China’s been caught causing trouble again. Amid rising tensions over China’s belligerence in the Pacific, especially toward Taiwan, a Fortune report shows China has apparently turned back to a time-honored Chinese tactic – industrial espionage.
US law firms were the target of a barrage of cyber attacks, and many were major firms with access to sensitive corporate information of Wall Street’s top businesses. Though not all of the attacks were successful, they did make out with a significant amount of internal data.
The attacks first occurred last year and became part of a long-running string of cyber assaults. The news first broke in March of 2016 by the Wall Street Journal. At the time, it was not known who perpetrated the attacks, and it was assumed to be more garden variety cyber thieves or potentially insider trading. Most of the data stolen was in the form of emails.
Fortune magazine, however, was able to obtain law enforcement evidence from the investigations following the attacks, which overwhelmingly points the finger at agents based in China, sponsored by the Chinese government. China is also the most likely culprit in attacks on the US government, such as the infiltration of the Office of Personnel Management in early 2015.
Coming on the heels of other news of Chinese aggression, as well as alleged Russian interference in the government and election through hacking, it seems the cyber defenses of America need to be carefully re-examined. Even Democrats are not blind to the danger, and Obama called China’s known attacks “an act of aggression.”
It is hoped that the incoming administration of President-Elect Donald Trump will do more to firmly halt Chinese espionage of both the government and private sector, though there are some doubts anything will improve. Combined with their other more militaristic actions in the Pacific, it is difficult to conclude that there can be meaningful trust or peace between the Peoples Republic of China and the United States of America.