Newly Released Report Alleges Chinese Hackers Targeted US Infrastructure


Hackers sponsored by China targeted 23 companies that owned oil and gas pipelines from 2011 to 2013, a recently declassified report revealed.

The report, co-authored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI, was released Tuesday, revealing details of a Chinese state-sponsored cyber campaign against critical U.S. infrastructure.

Of the 23 pipeline operators targeted, hackers successfully compromised 13, the report said.

Hackers extracted data related to the control and operation of the pipeline such as usernames, passwords, system manuals and personnel lists, according to the report.

“The exfiltrated data provided the capabilities for the Chinese cyber actors to access oil and natural gas operational systems at a level where they could potentially conduct unauthorized operations,” the report read.

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The hackers used a technique called spear phishing, in which emails are sent to pipeline employees containing malware files, to gain access to the data, according to the report.

Pipelines also received calls from blocked numbers impersonating cybersecurity firms that would ask questions regarding the pipelines’ security practices.

The report found no evidence that the hackers ever attempted to control or modify the pipeline operations they accessed.

The release of the report comes after President Joe Biden accused China on Monday of sponsoring cyberattacks around the world, including a hack on Microsoft Exchange’s email service in March.

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The Justice Department charged four Chinese nationals Monday for a series of cyberattacks.

Chinese officials denied the charges, instead accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of carrying out cyberattacks against China.

Hackers have attacked several U.S. critical infrastructure targets in recent months, with the breach of the Colonial Pipeline in May causing widespread fuel shortages across the eastern U.S.

An attack on the nation’s largest meatpacker, JBS, in June temporarily shut down its processing plants.

Software company Kaseya was breached earlier this month in an attack that affected more than 1,500 downstream businesses.

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