Leaked NSA Map Details China ‘Cyber-Espionage’ Attacks

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A secret map pinpoints successful attacks on companies including Google and Lockheed Martin

The Chinese government has reportedly carried out more than 600 successful cyber-espionage attacks on US industrial, government and military targets in recent years.

Prominent firms including Google and Lockheed Martin were targeted, as well as companies linked with automobile manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and military and civilian air traffic control systems, according to the NBC News report, which cited unnamed intelligence sources.

Tensions

America US China - Shutterstock © AquirThe report is the latest to highlight the escalating tensions between the US and China, which have grown more acute since the US government said it believes China was responsible for a recent hack that affected US government personnel records.

NBC published an NSA map dating from last year that indicated where the attacks had taken place, focusing on intrusions over a five-year period that were successful in stealing secret data. The map indicated more than 600 private and public-sector “Victims of Chinese Cyber Espionage” during the period, with California having 50 targets, the most in a single state.

The north-east coastal region from Washington to Boston was also a concentration area for attacks, with others reportedly including Dallas, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Detroit.

Information stolen in the attacks includes data on the US’ critical infrastructure, such as its electrical power and telecomunications networks, according to NBC’s sources.

The map was part of an NSA briefing by the NSA Threat Operations Centre (NTOC) in February of last year, NBC said.

Cyber security

The US has regularly highlighted the national cyber-security threat posed by China in recent years, including China-based manufacturers of IT products such as Huawei and ZTE.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, in June told a Washington intelligence conference that China was the “leading suspect” in attacks on US government personnel databases announced earlier that month. Clapper said at the time that such attacks are likely to continue in the absence of a clear strategy for deterrence.

“Until such time as we can create both the substance and the psychology of deterrence, this is going to go on,” he said, adding that the government has “struggled” with the issue due to “concerns about unintended consequences and other related policy issues”.

In the absence of such a strategy the government must focus more on “defence”, he said.

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