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Netherlands accuses China of cyberattack on defense network

Netherlands accuses China of cyberattack on defense network Photo: Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren (Getty Images)

The Minister of Defense of the Netherlands Kajsa Ollongren claims that state-backed Chinese cyber spies gained access to a Dutch military network last year, reports Reuters.

Intelligence agencies called it part of a trend of Chinese political espionage against the Netherlands and its allies.

The article notes that this is the first time that the Netherlands has publicly accused China of cyber espionage, as tensions between the two countries are growing in the field of national security.

"It is important to ensure that espionage activities of this nature committed by China become public knowledge since this will help to increase international resilience to this type of cyber espionage," Ollongren said.

Details of attack

The agencies, known by their Dutch acronyms MIVD and AIVD, said the hackers had placed malicious software, or malware, that cloaked its own activity inside an armed forces network used by 50 people for unclassified research.

"MIVD & AIVD emphasize that this incident does not stand on its own, but is part of a wider trend of Chinese political espionage against the Netherlands and its allies," they said in their report.

Main purpose of attacks

The Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands said it opposes all forms of cyber attacks.

Last April, AIVD said in an annual assessment that China posed the greatest threat to the Netherlands' economic security with espionage attempts targeting high-tech companies and universities.

The main target is ASML, located in the southern city of Veldhoven, the world's dominant supplier of lithography machines for making computer chips.

In a separate report, also published last April, MIVD said China had illegally tried to acquire Dutch space technology.

China's cyberattacks

The FBI recently claimed that the U.S. was able to stop the hacking activities of a Chinese state-owned group that attacked key government infrastructure such as power grids and pipelines.

In December of last year, hackers linked to the Russian Federation and China hacked the most dangerous nuclear facility in the UK.

In July 2023, Chinese hackers hacked the email of the U.S. ambassador to Beijing.