Chinese hackers employed code originally created by the National Security Agency (NSA) for different hacking campaigns, an Israeli technology company said in a new report Monday, according to Reuters.
The report, which was released by Check Point Software Technologies in Tel Aviv, remarked on the similarities between China-linked malware and the NSA’s break-in tools, which were leaked to the internet in 2017, and concluded that the code must have been stolen from the NSA, Reuters reported.
In 2016 and 2017, an obscure group called the “Shadow Brokers” published some of the NSA’s most advanced code to the internet, which allowed hackers and competing nations like China to acquire American-developed break-in tools, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Police In China Are Reportedly Using American Technology To Spy On Citizens)
Check Point Software’s head of cyber research, Yaniv Balmas, said that the Chinese malware, called “Jian”, was “kind of a copycat, a Chinese replica,” according to Reuters.
In 2019, Check Point Research published a report alleging that the break-in tools were stolen with deliberate traps and were not just discovered by accident. They were “U.S. developed cyber tools in the hands of a Chinese group which repurposed them to attack U.S. targets,” said Check Point, according to Forbes.
New: Chinese hackers appear to have repurposed NSA code well before the Shadow Brokers leak, another data point in the debate over whether the U.S. plays too much offense.https://t.co/7C71jNvWFO
— Raphael Satter (@razhael) February 22, 2021
Lockheed Martin, which reported the malware in 2017 after identifying it on the network of an unknown third party, said in a statement that the company “routinely evaluates third-party software and technologies to identify vulnerabilities,” Reuters reported.
The tools, which were stolen from NSA-affiliated Equation Group, are considerably more sophisticated than similar Chinese tools, according to Check Point Research. “There is a theory which states that if anyone will ever manage to steal and use nation-grade cyber tools, any network would become untrusted, and the world would become a very dangerous place to live in. There is another theory which states that this has already happened,” said Check Point, according to Forbes.