In February, incident response firm Mandiant released its much-publicized report outlining the activities of a Chinese espionage group, dubbed APT1, and its connections to the Chinese government. The report linked the group to more than 140 attacks over seven years and postulated that the well-funded actors were likely part of an intelligence unit within the People’s Liberation Army.
Initially, the conclusions caused a stir among computer security professionals and policy makers alike. Yet, despite shining the spotlight on the China’s connection to the attacks and some uncertain pressure by the U.S. government, the People’s Republic of China continued to deny involvement and the espionage attacks continued to compromise systems.
If companies hoped that shedding light on nation-state attackers would curb their espionage activities, they were disappointed. While the report did a lot to spotlight the issue of nation-state attacks and what companies could do to investigate them, it also showed the plausible deniability is a workable strategy, says Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence for security-services firm CrowdStrike.