US Navy ‘impacted’ by China-backed hackers: Navy Secretary

A US Navy missile submarine.

United States Navy | PA

The US Navy has been hit by the Chinese state-sponsored hack that Microsoft disclosed on Wednesday, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday.

Del Toro said the US Navy “has been hit” by cyberattacks, adding that it’s “not surprising that China has behaved in this way, not just for the past two years, but for decades.” .

He declined to provide further details about the incursion, but suggested the Navy has been dealing with cyberattacks like this for years.

Microsoft issued a warning on Wednesday, as did intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and cybersecurity agencies in four other countries. The warnings alerted companies and state-owned companies that a sophisticated Chinese state-backed hacking group had successfully exploited a vulnerability in a popular cybersecurity suite.

The vulnerability, which was exploited by a group called “Volt Typhoon”, affects critical cyber infrastructure across a range of industries, Microsoft said Wednesday. The company said Chinese hackers targeted the communications and maritime sectors in Guam, which is home to a key US military base.

The hacking group appears to have focused on surveillance rather than disruption, Microsoft said. But senior intelligence officials and researchers expressed concern that Guam had been targeted, saying The New York Times that the island territory would be crucial in repelling a much-feared Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

China’s foreign ministry and state-controlled press dismissed Microsoft and the intelligence community’s findings as “disinformation”.

Earlier Thursday, a State Department spokesperson said it was vital for the government and the public to remain vigilant. “We will continue to work with our allies and partners to resolve this critical issue,” spokesman Matthew Miller said during a briefing.


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