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May 25, 2017

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Defense university computers hacked, 'information secure'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Defense University (NDU) Saturday confirmed that its computer system had been hacked in July but said that no classified information had been stolen.

Only ordinary academic research materials had been stolen, NDU said.

It added that it had already reinforced the firewall protecting its computer system.

The university was responding to media reports that said several NDU units, including a program for the study of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), had seen their computer networks breached last month, presumably by hackers from mainland China.

The media reports had claimed that stolen information had included administrative data, student profiles and important PLA research material. The reports said the military was assessing the damage and identifying the portions of information that had been stolen.

The United Evening News cited military sources as saying that "all data" had been "emptied" in the cyberattack.

The newspaper said the cyberattack carried footprints of Chinese hackers, but the military had yet to determine whether the attack came from outside or whether an internal breach had been involved.

The sources were cited by the paper as saying Taiwan's military had set up "cybertroops" to help the country's armed forces build up preventive and counterattacking mechanisms against

hacking.

There have been cross-strait cyber "engagements" and sometimes hackers have managed to breach the systems of sensitive facilities, the sources said. But it was the first time that NDU had seen its data stolen in a cyberattack, the sources added.

A media report noted that NDU's PLA research program had been a platform for international intelligence exchange. Intelligence personnel from the U.S. and Japan often come to "class" in the program, the report said.

The program was a target of the cyberattack because its data would reveal which intelligence personnel had attended class there, the report said.

The United Evening News said that the PLA research program admits 15 officers from Taiwan's armed forces and two outside students each term.

The Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense committee earlier this year passed a resolution calling on NDU to reshape its PLA research program to meet the nation's needs for more military analysts.

The committee said the program should be upgraded to become a graduate school for the study of mainland China's military.

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