How China has transformed into a major cyber threat to the United States

Almost 10 years ago, the United States began to embarrass and name China in an onslaught of online espionage. Most of them were done using low-level phishing emails to US companies due to intellectual property theft.

on Monday, U.S. again blamed China Of cyber attacks. However, these attacks are highly aggressive, revealing that China has transformed into a much more sophisticated and mature digital enemy than the one that confused US authorities 10 years ago.

The Biden administration’s indictment of a cyberattack, along with interviews with dozens of current and former US officials, shows that China has reorganized its hacking efforts in the meantime. Once a relatively unsophisticated hack against foreign companies, think tanks and government agencies, China is now conducting stealth and decentralized digital attacks on the interests of U.S. companies and the world. I will.

According to U.S. officials and U.S. officials, the PLA’s troops sloppyly conducted via spearfishing emails, Hacking is now a front company and university contractor working under the direction of the Chinese Department of Homeland Security. Prosecution filed by the vendor’s elite satellite network.

Phishing attacks remain, but spy campaigns go underground and employ advanced techniques. This includes the exploitation of widely used software “zero-day” or unknown security holes. Like Microsoft’s Exchange email service And Pulse VPN security device, This is difficult to defend and allows Chinese hackers to operate for long periods of time undetected.

George Kurtz, CEO of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said: “They operate more like a professional intelligence service than the smash and grab operators we’ve seen in the past.”

China has long been one of the biggest digital threats to the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate, classified in 2009, all 16 US intelligence agencies, documents representing the consensus of China and Russia, topped the list of US online enemies. However, China was seen as a more pressing threat due to the amount of its industrial trade theft.

But with China renewing its hacking efforts, the threat is now even more troublesome.In addition, the Biden administration launched cyber attacks, including ransomware attacks. Major diplomatic fronts US relations with superpowers like Russia, and with China, are steadily deteriorating over issues, including trade and technological dominance.

China’s excellence in hacking was first highlighted in 2010 by attacks on Google, RSA and security companies. In the New York Times hack in 2013..

2015, Obama officials, especially after aggressive, has threatened to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the announcement of the sanctions in the first visit to the White House Violation of US Personnel Administration.. In the attack, Chinese hackers stole sensitive personal information, including over 20 million fingerprints, for Americans who were granted security clearance.

White House officials immediately signed a deal China will stop hacking profits with American companies for its industrial interests.. 18 months During the Obama administration, security researchers and intelligence officials have observed a marked reduction in hacking in China.

Hacking resumed after President Donald J. Trump took office, accelerating trade disputes and other tensions with China. By 2018, US intelligence officials have noticed a change. PLA hackers have fallen and have been replaced by agents working at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, which handles Chinese intelligence, security, and secret police.

Intellectual property hacks that have benefited China’s economic plans are not the PLA, but front-line companies and contractors, including engineers who worked for some of China’s leading tech companies, according to intelligence officials and researchers. It was due to a looser network.

It was unclear how China worked exactly with these loosely affiliated hackers. Some cybersecurity experts speculated that the engineers were paid cash in the state’s moonlight, but others said engineers in the network had no choice but to do anything at the state’s request. .. In 2013, a classified U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo stated, “The exact partnership with a Chinese government agency is unknown, but its activities indicate a possible feed of information requirements from the Chinese Department of Homeland Security. I am. “

On Monday, the White House became clearer. In its detailed indictment, the United States accused China’s State Security Ministry of being behind an offensive attack on Microsoft’s Exchange email system this year.

The Justice Department has separately charged four Chinese for coordinating hacking of corporate secrets from companies in the aviation, defense, biopharmacy, and other industries.

According to the indictment, the Chinese people were run by front companies like Hainan Xiandun, which the Department of Homeland Security set up to give Chinese intelligence a plausible denial. The indictment included a photo of one defendant, Ding Xiaoyang, an employee of Xiandun, Hainan, who received the 2018 Homeland Security Award for overseeing the hacking of front companies. ..

The United States also accused Chinese universities of playing an important role in hiring students as front companies and conducting major business operations such as salaries.

The indictment also pointed to a Chinese “government-related” hacker who launched a ransomware attack that blackmailed companies for millions of dollars. Surveillance of ransomware attackers was previously primarily directed at Russia, Eastern Europe and North Korea.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement Monday that China’s Ministry of National Security “cultivated an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain. “.

China has also cracked down on its widespread software and hardware vulnerabilities. This can be useful for state surveillance, counterintelligence, and cyber spying.Last week it Announced new policy It requires Chinese security researchers to notify the state within two days of discovering a security hole, such as a “zero-day,” that the country relied on for a Microsoft Exchange system breach.

The policy is the culmination of Beijing’s five-year campaign to store its own zero-day attacks. In 2016, authorities suddenly shut down China’s most famous private platform for reporting zero days. Arrested its founder.. Two years later, Chinese police announced that they would begin enforcing a law prohibiting “illegal disclosure” of vulnerabilities. That same year, a Chinese hacker who regularly participated in large-scale western hacking competitions The display has been stopped by state order.

“If they continue to maintain this level of access with the controls they have, their intelligence will benefit,” Kurtz said of China. “This is an arms race in cyber.”

How China has transformed into a major cyber threat to the United States

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