Sunday, August 1

US accuses China of setting up an internet extortion ring


Washington Correspondent

Updated:

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The White House has directly accused China of a gigantic cyber attack to the Exchange email server from Microsoft that affected tens of thousands of devices this year, in addition to a long list of digital threats and extortions attributed to the communist regime, including several ransomware-type attacks by hackers in the orbit of the Chinese Government, which led to the theft of millions of Dollars.

As the White House revealed on Monday, EE.UU. is convinced and claims to have proof that the Chinese Ministry of State Security recruits hackers who participate in global networks of extortion and robbery. The word “ransomware” (from ransom, which is “ransom”) refers to a computer program spread by internet that takes control of the system or device it infects and demands a ransom to return control to its owner.

As a White House official said in a call with journalists on Sunday, the fact that China’s communist regime engages in this type of blackmail alarmed the US. “This surprised us. And in fact, one of the reasons we’ve worked so hard on this public attribution is because it really gave us new insights into the work of the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the kind of aggressive behavior we’re seeing from China. “

The US government is also trying to contain the attacks of ransomware of criminal groups based in Russia, which have even cut off gasoline and meat supplies in parts of the US just a few weeks ago. That was a point that Joe Biden dealt with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the summit that both held in Switzerland last month, and where he marked red lines.

No penalties

For the moment this accusation, which is formulated in conjunction with the European Union and the OTAN, is not accompanied by sanctions on the Chinese regime, but that US official said that Washington first prefers to draw the attention of world citizens to this problem, and issue a warning to Beijing.

“The most important thing right now is to publicly denounce this pattern of malicious and irresponsible cyber activity and do it together with allies and partners,” said the official. “This was NATO’s first public attribution to China of this type of malicious cyber activity. We believe that we are in an important first stage of drawing attention to and revealing authorship, and focusing with our partners on our collective security efforts and promoting network defense and other actions necessary to disrupt these threats. “

Joe Biden, in his time as US Vice President, greets Xi Jinping in Beijing
Joe Biden, in his time as US Vice President, greets Xi Jinping in Beijing – Afp

The European Union has in parallel accused the communist regime in China of what it has described as “malicious activities” with “significant effects”. The attack “was made from the territory of China with the aim of espionage and theft of intellectual property,” according to a statement by the EU Foreign Chief, Josep Borrell, in a statement issued Monday.

The attack on Microsoft Exchange, which affected thousands of companies and individuals around the world, was identified as early as January and was quickly blamed on Chinese hackers. But it is not the only one that the US attributes to China. According to the White House, there is a large network of espionage and digital extortion that Beijing oversees.

Already on Friday, in another different but related case, a federal court in San Diego, in the state of California, charged Ding Xiaoyang, Cheng Qingmin, Zhu Yunmin and Wu Shurong, officials of the Ministry of Security of China, with two related crimes. with cyber attacks. According to the accusation, revealed by US media, these officials tried to hide the role of the Chinese regime in the Information theft by setting up a ghost company, Hianan Xiandun Technology Development Co., Ltd., based in Hainan Province.

The Prosecutor’s Office charges four Chinese officials with cyber espionage crimes for participating in the theft of information on the network

The US Attorney’s Office accuses Ding, Cheng and Zhu of “coordinating, facilitating and issuing orders to the hackers and translators operating in the shell company.” Wu is accused of having created the virus and infiltrating it into computer systems of companies, educational institutions and foreign governments in the US, Austria, Canada, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among many others.

According to that other legal case, the communist regime of China maliciously infiltrated the servers of these entities and individuals to spread cyber viruses of espionage and blackmail throughout the world. Part of the investigation has been conducted by the FBI, which is the judicial police, the National Security Agency and the Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Security Agency.

Transatlantic cooperation

Cooperation with European partners in containing cyberattacks is crucial for the Biden Administration. Especially given the challenges that Russia poses in this area. Despite the fact that Biden demanded that Putin put an end to these digital blackmail operations, there has been another large-scale later, which has affected a company of software based in Miami and that has affected thousands of users around the world.

As the White House official said in the call with reporters on Sunday, “No single action can change China’s behavior in cyberspace, and no single country can act alone. Our allies and partners are a tremendous source of strength and a unique asset to the US, and our approach to sharing information on cyber threats and defense is going to be collective. “

It is significant that the US includes NATO in these discussions, a sign that the Alliance is beginning to make cyberspace defense a priority, following attacks that disrupted gas and meat supplies to large parts of the US. Even so, there have been no joint operations to respond to these cyberattacks so far.

According to the AP agency yesterday, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry who was asked in the past about the attack on Microsoft Exchange said that China “firmly opposes and fights cyber attacks and cyber theft in all its forms” and warned that the attribution of cyberattacks should be based on evidence and not on “allegations without any basis”.

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