US and Allies Accuse China of Major Cyberattacks

Yesterday, the U.S., NATO and other allies are came together to call out China for malicious cyberattacks, including a March attack that exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Exchange Server.

It’s the first time that NATO has signed onto a formal condemnation of China’s cyber activities. They authorities are detailing more than 50 different techniques that Chinese state-sponsored actors used, and offering up recommended mitigations that businesses and organizations can take.

The U.S. says that China’s Ministry of State Security is using contract hackers to conduct the attacks, many of which are being done for profit, including via ransomware.

As part of Monday’s announcement, the Justice Department unveiled criminal charges against four Ministry of State Security hackers for a “multiyear campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors, including maritime, aviation, defense, education, and healthcare in a least a dozen countries.”

The statement also noted:

  • That China’s pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace is inconsistent with its stated objective of being seen as a responsible leader in the world.

  • By joining forces, free world allies creates strength and advantage to counter China’s threat through information sharing, defense, and mitigation. Further it establishes clear expectations and standards on how responsible nations behave in cyberspace.

  • The Biden Administration has pledged to modernize Federal networks and improve the nation’s cybersecurity, including of critical infrastructure. See the Executive Order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect Federal government networks.

  • The Administration hopes that its efforts willinform and empower system owners and operators to act and for private sector companies to follow the Federal government’s lead and take ambitious measures to augment and align cybersecurity investments with the goal of minimizing future incidents.

Last month, NATO took their strongest position yet on the threat from China, releasing a communique that characterized Beijing’s growing influence, military prowess and assertive behavior as “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.”

China Tech Threat continues to research and suggest policy solutions against the ongoing cyber threats from the Chinese government. Our most recent vlog series, High Tech Heist: Vlog Series on Banking Cybersecurity highlights the threat that China, and others, pose to international financial systems. Our report High-Tech Heist: Chinese Government IT Vendors and the Threat to U.S. Banks describes NATO’s procurement policy as a gold standard for security and human right. NATO does not do procure any goods or services from communist, authoritarian countries including China, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea.

As cyberattacks across all industries continue to occur with increasing in frequency and severity, it is important the US government and our allies remain diligent and take steps to protect the security, privacy, and prosperity of all Americans.