Wall Street Journal reports yesterday that US Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal criminal charges as soon as next week against hackers linked to the Chinese government who have allegedly engaged in a sophisticated multi-year scheme to break into U.S. technology service providers in order to compromise the networks of their clients, according to people familiar with the matter.
The report tells US officials have described the hacking campaign as one of the most audacious and damaging orchestrated by China to date, intended to steal intellectual property and support Beijing’s espionage goals. The hacks have allowed intruders potential access to scores of American companies and government agencies that rely on the service providers for a wide range of digital tasks, such as the remote management of technology infrastructure or cloud storage.
Cyber-warfare initiated by the Chinese government
Western countries have long accused China of aggressive espionage. The concept of “network warfare” or information Operations and Information Warfare can be traced to May 2011 when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced a cyber security squad in the country.
Since then, the Chinese government has organized specialized military units for carrying out network attack and defense. There are PLA-organized forces and non-governmental forces supported by the government.
In May 2013, ABC News claimed that China hacked plans for the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
In 2011, Officials in the Canadian government claim that Chinese hackers have compromised several departments within the federal government. In 2014, Canada’s Chief Information Officer claims that Chinese hackers compromised computer systems within the National Research Council.
In 2008, Officials in the Indian government have alleged that attacks on Indian government networks, such as that of the Indian National Security Council, have originated in China.
The United States has accused China of cyber-espionage against American interests, accessing the networks of important military, commercial, research, and industrial organisations. A Congress advisory group has declared China “the single greatest risk to the security of American technologies”.
In January 2010, Google reported on targeted attacks on its corporate infrastructure originating from China “that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google”.
In addition to Google, at least 34 companies have been attacked. Reported cases include Northrop Grumman, Symantec, Yahoo, Dow Chemical, and Adobe Systems.
In September 2014, a Senate Armed Services Committee probe found hackers associated with the Chinese government had repeatedly infiltrated the computer systems of U.S. airlines, technology companies and other contractors involved in the movement of U.S. troops and military equipment.
In 2015, the U.S Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it had been the target of a data breach targeting the records of as many as 21.5 million people. The Washington Post has reported that the attack originated in China.
Although China has denied most accusations of its cyberwarfare, high level discussions between the two governments continued.
At the G20 gathering, President Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a trade truce that would include negotiations on “cyber intrusions and cyber theft,” according to a statement from the White House.
Miles Kwok has accused the Chinese government of hacking his network and yacht
Since Chinese exiled billionaire Miles Kwok started his whistle blows early 2017, accusing Wang Qishan and other CCP officials of corruption and sex scandals, hackers from Beijing have never stopped compromising his computer networks and Twitter/Youtube accounts.
In September 2017, Miles Kwok accused Beijing of hacking the electronics of his 152-foot motor yacht, Lady May, and FBI has joined the investigation.
The suspicious hacking took place in July on the Hudson River near New York City and left the ship temporarily unable to turn and in danger of colliding with nearby freighter.
The Lady May’s captain, Gavin George Hurn, said in a statement that the ship had sailed to the George Washington Bridge and was awaiting a harbor pilot to come aboard to guide the ship further north.
But after deciding to return instead to Chelsea Piers dock in lower Manhattan, the vessel’s bow and stern thrusters suddenly shut down. “I was unable to take control of the thrusters in the bridge,” Hurn said.
A technician then discovered that the thrusters were functioning but control over them had been disconnected from the bridge.
“I hope to let the American people and government know that through this incident there exists a great and real threat from China,” Miles said.
“I want every American and law enforcement agency to understand the Chinese government, through using the internet, cell phones, and modern communications technologies, can obtain private correspondence and information from each and every American citizen if it wishes, and can do that very easily almost without any cost,” Miles added.
Mid last year Beijing’s motive in the influence operation appears to be directed at forcing the U.S. government to deny Miles’s political asylum and return him to China.
According to Washington Free Beacon in September 2017, Portions of Miles’s asylum application form and other hacked documents that appear to originate from sources outside the law firm were published this month by a persona on Twitter identified only as “Spectre” (@twiSpectre.) They include a bank transfer note from Hong Kong and documents from Interpol, the international police group currently headed by a Chinese security official that has issued an international notice targeting Miles Kwok.
The attack disrupted Clark Hill’s information systems for several days and appeared to have been carried out by sophisticated hackers who targeted Miles’s personal information and the lawyer representing him.
FBI was also called in for an investigation.
“I hope all these attacks and illegal activities serve as a wake up call for the U.S. government so it finds out who is the real Black Hand behind these incidents,” Miles Kwok told the Washington Free Beacon. He hopes the U.S. government will “pay high attention to the threats from the Chinese kleptocracy”—a reference to corruption among Chinese rulers.
Miles Kwok also said recently he and his associates in New York have been under relentless cyber attack from China as well. In one recent incident, hackers caused a large-scale disruption of hand-held devices and computers used by Miles and others that was later identified by cyber-security experts as an unusual cell-phone-origin distributed denial of service attack.
Say NO to internet censorship and CCP must be stopped to do more evil
Internet censorship in China is among the most extensive in the world due to a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations. The governmental authorities have been widely condemned for not only blocking website content but also monitoring the Internet access of individuals.
Cyber crimes by the Chinese government have caused serious threats to freedom and democracy of humanity. The world community is happy to see the US government taking actions next week.
Wall Street Journal reports that the charges have been expected for several weeks and are intended as the latest in a flurry of recent actions taken by the Justice Department to publicly admonish China for its cyber-enabled economic espionage on American companies. Private-sector cybersecurity researchers previously have identified those attacks as the work of a hacking enterprise known as “APT 10” or “cloudhopper,” which they link to Beijing. APT stands for “advanced persistent threat.”
The charges are likely to further inflame relations between Washington and Beijing, which were strained again this week following the arrest in Canada of Ms Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. at the behest of American authorities. The Huawei case is unrelated to the looming hacking charges.
Prosecutors in October unsealed charges against 10 Chinese intelligence officers and other individuals that described in elaborate detail a methodical, persistent campaign to hack into several American aviation companies. The Justice Department followed up just two days later with more charges against a Chinese state-owned firm and its Taiwan partner for allegedly stealing trade secrets from the U.S.’s largest memory-chip maker, Micron Technology Inc.
The actions taken are seen to be the first step to an open internet in China and cleaner cyberspace in the world. Earlier Foreign Policy magazine puts the size of China’s “hacker army” at anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 individuals.
Miles Kwok also has revealed data on China’s large-scale intelligence operations in the United States that have been conducted by more than 25,000 Chinese agents. The information was based on his ties to former Ministry of State Security Vice Minister Ma Jian, who was caught up in President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and imprisoned.
As officials from both governments are continuing their negotiations on trade issues, the Trump administration said in the White House statement yesterday negotiations will include discussions about “structural changes” on a number of issues including intellectual property protection and cyber theft.
Everything is just beginning!
By Cloudy Seagail and staff writer