Fool Me Twice … China Attacks Seven Companies After US Cyber Truce

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Steve Ambrose Contributor
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A cyber security firm is casting doubt about the seriousness of the cyber pact between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, wrote in a blog post Monday that over the past three weeks it has detected and prevented numerous cyber intrusions believed to be perpetrated by the Chinese government. (RELATED: U.S. General: Pentagon Bombarded With Hacker Emails)

According to Alperovitch, the motive behind the attempted intrusions is to gain a commercial advantage over the United States.

“Seven of the companies are firms in the Technology or Pharmaceuticals sectors,” Alperovitch wrote. “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…”

The number and timing of the attacks are notable because on Sept. 25, during Jinping’s visit to the United States, both the Obama and Jinping administrations agreed to cooperate on a number of international issues—including cyber security. (RELATED: Report: Hackers From China, Germany, And South Korea Launched Attacks On Hillary’s Server)

The White House press release from the event stated: “The United States and China agree that neither country’s government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.”

CrowdStrike detected the first intrusion Sept. 26.

According to Alperovitch, CrowdStrike determined with “a high degree of confidence” that the intrusions are of Chinese origin and have ties to the government. That assessment are made based on the types of techniques used to breach the companies. (RELATED: Who Are These Chinese Hackers? We Explain, Plus Three Ways To Stop Them, In Two Minutes)

Alperovitch wrote that CrowdStrike has “helped remediate the use of Derusbi and PlugX malware, preferred tools of a number of different Chinese actors.”

An unidentified senior official in the Obama administration told Reuters that the White House is aware of CrowdStrike’s report and said “As we move forward, we will monitor China’s cyber activities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments.”

One of the more advanced hacking groups alleged to be involved in the attacks is Deep Panda. It has been known to target national security think tanks as well as corporations involved with telecommunications, defense products, agriculture, and healthcare.

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