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China-backed hackers launch cyberattacks despite Xi pledge, report says

The attacks are a violation of an agreement the United States and China signed on Sept. 25.

By Elizabeth Shim
China-backed hackers launch cyberattacks despite Xi pledge, report says
China's President XI Jinping and United States President Barack Obama hold a meeting during an official state visit at the White House in Washington, DC on September 25, 2015. In the three weeks since Xi’s state visit, hackers have tried relentlessly to break and enter the networks of tech and pharmaceutical companies. Pool photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- State-sponsored Chinese hackers conducted numerous cyberattacks against U.S. companies, according to a computer security firm.

CrowdStrike said it managed to block all the hacking attacks aimed at the U.S. technology and pharmaceutical sectors and the "theft of intellectual property and trade secrets," CNBC reported on Monday.

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The attacks are a violation of an agreement the United States and China signed on Sept. 25. Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged to cease all state-backed cybersecurity activities, and both Xi and President Obama had agreed corporate stealing would not be sanctioned.

But in the three weeks since Xi's state visit to the White House, hackers have tried relentlessly to break and enter the networks of tech and pharmaceutical companies, The Washington Post reported. The activities are ongoing, and hackers launch attacks several times a day to steal information that is not included in Xi's September pledge, said Crowdstrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch.

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Crowdstrike is not identifying the companies that were targeted for attacks, and said the attacks could be traced to China despite the array of techniques that hackers use to hide their tracks. The U.S. firm said they had a "high degree of confidence" the attacks were from China-sponsored hackers. One of the groups, identified as Deep Panda, has been at the center of the firm's query for several years.

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The United States also has been accused of launching cyberattacks against Chinese companies, and in 2014 former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden said the agency had hacked Huawei, but Washington has said the attack was conducted for national security purposes.

U.S. government officials have been cautious to react to the recent revelations that Chinese hackers are still trying to steal trade secrets from U.S. companies.

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According to U.S. Cyber Command's deputy commander, Lt. Gen. James K. McLaughlin, Chinese cyberattacks need more time to wind down their operation.

"I think it's too early for any of us to see any of those changes," McLaughlin had said on Oct. 9.

Obama had told Xi in September sanctions would be used if the U.S. government has proof hackers have damaged U.S. companies or individuals.

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