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NSA's top spook blames China for RSA hack

Says People's Republic trousers loads of US military IP

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The director of the US National Security Agency has named China as the country behind last year's high profile hack against RSA that resulted in the extraction of data related to SecurID tokens.

The information extracted in the March 2011 hack was later used in an unsuccessful attack against Lockheed Martin. Other US defence contractors, including L-3 Communications, were also rumoured to have been targeted but this remains unconfirmed.

RSA offered replacement tokens in the wake of the attack, which relied on a combination of spear phishing and malware that exploited a zero-day Adobe Flash exploit. Art Coviello, RSA's executive chairman, went as far as blaming the attack on two organisations for the same country last October without naming the prime suspects in the high-profile assault.

However National Security Agency director General Keith Alexander went further on Tuesday during testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee and named China as the prime suspect behind the RSA hack. He went on to say China is stealing a "great deal" of military-related intellectual property from the US, Information Week reports.

China has long been the prime suspect in the RSA hack but has never been named as such until this week. General Alexander's statement is another clear sign that US authorities are going beyond diplomatic channels in an attempt to shame China into cutting back on its widely reported cyber-espionage program.

China, for its part, routinely claims that it is more spied against than spying. Beijing can be expected to take a similar line over the latest accusations. ®

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