The United States and almost all of its Western allies accused China of committing the January 2021 hack of the Microsoft Exchange email server, which affected tens of thousands of computers all around the globe.
The announcement that the United States and its Western partners have now linked the cyberattack to the Chinese government was made by the Biden administration on behalf of the US including the European Union, the UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – as well as the NATO alliance.
An official of the Biden administration stressed that the calling out of China for the Microsoft Exchange cyberattack is the first time that NATO has ever denounced Beijing’s hacking activities.
The official told Fox News that a single action or a single country wouldn’t be able to change China’s cyber behavior but America is drawing upon its allies as a “unique advantage” and source of strength in order to foment a collective security approach to hacking threats.
After the Microsoft Exchange attack was identified back in January, private sector groups ascribed it to Chinese cyberspies.
However, according to an administration official, the US government and its international allies took until now to call out the hackers’ link to China’s State Security Ministry due to the finding of the ransomware and hacking operations for profit.
The Biden administration also wanted to couple the announcement with guidance for companies on the tactics used by Chinese hackers.
While a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has previously declared that China is against any kinds of cybercrimes, and warned the US against “groundless accusations”, America and its allies have now also revealed a wide range of cyberthreats from China.
Those include government-affiliated hackers who carried out ransomware attacks against certain companies and then demanding millions of dollars.
According to an administration official, China’s Ministry of State Security utilizes criminal hackers as contractors, while the latter also perform cyber operations globally for their own profit.
Their activities are said to range from cyber extortion to crypto-jacking.
China is tearing apart US cybersecurity
Biden administration officials revealed they have raised the Microsoft Exchange attack and China’s broader cybercrimes with senior officials of the Chinese government.
One senior administration official declared that the US and its allies are open to further actions in order to hold China accountable.
Also on Monday, the Justice Department announced that four Chinese nationals have been charged as they worked with the Chinese Ministry of State Security over the Microsoft Exchange hack.
Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General of the US, declared the charges underscored that China is still using “cyber-enabled attacks” to steal from other countries despite its numerous commitments to the contrary.
Meanwhile, a senior official of the Biden administration revealed the guidance on how to tackle Chinese hacks.
It has been compiled by the FBI, the National Security Agency, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
It exposes over 50 procedures, techniques, and tactics by Chinese hackers.