According to a report in the Financial Times of all publications, the Chinese military has hacked the Pentagon in what it describes as the most successful cyber attack on the US defense department to date.
Although the Pentagon has acknowledged that a computer system which serves the office of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was shut down for more than a week, officially it refuses to comment upon whom it believes initiated the attack. However, the FT claims that both current and former Pentagon officials have told it that an internal investigation following the breach, which occurred in June, revealed that the People’s Liberation Army had been pinpointed as the source. The PLA is thought to engage in regular probes of US military networks, just as the Pentagon probes Chinese military networks.
The attack on the Pentagon follows reports of similar infiltration of German government computers which have widely been reported as being of Chinese origin. Indeed, on a recent visit to Beijing the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, brought the matter up with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. This prompted the Chines foreign ministry to release an official statement condemning any such ‘criminal acts’ that undermine computer systems ‘including hacking’ and going on to claim that China itself was the victim of many such attacks.
Whether George W. Bush brings the matter up with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, later in the week when the two meet up before the Apec summit in Australia remains to be seen.