The server of an industry group in the United States that represents manufacturers of the country and one that has helped shape President Donald Trump’s trade policies was hacked by suspected Chinese hackers earlier this year even as the negotiations on trade between the US and China had intensified.
According a report published by the news agency Reuters based on information from sources, the hack at the servers of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) had taken place over the summer and the body had to appoint a cyber security firm to diagnose the issue. The firm in its report pointed to China as the source of the attack.
He name of the cyber security firm was not disclosed in the Reuters report but claimed that the firm’s assessment was based on analysis of the tools and techniques used for the hacking after comparing them with previous such incidents that have been related to known Chinese hacking groups.
According to experts, this hacking by Chinese groups, if true, into the computers of one of the most powerful industry group in Washington shows the extent to which Beijing has tried to gain an upper hand in the trade war with Washington.
The report did not provide any details of the type data that was stolen by the hackers. The outside cyber security firm was hired by NAM to address the breach and stop the intrusion.
Given NAM’s high profile, “we know we are a target for cyber-attacks. We identified suspicious activity relating to certain company systems and investigated the matter,” said Erin Streeter, spokeswoman for the trade industry body.
Currently the network of Nam is secure, she confirmed.
There was no comment available in the report from the White House as well as the Chinese embassy in Washington.
Close to the time when a meeting between US president Donald Trump and NAM President Jay Timmons was to be held this summer, the efforts to hack information from the servers and computer network of the body had been intensified by the Chinese hackers, said the Reuters report quoting two sources with knowledge of the matter.
According to one of the sources quoted in the report, the hack had been orchestrated just ahead of a round of formal negotiations between the senior trade officials of the US and China where the contents of a possible trade deal was slated to be discussed.
Cyber security industry insiders who have handled similar breaches have said that China is keen to know about the details of the US policy positions ever since the trade war began after the Trump administration took office and this is the latest attempt by Chinese hackers to steal information from US industry trade groups.
Issues such as intellectual property protections and the opening of China’s markets to more US products were part of the trade related negotiations between the two largest economies of the world and such issues directly impacts the members of NAM.
(Adapted form Reuters.com)