The reaction comes as no surprise: China has rejected the attribution of Exchange hacks made earlier this week by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a range of nations, including the United States, the Union Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.
It was the first time that NATO publicly attributed an attack to China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao responded by calling the United States first hacking empire in the world.
Return to sender
“The United States has joined forces with its allies to make baseless accusations against China on the issue of cybersecurity. This act confuses right and wrong, denigrates China for political gain. China will never agree to it. that, ”he said.
“China firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyberattacks. It will never encourage, support, or condone cyberattacks. This position has been consistent and clear.”
This statement belies the attribution made Monday, which accused China of using “criminal contract hackers” for its cyber operations.
“We are aware that Chinese government affiliated cyber operators have carried out ransomware operations against private companies that have included multi-million dollar ransom demands,” the White House said.
“China’s reluctance to tackle the criminal activity of contract hackers is hurting governments, businesses and operators of critical infrastructure through billions of dollars in lost intellectual property, proprietary information,” ransom payments and mitigation efforts. ”
At the same time, the US Department of Justice charged four members of China’s State Security Department with carrying out attacks as part of a “multi-year campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors, including the maritime sector, aviation, defense, education and health care in at least a dozen countries “, and has been accused in particular of stealing research on the vaccine against the Ebola virus.
In April, American justice revealed that the FBI obtained authorization to remove web shells installed on compromised servers linked to Exchange vulnerabilities.
“Many owners of infected systems have successfully removed web shells from thousands of computers. Others have not, and hundreds of these web shells have persisted without being removed,” the ministry told time.
“This operation removed the remaining web shells from one of the early groups of hackers, which could have been used to maintain and intensify persistent and unauthorized access to US networks.”
China asks for proof
China did what was expected of it, and flipped the accusations back to the United States
“The so-called technical details released by the US side do not constitute a complete chain of evidence. In fact, the US is the biggest source of cyber attacks in the world,” Zhao said.
“The United States is wiretapping not only its competitors, but also its allies. Their European allies downplay the US measures to use the Danish intelligence agency to spy on their leaders, while doing great rumor of ‘China’s cyberattacks’ based on hearsay evidence, which contradicts Europe’s claimed strategic autonomy.
“I want to stress that a handful of countries do not represent the international community, and denigrating others does not help whitewash its own wrongs.”
The Chinese Embassy in Canberra served its own rebuttal, accusing Australia of “repeating the rhetoric” of the United States, which it called the “world champion” of malicious cyber attacks.
“Australia also has a track record, particularly in monitoring the cell phone of the president of its larger neighbor country, not to mention that it has become complicit in the United States’ eavesdropping activities as part of the of the Five Eyes alliance, ”she said.
“What the Australian government has done is extremely hypocritical, like a thief yelling ‘stop the thief’.”
Citing figures from the Chinese CERT, Zhao said 5.31 million computers in China were controlled from 52,000 command and control servers located outside the Middle Kingdom.
“The United States and two of its NATO allies are the top three players in terms of the number of computers under their control in China,” he said.