The National Security Agency has issued a cybersecurity alert to anyone involved in national defense that Chinese government agents were attempting to invade U.S. computer networks and strongly urged agencies, companies and individuals to harden their systems.
The advisory issued Tuesday details 25 previously known security flaws that Chinese hackers were attempting to exploit, including vulnerabilities on software made by Cisco Systems, Centrix Systems and Microsoft Windows.
''These networks often undergo a full array of tactics and techniques used by Chinese state-sponsored cyber actors to exploit computer networks of interest that hold sensitive intellectual property, economic, political, and military information,'' the alert reads. ''Since these techniques include exploitation of publicly known vulnerabilities, it is critical that network defenders prioritize patching and mitigation efforts.''
The NSA especially referred to national security systems, the U.S. defense industrial base and the Department of Defense.
''We hear loud and clear that it can be hard to prioritize patching and mitigation efforts,'' NSA Cybersecurity Director Anne Neuberger said in a press release that accompanied the warning. ''We hope that by highlighting the vulnerabilities that China is actively using to compromise systems, cybersecurity professionals will gain actionable information to prioritize efforts and secure their systems.''
The Wall Street Journal said a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington called the accusations in the advisory ''totally groundless.''
The Journal also said while the software flaws have been known, this was the first time the U.S. government’s premier surveillance agency specifically alerted defense-related officials that China was trying to target them.
Additionally, it noted that defense officials, contractors, and universities conducting defense research have known of China’s espionage for years, including a U.S. Navy review last year that concluded it and its partners were ''under cyber siege'' by China and others.
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