Russia and China accused of cyber espionage

A US government report has accused entities in Russia and China of engaging in cyber espionage to obtain sensitive economic data and technology. 

“Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” stated the report, which was published by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX).

“US private sector firms and cybersecurity specialists have reported an onslaught of computer network intrusions that have originated in China, but the IC cannot confirm who was responsible.”

According to the ONCIX, China’s intelligence services – as well as private companies and other entities – frequently seek to exploit Chinese citizens or persons with family ties to China who can use their insider access to corporate networks to steal trade secrets using removable media devices or e-mail.

The report also highlighted the role of Russian intelligence services in cyber espionage, as Moscow is apparently conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from US targets.

“[Cyber espionage] is motivated by Russia’s high dependence on natural resources, the need to diversify its economy, and the belief that the global economic system is tilted toward US and other Western interests at the expense of Russia,” the report explained.

“[As such], Moscow’s highly capable intelligence services are using HUMINT, cyber, and other operations to collect economic information and technology to support Russia’s economic development and security.”

Finally, the ONCIX warned against the growing threat posed by various hacktivist groups.

“Political or social activists may use the tools of economic espionage against US companies, agencies, or other entities. [For example], LulzSec exfiltrated data from several businesses that it posted for public viewing on its website… [Therefore], corporate trade secrets or information about critical US technology may be at similar risk of disclosure to activist groups by disgruntled insiders.”