The growing concern about China's cyber threat to businesses worldwide is well documented in a report by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. This report shows that China-linked cyber espionage groups have targeted 39 industries across almost every continent. While a quarter of these attacks were aimed at North America, most targeted China's Asian neighbors. As cybersecurity improves, China's techniques have also become increasingly sophisticated.
Primarily, China's hacking activities target intellectual property theft from private corporations. The U.S. government alleges that China engages in these activities while denying its own involvement. In 2015, an "understanding" was negotiated between the U.S. and China, leading to a temporary reduction in Chinese hacking of U.S. companies. However, this did not last, with experts suggesting that Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to the accord because the People's Liberation Army was reorganizing its cyber forces.
In recent years, Chinese hackers have significantly improved their game. What were once "smash and grab" operations have now transformed into sophisticated campaigns aimed at stealing credentials and quietly infiltrating networks. More than two-thirds of documented intrusions in the last year were "malware-free," indicating that attackers entered networks using legitimate credentials obtained by stealing passwords through email and links.
According to the FBI Director, China's hacking program is the largest globally, having stolen more personal and business data from Americans than any other nation. This activity has been increasing since 2017, according to CrowdStrike's head of intelligence.
In addition to Chinese threats, the report highlights a surge in destructive Russian cyberattacks aimed at Ukraine, though there were no significant spillover effects beyond Ukraine. The report also notes that cybercriminals, including ransomware gangs, continue to operate at a high rate.
Businesses must take proactive steps to protect themselves from China's cyber threat. This includes using strong passwords, updating software and security protocols, monitoring networks for unusual activity, implementing two-factor authentication, and restricting access to sensitive information.
In conclusion, businesses must remain vigilant to China's growing cyber threat, given the increasing sophistication of their hacking techniques and the rising number of attacks. Best practices for cybersecurity, keeping up to date with the latest trends and technologies, and proactive measures are all critical to keeping data and intellectual property safe.