Faculty members at China’s Shanghai Jiaotong University have been linked to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unit allegedly at the center of cyber attacks against the U.S. and other Western commercial interests.
The ties were discovered via “papers on computer network security and intrusion detection,” which were “co-authored by researchers at PLA Unit 61398” and faculty at the university.
To be clear, there is no evidence that Shanghai Jiaotong faculty members participated in anything other than research. But even at that level, their involvement raises new questions about whether the cyber attacks on Western interests have been state sponsored.
As James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies put it: “The issue is operational activity–whether these research institutions have been involved in actual intelligence operations. That’s something the U.S. does not do. (In the U.S.) there’s a clear line between an academic researcher and people engaged in operational (intelligence gathering) activities.”