EU Diplomatic Cables Reportedly Targeted by Hackers
Diplomatic cables detailing meetings between EU officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping were some of the communications intercepted, according to a US cybersecurity firm.
Hackers have successfully infiltrated the European Union’s (EU) diplomatic communications over a three-year period, according to a report by the New York Times.
Thousands of diplomatic cables were intercepted, many of which contained communications relating to US President Donald Trump, global trade issues and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Cybersecurity company Area 1 is reported to have discovered the breach. Area 1 is said to have supplied more than 1,100 EU cables, a number of which the New York Times posted online. The company was co-founded by three former NSA employees.
EU officials claim the information contained in these diplomatic communications was not marked as confidential or secret.
However, the cables reveal a number of exchanges in which EU diplomats corresponded over recent high-profile encounters between President Trump and Vladimir Putin.
One particular message described July’s meeting between the two heads-of-state as “successful (at least for Putin)”.
Read more: EU to Declare Cyber Attacks ‘Acts of War’
Other messages contained details of a private meeting between European officials and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Xi “would not submit to bullying” from the United States, these cables revealed, “even if a trade war hurt everybody”.
The meeting between EU representatives and the Chinese premier took place earlier this year amid ongoing tensions between the US and China.
The EU is not the only institution to have been affected by this breach, it is believed. Others, including the United Nations, are reported to have been compromised and have since been informed of the situation.
An expert told the New York Times that the methods used by the hackers are similar to those used by the Chinese military.
“After over a decade of experiencing countering Chinese cyber-operations,” he said, “there is no doubt this campaign is connected to the Chinese Government.”
In a statement to CNN, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed reports published by the New York Times are “suspicious, groundless and extremely irresponsible”.
“China itself is a victim of cyberspying and cyber attacks,” the statement added. “China stands firmly against criminal hacking activities and will pursue criminals in according to law. If there is any evidence, relative departments will investigate.”