Sun, Sep 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: China ramps up cyberattacks against Taiwan

Bloomberg

Taiwan is bracing for an onslaught of cyberattacks from China ahead of local elections in November.

China, along with Russia and North Korea, might be increasingly testing out hacking techniques in the nation before using them against the US and other foreign powers, the Taiwanese government said, adding that the tests involve new malware tools mostly used to target government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, Beijing has insisted that Tsai’s government accept the so-called “1992 consensus,” which Tsai refuses to do.

The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Beijing has responded with a multipronged effort to squeeze her administration: Chipping away at the number of its diplomatic partners, ramping up military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and pressuring foreign airlines and hotels to refer to Taiwan as part of China.

China’s campaign has also fueled a growing struggle for global influence with the US, which maintains informal ties with Taiwan, despite moving its embassy to Beijing four decades ago.

“To some extent, Taiwan against China is David against Goliath,” said Ben Read, head of cyberespionage analysis at US cybersecurity firm FireEye. “The volume we see and the resources would be hard for anyone to keep up with.”

Taiwan’s government endured 360 successful cyberattacks last year, possibly compromising sensitive and classified data, said Howard Jyan (簡宏偉), director of the Executive Yuan’s Department of Cyber Security.

However, the number of attempts was far greater.

About 20 million to 40 million were carried out each month last year, he said, adding that servers in civil, military and research departments have been targeted, including hospital systems hacked to steal personal health information and other private data.

China in turn has lashed out at Taiwan’s intelligence agencies.

On Sunday last week, it demanded that Taipei “cease infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland to avoid further harming increasingly complex and severe” relations, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported, citing China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan (安峰山).

The office did not reply to faxed questions about Taiwan’s accusations.

The Xinhua report was “fake information that sabotages cross-strait relations,” Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said.

Taiwan this month plans to open a government cybersecurity training program for companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to send their IT personnel to, with grants for up to 150 students yearly.

Last year, it created a military cybercommand, and it has earmarked more than NT$1.6 billion (US$52 million) in next year’s budget to safeguard Web sites and databases most targeted by mainland cyberspies, the Taipei Times reported. (“Cabinet plans big cybersecurity budget” Sept. 4, page 1)

The National Communications Commission on Tuesday said that Taiwanese media could be fined up to NT$2 million if found to disseminate unverified or fake content that hurts the public interest.

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