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Security

NCSC and partners issue alert about China state-sponsored cyber attacks

The UK and international allies have issued a new alert which shines a light on how China state-sponsored actors have evolved their techniques for launching cyber attacks.

Above: The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Nova South, London.
Image by Simona Flamigni / copyright Shutterstock

The National Cyber Security Centre – a part of GCHQ – has issued an advisory alongside partners in Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Republic of Korea and Japan, focusing on how one China state-sponsored cyber actor has carried out attacks against Australian networks.

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The threat group APT40 has embraced the trend of exploiting vulnerable small-office and home-office (SoHo) devices as a launching pad for attacks. These devices are softer targets when they are not running the latest software, or are no longer supported with security updates and they more easily conceal malicious traffic.

Two technical case studies showing how these techniques are deployed have been shared to help network defenders identify this malicious activity, which is also used regularly worldwide – including by other China state-sponsored actors.

The UK has previously attributed APT40 as being part of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. Defenders are encouraged to follow the latest advice to help detect and mitigate the malicious activity.

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The publication of this advisory follows a warning made by the Director of GCHQ in May about the “genuine and increasing cyber risk to the UK” posed by China.   

The advisory, titled 'PRC MSS tradecraft in action', has been co-sealed by the NCSC, the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ASD’s ACSC), the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the US National Security Agency (NSA), the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Canadian Cyber Security Centre (CCCS), the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-NZ), the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the Republic of Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) and NIS’ National Cyber Security Center, and Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) and National Police Agency (NPA).

It can be read on the ACSC website.

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