Hacking

Telecoms companies increasingly hit by Chinese hackers

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Telecommunication companies across the globe have faced an increasing number of threats from Chinese cybercriminals over the past year. The reason? A suspected push from Beijing to up their covert online presence in the wake of the US vowing to block Huawei from joining 5G networks.

CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm based in California, reported an overall rise in the number and frequency of attacks from China in the past year, especially on American companies. The very same company stated that Russia was behind the US Democratic National Committee hack in 2016.

Chief technology officer and co-founder of CrowdStrike, Dmitri Alperovitch, believed that Chinese espionage levels had returned to previous levels, prior to the 2015 agreement signed by the US and China to control and reduce the amount of economic spying.

He said: “In terms of volume, China is by far the most active [in 2018]. They are fully back and engaging in economic espionage across numerous industries of strategic interest to China.”

CrowdStrike argued the increase in online hostility stemmed from trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, but believed telecommunication businesses were specific targets due to their relevance to Chinese authorities when it came to information surveillance.

It’s not just China, though. Countries like Russia, North Korea and Iran were also reported as prominent figures when it came to cybercriminal activity in 2018.

Often is the case that telecommunications companies are victims of “spear phishing” attempts which invites hackers into systems through employees, unbeknownst to them, opening or downloading suspicious emails and links. CrowdStrike’s annual report revealed that this was a preferred technique by Chinese hackers, although they also abused supply chains to secretly access control.

The report published: “The use of telecom-related lures is almost certainly socially engineered to take advantage of the reliance on communications technology and the high degree of trust placed in the operators of the networks that support businesses and government organisations.”

But governments also face the challenge of balancing cybersecurity issues with national desires for faster telecommunications channels.

Since the introduction of 5G networks, the US has been rallying global allies to prevent telecommunications companies from including Huawei in the roll out of their services at the risk of allowing Chinese state hackers from spying and garnering illicit information.

Australia and New Zealand have taken note and have consequently banned the Chinese company from their networks, but the UK has adopted a different approach with its National Cyber Security Centre stating that it was sure it could counter the threat Huawei posed to 5G deployments.

About Lee Hazell

Lee Hazell is a cyber security consultant with a keen interest in anything tech or security related. Follow Lee on .

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