China accused of cyberattack as Putin and Xi Jinping ‘colluding’ before Ukraine invasion

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The SBU said that Chinese attacks sought to infiltrate a range of targets including border defence forces, the national bank and the railway authority.

These attacks were designed to steal data and explore different ways to disrupt crucial defence and civilian infrastructure.

Although Moscow also launched cyber attacks on Kyiv, the SBU said that the Chinese attacks could be distinguished by the trademark tactics of the cyber warfare unit of the People’s Liberation Army.

Memos that the SBU shared with the Times, appear to have been prepared by another country and outline the scale of the attacks to disabled Ukrainian infrastructure in preparation for a Russian attack with reference made to computer network exploitation (CNE) attacks.

They said: “Intrusions that are of particular concern include the CNE campaigns directed at the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate, and the Ukrainian Investigation Website focused on Hazardous Waste.

“This particular CNE attack by the Chinese cyber program included the launch of thousands of exploits with attempts pointed to at least 20 distinct vulnerabilities.”

Tom Hegel, a senior threat researcher at Sentinel One, a US cybersecurity firm, told the Times that it appears Beijing made no effort in covering its tracks.

He said: “It sounds like they didn’t care that they were seen — they had an objective to get in and get what they needed as quickly as possible. 

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“If they’re working in Ukraine they’re working in support of Russians. The implications of this would be they are potentially subjected to sanctions.”

Sam Cranny-Evans, an intelligence and surveillance expert at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank, said the attacks exposed the “collusion” between Moscow and Beijing.

He said: “The attacks suggest a certain level of collusion between Russia and China, which may prompt revised assessments of the nature of the relations between Russia and China, and the willingness of the two nations to support each other in military operations.”



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