As we prepare for Tuesday’s presidential inauguration, the Chinese government has launched a major anti-covid-19 campaign and cyber espionage operation on over 2,000 targeted U.S. government and business targets, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The massive new operation aims to employ cyber spies to penetrate data systems and collect information to help move the country toward the next five to 10 years of economic growth. Some of the information stolen is likely being fed into an extensive Chinese social media campaign, where content runs the gamut from braggadocio about the prowess of new government-backed AI systems to negative commentaries about the United States.
The information that’s been stolen so far includes high-level corporate decision making, manufacturing plans, and trade data — information that could be used to benefit key Chinese state-run technology firms. All the data will be smuggled back into China where it will be used for investment in critical infrastructure and possibly to optimize Beijing’s massive labor force.
Since international cybersecurity doesn’t track the steps in each targeted target, much of the information is being stored in China or shared with the Chinese government. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government is linking up domestic IP addresses to its supporters in the United States to help follow targets and take down “black hats.”
The campaign reflects Beijing’s frustration with the United States, which has called for China to do more to clamp down on spying and sabotage of US computer systems.
The United States has grown increasingly concerned that China has used spy software specifically designed to surveil political figures and dissident websites. It is now attacking China’s own pro-democracy groups. In addition, at least 25 Chinese citizens have received sensitive email information from the hackers, according to one report, and almost all of the hacks appear to be aimed at Chinese companies and media groups.
Last September, intelligence agencies identified Beijing as the “primary actor behind a yearlong campaign of economic espionage against the U.S. government and a wide range of U.S. business targets” based on internal data. The campaign was revealed by David Autor, an MIT engineering professor, and Gordon H. Adams, a former U.S. Army cyber-warfare commander.
Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal.
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