China Accuses US of Cyberattack on Top-Ranked Research University

The Chinese government has accused the US of targeting one of the top research institutes in the country to steal data through a cyberattack.

China has claimed that the National Security Agency (popularly known as NSA), the national intelligence agency of the US Defense Department, launched a cyberattack on Northwestern Polytechnical University.

The university ranks 501-600th on Times Higher Education’s (THE) World University Rankings 2022 and 87th on THE Asia University Rankings 2022. On QS World University Rankings 2022, the university ranks 551-560th.

However, the US perceives the institute as a Chinese university that performs military research and works for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s principal military force and the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

How Did it Happen?

The National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC), the Chinese equivalent of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that is responsible for strengthening the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure, has highlighted the cyberattack in one of its latest reports.

According to the report, the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group of the NSA conducted the cyber strike. It used 41 hacking tools to breach Northwestern Polytechnical University’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

One of the tools used by the TAO is “Suctionchar,” through which it stole account credentials of remote systems hosted on the university’s servers. TAO also exploited Bvp47, a backdoor in Linux.

Diplomatic Protest

China has also registered a diplomatic protest with the US. In an official complaint, Yang Tao, the Director-General of American Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has said

NSA has seriously violated the technical secrets of Northwestern Polytechnical University. NSA has seriously endangered the security of China’s critical infrastructure, institutions, and personal information, and it must be stopped immediately.

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Written by Nauman

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