China accuses US of launching cyber attacks to steal data from elite university

China has accused US National Security Agency (NSA) for launching cyber attacks on a elite Chinese university to steal sensitive data, Xinhua News Agency has reported.

In its investigation report, China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) said that NSA-affiliated Tailored Access Operations (TAO) Office—an elite team of hacking group—used “41 types of cyber weapons” against China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University.

Among them, one such tool, “Suctionchar” is said to have helped them hack into the school’s network by stealing account credentials and file transfer applications to hijack logins on targeted servers, the CVERC said.

The agency said that it found traces of Suctionchar in many other Chinese networks apart from Northwestern’s, accusing the NSA of launching more than 10,000 cyberattacks on China over the past several years.

It claimed that TAO has “stolen over 140 gigabytes of high-value data” in recent years and received assistance from groups in Europe and South Asia.

On Sunday, China lodged a diplomatic complaint blaming the US for endangering China’s security by targeting its critical infrastructure and institutions, and asked Washington to stop its clandestine activities.

In a statement, Yang Tao, the director-general of American affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, affirmed the CVERC report, saying the NSA had “seriously violated the technical secrets of relevant Chinese institutions and seriously endangered the security of China’s critical infrastructure, institutions and personal information, and must be stopped immediately.”

In the past, the US Justice Department had referred the school as a “Chinese military university that is heavily involved in military research and works closely with the People’s Liberation Army,” claiming that it is a reasonable target for digital infiltration from an American perspective.

(With inputs from agencies)

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