Chinese military likely behind cyberattacks in Japan: Report

Tokyo: The Chinese military has been suspected of ordering hackers to attack hundreds of targets in Japan, including the country’s space agency and defence-related firms.

According to NHK, police sent papers to prosecutors on a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member on Tuesday on suspicion of forging digital records related to the cyberattacks.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, suffered a cyberattack in 2016. The police identified a Chinese man who had leased several servers in Japan that were allegedly used in the attack.

The man, who is no longer in Japan, is said to be a computer engineer in his 30s. He allegedly rented servers five times under false names.

Investigative sources said the servers’ ID and other credentials were then passed on to a Chinese hacker group known as “Tick.”

Tokyo police suspects that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army instructed Tick to stage cyberattacks in Japan. Sources say that about 200 companies and advanced research institutions, including Mitsubishi Electric and Keio University, were targeted.

A JAXA spokesperson told NHK that the space agency did experience unauthorised access, but suffered no data leaks or other damage.

Meanwhile, another Chinese man is also said to have rented several servers in Japan using fake identities. This was allegedly under the instruction of a member of unit 61419 — a bureau in charge of cyberattacks within China’s PLA.

The revelation comes at a time when tensions between China and Japan have escalated amid increased activity by Beijing in the disputed East China Sea.

This comes after Beijing implements a new law that allows the country’s quasi-military force to use weapons against foreign ships that China sees as illegally entering its waters.

Last month, Japan said China’s coastguard had expanded its presence in the contested waters by entering twice a month and as frequently as twice a week near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, known by the Chinese as Diaoyu.

Last month, Microsoft, the US company, said a sophisticated group of hackers linked to China has hacked into its popular email service that allowed them to gain access to computers.

The company had said that four vulnerabilities in its software allowed hackers to access servers for Microsoft Exchange, “which enabled access to email accounts, and allowed installation of additional malware to facilitate long-term access to victim environments,” reported CNN.

Last year, in a major breach of security, Australia was hit by a major cyberattack by a “state-based actor”.