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New Zealand Condemns China for Unacceptable Hacking of Parliament

New Zealand Condemns Blatant Chinese Cyberattack on Parliament as ‘Unacceptable’

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, minced no words as he condemned the recent cyber intrusion into the country’s parliament, labeling it as “unacceptable.” He made it clear that such foreign interference would not be tolerated, urging China to desist from such activities in the future.

The New Zealand government’s stance was reiterated on Tuesday as it officially raised concerns with the Chinese government regarding its alleged involvement in a state-sponsored cyber hack targeting New Zealand’s parliamentary institutions in 2021. This revelation follows similar accusations from Britain and the United States, who have accused China of engaging in widespread cyber espionage. Both New Zealand and Australia have unequivocally denounced such activities.

According to Peters, the concerns about cyber activities linked to groups supported by the Chinese government, targeting democratic institutions not only in New Zealand but also in the United Kingdom, were conveyed directly to the Chinese ambassador. However, the response from the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand vehemently denied these accusations, dismissing them as baseless and irresponsible. The spokesperson reiterated China’s commitment to non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations, including New Zealand.

New Zealand Condemns Blatant Chinese Cyberattack on Parliament as 'Unacceptable'
New Zealand Condemns Blatant Chinese Cyberattack on Parliament as ‘Unacceptable’

The New Zealand government’s communication security bureau (GCSB), responsible for overseeing cybersecurity and signals intelligence, has reportedly established connections between the cyber intrusion and a Chinese state-sponsored actor identified as Advanced Persistent Threat 40 (APT40). The GCSB has linked APT40 to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, indicating state involvement in the cyber activities.

While the GCSB affirmed that no sensitive or strategic information was compromised, it noted that APT40 had accessed data critical for the effective functioning of the New Zealand government. However, the group is believed to have targeted technical information, potentially enabling more intrusive activities.

Statistics provided by the GCSB revealed that 23% of the malicious cyber events involving nationally significant organizations in the last financial year were attributed to state-sponsored actors. Although these attacks were not explicitly attributed to China, New Zealand has previously condemned similar malicious cyber activities attributed to the Russian government.

Judith Collins, the minister responsible for the GCSB, emphasized that cyber-enabled espionage operations aimed at disrupting democratic institutions and processes were unacceptable. This sentiment echoes the sentiments expressed by U.S. and British officials, who recently filed charges and imposed sanctions on China for alleged cyber espionage activities affecting millions of individuals and organizations worldwide.

The hacking group responsible for these activities, dubbed Advanced Persistent Threat 31 (APT31), was identified as an arm of China’s Ministry of State Security. The targets of these cyber attacks included White House staffers, U.S. senators, British parliamentarians, and government officials critical of Beijing, among others. The implications of such persistent targeting of democratic institutions and processes are profound, as emphasized by Australian officials who joined their counterparts in condemning these actions.

Australia had previously attributed cyber attacks on its national parliament and political parties to China in 2019, highlighting a pattern of behavior concerning cyber espionage. However, the Australian government refrained from officially disclosing the perpetrators of these attacks.

In conclusion, New Zealand’s firm condemnation of cyber intrusions and foreign interference underscores the growing concerns regarding cybersecurity and state-sponsored cyber activities. The collaborative efforts of governments worldwide to address these challenges are crucial in safeguarding democratic institutions and maintaining international stability in cyberspace.

Amidst escalating tensions surrounding cybersecurity and foreign interference, New Zealand remains resolute in its commitment to defending its democratic institutions against cyber threats. The recent revelation of a state-sponsored cyber hack targeting New Zealand’s parliament in 2021 has sparked concerns not only within the country but also among its international allies.

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