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Foreign cyberattacks exposed

By CUI JIA | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-30 22:47

Overseas organizations launching advanced persistent cyberattacks particularly targeted China's high-tech microchip and 5G sectors in 2023, according to a research report released on Tuesday.

The new development is the result of the United States' policy to block China's technological advance, said the 2023 Advanced Persistent Threat Report published by Chinese cybersecurity company 360.

The number of attacks on China's microchip and 5G sectors significantly increased last year and the US Central Intelligence Agency was among the attackers, it added.

Cyberattacks on those sectors are backed by political forces, which have the clear intention of suppressing China's technological development, said Bian Liang, a cybersecurity expert at 360.

"While dealing with such attacks, we also need to find out the political forces that are behind them, so we can see the whole picture," Bian said.

In 2023, the company detected more than 1,200 cyberattacks launched by 13 overseas APT organizations. Attacks from the US are the most advanced as they can control networks around the world automatically and systemically to obtain key data for military and political use, according to the report.

The number of cyberattacks on overseas Chinese institutions and enterprises also increased significantly last year, the report said.

China must attach greater importance to cybersecurity issues in those institutions and enterprises because they also hold key information on government policy and trade data, which matter to China's core interests, it added.

In addition, there has been an obvious increase in the number of cyberattacks launched to obtain geological surveying and mapping data in China, which can be used by political forces to make strategic decisions, the report said.

Last July, 360 reported a cyberattack from the US on Wuhan Earthquake Monitoring Center in Hubei province. Once its high-precision geological surveying and mapping data was leaked, it could be used to locate key energy and military targets, so the consequences of such an attack can be severe, it said.

More than 50 percent of the attacks detected last year by the company were in the education and scientific research sectors, which have become the key battlefields for China to combat cyberattacks.

In some cases, the attackers even used documents and contact information they stole in order to launch precise attacks on targets, the report said.

It added that besides the education sector, government organizations and the scientific research, national defense and transport sectors have also been targeted by APT organizations.

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