EU & NATO Agree To Confront The Chinese Cyber Threat

An alliance of NATO members, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan will confront the threat posed by Chinese state-sponsored cyber attacks. The group will share intelligence on cyber threats and collaborate on network defenses and security, according to a senior Biden administration official.

In its first joint action, the alliance will publicly blame China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) for a cyber attack on Microsoft Exchange earlier this year, which is believed to have hit at least 30,000 American organisations and hundreds of thousands more worldwide.

The attack was carried out by criminal contract hackers working for the MSS who also engage in cyber-enabled extortion, crypto jacking and ransomware, the official said. Also, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a new advisory listing 50 tactics, techniques and procedures that Chinese state-sponsored hackers employ.

A Chinese espionage network dubbed Hafnium was named by Microsoft as the attack group. The delay in naming China was partly to give investigators time to assemble the evidence to prove that the Hafnium hackers were on the Chinese state payroll, the official said. It was also important for the United States to act in concert with its allies when it made the public attribution, said the official.

At a time when cyber warfare is becoming the front line in a global power struggle between democracies and autocratic states, the new cybersecurity alliance could become a model for future efforts to confront transnational threats.

The formation of the alliance is intended to build on President Biden’s effort earlier this summer to rally support among NATO and EU allies for a more confrontational approach to China and comes after a number of economic and diplomatic sanctions that the Biden administration has imposed on Beijing this year, in response to alleged human rights abuses in Hong Kong and in Xinjiang province.   Recently, the US sanctioned seven Chinese officials in response to the ongoing crackdown on Hong Kong’s democratic institutions.

The newly launched cybersecurity alliance is focused on cooperative security and threat alerts and not on retaliation.

The White House has raised the Microsoft attacks with senior members of the Chinese government “making clear that the People’s Republic of China's (PRC) actions threaten security, confidence, and stability in cyberspace... We’re not ruling out further actions to hold [China] accountable,” said the senior official, “but we’re also aware that no one action can change the PRC’s behaviour, and neither can one country acting on its own. So, we really focused initially in bringing other countries along with us.”

China Is To Strengthen Cyber Security Regulation

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has published a draft three-year action plan to develop the country's cyber security industry, the market value of all the firms in the sector will be 250 billion yuan ($38.6 billion) by 2023.

  • “Residents in east China’s Shanghai are witnessing and benefiting from the application of a good number of AI and other digital technologies catering for economic and social development, people’s livelihood and other fields”, says the Chinese People’s Daily Online.
  • China’s Guangdong province said it plans to build a common data platform in the Greater Bay area, including Hong Kong and Macau, and a data trading market in Shenzhen. Guangdong will consider establishing a data ‘customs hub’ to review and supervise cross-border data, according to a People’s Government of Guangdong Province statement.  

The Chinese government will “promote the distribution and sharing of data between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, and the use of data to benefit industrial development, social governance and services to people”.
 

CNBC:        PinsentMasons:     Xinhuanet:     Chinese Foreign Ministry:      People's Daily:   Gov.Guangdong:

Cyberspace Affairs Commission:      CNBC

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