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updated 5/26/2011 8:56:06 PM ET 2011-05-27T00:56:06

The Chinese military has established a cyberwarfare unit to protect Chinese networks from external attacks, a military spokesperson admitted in a news conference Wednesday.

The elite cyberwarfare unit of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is called the "Online Blue Army," the People's Daily Online reported. It is tasked with enhancing Chinese troops' military training and network security, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng said.

"Currently, China's network protection is comparatively weak," Geng said. "Enhancing the informationization level and strengthening network security protection are important components of military training for an army."

China's suspected participation in recent high-profile cyberattacks against, among others, Google, Morgan Stanley and DuPont, however, have security experts doubting the intentions of the PLA's "Blue Army."

George Smith, senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, told SecurityNewsDaily the creation of the elite military unit "offers a resource" for more Chinese-borne cyberattacks. Establishing a cyberwarfare military unit, Smith added, "provides a piece of convenient rationalization" for other nations to create similar teams.

Although yesterday's announcement was the first official acknowledgement of the unit, the PLA Daily revealed that a military "Internet operation team" had conducted exercises in China's Guangzhou Military Region in late April, Focus Taiwan reported.

During these drills, the teams "launched multiple attacks on imaginary enemies by releasing huge amounts of useless documents and viruses to try to paralyze the enemies' computer systems and to steal information from them," according to Focus Taiwan.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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