China-based hackers breach government, individual email accounts: Microsoft

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

China called a Microsoft report that a China-based hacking group breached government-linked email accounts “disinformation,” saying Wednesday that the accusation was meant to divert attention from US cyber activities.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In a blog post published Tuesday, Microsoft said the group, which it identified as Storm-0558, gained access to email accounts linked to 25 organizations, including Western European government agencies. The breach was detected weeks later when customers complained to Microsoft about abnormal mail activity.

“We assess this adversary is focused on espionage, such as gaining access to email systems for intelligence collection,” Charlie Bell, Microsoft’s executive vice president of security, said in a separate Microsoft post.

A Washington Post report cited a statement from US officials claiming Storm-0558 also breached unclassified email accounts linked to the US government.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, said the accusation was “disinformation” aimed at diverting attention from US cyberattacks on China.

“No matter which agency issued this information, it will never change the fact that the United States is the world’s largest hacker empire conducting the most cyber theft,” Wang said in a routine briefing.

“Since last year, the cybersecurity organizations of China and other countries have issued many reports exposing the cyberattacks on China by the US Government over a long period of time, but the US has not made a response so far,” he said.

The Storm-0558 hackers used forged authentication tokens — pieces of information used to verify the identity of a user — required to access the email accounts, Microsoft said. It said it has dealt with the attack and informed affected customers.

Microsoft said it is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, among others, to guard against such attacks. It also said it would continue to monitor Storm-0558’s activities.

Last month, Google-owned cybersecurity firm Mandiant said suspected state-backed Chinese hackers broke into the networks of hundreds of public and private sector organizations globally by using a security hole in a popular email security tool.

Earlier this year, Microsoft said state-backed Chinese hackers were targeting US critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork to disrupt critical communications between the US and Asia during future crises.

Read more:

US to soon begin talks with Kyiv on providing long term security assistance: Official

Kremlin says Putin trip to China is ‘on the agenda’

Russian spy chief held phone call with CIA head William Burns to discuss Ukraine

Top Content Trending