AXA Business Mirror Leaderboard

Joint Sanctions Announcement: The United States and the United Kingdom have jointly imposed sanctions against a Chinese company and two individuals following an alleged cyber-espionage operation. The targets of this operation included millions of individuals, ranging from legislators and voters to prominent critics of the Beijing regime.

Attribution of Cyber Activity: Both the US and UK authorities have traced the “malicious cyber activity” back to intelligence operations within the Chinese government.

Sanctioned Entities: The US Treasury Department identified the sanctioned organization as Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company Ltd. This entity is described as a front company for the Chinese Ministry of State Security, allegedly serving as a cover for multiple malicious cyber operations.

Individual Sanctions: The US Treasury named two Chinese nationals in its sanctions: Zhao Guangzong and Ni Gaobin. Both individuals are associated with the Wuhan company and are accused of using cyberattacks to undermine critical infrastructure sectors such as defense, aerospace, and energy.

Legal Action by US Department of Justice: Additionally, the US Department of Justice charged Zhao, Ni, and five other hackers with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud. These individuals are said to be part of a 14-year-long cyber operation targeting US and foreign critics, businesses, and political officials.

UK Authorities’ Findings: UK authorities did not disclose the names of the sanctioned entities but mentioned that the two individuals were involved with the Chinese cyber group APT31 (also known as Zirconium or Hurricane Panda). APT31 has been previously accused of targeting US presidential campaigns and Finland’s parliament.

Impact on UK Parliament: In 2021, Chinese-government-affiliated hackers conducted reconnaissance activity against critics in the UK Parliament. While no accounts were successfully compromised, three UK legislators, including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, reported being targeted.

Electoral Commission Breach: The UK Electoral Commission reported a breach of its system in October 2022, with hostile actors accessing servers since 2021. However, the breach did not impact electoral processes or individuals’ democratic rights.

UK Response: UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden announced the summoning of China’s ambassador in response to the allegations. The UK Foreign Office assured that the hack had no impact on electoral processes or individuals’ access to the democratic process.

China’s Response: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cautioned against politicizing cybersecurity issues and urged parties to base their claims on evidence rather than unfounded accusations.

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