Chinese state outlet blames US for ‘WannaCry’ ransomware

Chinese state outlet blames US for ‘WannaCry’ ransomware
© Getty Images

A Chinese state-run media outlet says that the United States is partially to blame for the “WannaCry” ransomware attack that is producing global shockwaves.

The editorial published in China Daily on Wednesday partly blames the National Security Agency (NSA) for the ransomware outbreak and accuses the U.S. of “hindering” international efforts to combat cyber crime.

The ransomware campaign has spread to at least 150 countries, crippling the British health system and Germany’s train stations. In China, over 29,000 institutions were said to have been affected, including universities and gas stations.

ADVERTISEMENT
The White House said Monday that the ransomware had infected roughly 300,000 machines globally, though the effects have been less severe in the United States than other countries.

The “WannaCry” code is widely believed to be based on an alleged NSA hacking tool leaked by hacking group Shadow Brokers earlier this year. The government has not publicly confirmed that the leaked tool was developed by the agency. The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. 

“The US National Security Agency must shoulder some of the blame, because the computer virus is based on one of the hacking tools that the agency created for its own use, which ended up in the hands of cyber criminals,” the China Daily editorial says. 

“Concerted efforts to tackle cyber crimes have been hindered by the actions of the United States,” it reads.

The paper argues that the U.S. has “hypocritically” accused China of state-sponsored cyber espionage, referencing NSA spy programs like Prism, a surveillance program revealed by Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013. 

Chinese hackers were implicated in the massive Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach disclosed in 2015. After that breach, then-President Obama and President Xi Jinping agreed not to conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of each other’s intellectual property. 

Experts have observed that economic espionage by China has declined since the deal in September 2015. The agreement did not, however, place restrictions on espionage for political or military purposes.

China's state-run People's Daily likened the ransomware attack to the cyber terrorism portrayed in the movie "Die Hard 4," according to Reuters