US, allies blame China for Microsoft Exchange Server hack

The United States and several allied countries on Monday publicly blamed hackers affiliated with the Chinese government for the Microsoft Exchange Server hack that left tens of thousands of organizations vulnerable to compromise earlier this year.

The move to publicly identify the hackers as linked to China is part of a broader effort by the U.S. and its allies to publicly call out Beijing’s government for malicious behavior in cyberspace.

The U.S., European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and NATO on Monday criticized China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) for using criminal contract hackers to conduct cyber-enabled extortion, “crypto-jacking” and other schemes.

The U.S. government has with “high confidence” formally attributed the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange Server application to malicious cyber actors affiliated with China’s MSS. Other nations also attributed the cyberattack to Chinese government-linked hackers.

TENSION MOUNTS: The decision by the Biden administration to call out China for its involvement in the Microsoft Exchange Server hacking incident is putting new pressure on China.

The public rebuke of China promises to further escalate tensions between the U.S. and China, which have not eased with the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

“We’ve crossed the line on what can be tolerated anymore, China is more aggressive when it comes to espionage,” James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill. “This is to make sure that the Chinese don’t think we forgot about them and they had an open door.”