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India and Belgium decry Chinese cyber attacks

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Belgium and India have joined the growing ranks of countries voicing concerns about cyber attacks originating from China. Earlier this week, officials from both countries said computer networks inside their borders are routinely targeted by hackers trying to ferret information that could benefit the Chinese government.

Belgian Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen said he had evidence that the Communist Party of China is behind recent espionage attacks against his country. They were carried out by sending spyware attached to emails addressed to Belgian state departments, according to news reports here and here.

Chinese hackers are targeting Belgium because the European Union and NATO have their headquarters in Brussels, officials said. Belgium's ties to Africa, which China increasingly relies on for energy exports, also makes it attractive.

Indian officials, meanwhile, said that over the past year and a half, China has mounted almost daily attacks on networks belonging to the government and India's private sector. "The core of the assault is that the Chinese are constantly scanning and mapping India’s official networks," The Times of India reports. "This gives them a very good idea of not only the content but also of how to disable the networks or distract them during a conflict."

Other countries claiming they are under sustained attacks by China include the US, the UK, France and Germany. According to some reports, hackers who stole a large amount of sensitive information from the US Pentagon last June were based in China. An assessment released by the Department of Defense in March said espionage is a key tool used to improve China's technology might.

Last month the FBI was report to be investigating the possibility Chinese hackers have installed backdoors in sensitive government networks using counterfeit Cisco routers.

More recently, researchers have uncovered evidence that patriotic Chinese citizens are spontaneously volunteering to mount distributed denial-of-service attacks on CNN following its coverage of people protesting the Olympic torch relay.

So far, the countries have provided little proof that Chinese hacking is any different from cyber operations being conducted by other governments. ®

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