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Chinese Cyber Spies Blend in Community

Feb 21, 2013

The Chinese has been a hot topic on the latest cyber security attacks. The Associated Press reported a community of Internet warriors working from a white building in Shanghai, known as Unit 61398:


Supposedly run by China’s military, they have been recruits directly from universities targeting students with computer expertise and excellent English skills.  Zhejiang University’s College of Computer Science and Technology, was among the list seeking students with master degrees. Scholarships were handed out on the condition that students worked at Unit 61398 after graduation.


Known as Unit 61398, the 12-story building has office space for up to 2,000 computer tech geeks. The number of personnel in the unit could be anywhere from hundreds to several thousands of busy cyberspies. According to Mandiant, cyberattacks have been traced back to the building, directly affecting the US defence and infrastructure companies. The neighbourhood is among everyday society blended in with other apartment buildings, tea houses, local stores and karaoke bars.


The Unit remains active with in the community, even though top secret cyberattack activity goes on. The building is known to host events such as the ever popular badminton matches, mass weddings for officers,  and talks of the merits of the “Unit 61398 Kindergarten.” It’s also been noted that local government set up a joint outreach center on family planning, which is considered standard practice for the military’s often self-contained communities across China.


Special arrangements were made with China Telecom for a fiber optic communication infrastructure, stating its need for mega bandwidth and its status in the community. The contract between them, the Unit and the military suggests it needs to support “national defense construction” concerns.


Cyberattacks favoured targeted IT Security companies, followed by aerospace firms, as China seeks to build its own state-of-the-art civilian and military aircraft centre. According to the Mandiant, their main form of attack is through “spearfishing” attacks, in which they target email, tricking employees to click a link or attachment, which opens the floodgates to cyberattacks.

Credits to Cnet for resources.


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