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China implies Washington behind University hack

Northwestern Polytechnical University’s cyber espionage case further strains US-China relations

Aggravating tensions between the US and China, a Chinese police agency has accused Washington of prying into China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University’s computers.

Per reports, the US suspects the said university, located in the western city of Xian, also serves as a military research center for China. 

Northwestern Polytechnical University first reported the hack in June after working with a commercial security provider Qihoo 360 Technology, which attributed the attack to National Security Agency (NSA).

Specifically, China accused the US agency of snooping on the university’s network management among other “core technologies.” Up to 41 “network attack” tools have been linked to the NSA by far.

Washington had previously accused Beijing of abusing its power to steal commercial secrets, which led to criminal charges being filed against Chinese military personnel.

US security experts also claim the People’s Liberation Army sources help from the university to develop military equipment, including aerial and underwater drones and missile technology.

Last year’s arrest of Shuren Qin is a case in point. After pleading guilty to exporting underwater and marine technology to Northwestern Polytechnical University without required licenses, Shuren Qin from China was sentenced to two years in prison by a federal court in Boston. 

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However, as matters stand, China is yet to reveal damages caused by the NSA’s alleged “malicious network attacks”.

The hackers targeted a “zero day,” or previously unreported, vulnerability in the school’s security, China’s statement read. The break-ins were reportedly initiated from servers in 17 countries including Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Poland, Ukraine, and Colombia.

There have been numerous allegations of online spying between the two governments over the years, with both nations accusing each other of illegal practices in the cyber realm.

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