Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Two Chinese Schools Tied to Online Attacks Linked to the Great Firewall

Two Chinese Schools Tied to Online Attacks Linked to the Great Firewall
Source – China Digital Times, Feb 18 2010

An investigation into the cyber attacks on Google and other corporations has led to computers based at two universities in China, Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School. The New York Times reports:

Computer security experts, including investigators from the National Security Agency, have been working since then to pinpoint the source of the attacks. Until recently, the trail had led only to servers in Taiwan.

If supported by further investigation, the findings raise as many questions as they answer, including the possibility that some of the attacks came from China but not necessarily from the Chinese government, or even from Chinese sources.

Tracing the attacks further back, to an elite Chinese university and a vocational school, is a breakthrough in a difficult task. Evidence acquired by a United States military contractor that faced the same attacks as Google has even led investigators to suspect a link to a specific computer science class, taught by a Ukrainian professor at the vocational school.

Update: What the New York Times report does not include is the fact that, according to the school’s own website, the School of Information Security Engineering of Shanghai Jiaotong University is one of the main research units of the China’s “National Information Security Application Demonstration Project” “国家信息安全应用示范工程” – (code name S219) , and the Information Security Project within the “National 863 Program*.” The school is “a training base for high-level Information Security experts in the national 863 production (east) base” (“国家863产业化(东部)基地信息安全高级专业人才培养基地”).

And who are the trainers of these high-level information security experts? Here is just one example:

Professor Li Jianhua (李建华), Deputy Dean of the School of Information Security Engineering. Research area:Information Security, Computer Communication Network , Information/Signal Processing, Artificial Intelligence. His titles include: Chief Expert of the Expert Group of Information Security Project of National 863 Program; Expert Committee of National 863 Program Anti-Computer-Invasion and Anti-Virus Technology Research Center (Ministry Public Security) 公安部国家863计划反计算机入侵和防病毒技术研究中心专家委员会成员(公安部)国家863计划信息安全主题专家组首席/管理专家 (科技部)

Together with Shanghai Jiaotong University, the Lanxiang Vocational School is also one of the five colleges which are known to have associated with the national “information security” research program, including the  of China. The other three schools known to have participated are Harbin Institute of TechnologyBeijing University of Post and Telecommunications, and National University of Defense Technology.

From information available online, it is not difficult to find connections linking these university research units to the government’s “Information Security” technology research network. For example, from this already deleted list of “Second Term of (National) Internet and Information Security Working Committee (2007),” professor  is listed as a “Member of the Standing Committee”. And the Head of this Committee is none other than Dr.  (方滨兴), a computer scientist, widely known as the the father of the  of China.  is the honorary director of the National Computer network Emergency Responses technical Team/Coordination Center of China (CNCERT), a.k.a. the . In Dr. Fang’s public resume, he is the current president of the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, and he taught and conducted research from 1984-1999 at the School of Computer and Electronic Engineering at the Harbin Institute of Technology. Since 2005, he has also been a Specially Hired Professor (“特聘教授”) at the National University of Defense Technology. Among many other titles held by Dr. Fang, he has been the Ministry of Public Security’s Specially Hired Expert on Information Security since 2007; a member of the Informationalization Expert Consulting Committee of the People’s Liberation Army General Logistics Department; and in 2001 he was awarded the title of “Outstanding Individual”, jointly given by the Chinese Communist Party Central Organizational Department, Chinese Communist Party Central Propaganda Department, Chinese Communist Party Political and Legal Committee, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

* National 863 Program is the code name of China’s High Technology Development Program 《高技术研究发展计划(863计划)纲要》, which is a state-funded research program on high-technology.

Filed under: China Digital Times, Communications, Google Cyber-attack 2010, Media

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