Belgium accuses China of cyberattacks

Are Chinese-originated cyberattacks spreading beyond the obvious Western targets?

It's not just the US and UK who are crying foul over China's behavior in cyberspace - now the government of tiny Belgium has accused hackers from the country of targeting its systems.

Justice minister Jo Vandeurzen is reported to have claimed that the Federal Government had been targeted by Chinese hackers, backing up a separate statement by Belgium's foreign affairs minister, Karel De Grucht that his ministry had been hit by espionage in recent weeks.

In both cases, the Belgians appear certain that the culprits were Chinese and that the Beijing authorities must know something about events, although no evidence has been offered to back up these allegations. The precise nature of the attacks has not been explained either.

If the accusation is justified, it is starting to look as if Chinese-originated cyberattacks have spread well beyond the obvious Western targets.

The Chinese have been implicated in acts of cyber espionage in the last couple of years, including various alleged assaults on US military systems in 2006 and 2007. As recently as last September, a "leaked" report blamed the Chinese for a similar attack on the Pentagon.

The US reports have come in the form of briefings from unnamed individuals or leaks, suggesting that the US was sending a coded warning to the Chinese that such events risked damaging relations between the countries.

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