Security Bulletin: China Cyber Threat December 2023

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China Attacks the US: Holiday Cyber Alert & Six Critical Business Protection Steps

As we approach the festive cheer of Christmas, just three days away, it’s crucial for business leaders to brace their companies against potential cyber threats. The holiday season, particularly the long weekends, are prime times for cybercriminals to strike. With limited time before the break, here are six urgent and effective cybersecurity measures to implement immediately.

The Evolving Cyber Threat Landscape
The recent escalation in cyber threats, particularly from state actors like China, underscores the need for heightened vigilance. According to The Washington Post, hackers affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army have been increasingly targeting critical U.S. infrastructure. This includes essential services such as power and water utilities, communication networks, transportation systems, and healthcare institutions. These intrusions are part of a broader strategy to disrupt and sow chaos in the event of a U.S.-China conflict, particularly in the Pacific region.

Morgan Adamski, Director of the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center, has emphasized the focus of these attacks on targets within the Indo-Pacific region, including Hawaii. This strategic targeting aligns with broader geopolitical tensions and highlights the need for robust cybersecurity defenses.

Historical Context: The 2014 Indictment
This is not a new strategy. In 2014, the U.S. Justice Department indicted five members of the People’s Liberation Army on charges of hacking U.S. companies. This landmark case revealed the extent of state-sponsored cyber espionage and its impact on international relations and domestic cybersecurity.

Beyond China: The Global Cyber Threat
While China’s cyber activities have been in the spotlight, it’s important to recognize that other state actors, including Russia and North Korea, consistently target the United States, particularly during holiday times when vigilance is low. These attacks range from espionage to outright sabotage and are part of a broader pattern of cyber warfare that businesses must be prepared to confront.

The holiday season, while a time for relaxation, should also be a period of heightened cybersecurity awareness. Understanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats, particularly the recent focus on critical U.S. infrastructure by foreign entities, and implementing robust cybersecurity measures, are crucial for businesses.

For a more in-depth understanding of the current cyber threats and strategies to counter them, I recommend reading the full article from The Washington Post (link below).

Let’s ensure our businesses are not only merry this Christmas but also secure and well-protected against the ever-evolving cyber threats!

For full Washington Post Article, CLICK HERE

Kirolos Abdalla
Chief Technology Officer

Six Urgent Cybersecurity Actions

  1. Contact Financial Institutions: Immediately reach out to your payroll providers and banks to lock down financial activities for the weekend. This step is crucial to prevent unauthorized transactions during a period of reduced monitoring.
  2. Organize an Emergency Cybersecurity Briefing: Conduct a briefing on cybersecurity, emphasizing its importance during the holiday season. Focus on identifying phishing emails that ask for urgent actions over the weekend, a common tactic used by attackers during holidays.
  3. Backup and Disaster Recovery: Ensure all critical data is backed up. If you don’t have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, create a basic one outlining steps to restore data and maintain business operations in case of a cyberattack.
  4. Update and Patch Systems: Check and apply all pending software updates or security patches. This is a critical defense against known vulnerabilities.
  5. Change Passwords and Implement Strong Authentication: Mandate a company-wide password change to stronger, unique passwords. Implement multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
  6. Lock Computers and Secure Physical Access: Advise your team to lock their computers when not in use. Secure physical access to critical IT infrastructure, especially if the office will be closed for the holidays.
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