Chinese Hacking Operation Puts America at Great Risk

( – It has long been known that Chinese hackers, working at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have been infiltrating critical US infrastructure in order to steal sensitive technology. One of the most egregious instances was that of the F-35 fighter jet where the technology was stolen and used by China to build the almost identical Shenyang F-31.

Now it has been revealed by Microsoft that Volt Typhoon, a state-sponsored Chinese hacking group, has been stealing sensitive data from sensitive sites across the United States for at least two years. The hackers used compromised internet gateway devices, including equipment manufactured by Zyxel, Netgear, D-Link and Cisco, to stay almost undetectable over that time.

In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted, Microsoft advised its customers to ensure that the “management interfaces” of “network edge devices” should not be exposed directly to the public internet. Additionally, in a masterpiece of understatement, it noted that “Volt Typhoon drastically lowers their overhead costs for acquiring critical infrastructure by enhancing the stealthy nature of their data-collecting and espionage operations.”

Microsoft also noted that critical communications infrastructure between the US and Asia could be disrupted during any crises that might arise in the future. The seriousness of the revelations prompted intelligence agencies around the world, including the Five Eyes alliance which shares intelligence with the US, to issue a press statement encouraging all organizations that might be affected to visit their websites for guidance.

Jen Easterly, a director for the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said that it was important to recognize the cyber-capabilities of the CCP and to focus on promoting resilient cybersecurity practices in order to protect critical infrastructure. She noted that the hackers typically exploited tools that had already been built into their targeted systems and were therefore able to blend into normal network activities, especially on Windows-based systems.

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