Washington: A series of brazen cyberattacks on America's most high-profile media outlets has revived concerns over Chinese hackers, who analysts say are likely linked to the secretive Beijing government.
Other security professionals argue it is hard to be certain the attacks stem from China or that the hackers acted at the behest of the government.
This week, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported that their computer networks had been compromised, alleging it was an effort by the Chinese government to spy on news media operating in the country.
James Lewis, cyber security specialist at United States thinktank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there is evidence that backs the allegations of Chinese government involvement. Hackers from China have previously been linked to attacks on US defence giant Lockheed-Martin, Google and Coca-Cola. Other reports say Chinese hackers have tried to infiltrate the Pentagon's computers and those of US lawmakers. "The Chinese don't play by the rules that the rest of the world plays by," Lewis said. "That's partly because they don't understand them and partly because they don't value them."
Lewis said the level of attacks is 'reaching an intolerable level' and will force a US government response that goes beyond words. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that in his coming book, Google chairman Eric Schmidt brands China an Internet
menace that sanctions cyber crime for economic and political gain.
The New Digital Age is authored by Schmidt in a collaboration with Jared Cohen, a former US State Department advisor who heads a Google Ideas think tank. The book is due for release in April.
The authors reportedly brand China "the world's most active and enthusiastic filterer of information" and "the most sophisticated and prolific" hacker of foreign companies.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has said that there has been an increase in hacking attacks on both state institutions and private companies. "We have to begin making it clear to not only the Chinese... that the United States is going to be having to take actions to protect not only our governments but our private sector from this kind of illegal intrusion," she said.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at British security firm Sophos, said news media had not considered themselves likely targets of attacks until now. He said that if the recent reports are accurate, the goal is likely "