China claims 'increase' in cyber attacks from overseas

Internet cafe China
Image caption Attacks on Chinese websites are on the rise, according to a government report

A report from a government-run online security group in China claims that there has been a "massive increase" in cyber attacks from "foreign hackers".

It was released by China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team and Coordination Centre, state-run media said on Monday.

It said cyber attacks affected 8.9m computers in 2011, up from 5m in 2010.

China is often accused of cyber attacks on foreign government agencies and firms. Beijing routinely denies this.

A recent report from a US congressional panel said that China's cyber warfare skills could pose a threat to the United States military.

According to Monday's report from the CNCERT, 11,851 foreign internet protocol (IP) addresses had controlled 10,593 Chinese websites in 2011. It said Japan was the top source of attacks, followed by the US and South Korea.

Wang Minghua, deputy director of CNCERT's operations department, was quoted by the state-run China Daily as saying that foreign hackers changed the content of 1,116 Chinese websites, including 404 that were run by government agencies.

"This shows that Chinese websites still face a serious problem from being maliciously attacked by foreign hackers or IP addresses," he said.

He added that there could have been more instances of hacking, but it was difficult to trace.

The report also claims that the cyber attacks were aimed at online banking users.

Zhou Yonglin, a CNCERT director, added that in some cases, the hackers "had intended to access state networks and steal confidential information".

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