State Department warns U.S. companies of new malware Chinese State-backed hacking groups have been trying to penetrate computer systems of critical infrastructure across the United States, including Guam.
The presence of suspicious computer code is Microsoft announced Wednesday in a warning It distributes their software to private sector users. Guam is home to an important U.S. naval base that would respond to China if it attacked Taiwan.
The NSA also alerted power companies, nuclear power plants, water systems, railroads and other critical sectors that could be vulnerable.
“The U.S. intelligence community assesses that China is almost certainly capable of launching cyber attacks that disrupt critical infrastructure services within the U.S.,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller told reporters Thursday. That said, vigilance is critical.”
The news comes as U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in Washington for the first cabinet-level meeting of the Biden administration, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. The two officials had a “candid and substantive discussion” on Thursday and Raimondo “expressed concerns” about the administration’s recent actions against U.S. companies operating in China, the U.S. official said.
U.S. Trade Representative Kathleen Day is also scheduled to meet Wang. They will also join ministers from other Asia-Pacific countries for the APEC meeting in Detroit on Friday and Saturday.
Asked whether the cyber attack could affect economic talks, State Department spokesman Miller said, “We do intend to use our conversations with the Chinese government to apply pressure in areas that we are concerned about.”
Ahead of Sunday’s departure from the G7 summit in Japan, President Biden expressed his confidence that the U.S. and China will soon be able to improve relations between nationsTensions rose after the United States shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina in early February as it crossed the United States from Montana to the Atlantic Ocean.
China insists it was a weather balloon that went off course, a claim it recently reiterated during a meeting between national security adviser Jack Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Vienna, Austria, two weeks ago. Earlier, China had halted regular military exchanges with the Pentagon in protest of a visit to Taiwan by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi last September.
A senior Biden administration official told NBC News that the two meetings with Chinese officials in Washington could support Biden’s efforts to push for a diplomatic thaw between the two countries. The official suggested that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s trip to China, which was canceled after the balloon was shot down, could be rescheduled until August, along with visits by Treasury Secretary Yellen, Commerce Secretary Raimondo and climate envoy John Kerry.
But China’s foreign ministry reacted harshly to the hacking allegations on Thursday, accusing the United States of cooperating with its allies in a coordinated disinformation campaign.
“We have noticed this extremely unprofessional report – a chain of evidence that was pieced together intermittently,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Mao Ning. of cybersecurity agencies issued similar reports at nearly the same time.”
In another negative signal, China’s new ambassador to the United States, Xie Feng, arrived in the United States on Tuesday and said, “Sino-US relations are facing serious difficulties and challenges.”
On Thursday, Ambassador Feng met with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nuland at the State Department. Newland tweeted a photo of her shaking hands with the new Chinese envoy and tried to express optimism about de-escalating tensions, writing: “Open dialogue is critical to managing our relationship.”
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