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China blames US for majority of cyberattacks on military websites

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China Great Hall of the People
China Great Hall of the People

China's Defense Ministry today revealed new details about alleged cyberattacks on its websites, claiming that the US was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the 144,000 security breaches the ministry saw each month last year. The Chinese government accused the US of frequently hacking into state websites last week, but today's announcement marks the first time that China has disclosed details on the breadth of the alleged attacks.

"The Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites have faced a serious threat from hacking attacks since they were established, and the number of hacks has risen steadily in recent years," said Geng Yansheng, a Defense Ministry spokesman. "According to the IP addresses, the Defense Ministry and China Military Online websites were, in 2012, hacked on average from overseas 144,000 times a month, of which attacks from the U.S. accounted for 62.9 percent."

"We hope that the U.S. side can explain and clarify this."

The ministry's claims come on the heels of a report from security company Mandiant, which traced last month's attacks on US media outlets directly to China. The 60-page report claimed that January's attacks originated from a Shanghai unit of the People's Liberation Army, though China has steadfastly denied these allegations.

Beijing later accused the US of carrying out its own share of attacks against Chinese websites, but insisted that it doesn't "use this as a reason to criticize the United States." It remains unclear whether today's allegations will mark a shift in China's ostensibly passive stance, though Yansheng struck a slightly more aggressive tone during today's conference, telling reporters, "We hope that the US side can explain and clarify this."