Hackers linked to the Chinese government have attempted to hack into several US firms since the two countries officially agreed not to spy on each other for commercial gain, according to researchers.
Hackers based in China have been routinely accused of attacking US businesses and government agencies, including the recent breach of OPM systems that affected tens of millions of people, and China has accused US hackers of the same.
In June 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden claimed the US had hacked hundreds of targets in China as part of more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations worldwide.
On 25 September 2015, US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed that neither government would support the cyber theft of intellectual property (IP).
The agreement appeared to be making progress with reports that China had arrested a number of Chinese hackers at the request of the US.
However, according to US security firm CrowdStrike, hackers linked to the Chinese government have attempted to hack into at least five US technology and two pharmaceutical firms, reports Reuters.
CrowdStrike said the attempted attacks came from several groups, including one previously identified as Deep Panda, and used attack software previously seen in attacks on US defence contractor VAE and health insurer Anthem.
A report published in July 2015 claimed the same Chinese hackers were behind the attacks on Anthem, United Airlines and the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
According to CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch, the attempted breaches appeared to be aimed at the theft of IP and trade secrets.
However, US security firm FireEye said that although the Chinese hackers it monitors are still active, it was too soon to say if they are engaging in economic espionage or if their aims have shifted.
There was no immediate comment from China’s Foreign Ministry or the Obama administration.
A senior US official who asked to remain anonymous said the US would monitor China’s cyber activities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments.
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