China’s Dirty Secret - Intellectual Property Theft

Chinese hackers have a long history of  breaking into the IT systems of some of the largest technology companies where they have copied andstolen industrial and commercial secrets. 

This is one aspect of a world-wide hacking operation called Cloud Hopper, according to a special report from Reuters. The Report states that teams of hackers connected to the Chinese Ministry of State Security have penetrated Ericsson, Hewlett Packard and IBM computing services and have used it as a method to infiltrate their customers. 

This process has been used to steal masses of corporate and government secrets for some years with the aim to improve Chinese commerce and economics. 

This attack “exploited weaknesses in those companies, their customers and the Western system of technological defense,” and this attack has been ascribed to China by the US and its allies. according to Reuters, although they were unable to determine the full extent of the damage done by the campaign and many victims are unsure of exactly what information was stolen.

Yet the Cloud Hopper attacks carry worrying lessons for government officials and technology companies struggling to manage security threats. 

Among those reportedly impacted in the large-scale attack by Cloud Hopper were: Fujitsu, Tata Consultancy Services, NTT Data, Dimension Data, Computer Sciences Corporation and DXC Technology, a spinoff from HPE  services arm in a merger with Computer Sciences Corporation in 2017.

As a result, more organisations that are part of the supply chains or customers of these service providers were also impacted, including Sabre, a leading travel reservation system that manages plane bookings in the US.  Huntington Ingalls Industries was also a victim. The company is reportedly the largest shipbuilder for the US Navy.

“This was the theft of industrial or commercial secrets for the purpose of advancing an economy,” Australia's former national cybersecurity adviser Alastair MacGibbon told Reuters. “The lifeblood of a company.”

China is making no effort to conceal its strategy for information dominance, said Tom Kellermann, chief cyber-security officer for Carbon Black

“This strategy was developed during the first Gulf War and a cornerstone of it is to conduct island hopping from [managed service providers] and telcos into their corporate client networks. Carbon Black research shows that island hopping is exploding and occurring 50% of the time as corporate brands are being used to target their clients.

“The systemic theft of intellectual property is coupled with the colonization of sensitive corporate networks, which allows the Chinese to become telepathic. The irony is Chinese hacking has dramatically increased as a reaction to the trade war. The overt colonization continues."

Infosecurity:       Reuters:

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