State media outlets in China allege US NSA has infiltrated country’s telecommunications networks to ‘control’ local infrastructure
Chinese state media have alleged on Thursday that a US intelligence agency has infiltrated the country’s telecoms network.
The reports in Chinese claim that the US National Security Agency (NSA) gained access after hacking a Chinese university via a phishing attack, CNBC noted.
This phishing attack (hacking technique where a malicious link is embedded in an email) to gain access to the government funded Northwestern Polytechnical University, the Global Times alleged, citing an unnamed source.
Northwestern Polytechnical University is located in China’s Shaanxi Province, and according to the state controlled Global Times, is well-known for its aviation, aerospace and navigation studies
The Global Times report claimed the NSA stole “core technology data including key network equipment configuration, network management data, and core operational data,” and other files.
As part of the NSA’s hack, the agency also apparently infiltrated Chinese telecommunications operators so that the US could “control the country’s infrastructure,” the Global Times alleged.
The NSA was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
The Global Times, citing its unnamed source, reported that more details about the attack on Northwestern Polytechnical University will be released shortly.
The alleged attack on the Northwestern Polytechnical University was first disclosed by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center earlier this month.
The agency also accused the US of engaging in “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on Chinese targets.
The alleged NSA attack comes after decades of the US and other western nations being subjected to nation-state cyberattacks, many of which have been blamed on China.
In July this year, the heads of the FBI and MI5 in a historic joint meeting in London, warned business leaders that the Chinese government was set on stealing their technology for competitive gain.
The unprecedented speech by the leaders of both the US and UK domestic security services, came after years of concern about China’s cyber activities.
The FBI director told the audience the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market”.
China has always denied accusations of hacking western targets, even when in 2011 chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen at F-Secure spotted in a Chinese military TV documentary, footage of Chinese military systems actively hacking a US target.
Chinese authorities quickly removed the offending video footage, but it had already been saved by F-Secure.
China in turn has for the past few years, alleged the US of carrying out cyberattacks against it, but has not been specific about particular attacks.
But this seems to be changing.
CBNC noted that in the last few weeks, Beijing has been more vocal in attributing particular attacks to the US, in a ramping up of tensions between the two nations in the cyber sphere.