Russia considers China a friend, and many of their recent military, economic and energy-related decisions have been directed at bettering equations with China.
However, just as Russia is slated to begin talks with the United States, China has struck Russia. Chinese hackers have once again launched cyberattacks against Russian government websites to steal confidential data, reported Russian intelligence agency ‘Federal Security Service’ (FSB). The cyber unit of the Russian telecom firm Rostelecom has also joined FSB in this investigation. The report blames a hacker group associated with China called ‘ThunderCats’ for this attack. The malicious code used in the attack is similar to hacking tools used by suspected Chinese spies that have earlier targeted governments in Asia, reported Cyberscoop, a media company tracking cybersecurity.
Agencies investigating the matter said that hackers from China had developed a unique malicious malware called ‘Mail-O’, which is a downloader program. It outwardly resembles a legitimate utility from Mail.ru. However, it penetrates the local network and performs activities aimed at completely compromising infrastructure and stealing confidential data. Several types of cyberattacks and weapons were reportedly used by the Chinese hackers while attacking Russia. With the kind of sophistication used and the money needed for it, FSB is certain about the involvement of a foreign nation.
FSB has pointed at similar previous attacks against the Russian government agencies and has said that “cyber mercenaries pursued the interests of the foreign state”. Experts believe the accusation is clearly aimed at China, however, without a specific mention. FSB has also termed the cyberattack as a threat on a ‘national scale’.
The attack only exposes the untrustworthiness of China, with whom Russia is trying to better its relationship.