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Exposed: U.S. attempts to invade China's cybersecurity



Editor's note: Azhar Azam, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, works in a private organization as a market and business analyst and writes about geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

In response to the concerns raised by the international community and cybersecurity research entities, China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) and others on July 8 released complete details of its investigation about the alleged China-backed Volt Typhoon.

The secret disinformation campaign, orchestrated by the U.S. intelligence agencies in collaboration with anti-China U.S. politicians and cybersecurity authorities of the "Five Eyes" nations, hyped up "China cyber threat theory" with the objective of preserving its warrantless snooping powers on the people around the world including Americans and maintain its cyber hegemony through Section 702 of the U.S. Federal Intelligence Surveillance (FISA).

A U.S. court in May last year ruled the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) repeatedly violated the rules by improperly searching for information in a U.S. database of foreign intelligence 278,000 times over several years including on Americans as there was "no reasonable basis to expect they would return foreign intelligence or evidence of crime," drawing criticism of the unlawful searches and emphasizing the need of reining in the FBI's egregious abuses of the law.

The U.S. intelligence itself claims the law authorizes intelligence collection on foreign targets located overseas and can never be used to "target Americans anywhere or anyone" located in the U.S.; revelations such as the FBI's misuse of powers to hunt for information about Black Lives Matter protesters, congressional campaign donors and the U.S. lawmakers cast more doubts on the program's integrity. Still just this April, the U.S. Senate reauthorized the controversial spy program, allowing the U.S. intelligence agencies to conduct electronic eavesdropping and collect messages without any judicial warrant.

American whistleblower Edward Snowden delivers remarks via video link from Moscow to attendees at a discussion regarding an International Treaty on the
American whistleblower Edward Snowden delivers remarks via video link from Moscow to attendees at a discussion regarding an International Treaty on the "Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers" in Manhattan, New York, September 24, 2015. /CFP

American whistleblower Edward Snowden delivers remarks via video link from Moscow to attendees at a discussion regarding an International Treaty on the "Right to Privacy, Protection Against Improper Surveillance and Protection of Whistleblowers" in Manhattan, New York, September 24, 2015. /CFP

Even former U.S. President Donald Trump had urged Congress to oppose the bill that would reauthorize the U.S. intelligence's warrantless spying powers and said "Kill FISA, it was illegally used against me and many others. They spied on my campaign!!!" This endorses CVERC's exposes that "Volt Typhoon" is a typical cognitive warfare operation but it actually targets the U.S. taxpayers, congressmen and political rivals and seeks more funds to push its offensive cyber operations against China.

Since May 2023, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, National Security Agency (NSA) and FBI have teamed up with the other federal agencies, Five Eyes cybersecurity institutions and industry partners and accused China-sponsored cyber actors, also known as Volt Typhoon, of "seeking to preposition themselves on information technology networks for disruptive or destructive cyber attacks against U.S. critical infrastructure in the event of a major crisis or conflict with the United States."

These efforts were intended, as the report disclosed, to defame China, sow discord between Beijing and its partners, contain China's development and crack down on the Chinese companies. The U.S. court's ruling on the FBI abuses and the fear of political fallouts in response to the Biden administration's activities to spy on its own people ahead of the presidential election drove the U.S. government to further focus on China and camouflage its malicious domestic activities.

One of the major goals of Washington's barrage of accusations on Beijing is to conceal its own cyber attacks against China. In this regard, CVERC's report has brought some telling and irrefutable evidence. According to its analysis of existing data, the U.S. government-backed hackers have carried out a whopping 45 million cyber attacks against the Chinese government, universities, research institutions, large enterprises and critical infrastructure.

Tradecrafts collected from the victim networks led to the cyber warfare program, being operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, NSA and FBI. The detection described a growing U.S. unease about China's development as well as raised doubts about Washington's nefarious cyber activities against sovereign countries under which it is believed to have created and implemented cyber weapons such as Stuxnet computer worm to derail Iran's nuclear program in addition to conducting cyber attacks against Tehran to damage the key elements of Iranian military command and control structures.

Over the last decades, Chinese institutions have released several reports that unmask the U.S. cyber attacks against China. In 2014, China's State Internet Information Office published data on Washington's cyber attacks against Beijing, showing America had the leading role in launching cyber attacks on China by means of Trojans, botnets, phishing and others.

The U.S. has historically created an unprecedented electronic espionage system the world over including in its own ally states, sparking tensions and causing distrust; NSA's targeting of nearly 50 countries and regions including China for more than 10 years through its cyber-attacks has now positioned the U.S. as the world's largest cyber invader.

America's silence on the new and prior report so far is indicative of its culpability. In 2013, an infamous U.S. PRISM surveillance program – which per Edward Snowden NSA operated with the FISA approval and gathered messaging data from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and other major tech companies – shattered America's plans to pressure China over alleged state-sponsored cyber attacks, owing China an explanation over its hacking activities.

More than a decade later, Washington once again is caught off guard by the new revelations that have exposed the U.S. disinformation campaign against China and whereby it has to clarify its position and stop smearing Beijing. This demands that U.S. officials come out of the shock and justify its attempts to sneak through China's cybersecurity via an intricate web of surveillance network.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on X, formerly Twitter, to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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