China rejects computer spy claims as "ghost of Cold War"

Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:23pm EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China Tuesday rejected a report suggesting it may be involved in using computer networks to spy on exiled Tibetans and foreign governments, accusing its authors of being possessed by "the ghost of the Cold War."

China has been repeatedly accused of using the Internet to secretly enter computer networks abroad to carry out sabotage and gather intelligence, and it has repeatedly denied such claims.

A report from the Toronto-based Munk Center for International Studies in Toronto said at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries were breached by the spying, which it said was based in China but could not be definitively linked to the government.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry dismissed such claims as rumor and said his government was committed to protecting Internet security.

"Nowadays the problem is that there are some people abroad avidly concocting rumors about China's so-called Internet espionage," spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

"There's a ghost abroad called the Cold War and a virus called the China threat," Qin continued, breaking into English-language phrases to make his meaning clear.

"People possessed by the ghost of the Cold War constantly issue this China threat virus."

Among the sites infiltrated from China were embassies, foreign ministries and government offices, especially across southeast and south Asia, and the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers, the Canadian researchers said in the report released at the weekend.

A computer located in the private office of the Dalai Lama was infected with a virus, the researchers found. It was capable of "phoning home" -- stealing information such as email lists with thousands of names and negotiating position documents -- from the machine and sending it to those in control of the virus.   Continued...

<p>A man uses a computer inside an Internet cafe in Shanghai January 5, 2009. REUTERS/Aly Song</p>