The US, supported by allies in the UK and Europe, has condemned China. It is the US’ view that China is responsible, in full or part, for multiple cyberattacks that have affected US institutions over the past year.
On Monday, July 19th 2021, the US Department of Justice charged four Chinese nationals in relation to hacking. It found that the four individuals were working for the Chinese Ministry of State Security in order to appropriate data relating to infectious disease research, aviation, and other industries.
Secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said that the Chinese Ministry of State Security “has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain.”
Josep Borrell, EU foreign police chief said the hackers conducted their activity from “the territory of China for the purpose of intellectual property theft and espionage.” Chinese hackers often used government-sanctioned VPNs in order to mask their activities and infiltrate foreign networks.
In the discussion of these intrusions, the US and its allies focused on one from earlier this year. The attack was on Microsoft Exchange email server software. It saw thousands of computers affected.
There’s increasing anxiety of key software being compromised in order to create deeper infiltration routes.
NATO has called on China to uphold its international obligations and commitments. Beijing for its part has denied many of the attacks are related to them.
The open condemnation of Chinese affiliated cyber-attacks sees an increase in tensions between the US and China. Tensions already fueled an ongoing trade war and increasingly aggressive Beijing oversight in territories like Hong Kong.