China-based hackers have been hacking into government and individual email accounts, Microsoft says

HONG KONG (AP) China has called a Microsoft report that a China-based hacker group hacked disinformation into government-linked email accounts, saying Wednesday the charge was meant to divert attention from US computer businesses.

In a blog post released on Tuesday, Microsoft said the group, identified as Storm-0558, gained access to email accounts linked to 25 organizations, including government agencies in Western Europe. The breach was discovered weeks later when customers complained to Microsoft about anomalous mail activity.

We assess this adversary’s focus on espionage, such as gaining access to e-mail systems for intelligence gathering, said Charlie Bell, executive vice president of security at Microsoft, in a separate Microsoft post.

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A Washington Post report cited a statement by US officials that Storm-0558 also hacked unclassified email accounts linked to the US government. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin, said the allegation was disinformation intended to divert attention from US cyberattacks on China.

Regardless of which agency released this information, it will never change the fact that the United States is the world’s largest hacker empire that conducts the majority of cyber thefts, Wang said in a routine briefing.

Since last year, the cybersecurity organizations of China and other countries have released many reports exposing the US government’s cyber attacks on China for a long time, but so far the United States has not responded, it has stated.

The Storm-0558 hackers used forged authentication tokens, information used to verify the identity of a user required to access email accounts, Microsoft said. It said it addressed the attack and notified affected customers.

Microsoft said it is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, among others, to protect against such attacks. He also stated that he will continue to monitor Storm-0558’s activities.

Last month, Google-owned cybersecurity firm Mandiant said suspected Chinese state-backed hackers raided networks of hundreds of public and private sector organizations globally using a security flaw in a popular email security tool.

Earlier this year, Microsoft said Chinese state-backed hackers were target critical US infrastructure and could lay the technical groundwork for disrupting critical communications between the United States and Asia during future crises.

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