Hackers associated with the Chinese government attacked a handful of American companies just a day after the two countries agreed not to cyber-attack one another.
According to CrowdStrike, a prominent American security firm, the attacks against seven American companies started on September 26. On September 25, President Barack Obama said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets to support domestic businesses.
However, the agreement didn’t restrict spying for government secrets.
Dimitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder, said he believed the hackers were affiliated with the Chinese government based on the servers and the software they had used for the attack.
According to UK’s Business Insider (opens in new tab), the software used is called Derusbi, and has previously turned up in attacks on Virginia defence contractor VAE Inc and health insurer Anthem Inc.
The "primary benefits of the intrusion seems clearly aligned to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional, national-security-related intelligence collection," CrowdStrike said in a blog post to be published on Monday.
There was no immediate comment from China's Foreign Ministry.
The White House acknowledged CrodwStrike’s findings, but declined to address the company's conclusions.
"As we move forward, we will monitor China's cyber activities closely and press China to abide by all of its commitments," said the official who did not want to be identified by name.
The names of the seven companies in question were not revealed, but CrowdStrike did say that the attacks were rebuffed.