagship educational institutions, and has attracted members of China's business and political elite, with former President Jiang Zemin amongst its alumni.

The US Department of Defense has approved a fivefold expansion of its cybersecurity force to include 4,900 troops and civilians over the coming years in response to growing online threats, The Washington Post reported in January.


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S. Korea tracks cyber attack to China, North still suspect
Seoul (AFP) March 21, 2013
South Korea said Thursday it had sourced a damaging cyber attack on its broadcasters and banks to an IP address in China, fuelling suspicions that North Korea may have been responsible. Previous online attacks blamed on North Korea - including one last year on the computer network of the conservative JoongAng newspaper in Seoul - have also been tracked back to Chinese sources. Interne ... read more

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