Home International Trump downplays impact of cyberattacks, hints China might be responsible

Trump downplays impact of cyberattacks, hints China might be responsible

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US President Donald Trump. Picture: EPA-EFE/Chris Kleponis

WASHINGTON – As China-US relations continue to worsen, outgoing President Donald Trump on Saturday said that it could be possible that Beijing had a role to play in the recent cyberattacks on federal government agencies rather than Russia, as was being suspected.

Trump further said in a tweet that the true scale of the cyberattacks was greatly exaggerated by the media and said that the situation is under control.

“The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

He added, “Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!).”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump again claimed that the voting machines could have been hacked during the recently concluded presidential election despite the Department of Homeland Security calling it a safe election.

“There could also have been a hit on our ridiculous voting machines during the election, which is now obvious that I won big, making it an even more corrupted embarrassment for the USA,” the tweet read further.

Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the massive cyberattack against multiple United States federal agencies and thousands of individual, federal and private entities, said US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Friday, who became the first member of the Trump administration to blame Russia.

“I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified. But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of US government systems and it now appears systems of private companies and companies and governments across the world as well,” The Hill quoted Pompeo as saying on “The Mark Levin Show”.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned on Thursday that governmental institutions, critical infrastructures and private entities are in “grave” peril after the massive hacking attack. CISA did not identify suspects, but attributed the attack under way since at least March 2020 to “an advanced persistent threat actor”.

It admitted that removing malware from “compromised environments” would be highly complex and challenging, as reported by Sputnik.

Citing The Washington Post, it reported earlier that a hacking group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”, allegedly linked to the Russian government, was likely behind the hacking but provided no proof for its claims.

China and the US are at loggerheads since Trump took office over many issues including trade, India-Pacific relations, the coronavirus and the treatment of Uyghur Muslims. The tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent times.

Earlier this month, Pompeo, announced sanctions against 14 vice-chairpersons of the National People’s Congress over the controversial national security law imposed on Hong Kong, and also designated China in its list of ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ (CPC) for violations of religious freedom.

Prior to that, John Ratcliffe, US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, wrote: “If I could communicate one thing to the American people from this unique vantage point, it is that the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”

– ANI