The United States, the European Union (EU), NATO and five other countries accused on Monday Chinese-backed hackers of being behind last March’s global cyberattack against Microsoft.
It is a gesture that could have major geopolitical consequences, with which Washington wants to expose China’s role in recent major cyber attacks.
According to an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the U.S. and its allies have concluded that they can attribute the global cyberattack to Beijing with “a high level of confidence,” the highest used by intelligence agencies.
Microsoft had already accused Beijing-backed hackers of illegally accessing email accounts on its Exchange Server business service, but neither the EU, NATO nor the US had yet pointed the finger at China because they were waiting for more information.
They discovered that the Ministry of Public Security, China’s main law enforcement and intelligence agency, “outsources” criminal hackers to perpetrate attacks around the world.
Among other things, the hackers’ operations include extortion, theft of digital currencies such as bitcoins, and even bounty attacks for their own personal gain.
In some cases, the source said, the cybercriminals attacked private banking entities with a ransomware program that seized computers with confidential information and then demanded a reward of millions of dollars to free them.
Aiming to expose China on the world stage, US intelligence agencies will today reveal 50 tactics, techniques and procedures commonly used by these Chinese hackers, as well as offer advice on how to deal with the threat.
The official assured that the United States and its allies “will hold China accountable” but did not reveal what kind of actions they plan to take.
The condemnation of Beijing is significant because it includes a large number of countries and organizations: U.S., U.K., U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, NATO and the EU.
It is the first time that the Atlantic Alliance has condemned cyber attacks from China, she noted.
According to The Wall Street Journal in March, the cyber-attack may have affected some 250,000 computer systems worldwide.
The European Banking Authority, the Norwegian Parliament and the Chilean Financial Market Commission were also victims of the attack.