In response to a cyberattack on Microsoft's Exchange Server in March, which by some reports affected upwards of 30,000 U.S. organizations and hundreds of thousands more worldwide, a multinational coalition—comprised of the United States, NATO member states, the UK, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan—is now publicly blaming China’s Ministry of State Security for the Microsoft cyberattack. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commented on Monday that it was the first-time NATO admonished China for its cyberspace activities.
As a result of the coalition, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman not only denied China's involvement but also accused the U.S. of “ganging up” with allies to make baseless allegations against China. Beijing has often denied allegations that China actively supports cyberattacks, claiming that it is too difficult to pinpoint the source and trace any one attack to a particular group or country. With the announcement of the newly formed alliance adverse to China on this issue, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman urged having enough evidence when investigating cyber incidents before making any accusations and further claimed that the U.S.'s investigation into the Microsoft Exchange attack does not "constitute a complete chain of evidence."
This new cybersecurity alliance and confrontation comes at a time of rising economic and diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China. For now, the U.S.-led coalition promises to focus on security, not retaliation.
Perhaps in concert with the announcement of the multinational cyberattack coalition, the FBI, National Security Agency and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released, on Monday, an advisory listing 50 tactics that Chinese state-sponsored hackers employ, emphasizing that the U.S.’s patience is wearing thin with what the U.S. perceives as China’s wrongful cyber activities
Nixon Peabody’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Team will continue to monitor developments.