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The United States has accused Beijing of carrying out a massive hack of Microsoft and charged four Chinese nationals as it rallied allies in rare joint condemnation of ‘malicious’ cyber activity from China.
In comments likely to further strain worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the March hack of Microsoft Exchange, the widely used email server, was part of a ‘pattern of irresponsible, disruptive and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security.’
China’s Ministry of State Security, or MSS, “has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain,” Blinken said in a statement.
In a simultaneous announcement, the US Department of Justice said four Chinese nationals had been charged with hacking the computers of dozens of companies, universities, and government bodies in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018.
Pointing to the indictment, Blinken said the United States ‘will impose consequences on (Chinese) malicious cyber actors for their irresponsible behavior in cyberspace.’
President Joe Biden told reporters the United States was still completing an investigation before taking any countermeasures and drew parallels with the murky but prolific cybercrime attributed by Western officials to Russia.
‘The Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it, and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it,‘ Biden told reporters.
Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, has ramped up pressure on China, seeing the rising Asian power’s increasingly assertive moves at home and abroad as the main long-term threat to the United States.
In a step that the Biden administration hailed as unprecedented, the United States coordinated its statement Monday with allies — the European Union, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and NATO.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK