Report: Hundreds of Government Units and Companies in China Compromised by Cyberattacks


China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) issued a warning on Thursday, citing a recent case where an unnamed Chinese technology company fell victim to a foreign hacking group engaged in cyber extortion. The MSS cautioned that the networks of "hundreds" of other Chinese businesses and government units have also been infiltrated by these overseas hackers, indicating potential preparation for "larger scale criminal activities."

The warning was communicated through a message posted on the MSS's official WeChat account, aiming to raise public awareness regarding the risks of hacking and cyber-ransom from abroad. The MSS highlighted the potential for "huge economic losses and leakage of sensitive information," particularly in light of the "rampant" cyberattacks by foreign agencies in recent years.

Initial reports of the warning were published by the Global Times, affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party's flagship newspaper, the People's Daily, with further confirmation from the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Concerns were raised by the MSS about the severe threat to China's national security if sensitive or classified information were to fall into the hands of foreign spy agencies or malicious actors with ill intentions.

This warning from the MSS coincides with heightened tensions between China and the US over accusations of state-backed cyberattacks, with both countries expanding their cybersecurity efforts.

The MSS's WeChat post included an example of a "hi-tech enterprise" that experienced blackmail after falling victim to a ransomware attack by the aforementioned overseas hacking group. The attack resulted in the encryption and locking of the company's data and information systems, leading to disruptions in daily production and business operations.

Furthermore, the MSS revealed that their investigations uncovered evidence suggesting that the foreign hacking group had infiltrated hundreds of networks belonging to domestic businesses and government units, potentially in preparation for larger criminal activities. However, the location or identity of this hacking group was not disclosed by the state security authority.

In response to these threats, the MSS urged individuals and organizations to promptly report any cyberattacks or ransom demands to China's national security authorities.

Earlier in the week, the MSS asserted that Chinese authorities possess the authority to freeze assets or impose sanctions on foreign organizations or individuals involved in attacking, invading, interfering with, or damaging China's information infrastructure.