U.S. Accuses China of Hacking and Cyber Espionage 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Department of State
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: Department of State

The United States is working with its partners and allies to promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace, counter cybercrime, and oppose digital authoritarianism.

The United States and countries around the world are holding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) accountable for its pattern of “irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace,” which poses a major threat to the U.S. economic and national security. 

This was expressed by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, adding that the PRC’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain.  

In addition, according to a statement released on July 19 by the U.S. Department of State, the United States government, alongside its allies and partners, has formally confirmed that cyber actors affiliated with the MSS exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server in a massive cyber espionage operation that indiscriminately compromised thousands of computers and networks, mostly belonging to private sector victims.  

As evidenced by the indictment of three MSS officers and one of their contract hackers unsealed by the Department of Justice on July 19, the United States said it will impose consequences on PRC malicious cyber actors for their irresponsible behavior in cyberspace.

Apart from the PRC’s direct commitments not to engage in cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property for commercial gain, the international community has laid out clear expectations and guidelines for what constitutes responsible behavior in cyberspace.  

Responsible states do not indiscriminately compromise global network security nor knowingly harbor cyber criminals – let alone sponsor or collaborate with them.  These contract hackers cost governments and businesses billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property, ransom payments, and cybersecurity mitigation efforts, all while the MSS had them on its payroll.

The United States is working with its partners and allies to promote responsible state behavior in cyberspace, counter cybercrime, and oppose digital authoritarianism.  “We are also providing support to countries that are committed to building their capacity to protect their digital networks, investigate and impose consequences on malicious cyber actors, and participate in international conversations on cyber policy,” Blinken stated. “These efforts will enhance global security and stability in cyberspace.”

The State Department says it is committed to driving this agenda forward, and it calls upon all states that wish to see greater stability in cyberspace to join it in these efforts.

According to a White House statement issued on July 19, an unprecedented group of U.S. allies and partners – including the European Union, the United Kingdom, and NATO – are joining the United States in exposing and criticizing the PRC’s malicious cyber activities.

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Rakesh Raman