China waged an extended cyber war against Israeli private businesses and government entities in 2019 and 2020, an online security company announced Monday.
FireEye, an international cybersecurity firm, said hackers traced back to the Chinese Ministry of State Security targeted Israeli shipping, defense, and tech companies, as well as government servers, in a hacking campaign stretching more than two years. The attacks zeroed in on a vulnerability in SharePoint, a Microsoft collaborative platform popular in the national security industry.
The attacks are only China’s most recent cyber offensive against another country, but the first of this scale against Israel. Sanaz Yashar, an investigator for FireEye, said the Chinese wanted to obtain communications files and advance their “Belt and Road Initiative,” a global infrastructure project to sell its goods worldwide. China invested in Israel as a major node in the project.
“In the Chinese view, it’s legitimate to attack a company while negotiating with it, so they will know how to price the deal properly,” Yashar said. “There are a lot of Israeli companies that are involved in the very fields at the core of Chinese interests, as reflected in their five-year plans.”