The US accused Beijing yesterday, Monday (July 19), of being behind a large-scale hack against Microsoft email servers. At the same time, four Chinese nationals were charged with other incidents. The EU and other US allies joined a rare joint statement condemning “malicious” cyber activities by China.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the attack on Microsoft Exchange was part of a broader “pattern of irresponsible, disruptive and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace that poses a major threat to our economic and national security”.
China’s Ministry of State Security has “built an ecosystem of criminal hackers who carry out both government-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain,” Blinken said in a statement.
In a simultaneous announcement, the U.S. Department of Justice said four Chinese nationals were charged with hacking the computers of dozens of companies, universities, and government agencies in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018.
With reference to the indictment, Blinken threatened with American “consequences” for the Chinese “cyber actors and their irresponsible behavior in cyberspace.”
President Joe Biden told the press that US authorities were still finalizing investigations before taking countermeasures. He also drew parallels with Russia: “The Chinese government – no different from the Russian government – is doing this [Hacken] not itself, but it protects those who do. “
Coordination & contradiction
The U.S. government coordinated its statement on Monday with its allies – including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
“The compromise and exploitation of the Microsoft Exchange Server has undermined the security and integrity of thousands of computers and networks worldwide,” said EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the member states. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the cyber attack as “brazen and ruthless”.
The Chinese Embassy in New Zealand, in turn, immediately rejected the “completely baseless and irresponsible” allegations early this morning. She was supported by the Embassy in Australia, which accused Canberra of “parroting US rhetoric.”
A Chinese statement went on to say: “The US is known to be active in unscrupulous, massive and indiscriminate wiretapping of many countries, including its allies.”
The United States is thus “the world champion in wiretapping”.
The Microsoft hack, which exploited vulnerabilities in the company’s Exchange service, affected at least 30,000 US organizations, including local authorities, as well as companies and administrations worldwide.
Blinken said in his statement: “These hackers cost governments and corporations billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property, ransom payments and cybersecurity measures – all during the [chinesische Geheimdienst] MSS had them on his payroll. “
This year there have already been a number of prominent ransomware attacks that disrupted the work of a US pipeline, a meat processor and the software company Kaseya, among others. A total of 1,500 companies were directly or indirectly affected.
As recently as last week, Washington offered up to $ 10 million in “reward cash” for information about foreign hackers and online blackmailers.
[Hinweis: Dies ist eine gekürzte Übersetzung. Den Originalartikel in voller Länge (auf Englisch) finden Sie hier.]