Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



US Weighs China Sanctions After Cyber Hack

The United States is considering economic sanctions against Chinese firms and individuals that profited from cyber attacks on American targets, a senior administration official said Monday.

The United States is considering economic sanctions against Chinese firms and individuals that profited from cyber attacks on American targets, a senior administration official said Monday.

Following a spate of cyber attacks on US companies and government agencies that have been widely blamed on China, the official told AFP that Washington would respond “in a manner and timeframe of our choosing.”

In April, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, paving the way for tougher sanctions against “malicious cyber actors.”

“The administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to confront such actors,” the official said.

“That strategy includes diplomatic engagement, trade policy tools, law enforcement mechanisms, and imposing sanctions on individuals or entities.”

“We are assessing all of our options to respond to these threats in a manner and timeframe of our choosing,” the official added.

The United States has struggled to build an effective deterrence against a wave of increasingly damaging cyber attacks.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The government’s intrusion detection system “Einstein” recently failed to prevent a breach of sensitive data on millions of senior personnel.

But calibrating which attacks warrant diplomatic protests and which require a more forceful response has proven fraught.

A year ago, US prosecutors unsealed indictments leveling spying charges against five Chinese military personnel they believe hacked into US networks to profit Chinese firms.

But any broader move by the world’s biggest economy to punish the second largest could have global political and economic consequences and would likely trigger retribution.

And it will be all the more controversial in the run-up to next month’s much-anticipated state visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Washington Post on Monday quoted a US official as saying any further sanctions would send “a signal to Beijing that the administration is going to start fighting back on economic espionage.”

“It tells China, enough is enough.”

The world’s economic giants have deep economic ties but a tense relationship.

The United States is an ally of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, and sides with Beijing’s Asian neighbors in territorial disputes over sea lanes and island chains.

The sanctions, if they come about, would be designed to counter the unfair advantage Washington fears Beijing has developed by illegally gathering US economic intelligence.

But there is also deep concern here about a series of hacks apparently aimed at gathering political intelligence, some of them blamed on hackers with Chinese or Russian links.

Citing US intelligence officials, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Russian and Chinese foreign spy services are cross-indexing hacked databases to identify American agents.

Recent breaches of US federal government personnel files and email systems, when combined with private data such as medical record and airline bookings, could leave US spies exposed.

Written By

AFP 2023

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content


WASHINGTON - Cyberattacks are the most serious threat facing the United States, even more so than terrorism, according to American defense experts. Almost half...


Websites of German airports, administration bodies and banks were hit by DDoS attacks attributed to Russian hacker group Killnet


The war in Ukraine is the first major conflagration between two technologically advanced powers in the age of cyber. It prompts us to question...

Application Security

Fortinet on Monday issued an emergency patch to cover a severe vulnerability in its FortiOS SSL-VPN product, warning that hackers have already exploited the...


Iranian APT Moses Staff is leaking data stolen from Saudi Arabia government ministries under the recently created Abraham's Ax persona

Application Security

Virtualization technology giant VMware on Tuesday shipped urgent updates to fix a trio of security problems in multiple software products, including a virtual machine...


Russia-linked cyberespionage group APT29 has been observed using embassy-themed lures and the GraphicalNeutrino malware in recent attacks.


ENISA and CERT-EU warn of Chinese threat actors targeting businesses and government organizations in the European Union.