China has slammed “groundless” claims that it administered a serious cyber-attack against tech giant Microsoft.
A group of Western countries had accused China of hacking Microsoft Exchange – a well-liked email platform employed by companies worldwide.
The joint statement accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) of undermining global stability and security.
China has always maintained that it opposes all sorts of cyber-crime.
On Monday, New Zealand joined the group of nations including the united kingdom, the US, and Australia in blaming Chinese state-sponsored actors for “malicious cyber activity” within the country, including the Microsoft attack.
The Chinese Embassy in Wellington called the accusations “groundless and irresponsible”.
“The Chinese government may be a staunch defender of cybersecurity,” said a press release published by the embassy in response to an issue from reporters.
“Making accusations without [proof] is malicious.”
The Chinese embassy in Australia echoed these remarks, describing Washington as “the world champion of malicious cyber attacks”.
A scaled-up attack
The Microsoft hack affected a minimum of 30,000 organizations globally.
The Exchange system powers the e-mail of major corporations, small businesses, and public bodies worldwide.
Microsoft blamed a Chinese cyber-espionage group for exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange – which allowed hackers to remotely access email inboxes.
The group, referred to as Hafnium, was found by Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Centre to be state-sponsored and operating out of China.
Western security sources believe Hafnium obtained advanced knowledge that Microsoft intended to patch or close the vulnerability, then shared it with other China-based groups to maximize the benefit before it became obsolete.
“We believe that cyber-operators working under the control of Chinese intelligence learned about the Microsoft vulnerability in early January, and were racing to take advantage of the vulnerability before [it] was widely identified within the property right,” a security source told the BBC.
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The hack signaled a shift from a targeted espionage campaign to a smash-and-grab raid, resulting in concerns Chinese cyber behavior is escalating, consistent with Western security services.
The UK ministry said the Chinese government had “ignored repeated calls to finish its reckless campaign, instead of allowing state-backed actors to extend the size of their attacks and act recklessly when caught”.
The White House said it reserved the proper to require additional action against China over its cyber activities.
US President Joe Biden told reporters that the Chinese government might not are completing the attacks themselves, but was ” protecting those that do it. and perhaps even accommodating them having the ability to try to to it.”
The US Department of Justice has also announced criminal charges against four MSS hackers which it said were linked to a long-term campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors during a least a dozen countries.