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China The Military

Chinese Propaganda Accidentally Reveals Cyberwar 286

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the us-replies-with-ping-of-death dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Chinese military propaganda video aired in mid-July inadvertently showed a Chinese military university launching cyberattacks against U.S. websites. The Epoch Times reports the video shows 'custom-built Chinese software apparently launching a cyber-attack against the main website of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, by using a compromised IP address belonging to a United States university.' A screen in the video also reveals 'the name of the software and the Chinese university that built it, the Electrical Engineering University of China's People's Liberation Army.'"
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Chinese Propaganda Accidentally Reveals Cyberwar

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @02:10PM (#37181566)

    Apparently China's best and brightest hackers need a GUI with drop-down menus and a big "Attack" button.

    The sleeping dragon is strong indeed. I wonder if they have a "Pull trigger to fire" sticker on their rifles too.

    • by suso (153703) *

      Speaking of hacking, you posted over an hour before the article release time? How did you do this? I know you have a subscription, but so do I and I've always had to wait to comment until the article publish time. Hacked Slashdot lately?

    • by drolli (522659)

      probably its an easy way to get research money. You just put some visual basic front end on some readily available tools and convince the military that now every soldier can take part in cyber-warfare. To update the list you as for more research money. To make it portable (html5 front end) you ask for more money.

      • by iamhassi (659463)

        probably its an easy way to get research money. You just put some visual basic front end on some readily available tools and convince the military that now every soldier can take part in cyber-warfare. To update the list you as for more research money. To make it portable (html5 front end) you ask for more money.

        Are you accusing the Chinese of making elaborate fake software? The Chinese would never sell something that was fake. [slashdot.org]

    • by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @03:55PM (#37183252) Homepage

      Blatant sub-kiddie-script level hacking by the Chinese government (possibly the best funded cyber-warfare division on the planet) against the Falun Gong being "exposed" by a web site created by the Falun Gong? I wonder why my Spidey-Sense is tingling?

      • by osu-neko (2604)

        Blatant sub-kiddie-script level hacking by the Chinese government (possibly the best funded cyber-warfare division on the planet) against the Falun Gong being "exposed" by a web site created by the Falun Gong? I wonder why my Spidey-Sense is tingling?

        It's good that it's tingling, but I have to say, you don't seriously think the Chinese government is any less incompetent than other governments, do you? I fully expect "the best funded [whatever] of [any world government]" to always look rather primitive and poorly implemented compared to anything I could whip up in five minutes with what I have lying around the house. I have the benefit of not being a committee, after all...

        • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @05:23PM (#37184244)
          Yep. Remember this is the same Government who use top Gun footage as evidence of a successful AA missile deployment test and hoped no-one would notice.
        • by lennier (44736)

          I fully expect "the best funded [whatever] of [any world government]" to always look rather primitive and poorly implemented compared to anything I could whip up in five minutes with what I have lying around the house.

          Right, I'm sure you have a full thermonuclear arsenal in your basement. Governments are good at some things, that's how come they get to stay "the government" and not, eg, "the former regime which just got toppled by some guy in a T-shirt and a popgun".

      • by DriedClexler (814907) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @05:56PM (#37184616)

        Based on the summary, it seems like you could at least partly corroborate the video by checking whether the "American university" mentioned really did have that IP address compromised, and who would have known about this when.

    • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @04:02PM (#37183338)

      Apparently China's best and brightest hackers need a GUI with drop-down menus and a big "Attack" button.

      The sleeping dragon is strong indeed. I wonder if they have a "Pull trigger to fire" sticker on their rifles too.

      For the same reason not every single soldier knows how to make a rifle from raw materials. It's up to the weapon designers to build it and make it simple for the ground troops to use.

      Save the script-resistant sites (opponent military computers, etc) for the special ops, let the butts-in-seats brigade cause general casualties around the commercial non-hardened sites.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      I don't know why, but it reminds me of Snow Crash for some reason.

    • Like the "read manual before use" advise carved on the side of (some?) American guns?
    • by Superken7 (893292) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @05:37PM (#37184414) Journal

      Yeah, I thought that too.

      But now on second thought, it makes perfect sense.
      Skilled hackers can work on new stuff and on more important stuff, while unskilled "soldiers" can just use the tools to cause damage. Remember, not being l33t does not equal not being effective. As we have seen again and again, script kiddies have always been able to do successful attacks. Many defacers, as lame as they are, succeed in their goal of defacing websites. One member scans, another one prepares a message, the other hacks the website and uploads the material, etc..

      It becomes apparent that maybe this "section" does not intend to be cool or l337, but effective.

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      You apparently haven't used U.S. Military equipment. It's not a sticker, it's usually stamped or engraved in. Some of our directional explosives have "This Side Toward Enemy" or "Not a Step" as part of the casting.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Does it run on VB? Then at least they would be up to the level of "quality" of our CSI! After all they can do ANYTHING with VB! Why MSFT would abandon such a miracle is anybody's guess. They must have feared the Chinese would get a hold of it!
  • Its another example of China streamlining a process and using it in their war against the rest of the planet. Like gold farming or melanin tainted baby formula.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think you mean melamine-tainted. Melanin is something else - not an industrial plastic used* to mimic protein for certain chemical tests.

      (* also used to make bowls and plates and stuff like that.)

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      Are you suggesting the Chinese government is trying to turn the world population black? [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @03:46PM (#37183112)

    There's one detail to bear in mind when you read the article from The Epoch Times.

    From wikipedia: The The Epoch Times [wikipedia.org] was founded in 1999 by supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline. [...] The newspaper is heavily critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and policies of the Chinese government.

  • by Nyall (646782)

    I'm wondering who is responsible for the Falun Gong website and where they live?

    It'd be pretty hilarious to see a lawsuit in US courts against the Chinese government going after Chinese government property. (US debt)

  • So, now the cat is officially out of the bag. So, what? We already knew there was something up. Are we going to sail gunboats up the creek at Guangzhou and shell some forts? Blockade their ports? Embargo their trade? No. Hell, we still gave them control of a root DNS node, even though it's obvious this gives them added offensive capability. Really, all this might do is tweak the language in subsequent news reports when Chinese attacks occur. They'll still deny them, but now that there is an (inadvertently)

  • weird (Score:4, Informative)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @03:50PM (#37183176) Homepage
    The Chinese government has a weird obsession with Falun Gong, which I don't quite understand. I was in Flushing, Queens the other week and there was actually this whole (unmanned) table with signs, flyers, etc., blasting the Falun Gong as this insanely dangerous cult. I can't imagine who set it up other than the Chinese government.
    • Re:weird (Score:5, Informative)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @04:01PM (#37183328)

      A fair number of Chinese students seem to buy into the official party line, part and parcel. Over the past few years we've had some small demonstrations at the University of Washington by these students, protesting US media "lies" regarding Falung Gong, Tibet and/or the Dalai Lama, etc.

      • a fair number of those "students" are funded by PRC government; for them, it's just a job. the roof over their head and the food on their table are paid for by PRC. so really, is it a surprise that they're out in force whenever anyone disagree with the current party line?

        • by demonbug (309515)

          a fair number of those "students" are funded by PRC government; for them, it's just a job. the roof over their head and the food on their table are paid for by PRC. so really, is it a surprise that they're out in force whenever anyone disagree with the current party line?

          I'm pretty sure nearly all of the Chinese students here are funded by the Chinese government. Out of state tuition is a bitch.

          Oh, did you mean that they are specifically paid to also protest?

          • by Fned (43219)

            Probably more like they very non-specifically stop getting paid if they happen not to...

          • by asdf7890 (1518587)

            Oh, did you mean that they are specifically paid to also protest?

            More like unofficially expect payments to stop if they don't, either because they've been told so or just that they are bright enough not to bite the hand that feeds.

        • by microbox (704317)
          This is so naive. The "students" you talk about are actually real students, and they are the chinese analogue of the tea-party. We have the human condition in common with the Chinese. Some people really believe in stuff, and a good indication is how fast their heart beats in there chest when you disagree with them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I guess what they don't understand is that in free countries we tend to ignore religious organizations no matter how crazy their beliefs may be unless they commit actual crimes (like breaking labor laws, child molestation, tax fraud, etc.). We may worry about malicious cults developing, but that's about it. The simple matter of believing something weird isn't criminal, no matter how whacked out, and most democratic constitutions protect freedom of religion including not practicing any religion at all. It

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's pretty much my reaction about folks who are rabidly against Scientology. I don't get it. Pin someone down as to why they're so against it and they make vague references to someone somewhere being killed or something by a Scientologist. The same can be said about any religion.

      Anyway, back to Falun Gong. Here's what a Chinese ex-pat told me.

      The Falun Gong very quickly organized tens of thousands of people to gather - doesn't matter that all they did was meditate - and it scared the shit out of the Chin

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        That's pretty much my reaction about folks who are rabidly against Scientology. I don't get it. Pin someone down as to why they're so against it and they make vague references to someone somewhere being killed or something by a Scientologist. The same can be said about any religion.

        How about work camps? [wikipedia.org] Essentially labor camps for people in Scientology who break certain rules. I've heard pretty bad things about them, but admittedly they were third hand. Still, Scientology reeks of cultism. Have no idea about Falun Gong though.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        " I don't get it. "
        let me spell it out for you:
        1) They use a variety of mental tricks to get you to join.
        2) They hound there member to go into debt to pay for the next course
        3) The pressure people to leave their families
        4) When people at to leave, they are harass, as are there friends and family members
        5) They spread medical lies that kill people.
        6) The use people figures to manipulate the truth about their cult.
        7) They abuse the court system in mass when someone says or does something they don't like.
        8) T

      • Pin someone down as to why they're so against it and they make vague references to someone somewhere being killed or something by a Scientologist.

        5 minutes on wikipedia or operation clambake turns up some worrying things on them. Of course thats true for most organizations, but then while you ponder that you can watch as the CoS fires off a C&D to wikipedia and operation clambake.

        Thats basically it, they react violently to any criticism, bringing the law and whatever else they can muster down on the heads of anyone who dares criticize them. That seems to make them worthy of "a reaction".

      • by geekoid (135745)

        When you are a government, any government, and within your borders there is a group that on the drop of a hat could have a million people doing whatever said organisations wants, it's worrisome.

        Cults aren't really none for their respect of others. Look at Jamestown. The fanatic believers put everyone else to death at gun point.

        Now, that i n NO WAY excuse Chinas treatment of the people, just why it would make them nervous. Of course, because China is rather suppressive*, it's easy to point to them as the ba

        • I think you mean Jonestown. Jamestown was the first English colony to survive in North America.

          But yes, it's no different in the end from when Europeans were slicing each other up over loyalty to Rome. Thousands were killed when Henry VIII started purging whomever seemed likely to prefer the Pope to him. Even as recently as the Kennedy administration a lot of fundamentalist Protestants were worried that JFK as a Catholic would betray the interests of the US if they conflicted with those of the Vatican.
      • by SiChemist (575005)

        The biggest problem I have with Scientology is their policy of "Fair Game" [wikipedia.org].

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Well as far as I know, Falun Gong didn't try to inflitrate the fucking government like Scientology did.

        That alone should make you worried about them.

      • by lennier (44736)

        That's pretty much my reaction about folks who are rabidly against Scientology. I don't get it.

        Oh, so young.

        Internet "information must be free" activists' hatred of Scientology dates back to the early days of the Web - mid-1990s, when Usenet was still a thing and you could still use the word "cypherpunk" without irony. The Scientology organisation was extremely litigatious and aggressively used copyright law to attempt to shut down whistleblower sites such as xenu.net. They had tons of money, no love for freedom of information, and more focus on image control than the then-in-power Clinton administra

    • by vlm (69642)

      The Chinese government has a weird obsession with Falun Gong, which I don't quite understand.

      They demand there must be no national organization other than the party.

      For a USA analogy, look how much daytime TV hosts LOOOOVE the internet. Their viewers are treated to endless FUD and terror tactics about the evils of the internet, and how the village moron would be perfectly safe if only there were no internet. There must be no popular media but the mainstream media. Same idea.

    • Re:weird (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @04:16PM (#37183512)
      Falun Gong calls attention to how the Chinese Communist Party acts in opposition to many traditional Chinese values. This is incredibly seditious considering that the CCP relies on the Chinese achieving more or less blind unity based on what are pushed as shared cultural values.

      I was recently watching a CCTV documentary on the Seven Scholars of the Bamboo Grove, and like everything on CCTV I always start wondering 'what is their political angle?' And sure enough, they were primarily focusing on the Seven Scholars deliberate avoidance in politics and how that preserved them when others were being purged for their intrigues. The CCP wants people to avoid politics as much as possible, which includes any criticism of the government.

      Falun Gong questions the morality of the government and the CCP within the tradition three dimensional contexts of Chinese morality: Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Even though China is a very secular society, these criticisms are very seriously taken by the CCP, which is always living in fear of losing control.

      If you're really interested you could look into the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party (which is banned in China) and the Tuidang Movement. Both of which are sourced in Falun Gong and do have an air of propaganda to them at times, but a thinking person can still find useful information even among such chaff.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)

      Religion is toxic, and one of the great accomplishments of the Maoists was to damage its influence in China.

      While it is rare that a national government is in the enviable position to oppose superstition, I support their efforts against backwardness. One day anti-religion may be regarded as visionary.

      • Re:weird (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @04:34PM (#37183740)
        I don't like religions either, but if the choice is freedom and religion or neither, I'll keep on tolerating religion.

        People may be wrong, but to force them to be right through prosecuting thought crimes is a disgusting dystopia that I will not accept.
        • You act as if it would be possible to have freedom without allowing others to practice religion....

          Care to explain?

          • No, I'm allowing for the albeit incredibly unlikely possibility that people would stop following superstitious nonsense voluntarily. I can dream, at least while there are no thought crimes.
      • What a disgusting comment.
    • Re:weird (Score:4, Interesting)

      by shugah (881805) on Tuesday August 23, 2011 @04:17PM (#37183538)
      It's funny - in Vancouver Falun Gong has had a permanent protest camp in front of the Chinese Consul General's compound on Granville Street for 10 years. It caused the city a lot of embarrassment when the city went to court to remove the permanent protest "hut", won at the BC Supreme Court but was over turned on appeal. They went back to the drawing board to draft a new bylaw that would outlaw permanent protest structures in residential neighbourhoods (Consul General is in Shaughnessy - a very wealthy residential neighbourhood) but allowed them in commercial areas. The city was embarrassed again when it came to light that the city manager consulted with the Chinese Consulate on drafting the bylaw. We should allow the Chinese government to advise us on how to handle a free speech? I expect the new bylaw will also be challenged as the consul general promotes trade and issues visas - so if they are conducting commercial activity, regardless of the residential zoning, protest structures should be allowed.
      • by HungWeiLo (250320)

        Well, it doesn't exactly help doing these types of protests next to 5 million dollar mansions in Shaughnessy. If it wasn't the Consul General, the neighbors would have gone to court to kick them out eventually.

    • The chinese government isnt really a fan of any large, independent organization that it cannot directly control.

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      Try looking into the Boxer Rebellion [wikipedia.org]. Then take a look at Falun Gong [wikipedia.org]. See the resemblence? Get why the Chinese government is proactively cracking down on Falun Gong before Falun Gong get into a position where they can stage a rebellion?
      • When Falun Gong starts assaulting the foreign embassies in Shanghai and Beijing I'll give you some serious consideration. Until then I think your analogy is woefully at odds with history and reality.

        Falun Gong has only two things in common with the boxers, a spiritual component, and that it was at one time tolerated by the government when the government believed it could be manipulated for its own purposes.
    • by quatin (1589389)

      Do your own research. The truth is really in between. Falun Gong is not a satanic cult, but they are also not a "legit" religion either. The best comparison is with the Church of Scientology. On the surface, it appears innocent, but as you dwell deeper into their teachings, you'll see several flags pop up such as super natural powers and immortality. Much like the "E-level" of Scientology, you have to devote time and money to achieve this level of super naturalness. The society even created a "Science Insti

      • by Jmc23 (2353706)
        actually it is a legit religion, it's an organized set of spiritual beliefs.

        You do have to devote timebut not money, so it's not like scientology. You don't even have to devote time to the organization, just to your practive, just like ajy real spiritual practice.

        It's based on traditional chinese beliefs and gung fu practices, just with moee of the layers peeled back. Do you know what christianity looks like with the layers peeled back, i.e., what did jesus teach his disciples as oppsed to the ignorant

  • Duck and cover (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RenHoek (101570)

    So.. since the US made such a big deal about cyber attacks being seen as an act of war, can you guys let me know when the nukes start flying?

    Oh.. wait.. China? You mean the US's sugardaddy? nvm..

    • by Frangible (881728)
      Sure, laugh about it now. But when cyber attacks turn into invading Alaska, don't blame me if you didn't prepare by making a giant superpatriot robot and T-51B power armor.
      • by Dyinobal (1427207)
        Invade Alaksa? No Sarah Palin will just shout across the water to her russian allies, which she can see from her home. No way the chinese would risk a war with Russia.
        • by Dyinobal (1427207)
          Well now with the sudden arrival of the news regarding the Siberia Alaska tunnel this joke is looking either more or less funny. I'm not sure which yet.
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      China only owns about 15% of the US national debt. Most of it is owned by Americans. If China stopped buying our debt, it would hurt a bit, but we'd survive it. If America stopped buying Chinese goods, their economy would collapse.

      The talk of China owning America is overblown. It started with jokes on late night talk shows, and somehow grew into common "knowledge".

      • Less than that. The US has $15tn of total debt, roughly, of which slightly under $1tn is Chinese. Not a particularly impressive figure.
    • Good point. Just like we fly our spy planes next to the Chinese border they can't do anything. Maybe this is not "accidental". See we do online attack against our enemy hosted in your country. What can you do?

  • A screen in the video also reveals 'the name of the software

    Everything China makes is just bad ripoffs of our original work. So... how do you write "Back Orifice 2000" in Chinese, and does that match the video?

  • I loved the part where a network administrator from UAB claims their network hasn't been compromised. News flash. If you're on a university network--any university network--it's been compromised.

  • China is NOT our friend.

    China spends inordinate amounts of money on espionage to steal government secrets and attempts to steal private intellectual property.

    It is time to stop coddling the Chinese leaders.

    Of course, that would take strong leadership here. Sheesh.

    • And what would you have them do, WW3?

      I don't think you understand how beneficial it is to the US armed forces' intelligence arms and the CIA to have fairly warm international relations with China. If we were to cool those off and things closed up, we would know less about them than they would of us (it's easier for them to work by proxy than it is for us, by and large).

      Epionage works both ways, brah.
      • by sjames (1099)

        We could remove them from most favored nation status for a start. Nobody expects wwIII, but we could at least sent them back our half of the BFF charm bracelets.

  • Asked for a statement, China's People's Liberation Army spokesperson said:

    "We do it for the lulz"

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