Inside the West’s failed fight against China’s hackers
Eight of the world’s biggest technology service providers were hacked by Chinese cyberspies in an elaborate and years-long invasion, Reuters found.
Hacked by suspected Chinese cyberspies five times from 2014 to 2017, security staff at Swedish telecoms equipment giant Ericsson had taken to naming their response efforts after different types of wine.
- The campaign entangled at least six more major technology firms, touching five of the world’s 10 biggest tech service providers.
- The invasion exploited weaknesses in those companies, their customers, and the Western system of technological defense.
- After successfully repelling a wave of attacks a year earlier, Ericsson discovered the invaders were back.
- Now, the company’s cybersecurity team could see exactly how they got in, through a connection to information-technology services supplier Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
- Teams of hackers connected to the Chinese Ministry of State Security had penetrated HPE’s cloud computing service.
- Hackers used cloud computing as a launchpad to attack customers, plundering reams of corporate and government secrets for years.
- The hacking campaign, called “Cloud Hopper,” was the subject of a U.S. citation in December that accused two Chinese nationals of identity theft and fraud.
- U.S. prosecutors say it was an effort to boost Chinese economic interests.
- Prosecutors explained an elaborate operation that exploited multiple Western companies but stopped short of naming them.
The companies affected by the Cloud Hopper
Companies compromised by Cloud Hopper, Reuters has found: Fujitsu, Tata Consultancy Services, NTT Data, Dimension Data, Computer Sciences Corporation and DXC Technology. HPE spun-off its services arm in a merger with Computer Sciences Corporation in 2017 to create DXC.
Waves of hacking victims emerge from those six-plus HPE, IBM and their clients. Ericsson, which competes with Chinese firms in the strategically critical mobile telecoms business, is one.
Others include Sabre, the American leader in managing plane bookings, and the largest shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy, Huntington Ingalls Industries, which builds America’s nuclear submarines at a Virginia shipyard.
“This was the theft of industrial or commercial secrets for the purpose of advancing an economy,” said former Australian National Cyber Security Adviser Alastair MacGibbon. “The lifeblood of a company.”