By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean military has issued a warning that computer systems of soldiers and defense institutes have become the victims of presumed Chinese hacking activities, a military source said Tuesday.
The source said hackers, believed to be Chinese nationals, penetrated computers of soldiers by sending e-mail involving hacking programs falsely titled ``the situation on North Korea's arms power.''
``We are now investigating several cyber hacking cases believed to be conducted by Chinese nationals based on evidence that the hackers stole information stored in soldiers' computers,'' the source said, asking not to be named.
The hackers appeared to have penetrated Web sites of military units and retired soldiers to steal e-mail adresses of individuals registered to the sites, he said.
The Defense Security Command recently distributed up-to-date vaccine programs to service members as a precautionary measure, he added.
Cyber attacks from China have become frequent and aggressive in recent years, according to reports.
The Chinese military created a cyber-hacking unit named ``NET Force'' in 2000 operated by about 1 million hackers, the reports said.
In 2004, the state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses was hacked by a Chinese person.
Reports said last year Chinese military hackers were preparing a detailed plan to disable America's aircraft carrier fleet as part of an aggressive push by Beijing to achieve ``electronic dominance'' over each of its global rivals by 2050, particularly the United States, Britain, Russia and South Korea.
The U.S. Department of Defense said China's military regards offensive computer operations as ``critical to seize the initiative'' in the first stages of a war.