Global news organizations have reported following a warning from Microsoft of one of the largest known Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns targeting U.S. critical infrastructure. The campaign affects organizations across the manufacturing, utility, transportation, information technology (IT), maritime, government, communications, construction, and education sectors.
This act of cyber espionage by China is unprecedented in the U.S., but Armis has been predicting this since January. After finding in the Armis State of Cyberwarfare and Trends Report: 2022-2023 that one-third (33%) of global organizations are not taking the threat of cyberwarfare seriously, we’ve continued urging governments and businesses across industries to start putting in place procedures to counteract this kind of threat. We’re actively helping our customers to proactively do so, but a much larger push is needed globally.
China’s defense budget has been increasing over the years, reaching an estimated $178 billion in 2020. This growing investment has enabled China to build up its cyber capabilities, with more than 50,000 cyber soldiers and an advanced cyberwarfare unit. China’s investment in offensive cyber capabilities has created a global weapon in its arsenal to rattle critical infrastructure across nearly every sector and interrupt U.S. citizens’ lives. It’s an incredibly impactful, cost-effective tool for China to disrupt society.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, cyberwarfare is modern warfare. This has to be a wake-up call for the U.S. and western nations – and it seems it may finally be, as far as spreading awareness is concerned.
In this instance, it’s the U.S. vs. China’s intelligence gathering. However, just last month, it was Israel against Iran & Russia’s coordinated DDoS attacks that took these malicious acts a step further beyond surveillance, disrupting border control systems, causing irrigation systems to malfunction, bringing the postal service and several telecom companies offline, and more. In some instances – as I experienced personally – smart homes of Israeli citizens were hacked and brought offline. Following these attacks, we begged the question: “Will western countries be attacked next?” This week, we got our answer.
Unfortunately, few U.S. or global news outlets reported on these attacks against Israel last month and why they should be a wake-up call for global governments and organizations. Today, a little over a month later, we’re seeing widespread news coverage now that China has been caught with U.S. critical infrastructure in its crosshairs. What’s reported on, how, where and when is a moot point now, however – all that’s important is that there’s widespread awareness of the vulnerabilities and threats facing these cyber-physical systems and the potential impact on the lives of citizens if these attack surface vulnerabilities are exploited by nation-state actors.
We continuously help our customers to shore up their defenses through asset visibility and security, proactively addressing alongside them the new extended attack surface that connected assets create. Additionally, we’re committed to researching and developing strategies to defend against cyberwarfare and we encourage others to do the same. Together, we can build a more secure and resilient world.
For more info on this subject, please take a look at our catalog of cyberwarfare content.
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