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Link revealed between elite Chinese university and military unit supposedly behind US cyberattacks

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SHUTTERSTOCK Shanghai Jiao tong University
SHUTTERSTOCK Shanghai Jiao tong University

One of China's most elite and prestigious research universities appears to have a working relationship with the military unit that's said to be behind recent cyber-espionage attacks on US companies and government agencies. Reuters has discovered at least three research papers on cyber warfare co-authored by professors at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and members of PLA Unit 61398. Last month, a report from computer security agency Mandiant implicated that the military unit was responsible for hacks like those that compromised media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post — a claim that the Chinese government has denied.

Evidence of a tie between such an influential university and a military unit involved with cyber-espionage operations is notable, though there is nothing yet that suggests university faculty worked together with PLA employees involved in espionage operations. The Unit 61398 members who co-authors papers with professors were all researchers, according to Reuters. Experts tell Reuters that the three papers suggesting a link between the PLA and the university appear to be related to keeping computer networks secure, not breaking into them. They add, however, that detailing defenses can help create plans of attack. Reuters was unable to obtain comment from either the PLA or Shanghai Jiao Tong University.