U.S. Main Source of Attacks on China State Websites, Agency Says

The number of Chinese government websites targeted by hackers almost doubled last year to 3,016, with the largest number of attacks coming from the U.S., China’s network security agency said in a report.

“Law enforcement agencies should increase punishment of network crime and strictly pursue violators in order to create an effective deterrent,” the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Center of China, or CNCERT, said in the report posted to its website yesterday.

So-called back-door viruses infected 52,324 websites in China last year, a 214 percent increase from 2011, according to CNCERT, which is controlled by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Of those infected, 3,016 were government-run websites, an increase of 93 percent, it said.

Cyber attacks have become a priority for the U.S. after hacking on corporate networks were traced to China by American intelligence agencies and security firms such as Alexandria, Virginia-based Mandiant Corp. President Barack Obama, in his first conversation with Xi Jinping after the Chinese president took office last week, said cyber attacks from China would be a key part of bilateral talks.

Li Keqiang, at his first press conference after taking over as China’s premier, said the U.S. should stop making “groundless accusations” against China regarding cyber security and focus on “practical” action over the issue.

China’s network security agency said in its report that 23 percent of the IP addresses used in the back-door virus attacks were based in the U.S., with 14 percent in Taiwan, 8 percent in Hong Kong, 6.7 percent in South Korea and 4.5 percent in Malaysia.

The number of malicious programs targeting mobile Internet users also rose, with 162,981 samples discovered last year, which was 25 times more than in 2011, CNCERT said. Eighty-three percent of the viruses targeted devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system, it said.

— With assistance by Daryl Loo

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