The Straits Times
Published on Feb 20, 2013

US ready to strike back against China cyberattacks


WASHINGTON (AP) - As public evidence mounts that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of US government data and corporate trade secrets, the Obama administration is eyeing fines and other trade actions it may take against Beijing or any other country guilty of cyber-espionage.

According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House will lay out a new report on Wednesday that suggests initial, more-aggressive steps the United States will take in response to what top authorities say has been an unrelenting campaign of cyber-stealing linked to the Chinese government.

The White House plans come after a Virginia-based cyber-security firm released a torrent of details on Monday that tied a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai to years of cyber-attacks against US companies. After analysing breaches that compromised more than 140 companies, Mandiant has concluded that they can be linked to the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Unit 61398.

The release of Mandiant's report, complete with details on three of the alleged hackers and photographs of one of the military unit's buildings in Shanghai, makes public what US authorities have said less publicly for years. However, it also increases the pressure on the US to take more forceful action against the Chinese for what experts say has been years of systematic espionage.