A spate of cyberattacks originating from China could be preparations for an attempt to paralyze Taiwan’s key computer systems and public infrastructure to disrupt the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and vice president-elect William Lai (賴清德) on May 20, Ministry of National Defense officials and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said yesterday.
Wang told a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee in Taipei that he has learned China was behind a spate of malware attacks this week that aimed to disable the computer system at Taiwan’s two major oil suppliers — state-owned CPC Corp, Taiwan and privately owned Formosa Petrochemical Corp — as well as IC testing and packaging firm Powertech Technology and some financial companies.
He cautioned Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) and other ministry officials that the malicious attacks have been increasing in the past few weeks and that China would mount more coordinated attacks for a major escalation in the coming days to cause major disruptions or paralyze computer networks on May 20.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Communication, Electronics and Information Tsao Chin-ping (曹進平) said that cyberattacks targeting the Web sites of government agencies or state-run companies could intensify in the buildup to the inauguration.
“The Chinese cyberarmy’s intrusion channels into these computer systems came through mobile storage devices and social media platforms. Our military units will bolster cybersecurity measures to defend against these types of hacking,” Tsao said.
National Security Bureau officials yesterday identified the sources of the cyberattacks as China and Russia.
These were likely coordinated cyberattacks and test runs by China to sabotage the presidential inauguration, they said.
China might be planning to paralyze Taiwan’s key government computer systems, impair its power supply and state utilities, and disable other major public infrastructure, the officials said.
An initial probe found that the hackers used Internet protocol addresses registered in Europe as springboards to implant backdoor programs and malware into servers at Taiwan’s health agencies, medical research centers and Centers for Disease Control offices to steal critical information and files, they said.
Wang also pointed to evidence indicating that Chinese cyberarmy units have targeted Taiwanese health agencies and medical research institutes working on a COVID-19 vaccine, adding that they have also targeted similar entities in the US.
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