Credits: The Register
Chinese and Iranian hackers have been aggressively targeting US businesses and government agencies because of Donald Trump’s ongoing conflicts with the two countries, the New York Times has reported.
According to the newspaper, dozens of US banks, businesses and government offices have been hit amid a marked increase in cyber attacks.
Security experts reportedly believe the US president’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and his trade war with China are behind the escalation.
It follows a report by US intelligence chiefs last month, which warned that China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, the country’s main cyber adversaries, “increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways – to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure.”
The report said Iranian-backed hackers are targeting federal government agencies and their officials, mainly “to gain intelligence and position themselves for future cyber operations.”
Companies have also been targeted, with Facebook and Twitter announcing early this year that they were deleting thousands of fake accounts linked to Iranian disinformation campaigns.
The recent attacks, attributed to Iran by analysts at the National Security Agency and private security firm FireEye, are said to have prompted the Department of Homeland Security to issue an emergency order during the government shutdown.
The Iranian attacks are thought to have alarmed American officials, but an official from the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency said no information was believed to have been stolen.
At the same time, Chinese hackers are reportedly renewing attempts to steal commercial technology and US military secrets from oorganizations.
Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile were among the country’s recent targets, according to the New York Times. None of the companies have responded to the claims and it is unclear if any of the attacks were successful.
However the reports mark a return to heightened cyber espionage attempts following several years of relatively muted activity.
In 2015, Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama reached a landmark deal to stop cyber hacks intended to steal trade secrets. But amid increasing tensions between the US and China, fuelled by Mr Trump’s threat of trade tariffs, the volume of attacks has returned to previous levels.
However the biggest threat is still believed to come from Russia, with hackers suspected of targeting the US electrical grid as well as congressional committees.
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