Chinese government recruiting criminal hackers to attack Western targets, U.S. and allies say
The joint announcement reflects the Biden administration’s desire to form a global coalition to fight cyberattacks.
The Biden administration and U.S. allies on Monday blamed the Chinese government for a sprawling web of cyberattacks, including a blizzard of hacks into Microsoft email servers in March and intrusions for which Beijing partnered with cyber criminals.
The announcement by the U.S., the European Union, NATO and five close allies comes as the Biden administration attempts to establish a global consensus on limitations around cyberattacks, including discouraging hacks of critical infrastructure and breaches of businesses designed to extort money or steal trade secrets.
In a separate action, the Justice Department charged four Chinese nationals, three of them government agents, with engaging in a long-running hacking campaign aimed at stealing Ebola vaccine research, autonomous vehicle technology and other intellectual property from dozens of companies in the U.S. and other countries.
That operation involved creative means of exfiltrating stolen data, including by hiding it in a photo of then-President Donald Trump through a process called steganography.
Perhaps the most significant attack being attributed to Beijing is the massive series of intrusions into Microsoft Exchange servers that the tech giant disclosed in March. Those attacks, which exploited previously unknown digital flaws, breached tens of thousands of servers belonging to businesses and local governments and exposed them to a feeding frenzy of follow-up hacks by other groups.
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