Faculty members at one of the top universities in China have been linked to the People’s Liberation Army Unit 61398, the same group that has been accused of hacking several U.S. based companies as well as several media outlets. The university in question, Shanghai Jiaotong University, is a prestigious school known for its successful graduates, most who end up doing well in politics and in business.
While Shanghai Jiaotong University is linked with PLA Unit 61398, there’s no evidence that shows that they were involved in the cyber-espionage attacks against the United States. However, faculty at the university’s School of Information Security Engineering (SISE) have collaborated with the PLA Unit on several research papers centered around cyber-security.
Xue Zhi, the Vice President of SISE and who is also well known for developing China’s leading cyber-attack platform, collaborated with Chen Yi-qun, a researcher for the PLA, on a paper about improving security by designing a collaborative network monitoring system. Fan Lei, an associate professor at the university, also worked on a research paper with Chen. Fan said, however, that he had no idea Chen was part of PLA Unit 61398 and that he only worked with him because he was a SISE graduate. His statement was proven false by the research paper, which clearly stated that Chen was part of the PLA unit.
While most of these papers are centered mainly around cyber-security, the information can also be used to develop efficient cyber attacks. Adam Meyers, the Director of Intelligence at a security tech company named CrowdStrike, stated, “The research seems to be defensive, but cyber-security research can be dual purpose.” He goes on to say that in order to develop the best cyber security, one must think “about the most effective means of attack.”