‘Millions of Americans affected by Chinese hacking plot’ | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Millions of Americans have been caught up in a Chinese hacking ploy which has resulted in seven Chinese men being charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud.

Yesterday (Mar. 25) the indictment setting out the charges was announced via a press release from the Office of Public Affairs.

The seven men are said to be involved in a People’s Republic of China-based hacking group that has spent around 14 years targeting U.S. and foreign critics, businesses and political officials.

More than 10,000 ‘malicious’ emails were said to be sent within the hacking community known as Advanced Persistent Threat 31. Some of this activity resulted in compromises of peoples’ networks, email accounts, cloud storage accounts and telephone call records.

Court documents say the group’s activities have potentially compromised work and personal email accounts, cloud storage accounts and telephone call records belonging to millions of Americans.

Many of the emails were under the guise of news articles that were sent to the target. These emails contained hidden tracking links and once opened the hackers would then gain access to and information about the recipient. The group then used this information to engage in more direct targeted hacking.

People working in the White House, at the Departments of Justice, Commerce, Treasury, and State, the U.S. Senators and Representatives of both political parties were targeted.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco says: “The Department of Justice will relentlessly pursue, expose, and hold accountable cyber criminals who would undermine democracies and threaten our national security.”

Both the UK and New Zealand’s governments have also accused China of being responsible for cyber campaigns. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington DC said: “without valid evidence, relevant countries jumped to an unwarranted conclusion” and “made groundless accusations.”

The international community responds to Chinese hacking allegations

The UK Government has now formally accused China of being behind cyber attacks against Members of Parliament and the Electoral Commission. As a result, sanctions have been imposed.

Two Chinese nationals and a company named Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company Ltd have been sanctioned, resulting in a freezing of assets and a travel ban stopping them from entering or remaining in the UK. UK citizens and businesses have been barred from handling their funds or resources too.

The government says the company is affiliated with Advanced Persistent Threat Group 31.

Authorities in New Zealand have also accused China of targeting its parliamentary network in 2021.

Featured image: Ideogram


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