Report: State-Sponsored Chinese Hackers Targeted U.S. Firms Even after Recent Cyber Pact

An independent security firm has claimed that state-sponsored Chinese hackers have tried to infiltrate the networks of U.S. companies even after the recent cyber-pact where China and the U.S. agreed not to spy on each other for commercial and corporate reasons.

CrowdStrike Inc. has claimed that cyber and economic espionage agents allegedly associated with the Chinese government have tried to hack U.S. companies after the recent cease-fire agreement between the two countries to not spy on each other, reports Reuters.

At the time, a press release by the White House issued on September 25 during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first stateside visit to the U.S., a substantial portion of the briefing contained a mutual agreement by the two countries not to spy on each other after the U.S. held back proposed sanctions before President Xi’s visit.

On cybersecurity, the press release read:

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 has told Reuters that it has notified the White House of the intrusions.

State-Sponsored Hacking Doesn’t Quit.

In a blog post, CrowdStrike notes that it has identified and “prevented a number of intrusions” into at least seven companies’ systems from attackers believed to be affiliated with the Chinese government.unlock

Co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Dmitri Alperovitch contends the servers and software used by the intruders gives reason to claim that they are backed by the Chinese government.

Pointing to one specific group called “Deep Panda,” he adds that previous attempts to infiltrate U.S. industry has resulted in targeting industries including Finance, Healthcare, Insurance, Legal, Agriculture, Technology and more.

While the intrusions were unsuccessful according to Alperovitch, he notes that looking into “every tool, command and technique used” by the hackers led his company to believe that the hackers were previous actors affiliated with the Chinese government.

While not revealing the names of the targeted companies, Alperovitch added that five companies were technology firms while two more are pharmaceutical companies. Noting that such an intrusion would go directly against the agreement made by the two countries, he added:

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 which the Cyber agreement does not prohibit.

A senior official from within the Obama administration, speaking on the condition of anonymity told Reuters:

“As we move forward, we will monitor China’s cyber activities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments.”

Images from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.