China’s combative warning to Australia after being called out over global hacking activities

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Australia has joined the US and other allies in calling out China over its global hacking activities, saying it has undermined international security.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews and Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the activities by China’s Ministry of State Security were malicious and concerning.

Australia and its international allies have determined the ministry exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange software earlier this year, affecting thousands of computers and networks worldwide.

“These actions have undermined international stability and security by opening the door to a range of other actors, including cybercriminals, who continue to exploit this vulnerability for illicit gain,” the three ministers said in a joint statement on Monday night.

Australia has joined the US, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand and Canada to level the allegations.

Australia and its allies have called out China over a global cyber hacking campaign. Credit: AAP

Australia is also “seriously concerned” about US allegations the Ministry of State Security engaged contract hackers to carry out cyber-enabled intellectual property theft to give the Chinese government a commercial advantage.

“Australia calls on all countries – including China – to act responsibly in cyberspace,’ the minister said.

“China must adhere to the commitments it has made … to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information.”

The US Justice Department said on Monday four Chinese citizens – three security officials and one contract hacker – had been charged over a global hacking campaign aimed at dozens of companies, universities and government agencies in the United States and abroad.

The activities took place between 2011 and 2018 and focused on information that would significantly benefit Chinese companies and businesses, it said.

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