Hackers descend upon defense website

08:54, November 19, 2009      

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Hackers are trying to penetrate the website of China's Ministry of National Defense and have made more than 2 million attacks on it within one month since the site's launch three months ago, People's Daily reported Wednesday.

The efforts are seen as a sign of the increasing vulnerability facing China's official websites.
"Since the first day the defense ministry website went online, it has suffered mass, uninterrupted hacker attacks," Ji Guilin, the editor in chief of the website, told the paper in an interview.

There were more than 2.3 million cyber attacks in the first month alone, especially in the first week, Ji said, though no damage was done to to its operation due to intensified security measures and the back-up systems in place.

Ji did not pinpoint the exact origins of the attacks, but he said the hackers tried to infiltrate the website (www.mod.gov.cn) and cripple its operations.

The Chinese military, the world's largest with 2.3 million troops, has come under frequent accusations of hacking into the websites of foreign governments. The Chinese government has rejected any such involvement.

In an interview last month with the International Herald Leader, affiliated to the Xinhua News Agency, Ji said the national defense ministry website places particular stress on security, and various security measures were in place to choke hacker attacks.

"The website seems to be strong in its defense capabilities against hackers," Liu Yong, a senior editor of China Security Magazine, said.

The possible motives of hackers trying to break into the website were unclear, and the defense ministry declined to speculate.

Fang Binxing, president of Beijing Uni

versity of Posts and Telecommunications and an expert on information security technologies, said some hackers are likely to launch attacks from outside China for provocation purposes.

"Many are jealous of China's growing prosperity and want to embarrass China by attacking some of its popular official websites," he said.

The ministry launched the bilingual website, in Chinese and English, on August 20 in a bid to better promote China's national defense and downplay the West's fears of China's military modernization drive, the defense ministry said.

The launch came just days after the Pentagon unveiled its new website, defense.gov.

China's defense website contains news releases, overviews of defense policies and profiles of leaders. It also features audio and video.

Ji said that the site's total number of page views in the first three months of trial operations reached 1.25 billion, with up to 40 percent of them coming from Beijing, Guangdong and Jiangsu.

Web users from the United States, Australia and Britain made up the most hits on the English version of the website, he said, while most overseas hits on the Chinese-language site come from the US, Australia, Singapore and Japan.

Traffic on the first day reached 70 million users and the next day it climbed to 130 million, he said.

"The website is sound in terms of structure, but it lacks in-depth and detailed content compared with many non-governmental online forums featuring military topics," Hou Lei, a 24-year-old military enthusiast in Beijing, said.
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