Thu, Jan 03, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Chinese hackers suspected in attack

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The home page of the Taipei Department of Health Web site is shown in a screen grab taken in July last year.

The Investigation Bureau’s Taipei office yesterday said it suspects that a cyberattack last year on the Taipei Department of Health’s information systems originated in China.

The bureau said in a statement that in August last year, it received a report from the department saying that its information systems had been accessed by hackers and that more than 2.98 million pieces of Taipei residents’ personal information had been stolen and sold overseas.

The systems that were hacked included Taipei’s “health cloud” system to manage individual cases of dementia, sources said.

An investigation completed in November last year found that hackers launched a cyberattack on the department’s network via the Web site of a small to medium-sized enterprise with relatively weak data security, the bureau said.

The department was the target of cyberattacks in 2014 and 2017, it said.

In March 2017, hackers accessed and stole personal data from the department, the bureau said, adding that most of the stolen data were from 2011.

That hack was part of a trove of 9 billion pieces of personal information obtained from 1,509 networks in 38 nations, the bureau added.

In Taiwan, hackers also gained unauthorized access to the networks of more than 10 government agencies, public hospitals, universities and publicly traded companies, it said.

These cyberattacks have severely disrupted domestic Internet operations, the bureau said, adding that it has notified the FBI in the US and is working with international judicial organizations to track the hackers’ location.

Ordinary Chinese netizens have been tentatively ruled out as suspects, bureau officials who worked on the case said, urging government agencies and the business community to upgrade and replace old systems.

Apart from the threat posed by Chinese hackers, Taiwan also faces increasingly frequent and severe cyberattacks from hackers in Russia, eastern European nations and other countries, the bureau said.

The effects of the attacks range from simply disrupting normal operations to endangering national security in more serious cases, the bureau said.

Investigating the perpetrators of cyberattacks would continue to be a priority, the bureau said, adding that it has asked agencies and companies that have been targeted to provide it with information, and to assist its efforts to investigate and defend the nation against such intrusions.

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