Earlier this month, Chinese hackers carried out a series of attacks against U.S. companies using Microsoft servers. The hackers, sponsored by the Chinese regime, affected more than 20,000 organizations in the United States.
Microsoft reported that the attacks were on “local versions of Microsoft Exchange Server”, where vulnerabilities were used to access email account servers in order to install software to steal information or “provide long-term access to the victims’ environments”.
The Chinese hacker group, known as HAFNIUM, targets “American entities in different business sectors, industries, scientific laboratories, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and other non-governmental organizations.”
What are the Beijing-protected Chinese hackers looking for?
From fragile points in the configuration of servers, hackers forge requests that allow them to gain access to the personal information of their victims, from whom they steal confidential information or use their equipment to attack third parties.
“HAFNIUM operators were also able to download the compromised systems’ offline Exchange address book, which contains information about an organization and its users,” Microsoft reported.
In 2020, the Justice Department charged two Chinese hackers with accessing the computer systems of “hundreds of businesses, governments and non-governmental organizations, organizations, and democratic and human rights dissidents and activists in the United States and abroad.”
According to the Department of Justice and the FBI, the cyber attacks also target U.S. allied countries, acting not only for personal financial gain, but also for the benefit of Communist Party of China (CCP) government agencies and for Chinese technology companies.
CCP’s desperation to lead in the technology field
Wang Wenbin, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, denied that the Chinese hacker attacks on Microsoft came from the Asian giant. “China firmly opposes and fights cyber attacks and cyber theft in all forms.”
The spokesman added that the Asian giant does not need to resort to malpractices considering “it is already a leader in the technological field,” citing a report revealing the number of Chinese patents.
Wenbin told the local press that “China remains the largest user of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system,” with more than 68,000 applications, for an annual growth of 16%. The spokesman stressed that Chinese technology companies and universities are the main contributors to intellectual property.
In the five-year plan presented at the opening of the National People’s Congress, the CCP announced that technology and innovation are the key arms to achieve China’s global leadership of more than $100 billion to build its own domestic chip industry.
Concern over China-led technological future
In Washington’s plan from 2020 to promote reliable technological development, legal order, ethics and the defense of freedom, intellectual property, and human rights are indispensable.
The protection of user data involved a series of sanctions by the Department of Commerce against Chinese companies due to the concerns risen by Chinese hackers and such. However, China’s collection of large databases has allowed it to be one of the leaders in developments such as the 5G network and artificial intelligence.
According to Microsoft, the attacks carried out by hackers on its servers were organized and achieved a level of automation that allowed them to attack more than 60,000 of its customers.
The bet on the development of advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence, requires a robust regulatory framework that allows users to use reliable networks and transparent data transfer.
That was the bet of former President Donald Trump’s administration: a reliable 5G network shows a clear sign of America’s commitment to fostering and ensuring efficient, ethical, and robust technology.
Chinese hackers have been denounced for decades for the systematic theft of intellectual property, and the cyberattacks on the United States and its allies show that the technological future in the hands of the CCP offers little chance of transparency.