Chinese government-backed hackers are likely pursuing cyber capabilities that could be used to “disrupt critical communications” between the US and the Asia Pacific region in the event of a future US-China crisis, Microsoft warned on Wednesday.
The Chinese hackers have been active since mid-2021 and targeted critical infrastructure organizations in the US territory of Guam and in other parts of the US as part of a stealthy spying and information gathering campaign, Microsoft said in a new report. Organizations targeted by the hackers cover the maritime, transportation, communications, utility and government sectors, among others.
In a separate advisory released Wednesday, the FBI, National Security Agency and other US and Western security agencies said they believe the Chinese hackers could apply the same stealthy techniques against critical sectors “worldwide.”
Beijing hit back against the allegations Thursday, calling them “a collective disinformation campaign of the Five Eyes coalition” – referring to the intelligence sharing grouping made up of the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, whose security agencies jointly issued the advisory.
“The United States is expanding new channels to spread disinformation. This is not the first time, and it will not be the last,” Mao said.
The findings from Microsoft – and subsequent backlash – underscore the key role that cyber operations might play in present and future US-China power competition and territorial disputes in the Pacific.
China has grown increasingly aggressive in the region, including militarizing islands to assert contested claims in the South China Sea, in recent years in what US officials view as alarming expansionism from Beijing.
Microsoft declined to comment beyond its public blog post Wednesday when CNN asked for specific information supporting the tech firm’s conclusion that Chinese hackers were preparing disruptive capabilities for future crises.
China’s Embassy in Washington, DC also disputed the allegations.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol –Independent Reporter
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