The United States, Canada, and other nations formally blamed China on Monday for a massive hack of the Microsoft Exchange email server software and accused Beijing of working with criminal hackers in ransomware attacks and other cyber operations.
While the accusations were not accompanied by sanctions, the announcements were intended as a forceful condemnation of activities a senior Biden administration official described as forming part of a “pattern of irresponsible behaviour in cyberspace.”
The Government of Canada estimates that as many as 400,000 servers were compromised.
“This activity put several thousand Canadian entities at risk — a risk that persists in some cases even when patches from Microsoft have been applied,” Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement.
“Canada is confident that (China’s) Ministry of State Security is responsible for the widespread compromising of the exchange servers.”
The broad range of cyberthreats include ransomware attacks from government-affiliated hackers that have targeted victims with demands for millions of dollars. U.S officials allege that China’s Ministry of State Security has been using criminal contract hackers who have engaged in cyber extortion schemes and theft for their own profit, officials said.