In 2015, media reports attributing data breaches to China exceeded by a wide margin those of any other state-sponsor of cyberattacks in consistency, volume and severity. From Anthem, to Premera, to the Office of Personnel Management, Chinese hackers are widely suspected of having compromised the sensitive data of well over 100 million people in the United States alone. Cyberattacks of varying scale and sophistication were launched against targets spanning nearly every industry.
Though this year’s seemingly relentless bombardment against American computer systems may seem to be just another in a decade-long campaign, events both within and outside China suggest this year may have been the start of something new. To date, Chinese cyberespionage against Western targets has largely been motivated by the pursuit of economic advantage. Events throughout 2015 suggest that a pivot toward more security-focused interests is underway. The Chinese government, it seems, has begun to repurpose a formerly loose collection of state-controlled hacking units into a more centrally controlled tool for traditional state espionage and politically-motivated cyberattacks.
This excerpt has been reposted with the permission of The Diplomat and was authored by a GRA employee. The original article can be read in full here.