China has been accused by the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union of carrying out a significant cyber-attack earlier this year.
At least 30,000 organizations worldwide were impacted by the hack, which targeted Microsoft Exchange servers. The UK blamed Chinese state-backed actors, while the EU said the attack originated in “China’s territory.” China has repeatedly refused hacking charges and stated that it opposes all sorts of cybercrime.
The Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) has also been charged with espionage and a pattern of “reckless” behavior. Beijing’s unifying statement demonstrates the seriousness with which this situation has been treated. Some features of this case, according to Western intelligence officials, are far more serious than anything they’ve seen previously.
The hackers took advantage of a flaw in Microsoft Exchange that allowed backdoors to be installed on servers, allowing them to get even more access. According to the United Kingdom, the hack is expected to enable large-scale espionage, including the theft of personal data and intellectual property. Other hacking groups used the backdoors utilized by the Chinese outfit, leaving systems open to ransomware assaults and espionage.
“The Chinese state-backed groups’ cyber attack on Microsoft Exchange Server constituted a reckless but known pattern of behavior,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated. “If the Chinese government does not put an end to this systematic cyber-sabotage, it may expect to be held accountable.”
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The White House expressed its “great concern” that China had “fostered an intelligence enterprise that includes contract hackers who also conduct unsanctioned cyber-operations internationally, including for their own personal profit,” according to a statement.
Despite the harsh rhetoric, no sanctions on China have been announced. New penalties, on the other hand, have been imposed on Russia in response to the recent SolarWinds hack, which many analysts say was less dangerous than the Microsoft Exchange hack related to China.
The US Department of Justice announced criminal charges against four MSS hackers at the time, alleging that they were part of a long-running campaign targeting foreign governments and organizations in vital industries in at least a dozen nations.
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