Just one day after we questioned what kind of evidence Jon Huntsman had when he claimed the Chinese government was behind a swath of cyber attacks directed at the United States, the Falun Gong mouthpiece Epoch Times caught a glimpse of a hacking program inadvertently shown in a CCTV military documentary. Could this be an example of the definitive proof we’ve all been waiting for?
The screenshot was taken from “Military Technology: Internet Storm is Coming,” a typically boring 20-minute documentary on cyber warfare that aired on CCTV-7 (the Military & Agricultural Channel) in mid-July. The segment of interest occurs about 13 minutes into the program where — as the narrator is babbling on about how the United States is leading the cyber warfare charge against China — the background footage shows a user opening up a custom hacking program, selecting a target from a list, and clicking on an “attack” button.
For our non-Chinese-reading foreign friends (or those who don’t like squinting to read blurry text) here’s a translation of the contents of the screenshot:
People’s Liberation Army Information Engineering University
Select Attack Destinations
List of Falung Gong sites
Falun Dafa in North America
Falun Dafa website
Meng Hui website
Witnesses of Falun Gong website 1
Witnesses of Falun Gong website 2
Video of the hacking tool and information about what’s in the screenshot after the jump…
- People’s Liberation Army Information Engineering University is an elite university and one of the five comprehensive universities of the PLA. Its self-proclaimed role is to “breed” commanding officers “for the national defense.”
- The IP that briefly flashes on screen actually belongs to the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Now before we get out the pitchforks and accuse China of using American universities to accomplish their own political gains, the University of Alabama responded to their IP showing up by stating they were sure their system was not compromised, and that the purpose of the IP was not to launch an attack from it, but rather to block access to it. For what reasons? Who knows.
- Falun Gong, of course, is a
cultspiritual discipline that preaches alien invasionqigong exercise and pseudosciencespiritual healing, and was banned from China in the 1990s for protesting against the government. Falun Gong today remains one of the most vocal opponents of the Chinese Communist Party, and operate a number of radio stations and newspapers worldwide in Chinese and English, with the intention of counteracting the influence of the CCP’s dissemination of information (which Falun Gong labels as propaganda).
For those of you familiar with the group’s history, you should already know that The Epoch Times regularly bashes the CCP and promotes Falun Gong. It’s no surprise then that they discovered this documentary, as all of the attack targets listed in the hacking tool are Falun Gong websites. While we were originally suspicious about this story given the Falun Gong connection, the documentary is actually still available to view on CCTV’s website (and on YouTube), so there is little reason to doubt the story’s authenticity.
What we do have to doubt is whether these claims of sophisticated coordinated attacks coming from China are all that they’re cracked up to be. If the best thing China has is a tweaked, less flashy version of something bored American teenagers use to fight Scientology, we have to say we’re not impressed. Where’s the flair? Where’s the intricacy? Where’s the floating laughing skull? Are we to believe that they spent the time to create a GUI to attack only FIVE websites related to one of China’s weakest (albeit extremely annoying) adversaries? Do they have a separate tool for every 5 websites they attack? What if they’re feeling expansive and want to attack more than one website at a time? Does it also install a Matrix screen saver (or perhaps Bonzai Buddy)? And most importantly, what sound does it make when you click “Attack?” Fingers crossed for cool laser sound!
Seriously, if China has all of these elite hackers, what’s the purpose of creating an interface at all? Perhaps they’ve been watching too much American television and therefore think they need to create a GUI interface using visual basic to accomplish every little task.
Relevant segment can be found at 00:36 in the YouTube video below.