The United States along with its foreign allies are planning to accuse China of widespread attempts to extort money by using cyberspace, including through ransomware attacks, one of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history.
The move will likely put into question the future of the relations between the United States and China, which has had a rocky relationship dating back several years.
Both the FBI and NSA have “high confidence” the hackers were contracted by China’s Ministry of State Security and carried out the cyberattack on the Microsoft Exchange.
Microsoft publicly released a statement and acknowledged an unknown Chinese espionage network called Hafnium as the culprit behind the attacks.
“Recently, Hafnium has engaged in a number of attacks using previously unknown exploits targeting on-premises Exchange Server software,” the statement read in part.
The news comes as the Biden administration tries to fight back against any further breaches and prevent future cyberattacks. There is no word if the U.S. will impose sanctions or any other new punishment on Beijing. Until now, the focus has been squarely on Russia for their cyberattacks on U.S. companies, including the Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin and warned him to crack down on cyberattacks originating in his country, saying the U.S. would “will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure”.
“President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge,” the White House said in a statement at the time.
Reports say there are key differences between the attacks done by China and Russia. For instance, the hackers from China are working on behalf of the Chinese government and are getting paid for their services. Meanwhile, the Russian hackers have been well documented as linked to Russian intelligence agencies.
The United States will be joined by Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the European Union in making similar announcements regarding China’s role in the hacks.
The FBI, National Security Agency, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a new advisory listing 50 tactics, techniques, and procedures that detail the types of ways China hacks. This is meant to serve as a “manual” for companies to keep an eye on for any future hacking attempts or cyberattacks.