Chinese hackers target critical US bases on Guam, according to Microsoft.
According to Microsoft and Western espionage agencies, Chinese hackers deployed “stealthy” malware to assault crucial equipment on American military bases in Guam.
According to experts, it is one of the largest known cyber espionage campaigns against the United States.
Guam’s ports and air bases, as a significant US military stronghold, would be critical to any Western reaction to an Asian conflict.
The Microsoft research has been dubbed “highly unprofessional” and “disinformation” by Beijing.
Microsoft and the Five Eyes partnership, which includes the intelligence agencies of the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Canada, released details of the malware on Wednesday.
The Five Eyes project is a decades-old arrangement for intelligence cooperation. According to the partners, their goal is to educate critical infrastructure providers and business users on how to detect and remove malware.
According to Microsoft, the malicious code was installed to spy on and destroy “communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia during future crises.”
It targeted the communications, manufacturing, utilities, and transportation industries, among others. The goal was to keep essential systems operational for as long as possible.
According to the IT company, the attack was carried out by China’s state-sponsored cyber group “Volt Typhoon” and relied on “living-off-the-land techniques.”
Hackers infiltrate local networks in order to modify their tools and issue commands while remaining largely unnoticed.
Responding to questions at a press conference held by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, spokesperson Mao Ning referred to the US as the “hacker empire” and dismissed the allegation as having a “serious lack of evidence chain.”
While the US and China frequently accuse each other of eavesdropping, experts say the united Five Eyes declaration is noteworthy.
“The fact that it’s a Five Eyes initiative – there’s significant concern over what this attack might be a precursor to in terms of the intent behind it, and the sabotage element here,” said Jamie Norton, a partner at restructuring and consultancy firm McGrathNicol.
Mr Norton, a former Australian government information security expert, stated that Microsoft’s study of the attack revealed no evidence that the Chinese hackers utilized their access to Guam’s systems for offensive attacks.
However, he warned that the discovery might be part of a larger plan to “exfiltrate and farm data over the long term” in order to undertake future sabotage operations.