Coca-Cola accused as US-China cyber war of words escalates


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Coca-Cola accused as US-China cyber war of words escalates
Chinese authorities have accused Coca-Cola China of illegally mapping parts of Yunnan Province, while a high-profile US cyber-security company alleges that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is behind at least 115 cyberattacks on US firms, and three foreign firms working in ‘food and agriculture’.

According to the Financial Times​, the Yunnan Geographical Information Bureau of Surveying and Mapping accused Coke of illegally collecting classified information with handheld GPS equipment.

Coca-Cola said it had co-operated fully with a related inquiry and added that its bottling plants used e-map and location-based customer logistics systems “commercially available in China”​ to provide a better service for clients and save fuel.

Authorities surprise at ‘sensitive’ news leak

An official at the Yunnan Bureau in question told the FT​ that the news was sensitive and that the organization was surprised it had leaked out.

The results of an ongoing investigation into Coca-Cola would be made public soon, he added.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing ‘cyber-espionage’ are running high, after Washington-based cyber-security group Mandiant alleged in mid-February that a hacking group that has attacked at least 115 US companies in the last seven years is a unit of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

Three of the 141, mainly English-speaking companies targeted globally were involved in ‘food and agriculture’, although there is no clue as to whether they were involved in beverage production.

Chinese army staffs hacking ring?

In its 2013 report on Advanced Targeted Attacks​, released yesterday, Fortune 500 company Mandiant believes the group, ‘ATP1’, is staffed by PLA Unit 61398.

“We estimate that Unit 61398 is staffed by hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people based on the size of Unit 61398’s physical infrastructure,” ​Mandiant’s analysts said.

Commenting on its ATP1 expose, the analysts added: “We are acutely aware of the risk this poses for us. We expect reprisals from the People’s Republic of China.”

APT1 established network access with firms, then stole intellectual property (technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes), test results, business plans, pricing documents, etc.

“In 2012, Mandiant once again observed a relationship between strategic priorities of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the operations of PRC state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and data stolen through cyber intrusions from a wide variety of clients and industries,” ​Mandiant’s analysts said.

Such claims prompted Republican congressman Mike Rogers to warn Beijing recently that there were “consequences for state-sponsored economic espionage”.

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