In September, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping announced that they had come to an agreement that “neither country's government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property." But an American security firm claims that in the three weeks since the announcement, seven US companies have been attacked by government-associated Chinese hackers.
Dimitri Alperovitch, the chief technology officer of CrowdStrike Inc. – a company with close ties to the US government – wrote in a blog post: "Over the last three weeks, the CrowdStrike Falcon platform has detected and prevented a number of intrusions into our customers’ systems from actors we have affiliated with the Chinese government. Seven of the companies are firms in the Technology or Pharmaceuticals sectors, where the primary benefit of the intrusions seems clearly aligned to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional national-security related intelligence collection, which the Cyber agreement does not prohibit."
The California-based company also claims that one of the attacks came less than 24 hours after the two Presidents reached the agreement, and that they are still continuing today. At the time of the pact, several analysts said they were skeptical that it would ultimately lead to hacking groups with alleged ties to the Chinese government ceasing their attacks on US targets. President Obama said he did not rule out economic sanctions against Chinese companies if the attacks continued.
CrowdStrike has linked the unsuccessful intrusion attempts to Deep Panda, the group allegedly behind the Office of Personnel Management data breach which took place earlier this year. The Chinese government denied any ties to Deep Panda, as it has done with every suspected state-sponsored hacking group.
A White House official told the Wall Street Journal that the administration was aware of the CrowdStrike report and would not comment on its findings, other than to note: "We have and will continue to directly raise our concerns regarding cybersecurity with the Chinese."
Claiming the pact to be a total failure may be premature, as it’s not clear when the agreement is schedule to come into effect. Alperovitch acknowledged that "the fact that there is some time delay between agreement and execution is not entirely unexpected. But, we need to know the parameters for success, and whether the parties to the agreement discussed a timeframe for implementation or, instead, expected it to be immediate." The CrowdStrike CTO also praised the Obama administration for its efforts in curbing the number of Chinese attacks on corporate networks.