Slip-Up in Chinese Military TV Show Reveals More Than Intended
Piece shows cyber warfare against US entities
the Chinese military program. The large writing at the top says “Select Attack
Target." Next, the user can choose which IP address to attack from. The
drop-down box is a list of Falun Gong websites, while
the button on the left says “Attack." (CCTV)
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
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.
fleeting shots of an apparent China-based cyber-attack somehow made their
way into the final cut.
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.
screenshots show the name of the software and the Chinese university that built
it, the Electrical Engineering University of China’s People’s Liberation
Army—direct evidence that the PLA is involved in coding cyber-attack software
directed against a Chinese dissident group.
The software window says
“Choose Attack Target." The computer operator selects an IP address from a
list—it happens to be 184.108.40.206—and then selects a target. Encoded in the
software are the words “Falun Gong website list," showing that attacking Falun
Gong websites was built into the software.
A drop-down list of dozens of
Falun Gong websites appears. The computer operator chooses Minghui.org, the main
website of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
The IP address 220.127.116.11 belongs to the
University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), according to an online trace.
The shots then show a big “Attack" button on the bottom left being
pushed, before the camera cuts away.
“The CCP has leaked its top secret
here," says Jason Ma, a commentator for New Tang Dynasty Television. “This is the first time we see clearly that one
of the top Chinese military universities is doing this research and developing
software for cyber-attacks. There’s solid proof of it in this video," he
The Chinese Communist Party has consistently denied that it is
involved in cyber-attacks, but experts have long suspected that the Chinese
military engages in them.
“Now we’ve got proof," Ma says. “They’re also
extending their persecution of Falun Gong overseas,
attacking a civil website in the U.S. These are the clear messages revealed in
these six seconds of video."
Network administrators at UAB contacted on
Friday took a look at the IP address on their network and said it had not been
used since 2010.
One of the technicians also recalled that there had
been a Falun Gong practitioner at the university some years ago who held
informal Falun Gong meetings on campus. They could not confirm whether that
individual used that IP address.
A UAB network administrator assured The
Epoch Times that they have safeguards against both network intrusions, and that
their network is not compromised.
After the short interlude, the
documentary continued with the themes it had started with for another nine
Last month McAfee network security company, said that an
unprecedented campaign of cyber-espionage—affecting over 70 organizations or
governments around the world and implicating billions of dollars in intellectual
property—was being carried out by a “state actor."
Later evidence traced
IP addresses involved in the attack to China, and a growing mountain of other
circumstantial evidence also suggests that the attacks originated from China.
The military documentary on July 17, on the other
hand, was meant to show that the United States is the real aggressor in
cyberspace, and that China is highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. “America is
the first country to propose the concept of a cyberwar, and the first country to
implement it in a real war,” the narrator said at one point.
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