One of China’s most prestigious universities, Shanghai Jiaotong University, has been linked with a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) group that is believed to be responsible for many cyberattacks on U.S. companies. Professors from the university and researchers from the PLA have authored papers together.
Melanie Lee with Reuters reported, “Faculty members at a top Chinese university have collaborated for years on technical research papers with a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unit accused of being at the heart of China’s alleged cyber-war against Western commercial targets. Several papers on computer network security and intrusion detection, easily accessed on the Internet, were co-authored by researchers at PLA Unit 61398, allegedly an operational unit actively engaged in cyber-espionage, and faculty at Shanghai Jiaotong University, a center of academic excellence with ties to some of the world’s top universities and attended by the country’s political and business elite.”
The Verge’s Dante D’Orazio noted, “Last month, a report from computer security agency Mandiant implicated that the military unit was responsible for hacks like those that compromised media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post — a claim that the Chinese government has denied. Evidence of a tie between such a influential university and a military unit involved with cyber-espionage operations is notable, though there is nothing yet that suggests university faculty worked together with PLA employees involved in espionage operations.”
ZDNet’s Ellyne Phneah added, “The papers, on network security and attack detection, state on their title pages they were written by Unit 61398 researchers and professors at Shanghai Jiaotong’s School of Information Security Engineering (SISE). In a 2007 paper on how to improve security by designing a collaborative network monitoring system, PLA researcher Chen Yi-qun worked with Xue Zhi, the vice president of SISE and the school’s Communist Party branch secretary. In his biography on the school’s Web site, Xue Zhi is credited with developing China’s leading infiltrative cyberattack platform.”
SlashGear’s Brian Sin observed, “Fan Lei, an associate professor at the university, also worked on a research paper with Chen. Fan said, however, that he had no idea Chen was part of PLA Unit 61398 and that he only worked with him because he was a SISE graduate. His statement was proven false by the research paper, which clearly stated that Chen was part of the PLA unit.”