Zero-Days in Edge Devices Become China’s Cyber Warfare Tactic of Choice

Zero-Days in Edge Devices Become China's Cyber Warfare Tactic of Choice

November 14, 2023 at 03:31PM

Chinese state-sponsored actors have become adept at exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities to conduct espionage, posing a significant and persistent threat to global organizations. Recent reports indicate that these actors are increasingly targeting public-facing devices, including firewalls, hypervisors, and email security tools. The success of these attacks is facilitated by threat sharing and support networks, making China a stealthier and more challenging adversary. Organizations should consider the limited visibility and support for traditional security solutions when procuring network appliances. Intelligence leaders and experts have raised concerns about China’s cyber warfare capabilities, highlighting its comprehensive threat to national security. Additionally, China’s Belt and Road Initiative could further increase its proximity to potential targets.

Key Takeaways from the Meeting Notes:

1. The government of China has significantly improved its ability to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities for espionage purposes in the past five years, posing a persistent global threat.
2. Chinese nation-state actors are increasingly targeting novel vulnerabilities in public-facing devices, particularly edge appliances.
3. Approximately 85% of known zero-day vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese state-sponsored groups since 2021 have been directed at public-facing appliances, including firewalls, enterprise VPNs, hypervisors, load balancers, and email security tools.
4. This success is facilitated by threat sharing and support systems, enabled by domestic policies and vulnerability discovery and weaponization capabilities.
5. China’s approach has made them a stealthier adversary, making defense against their cyber activities more challenging.
6. Many of the targeted devices and appliances have limited visibility, logging capabilities, and support for traditional security solutions, which should be considered by organizations when procuring network appliances.
7. CISOs should prioritize not only preventing initial access by threat actors but also ensuring detection and response capabilities.
8. International leaders, including the FBI director and representatives from the Five Eyes alliance, have expressed grave concerns about China’s cyber warfare capabilities and their threat to national security.
9. China’s cyber power is regarded as one of the most significant global threats due to its comprehensive agenda and substantial resources.
10. The Belt and Road Initiative, China’s infrastructure investment program, is also a cause for concern as it could bring attackers closer to their targets both geographically and economically.

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