China has called for the US to stop making “groundless accusations” about the country’s supposed involvement in cyber espionage and hacking.
US officials regularly point the finger at China when data breaches occur. For example, director of national intelligence James Clapper accused the Chinese of being responsible for the hack at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), an incident that resulted in the records of millions of US government workers being stolen.
Clapper also accused China of cyber-spying on US targets during a presentation to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in Washington.
Chinese cyber espionage continues to target a “broad spectrum of US interests”, he claimed, adding, “Chinese hackers are often able to gain access to their targets without having to resort to using advanced capabilities”.
Clapper suggested that the US should improve its cyber security to make cyber espionage more difficult and expensive to carry out.
China has once again moved to deny any involvement in the hacking of US organisations, pointing out that it too is a victim of cyber criminals.
“Maintaining cyber security should be a point of cooperation rather than a source of friction between both China and the United States,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
“We hope that the US stops its groundless attacks against China, start[s] dialogue based on a foundation of mutual respect, and [enagage in] jointly build[ing] a cyberspace that is peaceful, secure, open and cooperative,” he added.
The White House is currently planning sanctions against companies and individuals in China – and Russia – that it suspects of benefiting from cyber espionage against US companies.
China’s top diplomat has urged the US to work with China to combat cyber threats.
“China and the United States actually can make cyber security a point of cooperation,” state councillor Yang Jiechi told the state-run China Daily newspaper.
“We hope China, the United States and other countries could work together to work out the rules for cyber security in the international arena in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” he continued, adding that suspected hacking cases should be investigated on “a solid, factual basis”.
While many fingers are pointed at China for being the origin of many cyber attacks, security expert Bruce Schneier recently claimed that a lot of attacks from western countries go through China.
“It’s easy to false flag. It’s easy to pretend your attack comes from somewhere else,” he said.
“My belief is a lot of attacks from the western countries go through China, simply because everyone knows a lot of attacks go through China, and that’s a perfect way to hide where you’re from.”