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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK


Sci/Tech

China accused of cyber war

Falun Gong publications have been burned by Chinese authorities

By BBC Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The Chinese Government has been blamed for cyber attacks on Websites and Internet Service Providers supporting the Falun Gong movement.

Some of the attacks, which appeared to be aimed at blocking access to information on Falun Gong, have been traced back to Beijing, where authorities are becoming increasingly sophisticated in restricting the influence of the Internet on Chinese society.

China has been a victim of so-called hacker attacks in the past; now it appears to have gone on the offensive.

Last year, a human rights Website it set up was hacked and pages were replaced with a link to Amnesty International.

Hackers have also targeted government computers to try to stop them blocking access to Websites such as the BBC's.

Info-warfare

Now some direct attacks on Falun Gong Websites in the United States and Canada have been traced to government-backed technology institutes in Beijing.

They have used the same weapons as hackers - bombarding computers with requests for information that have either slowed down or blocked access for people wanting to visit the sites.

The Chinese Government has also set up an anti-Falun Gong Website filled with articles saying the movement is a threat to the mental and physical health of society.

Propaganda sites such as these are not unusual, but the cyber attacks are the hardest evidence yet of a government indulging in info-warfare.

This trend has long been predicted, and Indonesia was accused of attacking an East Timor Website in Ireland earlier this year.

That was not proved, and neither were ttacks on Nato's computer systems traced to Belgrade during the Kosovo campaign.

They seemed more the work of individuals - but the Falun Gong cases are being sourced to a major institution directly supported by the Chinese Government.



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