Microsoft says Chinese hackers seek ability to disrupt communications between U.S. and Asia in case of crisis


Chinese state-backed hackers may be seeking cyber capabilities that could be used to “disrupt critical communications between the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region” in the event of a future U.S.-China crisis, microsoft warning Wednesday.

Chinese hackers have been active since mid-2021 and have targeted critical infrastructure organizations in the U.S. territory of Guam and elsewhere in the U.S. as part of a covert espionage and information-gathering campaign, Microsoft said in a new report. Organizations targeted by hackers include maritime, transport and government departments, among others.

The Microsoft report highlights the critical role cyber operations may play in current and future U.S.-China power struggles and territorial disputes in the Pacific. China has claimed more and more territory in the Pacific in recent years, which U.S. officials see as worrisome expansionism from Beijing.

in a separate consult The FBI, NSA and other U.S. and Western security agencies said Wednesday they believed Chinese hackers could apply the same covert techniques to key sectors “globally.”

On Wednesday, Microsoft declined to comment on its public blog post when CNN asked for specific information to support the tech company’s conclusion that Chinese hackers were preparing destructive capabilities for future crises.

CNN has asked the Chinese embassy in Washington for comment on Microsoft’s findings. Beijing has frequently denied the hacking allegations.

U.S. officials routinely cite China as the most persistent and prolific government hacking threat facing the United States.

Jen Easterly, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Chinese hackers were often “unidentified and unintimidated” when they infiltrated US organizations. explain In February.

U.S. officials are also concerned that Chinese hackers have established a foothold in Taiwan’s critical infrastructure, which Beijing could use to disrupt critical services such as electricity if China invaded the island, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters in March .

The defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, compared China’s investigation of Taiwan’s infrastructure to how Russia previously used its hackers to break into Ukraine’s power sector. Russian military hackers twice shut down Ukraine’s electricity in signature attacks in 2015 and 2016, according to the U.S. Justice Department and private experts.

“Over the past decade, Russia has targeted various critical infrastructure sectors in operations that we don’t believe were designed to be effective immediately,” said John Hultquist, principal analyst at Google-owned security firm Mandiant. Did the same thing, targeting the oil and gas industry.

“Chinese cyber threat actors are unique among their peers in that they do not routinely resort to disruptive and disruptive cyberattacks,” Hultquist said. Microsoft’s report “is a rare opportunity to investigate and respond to this threat.”

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