A news conference held in the White House Rose Garden was heralded as the first concrete step taken by the United States and China on the rather controversial issue of online espionage. Despite coming to an agreement that both countries would refrain from attacking each other on the web, Chinese hackers are still attacking U.S. companies for their trade secrets.
State-backed hackers in China are still carrying out a string of cyber espionage attacks on many U.S. companies, violating the pact that the two countries’ signed just recently. The U.S. technology and pharmaceutical sectors have reportedly been subject to precision attacks aimed at the “theft of intellectual property and trade secrets” in the course of three weeks.
The U.S. group CrowdStrike, which has been blocking all of the attempted intrusions, said that just two days after the agreement was signed, there were two documented attacks on technology companies.
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CrowdStrike wrote in a blog post last Monday, “Seven of the companies are firms in the technology or pharmaceuticals sectors, 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 which the Cyber agreement does not prohibit.”
China’s understanding and abuse of the cyber act’s loophole may cause further strain between the two countries. Many critics are quick to point out that the two seem to be fighting on two fronts – the contested South East Asian seas and the shores of the Internet.
State Sponsored Agents
Although the Chinese Government did not issue any response concerning the claims, CrowdStrike is confident that the recent string of hackers is all state-sponsored agents from the Asian giant.
They note that attributing attacks to specific countries can be difficult, as hackers use a range of techniques and tools to mask and fake where they are coming from. The U.S. group has a “high degree of confidence” that one of the hacking groups is the notorious Deep Panda. The firm has been tracking this particular group for years now, and is said to be a major player in the recent string of hacks on various U.S. companies.
CrowdStrike added that the particular malicious code or malware that the attackers were using were the “preferred tools of a number of different Chinese actors.”
China isn’t the only country that’s being accused of hacking. The U.S. has also been accused of attacking and hacking Chinese companies. There was a case last year where documents revealed that Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor, had been hacking Huawei.
The U.S. government, however, maintained that this was for national security purposes rather than hacking as a means to give U.S. firms a competitive advantage over their Asian counterpart.