Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers may be planning disruption

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers may be planning disruption

State-backed According to Microsoft~, Chinese hackers have been attacking vital American infrastructure and may be preparing the technical groundwork for the eventual disruption of vital connections between the United States and Asia in the event of future crises. Sites in Guam, where the United States has a sizable military presence, are among the targets, according to the business. Modern geopolitical rivalry is characterized by hostile behavior in cyberspace, from espionage to the advanced positioning of malware for potential future assaults.

In a blog post, Microsoft said that the state-sponsored hacking collective known as Volt Typhoon had been operating since the middle of 2021. According to the report, firms in the communications, manufacturing, utilities, transportation, construction, maritime, information technology, and educational sectors have been targeted by the hacking, which aims to get persistent access. Separately, a joint alert was released by the National Security Agency, the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and their equivalents from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. It shared technical information on “the recently discovered cluster of activity.”

A Microsoft official declined to comment on the timing of the statement or if the company has recently observed an increase in the targeting of Guam’s critical infrastructure or nearby U.S. military facilities, which include a sizable air base. Microsoft’s disclosure was described as “possibly a really important finding” by John Hultquist, head analyst at Google’s Mandiant cybersecurity intelligence unit. This kind of probing from China is uncommon, in our opinion. It’s uncommon,” stated Hultquist. “Because they have done this frequently, we know a lot about Russian, North Korean, and Iranian cyber capabilities.”

He continued by saying that China has traditionally refrained from using the kinds of tools that could be used to plant malware for disruptive strikes in a war as well as intelligence-gathering tools. According to Microsoft, the intrusion campaign put a “strong emphasis on stealth” and attempted to blend in with regular network traffic by compromising routers and other small-office networking hardware. The FortiGuard devices, which are designed to utilize machine learning to detect malware, are internet-facing and were allegedly used by the intruders to obtain initial access.

An email requesting more information was not immediately answered by Fortinet, the company that makes FortiGuard products. CISA Director Jen Easterly urged mitigation of impacted networks to avoid any interruption. “China has conducted aggressive cyber operations for years to steal intellectual property and sensitive data from organizations around the globe,” Easterly said. The intrusions were described in the same statement as “unacceptable tactics” by Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber section. Beijing, which the U.S. national security establishment views as its principal military, economic, and strategic opponent, and Washington have been at odds more recently.

After former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited democratically run Taiwan last year, tensions increased, prompting China, which asserts sovereignty over the island, to begin military drills surrounding Taiwan. After the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon that had crossed the country earlier this year, tensions between the two countries further deteriorated.


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