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United Kingdom and U.S. accuse China of extensive and 'unrelenting' global hacking campaign

21 December 2018

US authorities unveiled indictments charging Zhu Hua and Zhang Jianguo in hacking attacks against the US Navy, the space agency Nasa and the Energy Department as well as companies in numerous sectors.

A group called APT10 carried out the campaign on behalf of the Chinese state, targeting 45 large-scale managed service providers - specialist companies that manage IT services and infrastructure for many medium to large businesses and organisations - in 12 countries.

"APEC economies agreed they should not conduct or support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property or other confidential business information, for commercial advantage".

Followings the announcement from the U.S., statements were issued by other five eyes nations, which share intelligence information, New Zealand, Canada Australia and the United Kingdom.

"China's state-sponsored actors are the most active perpetrators of economic espionage", FBI Director Chris Wray said Thursday in announcing the case.

U.S. and British authorities on Thursday also condemned China for violating 2015 agreements to curb cyber espionage for business purposes, slamming Chinese efforts to steal other countries' trade secrets and technologies and to compromise government computers.

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This campaign is one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the United Kingdom and its allies uncovered to date, targeting trade secrets and economies around the world.

"While we welcome a fair competition, we can not tolerate illegal hacking, stealing, cheating", Wray said.

U.S. officials testified before Congress last week that Beijing's continued hacking has made a mockery of that 2015 commitment by President Xi Jinping following a first-of-its-kind indictment that accused Chinese hackers of stealing corporate data from brand-name USA companies. The Trump administration said Thursday that over 12 worldwide allies will call out China for its persistent efforts to steal trade secrets.

Assistant US Attorney Sagar K Ravi of the Southern District of New York's Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division's Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. Its subject line warned of "C17 Antenna problems"-a likely reference to the American cargo plane of the same name-and included an attached Word document referencing technical data".

Representatives at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Navy referred questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Just those two providers alone would be holding intellectual property for thousands of Australian clients.

He said New Zealand is committed to upholding the rules-based worldwide order, and such cyber campaigns are unacceptable.

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Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden also were expected to denounce Chinese cyber efforts, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

However, Hampton said the GCSB became aware of the prolonged campaign in early 2017, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had been working with the New Zealand companies targeted for some time.

Adding to the strain on a relationship that Finny believes has gone from constructive to troubled in the last six months was yesterday's disclosure that an investigation into complaints about Chinese government subsidies on steel imported to New Zealand has been reopened following a September court order. Those are companies that remotely manage the information technology infrastructure of USA government agencies, more than 45 tech companies in at least a dozen US states, and governments around the world, officials said.

Over the past several years, as companies around the globe have sought to cut down information technology spending, they have increasingly relied on outside contractors to store and transfer data.

The accused are members of a hacking group known as APT10, which targeted western managed service providers - companies that provide technology services and hold data for corporate clients - that serviced Australian businesses.

According to Rosenstein, over 90 per cent of DoJ cases alleging economic espionage over the past seven years involve China.

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United Kingdom and U.S. accuse China of extensive and 'unrelenting' global hacking campaign