Earlier this week the National Security Agency released a cybersecurity advisory which focused on attempts of Chinese state-backed hackers to gain access to intellectual property such as coronavirus research or advanced technologies, or political and military information.
Tuesday's NSA advisory identified "vulnerabilities" in US systems that have been “recently leveraged, or scanned-for, by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors” — for example bugs in software like Microsoft Windows or Citrix Systems.
But now China’s Foreign Ministry has slammed the NSA report, calling out the spy agency's 'hypocrisy' and shining a light on vast US domestic surveillance exposed years ago by Edward Snowden. Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday slammed the United States as an an “empire of hacking” and specifically cited the 2013 Snowden revelations.
How ironic that the main actor in PRISM and the largest cybertheft agency in the world is criticizing others for cybertheft. The NSA spies&attacks US allies, uses its advantages and exploits loopholes for espionage. Indeed, it's “among the worst offenders of mass surveillance”. pic.twitter.com/4bxI6rTa7d— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) October 21, 2020
“It is indeed ironic news that the US National Security Agency, as the main implementer of the Prism programme and the world’s largest cyber espionage agency, publicly accuses other countries of cyber espionage,” Zhao said.
Zhao called the US and specifically the NSA as “among the worst offenders of mass surveillance” in his fiery comments.
Recall that the Prism program as revealed by Snowden involved the NSA gaining backdoor access to major internet companies like Microsoft and Google unbeknownst to the public as part of its years-long practice of sweeping up domestic communications with no warrant.
Zhao also expressly denied widespread allegations that Beijing is involved in the exact same thing which has gotten major firms like Huawei banned in the US and parts of the West, and which has placed particular Chinese apps and software under the spotlight.
“The Chinese government has never asked Chinese companies to install back doors and provide overseas data to the government,” Zhao claimed.
More recently, China as well as other US rivals and enemies like Iran have been accused of hacking and stealing valuable coronavirus research and data from US medical institutions and laboratories amid the international race to be the first to produce a reliable vaccine.