US to Accuse China of Hacking Microsoft


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is expected to formally impeach the Chinese government on Monday. Violating Microsoft email systems According to a senior management official, many of the world’s largest companies are used by governments and military contractors. The United States is preparing to organize a large group of allies, including all NATO members, to condemn Beijing for cyberattacks around the world.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that the United States is expected for the first time to accuse China of paying criminal groups to carry out large-scale hacking, including ransomware attacks, to blackmail companies millions of dollars. In March, Microsoft pointed to hackers affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security to exploit vulnerabilities in the company’s email systems; The US announcement will provide details on the methods used and is the first suggestion that the Chinese government hires criminal groups to work on its behalf.

Condemnation from NATO and the European Union is unusual because most member states are extremely reluctant to publicly criticize China, a major trading partner. But even Germany, whose companies were heavily affected by the hacking of Microsoft Exchange (email systems that companies maintain on their own rather than put in the cloud), cited the Chinese government for its work.

Despite the broad view, the announcement will lack concrete punitive action against the Chinese government as follows. Sanctions similar to those imposed by the White House on Russia In April, when he blamed the country for the extensive incident SolarWinds attack affecting US government agencies and more than 100 companies.

The Biden administration has dug deeper than at any time in modern history with its two main geopolitical rivals, imposing sanctions on Russia and organizing allies to condemn China.

While there is nothing new about digital espionage from Russia and China and Washington’s efforts to thwart it, the Biden administration has been surprisingly aggressive in summoning both countries and orchestrating a coordinated response.

But so far, it has yet to find the right mix of defensive and offensive actions to create effective deterrence, many outside experts say. And the Russians and the Chinese have become more daring. One of the most sophisticated attacks ever detected in the United States, the SolarWinds attack was an effort by Russia’s leading intelligence service to modify the code in widely used network management software to gain access to more than 18,000 businesses, federal agencies and think tanks.

China’s effort wasn’t that sophisticated, but it exploited a vulnerability Microsoft didn’t discover and used it to spy on and reduce reliance on the security of the systems companies use for their primary communications. The senior management official said that the hacking of the Microsoft email system was done at the behest of the Ministry of State Security and had previously been provoked by private actors. Hired by Chinese intelligence.

The hacking affected tens of thousands of systems, including military contractors.

The last time China was under such a large-scale surveillance was in 2014. Stolen over 22 million security permission files from Personnel Management OfficeAllows a deep understanding of the lives of Americans purged to keep the nation’s secrets.

President Biden promised to strengthen the government, Putting cybersecurity in focus her Summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Geneva Russia’s administration last month, however, was faced with questions about how to address the growing threat from China, especially after the Microsoft hacking was made public.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the senior administration official acknowledged that public condemnation of China would only do much to prevent future attacks.

“No action can change China’s behavior in cyberspace,” he said. “And not just one country can act on its own.”

But the decision not to impose sanctions on China was also important: It was a step that many allies would not have agreed to take.

Instead, the Biden administration decided to gather enough allies to join the public condemnation of China to maximize pressure on Beijing to reduce cyberattacks, the official said.

The joint statement criticizing China to be issued by the US, Australia, UK, Canada, the European Union, Japan and New Zealand is unusually broad. This is also the first such statement that NATO has publicly targeted Beijing for cybercrime.

The National Security Agency and the FBI are expected to release more details on Monday about Chinese “tactics, techniques and procedures” in cyberspace, such as how Beijing has contracted crime groups to carry out attacks for its government’s financial gain, he said.

The FBI took an unusual step in the Microsoft hack: In addition to investigating the attacks, the agency received a court order that allowed it to break into unpatched corporate systems and remove code elements left by Chinese hackers that could allow follow-up attacks. . For the first time, the FBI took action to rectify an attack and investigate its perpetrators.


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