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China seeks greater cybercooperation

By ZHOU WA | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-22 03:59

China is open to cooperating with other countries to maintain international cybersecurity, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday.

Hong made his remarks after the Republic of Korea claimed it traced the cyberattacks on its broadcasters and banks on Wednesday to an IP address in China. ROK officials are investigating whether the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was behind the attacks.

However, there is no technical proof to back up the claim or DPRK involvement, analysts said.

"We have pointed out many times that hacking attacks are a global issue," Hong said at a daily news briefing. "It is in everyone's interests to maintain cybersecurity."

Hong said China will work with other countries to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace, establish relevant rules and conduct constructive cooperation with other countries on the basis of respect and trust.

Cyberattacks are "anonymous and transnational", he said. "By using other countries' IP addresses, hackers attack some countries' networks, and this is a common practice."

The ROK's Korea Communications Commission claimed earlier that the attacks had used a Chinese IP address to access the targeted computer networks and use software to crash their systems, AFP reported. "The Chinese IP may trigger various assumptions," said Park Jae-moon, KCC's director of network policy. "At this stage, we're still doing our best to trace the origin of the attacks, keeping all kinds of possibilities open," Park said.

Wednesday's attacks shut down the networks of main ROK TV broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN, and suspended financial services and crippled operations at three banks — Shinhan, NongHyup and Jeju.

Most of these networks were back and running on Thursday, but a large number of individual PCs were still not operational.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, ROK authorities are looking for any clues that show the DPRK was the initiator of the attacks, as it has repeatedly threatened to launch various attacks on Seoul because of new sanctions against the DPRK for its recent nuclear test, and the ROK's annual joint military drills with the United States.

Observers said the case shows the deep suspicions between the ROK and the DPRK, warning that it is better for Seoul not to blame Pyongyang before there is conclusive evidence.

The ROK's suspicions are groundless, but it shows misunderstandings between Seoul and Pyongyang are expanding to all areas, said Zhang Liangui, a researcher on Korean studies at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"The DPRK attaches great importance to cybertechnology and has trained many technicians, so it is possible that Pyongyang can initiate such attacks," Zhang said.

"But the ROK still lacks enough evidence to clarify the origin of the attacks. It shows the tension lingering on the Korean Peninsula."

Jiang Qiping, an expert on cybersecurity with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Chinese media that from a technical perspective, one cannot be sure that the DPRK launched the attacks,.

The ROK media has political motivations to blame the DPRK for the attacks, Jiang added.

On Thursday, an ROK military source said that Seoul will increase its cyberwarfare forces to more than 1,000 to enhance preparation for an unprovoked attack, as this week's massive hacking highlighted the potential danger of cyberterror from the DPRK, Yonhap reported.

AFP contributed to this story.


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