China behind hack of US commission emails, officials suggest


The Chinese flag flies outside the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Beijing. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON



US officials, speaking to Reuters anonymously, said amateur hackers in China may be behind the hacking of emails from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Officials said that the “roundabout” way the emails were accessed suggests the hacking originated in China.

Earlier this month the authorities were investigating allegations that an Indian government spy unit was responsible for the hacking. At the time a hacker group calling themselves “The Lords of Dharmaraja” posted what was said to be an Indian military intelligence document with extracts from commission emails, according to the Guardian.

When the news initially came out, military and cyber-security experts suggested the fake military memo’s main purpose was either to draw attention to the hackers or to taint relations between India and the US, according to Reuters.

More on GlobalPost: US Feds probe allegations that Indian spies hacked into a US body on China and cybersecurity

Reuters reported that the main target of the hacking was the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) headed by William Reinsch, who until recently served as the chairman of the US-China Commission.

Whereas Reinsch and other officials did not think India would be interested in the commission, “Chinese hackers, whether amateur or directly affiliated with Chinese government, would have great interest in the US-China Commission's activities, both public and private.”

In June 2011, there were reports of Google being hacked by China, and in Dec. 2011, the Associated Press revealed that just a dozen groups in China are responsible for a majority of the cyberattacks carried out against US companies and government agencies.

More on GlobalPost: China implicated in massive cyber attack targeting US

President Obama, speaking to TIME’s Fareed Zakaria, addressed America’s relationship with China:

One of the things we’ve accomplished over the last three years is to establish a strong dialogue and working relationship with China across a whole range of issues. And where we have serious differences, we’ve been able to express those differences without it spiraling into a bad place.

I think the Chinese government respects us, respects what we’re trying to do, recognizes that we’re going to be players in the Asia Pacific region for the long term, but I think also recognize that we have in no way inhibited them from continuing their extraordinary growth.