China denies report of state-sponsored hackers active in SA, beyond

By AT editor - 9 August 2019 at 8:05 pm
China denies report of state-sponsored hackers active in SA, beyond

The Chinese government is denying the report that a hacker group investigated by cybersecurity research firm FireEye is working for Beijing, adding without specifying that “the world knows clearly who has been most engaged in cyberattack and cybertheft around the globe.”

The research firm, based in the United States, said it has been tracking a dual espionage and cybercrime threat called APT41 for some seven years across 15 countries including South Africa. The industries targeted include health care, education, video gaming, travel and news-gathering organizations.

The findings were released in a report published on Wednesday.

“FireEye has observed individual members of APT41 conducting primarily financially motivated operations since 2012 before expanding into likely state-sponsored activity,” the research firm said. “Evidence suggests that these two motivations were balanced concurrently from 2014 onward.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that the firm has made the same accusations against China for many years, adding that cybersecurity is merely a pretext for FireEye activities.

“Its accusations are ill-intentioned fabrications. China firmly opposes that,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “We firmly oppose and combat all forms of cyberattack and cybertheft. … Irresponsible accusations will only escalate tension and confrontation in the cyberspace and poison the environment for cooperation.”

Hua did not directly name the U.S. amid the nations’ escalating trade war, but did so when asked about Huawei. “The U.S. has been using its national power to randomly sanction and oppress Chinese companies. This has seriously undermined its image as a country and its own interests,” she said.

The remarks come as Huawei unveiled its new Harmony (Hongmeng) operating system during the first day of a developer conference in Dongguan. It’s designed to work across all devices and manage the global IoT demands of the future – a critical point of contention with the U.S. – while potentially removing reliance on existing OS if necessary.

Image: China MFA file

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