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A report says hackers with government ties are at the forefront of a "cyber Cold War."
SAN FRANCISCO - The Chinese government Thursday disputed a report labeling it the world's most aggressive offender in probing for holes in other nations' Internet security and encouraging a looming global cyber showdown.
The report, issued Thursday by Santa Clara, Calif., security software vendor McAfee Inc., said government-affiliated hackers in China are at the forefront of a brewing "cyber Cold War."
Within two decades, according to McAfee, the scuffle could erupt into a worldwide conflict involving hundreds of countries attacking one another's online networks with sophisticated software.
McAfee said about 120 countries are developing cyber attack strategies, and most are merely testing them to determine the risks involved in certain tactics.
Based on McAfee research and input from security experts with NATO, the FBI and other intelligence outfits, the report said hackers in China are believed responsible for four out of five major cyber attacks on government targets in 2007.
The biggest intrusions appear to have targeted a Pentagon computer network and government agencies in Germany, India, Australia and New Zealand.
"The Chinese have publicly stated that they are pursuing activities in cyber espionage ... they speak of technology being a large part of war in the future," the McAfee report says.
McAfee said that in 2007, there were more attacks reported on critical national infrastructure than ever before. Targets included financial markets, utilities and air traffic control machinery, and the attacks were believed to have been launched by governments or government-allied groups.
China has denied it is engaged in any cyber crime, adding its networks have been targeted.
"China has also been attacked by hackers of some countries, so the Chinese government attaches great importance to and participates in the international law enforcement cooperation in this area," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Thursday.
China hinted Thursday that Congress' honoring of the Dalai Lama and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan led it to cancel a U.S. Navy visit to Hong Kong last week, an incident that could open a new rift in military relations.
Liu Jianchao said a report from Washington quoting China as calling the incident a misunderstanding was "not in line with the facts."
[Last modified November 30, 2007, 01:43:21]