Slip-Up In Chinese Military TV Show Reveals More Than Intended (Updated)

In an attempt to point the finger at the United States as the initiators of aggressive cyber-attacks, Chinese military inadvertently reveal themselves as the developers of cyber-attack software.  The Epoch Times reports:

A standard, even boring, piece of Chinese military propaganda screened in mid-July included what must have been an unintended but nevertheless damaging revelation: shots from a computer screen showing a Chinese military university is engaged in cyberwarfare against entities in the United States.

The screenshots appear as B-roll footage in the documentary for six seconds—between 11:04 and 11:10 minutes—showing custom-built Chinese software apparently launching a cyber-attack against the main website of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, by using a compromised IP address belonging to a United States university. As of Aug. 22 at 1:30pm EDT, in addition to Youtube, the whole documentary is available on the CCTV website.

The documentary itself was otherwise meant as praise to the wisdom and judgment of Chinese military strategists, and a typical condemnation of the United States as an implacable aggressor in the cyber-realm. But the fleeting shots of an apparent China-based cyber-attack somehow made their way into the final cut.

Update: See also a Wall Street Journal report:

The brief footage—the relevant segment runs no more than 10 seconds—didn’t attract much domestic or international attention when it was first screened last month as part of a 20-minute report on cybersecurity broadcast on CCTV-7, which covers military affairs.

But it was highlighted Wednesday in a report published by Dr. Erickson, an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, and Mr. Collins, a commodities and security specialist focusing on Russia and China.

The footage, which could still be seen on CCTV’s website as of late Wednesday, features Senior Col. Du Wenlong, a researcher at the Chinese army’s Academy of Military Sciences, giving a detailed analysis of cybersecurity issues around the world.

At one point, as a narrator discusses various forms of cyberattack, a cursor is shown moving on a computer screen with a software application that is identified in Chinese characters as a “distributed denial-of-service” attack. Also known as DDOS, such attacks are relatively unsophisticated tools of cyberwarfare that involve bombarding websites with data to disable them.

The next screen says at the top, in Chinese, “Attack system..PLA Electronic Engineering Institute.” PLA stands for People’s Liberation Army.

August 23, 2011 3:13 PM
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