In mid-July, at a global emerging technologies summit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that the community of nations must work together to reduce the national security risks posed by malicious cyber activities and emerging technologies.
“We’ve brought countries together around an approach that recognizes international law to make it clear that countries are governed in cyberspace just like they are offline and that defines norms that apply not only in wartime but in peacetime too, because we’re now dealing with significant cyber incidents outside the context of war.”
Less than a week later, the United States issued a statement condemning the People’s Republic of China, or PRC’s, pattern of irresponsible behavior in cyberspace, alongside statements issued by NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
“The PRC’s Ministry of State Security, or MSS, has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain,” said Secretary Blinken in a written statement.
“Responsible states do not indiscriminately compromise global network security nor knowingly harbor cyber criminals – let alone sponsor or collaborate with them. These contract hackers cost governments and businesses billions of dollars in stolen intellectual property, ransom payments, and cybersecurity mitigation efforts, all while the MSS had them on its payroll,” said Secretary Blinken.
Secretary Blinken further highlighted that “the United States government, alongside our allies and partners, formally confirmed that cyber actors affiliated with the MSS exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server in a massive cyber espionage operation that indiscriminately compromised thousands of computers and networks, mostly belonging to private sector victims.”
“Apart from the PRC’s direct commitments not to engage in cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property for commercial gain, the international community has laid out clear expectations and guidelines for what constitutes responsible behavior in cyberspace,” he said.
“The United States and countries around the world are holding the PRC accountable for its pattern of irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security,” said Secretary Blinken. “The United States will impose consequences on PRC malicious cyber actors.”