At the start of September, Beijing accused the US National Security Agency (NSA) of launching “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on China. The accusations on the country were said to steal a mass of sensitive data, including some from a Northwestern Polytechnical University in the city of Xi’an. This accusation follows a series of claims from Washington, stating that Beijing has been launching cyberattacks against US businesses and government agencies.
China’s public claim was released in a report on Monday 5th September by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC). Beijing directly accused NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) of stealing data from a public research university that has been funded by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The university specialises in aeronautical and space research.The accusation states that TAO used cyberweapons to hack and exploit the university’s network in order to gain control of tens of thousands of network devices. Over 140 GB of high-value data is said to have been stolen.
This year, there has been great focus on the geopolitical tensions that have arisen from the Russia/Ukrainian war. However, conflicts between China/US can be timelined back to the Korean War in 1950 and there is a history of cyberspace accusations throughout this time.
Back in March, China stated that it has experienced continuous cyberattacks from Washington following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was believed that the goal was to be able to use Chinese computers to target Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Whilst both sides deny accusations, what is clear is that the geopolitical landscape is becoming increasingly intertwined with the global cyber narrative. On a national level, calculated cyberattacks can damage critical data, cause electrical blackouts, breaches of national security and the failure of military equipment. In this increasingly hostile and volatile landscape, leaders are trying to prepare themselves against these growing tensions. Conflict within cyberspace is not just a security problem. It is also a business problem. There is now an even greater urgency towards creating cyber resilience for every business, regardless of industry.
In order to improve cyber resilience, businesses should consider a managed detection and mitigation strategy. Businesses need to create and develop resilience with the support of subject matter experts to help manage their cybersecurity, risk management strategy and risk compliance, so they can fully understand their security posture and capabilities when focussing on cyber threats. A managed detection and mitigation strategy can empower firms as they analyse the geopolitical climate and try and make informed decisions about how to implement cyber defence strategies.
In addition to implementing a more robust cyber strategy, firms should also invest in creating a culture of cyber awareness within their team while also implementing a stress test programme for their systems. As geopolitical tensions grow the risk of cyberthreats could continue to increase and as always, awareness of this is key.