Under China’s authoritarian leader Xi Jinping, Beijing has refined its approach to cyber-espionage, transforming it into a much more sophisticated player over the past decade. China’s top spy agency, which borrows a page from Russia, has recruited outside its ranks and is pulling out of the country’s growing pool of tech workers. The strategy has made its attacks more scattered and unpredictable, but analysts say it has also helped bolster the country’s efforts, allowing spies to carry out covert attacks targeting intellectual property as well as political and military intelligence around the world. world.
Mr Xi has made improving China’s scientific and technical capabilities a priority in the coming years, with the ambition to become a global leader in high-tech fields such as robotics, medical devices and aerospace. The campaign targeting Russian defense research institutes “could serve as more evidence of the use of espionage in a systematic and sustained effort to achieve Chinese strategic objectives of technological superiority and military might,” the Check report said. point.
More recently, China-based hackers, like their counterparts elsewhere, have taken advantage of the war in Ukraine to break into the computer systems of organizations across Europe. Hackers have fueled heightened fears of the invasion and tricked their victims into downloading documents that falsely claim to contain information about the war or pretend to be aid organizations raising money for charities.
Many of the attacks emanating from China appear to be aimed at gathering information and intellectual property, rather than creating chaos or disruption that could influence the conflict in favor of Ukraine or Russia, security researchers said.
In late March, Chinese hackers began going after Ukrainian organizations, according to security researchers and an announcement by the Ukrainian Cybersecurity Agency. A hacking team known as Scarab sent a document to Ukrainian organizations with instructions on how to film evidence of Russian war crimes, but also contained malware that could extract information from infected computer systems, researchers at security firm SentinelOne said.
Also in March, another hacking team affiliated with China, which security researchers have named Mustang Panda, took documents purporting to be European Union reports on conditions at the borders of Ukraine and Belarus, and sent them to potential targets in Europe. to email. But the documents contained malware, and victims who were tricked into opening them allowed the hackers to inadvertently penetrate their networks, according to researchers at Google and the security firm Cisco Talos.
The latest on China: important things to know
An uncertain harvest. Chinese officials warn that, following heavy rains last fall, a disappointing winter wheat crop in June could push food prices — already high due to the war in Ukraine and bad weather in Asia and the United States — up further, fueling hunger in the United States. the poorest countries in the world.
The hacking group Mustang Panda had previously attacked organizations in India, Taiwan and Myanmar, but when the war started, it targeted the European Union and Russia. In March, the hackers also chased agencies in Russia, emailing them a document that appeared to contain information about the placement of border guards in Russia, Cisco Talos researchers said.