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China Is Relentlessly Hacking Its Neighbors

Beijing-backed hackers targeted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

In May 2022, President Joe Biden was on a charm offensive. The U.S. president invited the leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations to the White House for the first time for talks about the region, which is home to more than 600 million people. High on the agenda was China—a key trading partner for all the countries, but also a potential threat to their stability. Biden promised $150 million in extra support for the nations to help improve their security, infrastructure and ongoing pandemic response.

However, in the weeks leading up to the meeting, according to a cybersecurity alert seen by WIRED, hackers working on behalf of China were stealing thousands of emails and sensitive details from the Southeast Asian nations. The cyber-espionage, which has not been previously reported, is the latest in a string of incidents where Chinese-linked hackers have quietly compromised neighboring countries, looking to gain political and economic information.

According to the cybersecurity alert, Chinese-linked hackers were able to break into mail servers operated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in February 2022 and steal a trove of data. The ASEAN organization is an intergovernmental body made up of 10 Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. This was the third time the organization has been compromised since 2019, the document says.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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