Chinese officials expressed concern over recent revelations the U.S. intelligence community may have been hacking their devices.
Wikileaks released thousands of pages of classified material on CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence Monday, revealing the “entire hacking capacity of the CIA.” By the end of 2016, the CIA had reportedly developed over 1,000 cyber tools capable of breaching cell phones, Microsoft Windows, even smart TVs, and turn them into covert listening devices.
Other possible targets include critical components for products made by Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE, two top telecommunications companies, and Taiwan’s Zyxel, for distribution in China and other countries, Reuters reports.
One of the leaked files showed a CIA hacker struggling to breach Chinese security because of a language barrier, reports the South China Morning Post. “I do not speak Chinese,” the unidentified hacker wrote in a report before noting that he had to seek assistance from a Chinese-speaking coworker.
With the information from the leaks, China rushed to seize the moral high ground.
“We urge the U.S. side to stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and internet hacking against China and other countries,” Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday.
“China will firmly safeguard its own network security,” he added.
The U.S has been accusing China of engaging in questionable, unethical behavior in cyberspace, specifically high-level, state-sanctioned hacking, for decades.
Chinese military cyber units were allegedly involved in corporate espionage for many years, stealing intellectual property to facilitate China’s growth and development while eroding America’s competitive advantage. Operatives affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army are believed to have stolen massive amounts of data from U.S. defense contractors, including information on combat systems like the F-35. And, the Ministry of State Security is suspected to be behind the theft of data on over 21 million former and current government employees from the Office of Personnel Management. These examples are just a few of a number of incidents.
The Chinese government denies ever engaging in any illicit activities in cyberspace.
In recent years, China has toned down its attacks against U.S. entities; however, unauthorized security breaches still occur from time to time.
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