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Microsoft Exchange cyberattack carried out by China, says US

Zero-day attack
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com)

The US has formally accused China of being behind the cyberattack on Microsoft Exchange servers that occurred back in March of this year.

However, the US wasn't alone in its condemnation of China as it was joined by NATO, the European Union and its allies Britain, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada. According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the cyberattack posed “a major threat to our economic and national security”.

US President Joe Biden provided further insight on the situation to reporters during an event discussing his infrastructure plan, saying:

"My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it. And maybe even accommodating them being able to do it."

At the same time as the US government called out China for its role in the attacks on Microsoft Exchange servers, the US Department of Justice charged four Chinese nationals with (three security officials and one contract hacker) with targeting dozens of companies, universities and government agencies around the world.

Lack of consequences

Back in April of this year, the US government hit Russia with sanctions as a result of the country's connections to last December's SolarWinds hack.

This time around though, the US has called out China, who it believes is either behind or at least supported those responsible for attacking vulnerable Microsoft Exchange servers, though it has not placed sanctions on the country. Cybersecurity experts that spoke with Reuters find the lack of consequences for China over its involvement in the hack concerning.

The US could take further action though as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that: "We are not holding back, we are not allowing any economic circumstance or consideration to prevent us from taking actions ... also we reserve the option to take additional action".

While the US has formally accused China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) of being behind the cyberattack, NATO has said that its members “acknowledge” the allegations leveled against China by the US, Canada and the UK.

We'll have to wait and see as to how China responds and whether or not the cybercriminals responsible decide to ramp up their attacks or wind them down following this formal accusation.

Via Reuters

Anthony Spadafora

After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal and TechRadar. He has been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember and has spent countless hours researching and tinkering with PCs, mobile phones and game consoles.