WASHINGTON — A report from the United States apex cyber agency said that 13 U.S. gas pipeline operators were breached between 2011 and 2013 by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) report was published on July 20. 

“The United States government identified and tracked 23 United States natural gas pipeline operators targeted from 2011 to 2013 in this spearphishing and intrusion campaign,” an advisory said. 

“Thirteen were confirmed compromises, three were near misses, and eight had an unknown depth of intrusion.” 

The security agency said the United States federal government had specifically attributed the attacks to state-sponsored forces backed by the Chinese government. 

“The United States government has attributed this activity to Chinese state-sponsored actors. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assess that these actors were specifically targeting United States pipeline infrastructure for the purpose of holding United States pipeline infrastructure at risk,” the advisory said.

United States security agencies have assessed that the attacks were ultimately intended to help China develop cyber-attack capabilities against the country’s pipelines to physically damage or disrupt pipeline operations, the advisory said.

This comes a day after the United States and its foreign allies accused China of overseeing widespread attempts to extort money in cyberspace. 

United States security agencies have issued a new advisory about a major threat to the cyberspace assets of the United States and its allies from Chinese state-sponsored cyber activities, including ransomware attacks.

In a coordinated announcement, a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) issued in July said that state-backed cyber hackers aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure to steal sensitive data. This includes emerging key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information.

An unprecedented group of U.S. allies and partners, including the EU, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, joined hands to expose and criticize the China Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities.

Meanwhile, China denied accusations that actors linked to its government were behind the Microsoft Exchange hack and other “malicious cyber activities.”

Four Chinese nationals were recently charged with global cyber espionage by the United States Department of Justice. 

“The conspiracy’s hacking campaign targeted victims in the United States, Austria, Cambodia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom,” the statement by the Department of Justice said.  

The Targeted industries included, among others, aviation, defense, education, government, health care, biopharmaceutical, and maritime. 

The stolen trade secrets and confidential business information included sensitive technologies used for submersibles and autonomous vehicles, specialty chemical formulas, commercial aircraft servicing, and proprietary genetic-sequencing technology.

(With Inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)



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