China slams Microsoft hack accusations as ‘groundless and irresponsible’

This comes after the New Zealand government joined international condemnation of China’s alleged exploitation of the Microsoft Exchange Platform

China has hit back at the New Zealand government after it joined international condemnation of the country, claiming that there were links between Chinese state-sponsored actors APT40 and malicious cyber activity in New Zealand.

The spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the country called the accusation “groundless and irresponsible”.

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has already lodged solemn representation with the NZ government,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that the Chinese government is a staunch defender of cyber security and firmly opposes all forms of cyber attacks and crimes in accordance with the law. The spokesperson said that making accusations without proof is “a malicious smear”.

The spokesperson urged New Zealand to “abandon the Cold War mentality” and work with others to tackle the challenge of cyber incidents through dialogue and cooperation, instead of “manipulating political issues under the pretext of cyber security and mudslinging at others”.

These comments were made after New Zealand joined international condemnation of the alleged exploitation of the Microsoft Exchange Platform by Chinese state-sponsored actors. 

“We call for an end to this type of malicious activity, which undermines global stability and security, and we urge China to take appropriate action in relation to such activity emanating from its territory,” said Andrew Little, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) minister.

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The GCSB also revealed that around 30% of serious malicious cyber activity against New Zealand organisations recorded by the National Cyber Security Centre contains indicators that can be linked to various state-sponsored actors.

The UK government formally accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security of being behind the Microsoft Exchange Server attack, which was estimated to have affected over a quarter of a million servers worldwide. The UK, along with other counterparts in Europe and the US, accused the Chinese government of ignoring “repeated calls to end its reckless campaign, instead allowing its state-backed actors to increase the scale of their attacks and act recklessly when caught”.

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