Microsoft was the first to identify a Chinese hacking group named Volt Typhoon, which targeted the US Navy. This finding has been subsequently confirmed by authorities in the US, UK, and other allied nations.
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An alleged campaign by Chinese state-sponsored hackers on targets in the US and Guam has raised fears that Beijing is preparing to disrupt communications in the Pacific in the event of a conflict.
The hacking campaign was first identified by Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday and quickly confirmed by authorities in the US, UK and other allied nations. Microsoft said the hacking group, which it dubbed Volt Typhoon, had breached government, communications, manufacturing and IT organizations in the US and Guam, a crucial military post in the western Pacific Ocean.
While the identities of most of the hacking victims remains unknown, US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told CNBC on Thursday that the Navy was impacted by the intrusions. The extent of the breach wasn’t immediately known. A spokesperson for the US Navy declined to “discuss the status of our networks.”
Meanwhile, Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, told CNN Thursday that Chinese hackers could still have access to sensitive US networks that they’ve targeted. Joyce said the intrusions stood out in how brazen they were in “scope and scale.”
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A NSA representative declined to comment and referred instead to a release by the NSA and other US agencies on the Chinese hacking group.
Microsoft said it had “moderate confidence” the breaches were carried out in preparation to upend communications in the event of a future crisis. The company’s disclosure came amid mounting concerns that China might take military action to enforce its claim to the self-ruled island of Taiwan.
The Financial Times has reported that a document marked by the CIA and issued this year reveals that China is building cyber weapons with the capability to hijack enemy satellites.