China claimed on Tuesday that it was hit by nearly 500,000 cyberattacks last year, according to the South China Morning Post -- a Hong Kong-based English newspaper published by the SCMP group.
Out of half a million cyberattacks reported by China, nearly half of the attacks allegedly originated from overseas countries, including the United States and India as the main perpetrators.
According to a government report, most of the attacks on China came in the form of Trojan software -- a malicious programme that masquerades as an application, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The National Computer Network Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre reports that nearly 15 percent of the destructive programmes came from IP addresses in the United States, while eight percent originated in India.
This news comes amidst the latest information provided by McAfee, a computer security company, which recently discovered an unprecedented series of cyberattacks on the networks of 72 global organizations, including the United Nations, governments and corporations over a period of five years.
The main state actor behind these attacks, according to many security experts, is China. The United States, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Canada, including defense contractors to high tech enterprises, have been affected by these attacks.
“Even we were surprised by the enormous diversity of the victim organizations and were taken aback by the audacity of the perpetrators," McAfee's Vice President of Threat Research, Dmitri Alperovitch, wrote in a 14-page report.
"What is happening to all this data … is still largely an open question," he wrote. "However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat a competitor at a key negotiation, the loss represents a massive economic threat."
But China refuted the claim through People’s Daily, an organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, saying: “Linking China to the Internet hacking attacks is irresponsible... The McAfee report claims that a ‘state actor’ engaged in hacking for a large-scale Internet espionage operation, but its analysis clearly does not stand up to scrutiny.”
Even Google in early June suspected mainland hackers being responsible for stealing passwords of hundreds of Google email account holders, including those of U.S. government officials, China rights activists and journalists. Again, an article in People’s Daily was the closest thing to an official response, saying that Google had become a political tool used to defame the government in Beijing, and warned that the U.S. Internet giant’s statements could hurt its business.
White House spokesman Jay Carney earlier stated that U.S. President Barack Obama viewed cybersecurity as a top priority and was working to tighten the defenses of both the government and private sector.