Sun, Jul 08, 2018 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Becoming a leader in cyberdefense

The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Web site was on Tuesday defaced with messages written in simplified Chinese, apparently by Chinese hackers.

An unnamed defense official told the media that China is the source of millions of attacks on Taiwanese computer systems every month, but sought to allay public concern by saying that sensitive systems reside on physically separated intranets that are not connected to the Internet.

The military also surveys civilian systems from the outside and monitors the networks through a security operations center, the official said.

In move that could not have been timed better, the Personal Data Protection Office, which is tasked with standardizing information protection across all government offices to conform with EU regulations, began operations the following day.

The office is to act as an authority on personal data privacy issues, as prior to its establishment there was no single body that supervised and regulated personal data protection, National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said.

On March 1, the Consumers’ Foundation filed the nation’s first class-action lawsuit under the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法) against Lion Travel Service Co, which it said failed to adequately secure its systems.

A hack of the company’s transaction records compromised customers’ names, telephone numbers and purchases, the foundation said.

The source of that attack was also said to be China.

Cybersecurity firm FireEye said that Chinese hacker group TEMP.Periscope was responsible for a March attack on US military contractors with interests in the South China Sea. The hackers, who stole 614 gigabytes of data related to sensing equipment and a top-secret military project called Sea Dragon, were linked to the Chinese government, investigators told the Washington Post.

Chinese hackers are a concern for many countries, but Taiwan has particular reason to be vigilant, and not just because of poor cross-strait relations.

The nation often serves as a testing ground for new hacking tools or techniques before their deployment against targets in other nations, Department of Cybersecurity Director Chien Hung-wei (簡宏偉) said on April 4.

Taiwan puts a great deal of effort into thwarting cyberattacks from China, but the military might want to look at making cybersecurity the main focus of its defense strategy.

The gap in military strength between Taiwan and China is growing, and the nation would be hard-pressed to defend itself for any length of time in a military confrontation with China without US support.

However, while it remains unknown when or if China will use military force against Taiwan, Beijing has already begun employing computer attacks.

“It is really difficult to prevent 100 percent of the attacks” that China directs at Taiwan, Lennon Chang, a senior lecturer in criminology at Monash University in Melbourne, said in an interview last month.

Cyberdefense is an area where Taiwan could realistically close the gap with China, and where it would likely find support from friendly nations.

Given Taiwan’s position as a testing ground for Russian, North Korean and Chinese cyberattacks, the US, EU and other political bodies would benefit as much as Taiwan would from establishing an international cyberdefense research center in the nation.

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