• Sat
  • Sep 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:57am
Edward Snowden

EXCLUSIVE: NSA targeted China's Tsinghua University in extensive hacking attacks, says Snowden

Tsinghua University, widely regarded as the mainland’s top education and research institute, was the target of extensive hacking by US spies this year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 June, 2013, 11:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 3:45pm

Tsinghua University in Beijing, widely regarded as the mainland’s top education and research institute, was the target of extensive hacking by US spies this year, according to information leaked by Edward Snowden.

It is not known how many times the prestigious university has been attacked by the NSA but details shown to the Post by Snowden reveal that one of the most recent breaches was this January.

The information also showed that the attacks on Tsinghua University were intensive and concerted efforts. In one single day of January, at least 63 computers and servers in Tsinghua University have been hacked by the NSA.

Snowden said the information he shared on the Tsinghua University attacks provided evidence of NSA hacking because the specific details of external and internal internet protocol addresses could only have been obtained by hacking or with physical access to the computers.

The university is home to one of the mainland’s six major backbone networks, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) from where internet data from millions of Chinese citizens could be mined.

The network was the country’s first internet backbone network and has evolved into the world’s largest national research hub.

It is one of the mainland’s non-commercial networks, owned by the Ministry of Education, but operated and maintained by the university and other colleges.

Universities in Hong Kong and the mainland were revealed as targets of NSA’s cyber-snooping activities last week when Snowden claimed the Chinese University of Hong Kong had been hacked.

Chinese University is home to the Hong Kong Internet Exchange, the city’s central hub for all internet traffic.

Snowden said the NSA was focusing much attention on so-called “network backbones”, through which vast amounts of date passed.

In the wake of Snowden’s claims, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set up an office to deal with diplomatic activities involving cyber security.

The new cyber affairs office is the first of its kind on the mainland with a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman saying that Beijing, long accused of cyberhacking by the United States, has been a “a major victim” of cyberattacks and that it opposed “cyberattacks in all forms”.

She added that the central government would discuss cybersecurity issues with the United States at next month’s Sino-US strategic and security dialogue.

Professor Xu Ke, deputy director of the Institute of Computer Networks at Tsinghua University, has previously said that most data passing through network backbones was not encrypted.

Xu said most attacks on such networks were carried out by governments because individual hackers “could gain little”, as the amount of information they faced would be “colossal”.

Only governments or large organisations would have the resources and manpower to “find the needle in a haystack”, he said.


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This article is now closed to comments

Did SCMP really vet this claim before reporting this? Or has SCMP lost objectivity and impartiality in the pursuit of a story? Or has SCMP really become to stand for Snowden's Chief Mouth Piece?
As mentioned in the article, "specific details of external and internal internet protocol addresses could only have been obtained by hacking or with physical access to the computers". Internal addresses can be easily be made up as they are in an allocated in specific ranges. If the external IP address can only be obtained by hacking or physical server access; did the SCMP reporter verify that the external IP addresses are indeed assigned to the university servers?
It was almost predictable that Snowden would make further allegations/claims to gain more sympathy and/or to create distractions once the formal charges were filed. It is similar to bank robbers being chased by police on the road to throw some money to cause chaos and make other people to block the police's chase.
I don't trust this man. Why do we trust him? It is sort of clear that he has some disgraced purpose. It is not strange that US has made some preparation or taken some actions in electronic warfare. The focus of this attention should be how to trade off human privacy and national security. It is a social morality.
At least, US government doesn't just injudiciously deny everything.
the US government does not deny the fact they are doing that. but they would not stop anything.
Carioca no Coracao
yes, in Obama we trust. praise the LORD.
Tell Snowden start a people petition for Obama extradition to China due to a country-level national security threat from USA. To face a legal prosecution for hacking China.
Nobody are dare to threaten Great China.
hard times !
This so-called KwunTongBypass can never utter any sensible or convining words here in this Comment column.Instead,he can only yell hysterically at anyone here who supports our benefactor,Mr.Edward Snowden whose relevations are assets towards all netizens in the world,including our over 4 million netizens here in Hong Kong where according to his relevation:our Pacnet (which handles our fibre-optic submarine cables communications) has also been hacked by this now-notorious NSA of America ! Shame on this nasty guy:KwunTongBypass ! Shame on him !
hard times !
it is really a pity you cannot express yourself here in English in the local English newspaper,SCMP.If your English is so poor that you just cannot bark fiercely and rudely at other writers here,please shut up forever and leave this Comment column once and for all.Go home and brush up your English ABC before returning here to bark at other sensible and educated writers.Okay ? ha ! ha !
Du bist ein armseeliger, rassistischer Dummkopf und Blödmann! (for ABCs: You are a racist moron and fool).Hohohoho!
lots of terrorists in Tsing Hua University I guess.....




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