Chinese-sponsored hacking of US companies has plummeted, experts say

While China-sponsored hacking in the US has dropped, it has increased elsewhere

The hacking of US companies by Chinese government-backed groups has plummeted, security experts say.

The number of cyber-espionage attacks on American firms fell 90 per cent over the past two years, according to US network security firm FireEye Inc.

It comes after a bilateral agreement last September where China’s government vowed that it would stop backing groups hacking into US companies to steal valuable secrets.

FireEye chief executive Kevin Mandia told Reuters the deal had helped accelerate the fall in the number of attacks, with the biggest drop taking place around the time it was under discussion.

He also said the fall was helped by a report from his firm’s Mandiant arm — which in 2013 specifically identified a particular unit of the China’s People’s Liberation as being behind a huge cyber-espionage campaign targeting firms including U.S. Steel, Westinghouse Electric and Alcoa Inc.

Five members of the unit were indicted in 2014 following the publication of the report.

Mandia said of the various factors: “They all contributed to a positive result.”

However, while China-sponsored hacking on the US has decreased, FireEye said it had increased in other parts of the world including Japan, South Korea, Russia and the Middle East.

An unnamed US official said that a new round of talks with the Chinese government ironing out details of the agreement between the two countries had been positive.

China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “We oppose and crack down on commercial cyber-espionage activities in all forms.”