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It’s being called an accident, but it could also be a show of force: a piece of state propaganda from China shows an attack being launched against Falun Gong computers.

New York-based newspaper The Epoch Times says this image, taken from a TV spot aired in July, shows the software in use.

The newspaper translates the labels in the image as “Select attack target”, a drop-down list of Falun Gong Websites, and an “attack” button. It says the video, some of which is posted on F-Secure’s blog, provides direct evidence of government involvement in cyber-attacks.

That’s because The Epoch Times says the video identifies the software as being written by the Electrical Engineering University of the People’s Liberation Army, while the IP address the video shows as originating the attack, 138.26.72.17, resolves to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The university told the newspaper that the address has not been used since 2010, and it believes its network has not been compromised.

While the video may have been seen as propaganda claiming a capability that didn't actually exist, the government-run TV channel CCTV7 has since removed the original video from its Website and replaced it with a more generic slot, leading F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen to agree with the newspaper that the footage is genuine, and was included in the original footage by mistake.

China has consistently denied launching state-sponsored attacks against international targets (as has practically every government accused of espionage of any kind). ®

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