Get the Latest News Updates

China Cyber Attacks: West continues to raise fingers

The United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand have accused China of being behind a series of cyber attacks against lawmakers and democratic institutions. The US Justice Department has charged seven Chinese nationals with operating a 14-year-long “prolific global hacking operation” designed to aid China’s “economic espionage and foreign intelligence objectives.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco

According to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the campaign involved sending over 10,000 emails targeting US and foreign-based businesses, politicians, candidates for elected office, and journalists. The hackers gained access to email accounts, cloud storage accounts, and telephone call records, monitoring some accounts for years.

US officials have identified the group responsible for the attacks as APT31, a “cyber espionage program” run by China’s Ministry of State Security from Wuhan. The UK also revealed that APT31 had targeted UK lawmakers’ accounts from 2021-2022, including many who were critical of Beijing’s policies.

Democracy in UK safe from perilous cyber attacks: PM Dowden

UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden disclosed that “a Chinese state-affiliated entity” had likely “compromised” the country’s Electoral Commission. However, he assured the public that the campaigns against lawmakers and the Electoral Office were ultimately thwarted and would not affect how people register, vote, or participate in democratic processes.

Two individuals and one company linked to APT31 have been hit with UK sanctions.

New Zealand claims to be targeted by Chinese state-sponsored group

Meanwhile, New Zealand has also confirmed that its Parliamentary Counsel Office, which drafts and publishes laws, had been compromised around the same period. The country has blamed APT40, a Chinese “state-sponsored group,” for the attack.

Recently elected Prime Minister Christopher Luxon admitted that it was a “big step” to blame the cyber attack on China, his country’s largest trading partner. New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters has instructed diplomats to express their concerns to the Chinese Ambassador.

In recent years, Western nations have been increasingly willing to expose malicious cyber operations and point fingers at foreign governments, most notably China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. The US and UK’s accusations against China are the latest example of this trend.