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"Position of vulnerability"

Paul Brislen, Editor. 21 July 2021, 10:54 am

The Chinese Embassy in Wellington has hit back at accusations the nation's cyber-warfare personnel are behind a series of attacks on New Zealand operations.

New Zealand officials joined the US, EU, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Canada and NATO in condemning the attacks they say could be connected to Chinese state-sponsored actors known as Advanced Persistent Threat 40 (APT40).

"New Zealand is today joining other countries in strongly condemning this malicious activity undertaken by the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), both in New Zealand and globally," said GCSB Minister Andrew Little in a written statement released yesterday.

Today, the Embassy released a statement rejecting these claims.

"China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has already lodged solemn representation with the NZ government," a statement from a spokesperson says.

"The Chinese government is a staunch defender of cyber security and firmly opposes and fights all forms of cyber attacks and crimes in accordance with law. Given the virtual nature of cyberspace, one must have clear evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents. Making accusations without proof is malicious smear."

This of course leaves New Zealand in a somewhat exposed position with warnings that we are in a "position of vulnerability" as much of our trading exchanges are with China rather than the traditional allies with whom we have sided.

For now the disagreement has resulted in exchanges of statements but should it escalate New Zealand may find itself on the wrong side of a trade dispute.

Meanwhile Australia is ramping up its capability with a new task force aimed at stopping ransomware attacks.


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