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Belgium lambasts China over malicious cyberattacks

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Belgium has severely criticized China’s malicious cyberattacks against the country’s federal ministries and called on Beijing to take steps to investigate the matter, media reports said.

Belgium has severely criticized China’s malicious cyberattacks against the country’s federal ministries and called on Beijing to take steps to investigate the matter, media reports said.

Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused China of cyberattacks against its federal ministries and Interior Ministries.

“Belgium strongly condemns these malicious cyber-attacks, which contravene the standards of responsible state conduct endorsed by all United Nations member states,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported Brussels Times.

It added that the cyberattacks against the Belgian Government “have considerably affected our sovereignty, our democracy, our security, and our society”.

Belgium’s Cybersecurity Center has previously suggested that the attacks against its Interior Ministry was carried out with an ambition to gather intelligence.

Notably, the Chinese hackers have had access to the Ministry of the Interior for two years. In 2021, the attacks on the Ministry of Defence resulted in the Ministry’s network being cut off from the internet for weeks and its staff not being able to communicate via email.

Belgium media have the country’s defence ministry of an insufficient cybersecurity protocol after it bought hundreds of Huawei wifi routers at the start of 2022. Huawei equipment is considered a security threat with various governments, including in the UK, deciding to ban the company from working on its 5G rollout due to concerns of security breaches by China, as per the media portal.

In addition, Belgium’s Defence has purchased video surveillance equipment from Chinese companies, Hikvision and Dahua, which have glitches in their system and could be easy to hack.

Meanwhile, Chinese hackers, reportedly sent emails with malware links to scientists and engineers at several of Russia’s military research and development institutes on March 23 in order to purportedly obtain critical data on the country’s security systems.

The emails, which were supposedly sent by Russia’s Ministry of Health and contained seemingly tantalizing information about a “list of persons under U.S. sanctions for invading Ukraine” were actually sent by state-sponsored hackers in China seeking to entice their Russian targets to download and open a document with malware, New York Times reported citing a report by Israeli-American cybersecurity firm Check Point.

Check Point’s research showed that despite the countries’ deepening ties, China appeared to view Russia as a legitimate target for the theft of sensitive military technological information, the report said.

The report provides new evidence of Chinese efforts to spy on Russia, pointing to the complexity of the relations between the two countries that have drawn closer in solidarity against the US.

It also underscores the sprawling, and increasingly sophisticated, tactics China’s cyber spies have used to collect information on an ever-expanding array of targets, including countries it considers friends, like Russia, the New York Times reported.

The Chinese espionage operation began as early as July 2021, before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Check Point report said. The March emails revealed that China’s hackers had quickly exploited narratives about the war in Ukraine for their purposes.

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