State-sponsored Chinese unleashed a hacking and spying program on US critical infrastructure systems including in the US island territory of Guam, according to reports.
After Microsoft unraveled the Chinese campaign, the US government's cybersecurity response agency CISA issued an alert. Microsoft said it caught Chinese government hackers stealing data from critical infrastructure organizations.
Ability to Disrupt Critical Communications
"Microsoft assesses with moderate confidence that this [Chinese cyberespionage] campaign is pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises," the company said in a statement.
According to a Reuters report, the finding that the Chinese government-linked hackers targeted Guam with cyberespionage malware signals as dire threat as the island is seen as a base that could play a key role in any conflict the US will have with China.
"Observed behavior suggests that the threat actor intends to perform espionage and maintain access without being detected for as long as possible," Microsoft said in an official blog post. It added that the hackers were trying to develop capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) is working with associates in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK, the report adds.
There have always been concerns that Chinese hackers will target and take down US military networks in case Beijing carries out an invasion of Taiwan. The US has been particularly focusing on the Chinese cyber threat and has led to serious diplomatic spats between the super powers.
According to Microsoft, since 2021, Chinese hackers have been targeting several industries including communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government and information technology.
Spy Balloon Shot Down
In February this year, the shooting down of a Chinese balloon over Lake Huron in Michigan lewd to a diplomatic spat between the countries, as the US said the aerial object was a Chinse spy balloon.
According to the Defense Department, an F-16 fired an AIM 9X missile to shoot down the airborne object after its flight path and altitude raised concerns, 'including that it could be a hazard to civil aviation.' The airship was flying at an altitude of about 20,000 feet over Michigan's Upper Peninsula when it was shot down.
In April, US media reported, citing officials, that the suspected Chinese spy balloon was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the administrations efforts to block it from doing so, a media report said citing informed officials.
"China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure-eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time," the NBC reported.
The officials said China could have gathered much more intelligence from sensitive sites if not for the administration's efforts to move around potential targets and obscure the balloon's ability to pick up their electronic signals by stopping them from broadcasting or emitting signals.