US Navy ‘influenced’ by China-backed hackers: Secretary of the Navy

  • The U.S. Navy was “affected” by Chinese state-backed hackers, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told CNBC on Thursday.
  • The infiltration was first flagged by Microsoft and the NSA on Wednesday and targeted infrastructure in the US and Guam.
  • Critical communications, maritime and transportation infrastructure had been compromised, Microsoft warned.

A guided-missile submarine of the United States Navy.

US Navy | AP

The U.S. Navy was hit by the Chinese state-sponsored hack revealed by Microsoft earlier this week, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday.

Del Toro said the US Navy has been “affected” by the cyberattacks, adding that it was “no surprise that China has behaved this way, not just for the last few years, but for decades.”

He declined to provide further details about the raid, but suggested the navy had been dealing with cyberattacks like this for years.

Microsoft, along with top intelligence agencies and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, issued an alert on Wednesday, warning companies and public enterprises 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 codenamed “Volt Typhoon,” affects critical cyber infrastructure across industries, Microsoft said Wednesday. Microsoft noted that the Chinese hackers had targeted communications and maritime sectors in Guam, which is home to a major US military base.

The hacking group appears to have been focused on surveillance rather than disruption, Microsoft noted. But top intelligence officials and investigators expressed concern that Guam was targeted, telling The New York Times that the island territory would be crucial to fending off a long-feared invasion of Taiwan by China.

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

Earlier on Thursday, a State Department spokesman said it is vital for both the government and the public to remain vigilant. “We will continue to work with our allies and partners to address this critical issue,” spokesman Matthew Miller said at a briefing.

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