December 4, 2022

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A US intelligence agency gained access to China’s telecommunications network after hacking a university, Chinese state media claimed on Thursday.

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The Global Times, citing an unnamed source, alleged that the US National Security Agency used phishing – a hacking technique where an email includes a malicious link – to gain access to the government-funded Northwestern Polytechnical University.

According to the Global Times, the US hackers stole “core technology data including network equipment configuration, network management data and core operational data” and other files.

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The Global Times alleged that as part of the NSA’s hack, the agency infiltrated Chinese telecom operators so that the US could “control the country’s infrastructure”.

The NSA was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC. The hack has not been confirmed by CNBC.

The Global Times, citing its unnamed source, reported that more details about the attack on Northwestern Polytechnical University would be released soon.

China has been accusing the US of cyberattacks for many years but has not been specific. However, over the past few weeks, Beijing has been more vocal for specific attacks on the US, escalating tensions between the two countries in the cyber sphere.

In contrast, Washington and US cybersecurity firms have blamed China for specific attacks over the years.

The alleged attack on Northwestern Polytechnical University was first disclosed by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center earlier this month. The agency also accused the US of carrying out “tens of thousands” of cyberattacks on Chinese targets.

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On its part, the US has accused China of conducting large-scale hacking. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray said in February that China’s cyberattacks “have become brazen, more damaging than ever.”

Ray accused China of trying to steal American information and technology.