The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said a fourth communications and electronic warfare squadron would be established to counter Chinese cyberattacks.
“To counter Chinese hacking and its cyberwarfare capabilities, the ministry’s Communications, Electronics and Information Division will add a squadron to its existing three squadrons and the ministry will also allocate more money for its cyberwarfare capabilities,” Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) said during a meeting of legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
He added that the Communications, Electronics and Information Division is scheduled to conduct joint exercises with other parts of the military this year.
Vice Minister of National Defense Lieutenant General Liao Jung-hsing (廖榮鑫) said that more than 3,000 military personnel are involved with cybersecurity.
The military has been subject to a number of Chinese hacking attacks, has learned its cyberattack models and has enhanced cybersecurity capabilities, Liao said.
National Security Bureau Vice Director Chang Kuang-yuan (張光遠) said that China has been expanding its cyberwarfare capabilities since 2002 and there are more than 100,000 people working for it, with Beijing budgeting more than NT$80 million (US$2.71 million) a year for the hackers.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that Taiwan has plenty of people who are highly skilled using electronic information, so the bureau and the ministry should recruit more people.
Chang said the bureau shares the same idea, but it needs better plans to attract talent.
He said China is also recruiting college students to bolster the ranks of its cyberwarfare personnel, and the bureau estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 students could join China’s cyberwarfare army in coming years.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said the government should immediately enact a law barring China from participating in public tenders for communications facilities.
The director of the Executive Yuan’s Information Security Office, Hsiao Hsiu-chin (蕭秀琴), said that while the government only uses domestic communications products, systems and facilities for government use, Chinese products might be chosen by communications companies.
Both the defense ministry and the bureau said they did not use any Chinese communications products because of security concerns.
Meanwhile, the ministry said that malicious e-mails received by several members of the military recently did not cause any damage to the military’s internal network or result in information leaks because of timely response measures.
Several military figures recently received e-mails with subject lines related to the Han Kuang military exercises that were infected with viruses, ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said in response to a local report on Sunday.
They found the e-mails in their private e-mail accounts, and the ministry’s information security unit took immediate measures to deal with the problem, he said.
The Chinese-language United Evening News reported on Sunday that the e-mails were sent to members of the military one day after the ministry held a news conference on March 26 to brief the media on the details of this year’s Han Kuang exercises.
The ministry could not rule out the possibility that the e-mails were related to Chinese cyberattacks on Taiwan, Lo said, but added that it was difficult to identify the actual origin of such attacks.
Additional reporting by CNA