Chinese state-sponsored hackers behind cyberattacks, claims New Zealand

Minister says country’s spy agencies have confirmed, corroborated involvement of actors backed by China.

ANKARA (AA) – New Zealand has independently verified that Chinese state-sponsored actors hacked Microsoft systems earlier this year, the country’s security minister said on Tuesday.

Rejecting Beijing’s denial of involvement, Andrew Little reiterated the accusations leveled against China by several Western countries, including the US and UK, as well as NATO and EU.

They attributed the attack, which was disclosed in March and targeted tens of thousands of computers and networks worldwide, to cyber operators affiliated with China’s Ministry of State Security.

“The background to the origins of those cyberattacks has been well established by our own agencies independently of any other agencies and corroborated with other agencies too,” Little was quoted as saying by public broadcaster Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

“We have a very high degree of confidence that the origins of those attacks – particularly the Microsoft one – came out of China.”

Beijing has repeatedly refuted the allegations and denounced the US-led campaign as a “smear with political motives.”

Little said last week that New Zealand’s intelligence agencies found that Chinese state-sponsored actors were involved in malicious cyber activity in the country.

They also confirmed that “Chinese state-sponsored actors were responsible for the exploitation of Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities in New Zealand in early 2021,” according to RNZ.

The Chinese Embassy in New Zealand reacted strongly to the claims, summoning New Zealand officials for a meeting and denouncing the allegations as “totally groundless and irresponsible.”

In a statement, the embassy called on New Zealand to “abandon the Cold War mentality” and opt for dialogue and cooperation “rather than manipulating political issues under the pretext of cyber security and mudslinging at others.”

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