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U.S. Government Warns People Against China-Linked Hacking Group

Cloudhopper, cyberattacks
Alister Shepherd, the director of a subsidiary of the cybersecurity firm FireEye, gestures during a presentation about the APT33 hacking group, which his firm suspects are Iranian government-aligned hackers, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. VOA

The U.S. government warned Wednesday that a hacking group widely known as cloudhopper, which Western cybersecurity firms have linked to the Chinese government, has launched attacks on technology service providers in a campaign to steal data from their clients.

The Department of Homeland issued a technical alert for cloudhopper, which it said was engaged in cyber espionage and theft of intellectual property, after experts with two prominent U.S. cybersecurity companies warned earlier this week that Chinese hacking activity has surged amid the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied claims by Western cybersecurity firms that it supports hacking.

Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage. Wikimedia Commons

Homeland Security

Homeland Security released the information to support U.S. companies in responding to attacks by the group, which is targeting information technology, energy, health care, communications and manufacturing firms.

“These cyber threat actors are still active and we strongly encourage our partners in government and industry to work together to defend against this threat,” DHS official Christopher Krebs said in a statement.

The reported increase in Chinese hacking follows what cybersecurity firms have described as a lull in such attacks prompted by a 2015 agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and former U.S. President Barrack Obama to curb cyber-enabled economic theft.

“I can tell you now unfortunately the Chinese are back,” Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said Tuesday at a security conference in Washington.

A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture. VOA

“We’ve seen a huge pickup in activity over the past year and a half. Nowadays they are the most predominant threat actors we see threatening institutions all over this country and Western Europe,” he said.

Analysts with FireEye, another U.S. cybersecurity firm, said that some of the Chinese hacking groups it tracks have become more active in recent months.

Advice to US firms

Wednesday’s alert provided advice on how U.S. firms can prevent, identify and remediate attacks by cloudhopper, which is also known as Red Leaves and APT10.

The picture shows a warning sign for “cyber threats ahead”.

The hacking group has largely targeted firms known as managed service providers, which supply telecommunications, technology and other services to business around the globe.

Also Read: Pakistan Fears Economic Turmoil, Re-thinks ‘Silk Road’ Project with China

Managed service providers, or MSPs, are attractive targets because their networks provide routes for hackers to access sensitive systems of their many clients, said Ben Read, a senior intelligence manager with FireEye.

“We’ve seen this group route malware through an MSP network to other targets,” Read said. (VOA)

Next Story

The Ways Girls And Boys Get Into Hacking is Quite Different

While kids with low self-control, are more likely to hack, the ways girls and boys get into hacking could be quite different

hacking, girls, boys, cyber crime, cyber security
For boys, we found that time spent watching TV or playing computer games were associated with hacking. Pixabay

While kids with low self-control, or not having the ability to hold back when opportunity presents itself, are more likely to hack, the ways girls and boys get into hacking could be quite different, says a new study.

“For girls, peer associations mattered more. If she has friends who shoplift or engage in petty forms of crime, she’s more likely to be influenced to hack as well,” said lead study author and cybercrime expert Thomas Holt from Michigan State University in the US.

“For boys, we found that time spent watching TV or playing computer games were associated with hacking,” Holt said.

Holt assessed responses from 50,000 teenagers from around the world to determine predictors of hacking.

He said that some of the findings show how kids are raised within gender roles, such as letting boys play video games and giving girls different activities.

For boys and girls, simply having opportunities to hack were significant in starting such behaviour.

This could include having their own bedroom, their own computer or the freedom of doing what they want on the internet without parental supervision.

hacking, girls, boys, cyber crime, cyber security
For boys and girls, simply having opportunities to hack were significant in starting such behaviour.

While most schools have computer and Internet access, Holt explained that there are still some geographic barriers for kids to enter cybercrime.

The researchers found that kids who had mobile phone access early on were more likely to hack — especially if they lived in larger cities.

Spending time with peers was more likely to influence delinquent behaviour for those living in smaller cities, said the study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

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The researchers also found a connection between pirating movies and music and hacking.

It’s important for parents to understand their kids’ tech-savviness and habits to help guide them on a path that uses their skills in a more positive way.

“Parents shouldn’t assume that having a kid with sophisticated technological competency is always totally fine,” Holt said. (IANS)