The 5 Minute Debrief: China hacked, India backed...and Gen Allen sacked?

Contributor:  Richard de Silva and Andrew Elwell
Posted:  02/20/2013  12:00:00 AM EST
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Tags:   5 minute debrief

Evidence of China’s cyber onslaught revealed in Mandiant report

Mandiant, a US cyber security firm, has delivered a damning report on China’s vast hacking networks and traced many of them back to a mundane 12-storey building in Shanghai where the PLA’s most aggressive hacking group are thought to dwell, , dubbed Unit 61398. On attempting to take pictures of the building yesterday, reporters form the BBC were reportedly harassed and detained by Chinese authorities. The 75-page report offers evidence of Chinese military-backed attempts to hack into the infrastructure of hundreds of power grids, oil pipelines, water networks from 141 companies. China have denied the allegations - Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said yesterday: “Hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. Determining their origins is extremely difficult. We don’t know how the evidence in this so-called report can be tenable.”

Cameron’s (second) trade mission to India

David Cameron spent this week in India on his second attempted mission while in office to increase trade partnerships and defence cooperation with the stirring BRICS giant. Cameron is travelling with 100 industry representatives. After the French president Francois Hollande failed to return from a similar trip with a signed contract for 126 MMRCA fighters worth $20 billion, Cameron was hoping to bend the Indian PM’s ear about the deal. The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon lost out to France’s Rafale last year. However, the trip got off to a faltering start after revelations about Giuseppe Orsi’s arrest on suspicion of bribing Indian officials to win a $750 million contract for 12 AgustaWestland helicopters. The Finmeccanica CEO stepped down from his position and now the Anglo-Italian firm’s contract with India appears to be doomed.

UAV-in’ a laugh? There’s loads of them at IDEX!

IDEX, one of the largest defence trade shows in the world, took place this week in Abu Dhabi with a noticeable number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on show. The usual armoured vehicles and tactical weapons are all on show too but the proliferation of UAVs over the last few years at the event is symptomatic of their increased use in operations. At a recent Chinese trade show the unveiling of multiple UAVs also underlined a telling trend.

Home nation personnel pack bags for Mali

British and Irish soldiers and civilians are organising to deploy to Mali for up to 15 months to assist with friendly force training efforts. 40 UK personnel are so far scheduled to join the EU contingent supporting the fight to win back the country from extremism. Many of these will focus on artillery drills while others are being assigned in a human rights capacity to avoid an outbreak of violence during the ‘vacuum’ period of authority. A further 200 personnel have been tabled to potentially train soldiers in neighbouring African states as continental forces look to take over to maintain a lasting peacekeeping effort when governance is eventually restored.

From Afghanistan to the golf course

The Pope is not the only high-profile leader to abruptly opt for early retirement this past week. U.S. General John Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, has announced that he will not be pursuing the role of NATO supreme commander in Europe but is instead stepping down from office entirely. The 59 year old was cleared earlier in the year of any misconduct amid last year’s scandal that forced General Petraeus onto the fairway, but the scrutiny has apparently taken its toll on Allen’s wife whom he says now requires his care and would have struggled to travel with him. An honourable sacrifice, a marital remedy or an executive order? Tell us your thoughts on this or any of the week’s top stories by emailing  

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