Washington | Chinese hacking attempts on American corporate intellectual property have occurred with regularity over the past three weeks, suggesting that China almost immediately began violating its newly minted cyber agreement with the United States, according to a newly published analysis by a cybersecurity company with close ties to the US government.
The Irvine, California based company, CrowdStrike, says it documented seven Chinese cyberattacks against US technology and pharmaceuticals companies where the primary benefit of the intrusions seems clearly aligned to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional national security-related intelligence collection. We’ve seen no change in behavior, said Dmitri Alperovich, a founder of CrowdStrike who wrote one of the first public accounts of commercial cyberespionage linked to China in 2011.
One attack came on Sept. 26, CrowdStrike says, the day after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced their deal in the White House Rose Garden. CrowdStrike, which employs former FBI and National Security Agency cyber experts, did not name the corporate victims, citing client confidentiality. And the company says it detected and thwarted the attacks before any corporate secrets were stolen. A senior Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss the matter publicly, said officials are aware of the report but would not comment on its conclusions.
The official did not dispute them, however. The US will continue to directly raise concerns regarding cybersecurity with the Chinese, monitor the country’s cyberactivities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments, the official added. The US-China agreement forged last month does not prohibit cyber spying for national security purposes, but it bans economic espionage designed to steal trade secrets for the benefit of competitors.
That is something the US says it doesn’t do, but Western intelligence agencies have documented such attacks by China on a massive scale for years. China denies engaging in such behavior, but threats of U.S. sanctions led Chinese officials to conduct a flurry of last minute negotiations which led to the deal. Crowdstrike today released a timeline of recent intrusions linked to China that it says it documented against commercial entities that fit squarely within the hacking prohibitions covered under the cyber agreement.
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