China is responsible for carrying out the most cyber-attacks and is motivated primarily by a desire for gaining access to secrets and fulfilling its political objectives with the help of such attacks, reported a Canada-based thinktank, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS). Crowd strike, which provides cyber security for half the world’s 20 biggest multinationals revealed that China is motivated primarily by a desire for commercial secrets and pursuit of its political objectives.
The country has mounted cyberattacks on firms, universities, government departments, think tanks and NGOs. According to a US report based on evidence, the Chinese hackers have not only infiltrated US businesses and international human rights groups but also carried out operations to steal American intellectual property. The US National Intelligence Annual Threat Assessment Report has underscored several potential dangers to the country including nuclear and biological weapons, especially infectious diseases, cyber-attacks and climate change.
As per the report, the hackers who are aligned with the Chinese government represent the “most active” threat, capable of affecting Americans’ daily lives. Analysis of thousands of cyberattacks indicates that more than a third of cyberattacks targeted technology companies, specifically biotech firms, pharmaceuticals and defence. They also hit other sectors including mining and transport businesses, said the think tank.
In order to protect the country against Chinese cyber espionage, America has banned many Chinese firms like Huawei, ZTE and Hikevision. The study further highlights that China had emerged as “a bigger threat” after the reorganisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). According to think tank, after the PLA reorganization, China had outsourced hacking to contract firms. The PLA’s hacking activities were reportedly aimed at both getting access to commercial secrets, particularly in the areas of emerging technology and stealing official secrets, sabotaging the public utility and services for crippling the systems.
In another report by Mandiant, an American cyber security firm, a hacker group backed by the Chinese government breached the network of at least six US state governments. The hackers collectively known as APT41 had been deliberately attacking state-level government networks from May 2021 to February 2022. Earlier, in July 2021, the US and allies condemned China for malicious cyberattacks, including hacking of Microsoft Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world in early 2021. The Microsoft hack affected at least 30,000 US organisations including local governments as well entities worldwide, as per the think tank.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, stated that China’s “Ministry of State Security (MSS) had fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain”. The US Justice Department charged (2021) four Chinese nationals – three security officials and one contract hacker working with the MSS in a hacking campaign that targeted dozens of computer systems, including companies, universities and government entities, between 2011 and 2018.
The department disclosed that the campaign had targeted trade secrets in industries including aviation, defence, education, government, health care, biopharmaceutical and maritime industries. (ANI)
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