China disputes claim hackers breached U.S. satellites

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Chinese officials have repudiated a congressional commission's report accusing the country of attempted hacks into two U.S. government satellites in 2007 and 2008.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that the draft report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was "untrue and has ulterior motives," according to published accounts.

The report, to be officially released next month, said hackers interfered with a Landsat-7 earth observation satellite for 12 or more minutes in October 2007 and June 2008, and a Terra AM-1 satellite experienced 11 minutes of interference from 07 to 08, according to a Bloomberg story. Excerpts from the report said this type of disruption "could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite."

The commission has accused China of cyberespionage in the past. And just last week, Richard Clarke, former special adviser to the president on cybersecurity and chairman of Good Harbor Consulting, specifically called out the world's most populous country.

"Frankly, the government of China is involved in hacking into American companies and taking that information and giving it to Chinese companies," he said in a video interview with security firm Bit9. "It means our intellectual property is going out the door in petabytes and terabytes."

In almost all instances in which the U.S. accuses China of cyberattacks on its properties, officials deny responsibility. In some cases, they accuse the federal government of trying to tarnish China's global image.

The U.S.-China commission report did admit that assigning attribution is an inconclusive art due to the ability by hackers to cover their tracks.

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