The White House and its western allies have accused the Chinese government of teaming up with criminal gangs to commit widespread cyber attacks, including one on Microsoft this year that affected tens of thousands of organizations, reported the Financial Times.
The accusation came as the US Justice department unsealed an indictment alleging that four Chinese nationals affiliated with the Ministry of State Security had overseen a separate campaign to infiltrate companies, universities and government bodies in the US and overseas between 2011 and 2018.
Antony Blinken, US secretary of State, said China’s actions represented “a major threat to” economic and national security. “Responsible states do not indiscriminately compromise global network security nor knowingly harbor cyber criminals — let alone sponsor or collaborate with them,” he added.
A senior administration official said the US had a “high degree of confidence” that attackers on the MSS payroll had carried out an offensive on Microsoft’s Exchange email application, which was disclosed in March. One cyber security researcher claimed it hit at least 30,000 organizations, including businesses and local governments.