Report: Another Chinese Military Unit Has Been Hacking U.S. Systems—This Time Satellite Networks

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 10 2014 6:10 PM

Report: Another Chinese Military Unit Has Been Hacking U.S. Systems—This Time Satellite Networks

A People's Liberation Army unit on the move.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Last month the Department of Justice indicted five Chinese military officers in connection with illegal international hacking. The officials were all from the People's Liberation Army's covert Unit 61398. Now a new report claims that in addition to the earlier charges of hacking U.S. corporations and stealing trade secrets, this unit has also been hacking American and European space and satellite contractor networks.

The cybersecurity defense firm CrowdStrike is calling the initiative Putter Panda, a take on Comment Panda, the firm's name for the hacking identified by the DoJ last month. In the 63-page report, the group points out that Putter Panda and Comment Panda have a lot in common, which points to a shared origin at Unit 61398. Both Pandas do their surveillance work in Shanghai and are connected to the PLA's Third General Staff Department, 12th Bureau Military Unit Cover Designator 61486. According to CrowdStrike, this unit gathers intelligence about space initiatives worldwide. The report explains:

They are a determined adversary group, conducting intelligence-gathering operations targeting the Government, Defense, Research, and Technology sectors in the United States, with specific targeting of space, aerospace, and communications.
The group has been operating since at least 2007 and has been observed heavily targeting the US Defense and European satellite and aerospace industries.

The unit has launched a variety of malware attacks—using techniques like trojans and malicious email attachments—to gain deep access into a number of U.S. and European aerospace networks. The information comes as hacking accusations have made relations between China and the U.S. increasingly tense. It's time for everyone to call in their extendable ears.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.