New Zealand Joins US, UK in Accusing China of Malicious Hacking

By Matthew Brockett | March 26, 2024

New Zealand joined the US and UK in accusing China of sponsoring malicious cyber activity targeting democratic institutions, saying its parliamentary network was breached in 2021.

The Government Communications Security Bureau has established links between a People’s Republic of China state-sponsored actor and hacking activity targeting parliamentary entities, Judith Collins, the Minister Responsible for the GCSB, said in a statement Tuesday in Wellington.

“The GCSB’s National Cyber Security Centre completed a robust technical assessment following a compromise of the Parliamentary Counsel Office and the Parliamentary Service in 2021, and has attributed this activity to a PRC state-sponsored group known as APT40,” Collins said. “Fortunately, in this instance, the NCSC worked with the impacted organizations to contain the activity and remove the actor shortly after they were able to access the network.”

Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

Earlier, the US and UK accused state-backed Chinese hackers of targeting politicians, companies and dissidents for years, as well as stealing troves of British voter data, in the latest revelation of cyberattacks that Washington and its allies have linked to President Xi Jinping’s government. Both the US and UK announced sanctions against two individuals as well as a firm in Wuhan, China.

China disputed the claims, with a foreign ministry official in Beijing calling the UK’s accusations “disinformation” and a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington saying in a statement that the US has “jumped to an unwarranted conclusion and made groundless accusations.”

In joining condemnation of China, New Zealand risks riling its largest trading partner, but the country’s new center-right government appears to be moving closer to its traditional western partners. Australia also issued a statement Tuesday expressing serious concerns about malicious cyber activities by China state-backed actors in the UK but said its institutions had not been impacted.

“The use of cyber-enabled espionage operations to interfere with democratic institutions and processes anywhere is unacceptable,” Collins said. “This collective response from the international community serves as a timely reminder to all organizations and individuals to have strong cyber security measures in place.”

Top photo: The New Zealand flag waves in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.