Chinese hackers cast wide net for trade secrets in US, Europe and Asia, researchers say

The hackers targeted blueprints for producing materials with broad applications to the pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors, according to Boston-based security firm Cybereason. The firm discovered the activity last year but said the hacking campaign dates to at least 2019, and it suggested that reams of data could have been stolen in the interim.
The research is an unsettling reminder of the scope of the cyber threats facing US businesses and government agencies as the Biden administration attempts to thwart them. For all of the attention on potential Russian hacking due to the war in Ukraine, China’s digital operatives have been very active.

“It’s clearly industrial espionage, IP [intellectual property] theft at the highest level,” Assaf Dahan, Cybereason’s research lead, told CNN.

Asked to respond to the Cybereason report, Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, claimed that China “will never encourage, support or condone cyber attacks.”

“China opposes groundless speculation and accusations on the issue of hacker attacks,” Liu added. “If the firm really care [sic] about global cyber security, they should pay more attention to the cyber attacks by the US government-sponsored hackers on China and other countries.”

Cybersecurity researchers, and US officials, have for years accused Chinese spy and military agencies of hacking and stealing trade secrets.

China “has a massive, sophisticated cyber theft program,” FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate alleged in a speech last week to the American Hospital Association, “and it conducts more cyber intrusions than all other nations in the world combined.”

The FBI declined to comment on the Cybereason report.

US officials and cyber-intelligence analysts point to China’s “Made in 2025” plan — an ambitious state plan for achieving economic dominance — as a rubric for the types of companies whose data Chinese hackers have targeted.

The plan, released in 2015, calls for advancements in manufacturing in the aerospace and biomedical fields, among several others. The Justice Department has in the years since unsealed indictments accusing Chinese hackers of targeting those very sectors.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-US…